Before I discuss the actual details of our birth experience, I feel like I should tell you about our Birth Plan. Part of our preparations with our doula, Leslee, was making a birth plan, which is basically an outline of our wishes for the type of birth we would have. It’s made up of all kinds of questions about what you do want and don’t want to happen during your labor and delivery, and covers everything from your pain medicine preference to who you’d like in the room to the lighting you’d like. Basically, it’s a Type A planner’s dream!
Some people think birth plans are a waste of time and only set up unrealistic expectations and eventual disappointment because it is highly unlikely that you will have the exact labor that you want. I thought it was really helpful because it made me think about and research things that I never would have thought about beforehand.
Now, when I first got pregnant, my initial thought was that I would definitely be getting an epidural. I mean, they were invented for a reason, and I was TERRIFIED at the idea of the pain of labor. I just saw no reason to be in pain if it wasn’t necessary. And to be completely honest, I had, on occasion, mocked others and their self-righteous attitudes surrounding their choice for natural childbirth. You know the type – people who brag about not using drugs and look down their noses with complete disdain at those who resorted to pain meds as if they had just committed some sort of crime. (Obviously this isn’t everyl natural child-birther, but there are plenty around.)
I don’t know when I started to change my mind, but I did a LOT of reading about childbirth during my pregnancy, and by the time Aaron and I took our childbirth classes (which were extremely non-biased on the subject of pain meds) we had decided that drug-free was the way to go, and that we actually didn’t want ANY medical intervention if necessary (no Pitocin to promote contractions, no Cervadil to ripen my cervix, no breaking my water – no interventions at all.) The reason I decided this was a little fear driven – I absolutely did NOT want to end up having a c-section, and everything I had read said it is a slippery slope from medical interventions to a c-section. Drugs = monitoring, which equals lying in the bed and not being able to move around and help the labor progress naturally. The drugs can also lead to increased blood pressure, slowed labor and all sorts of other problems.
In order to keep from having medical interventions, we planned to stay at home as long as possible during my labor, staying comfortable, eating light snacks and basically staying off of the hospital’s radar for as long as possible so as to prevent their meddling. Also, I had chosen and obstetric practice that is very natural childbirth friendly (even though that wasn’t my plan at the time) and has 4 nurse midwives on staff, which I thought would be even better since midwives are typically less likely to push you to use medication to speed the process along.
Now, just because this was the decision we had made doesn’t mean I had any confidence in my ability to live up to the plan. I had no idea what the pain of labor would be like or how long it would last, and honestly, I’m not in very good shape. I thought it would be like showing up to a marathon without training for it. Around Week 38, I was really starting to trip about my readiness for the event, even though Leslee and Aaron kept telling me they thought I was going to do great. I finally had a tearful breakdown with Aaron and told him that I really was worried I wouldn’t be able to go through labor without the drugs and that I would disappoint him. Sweet husband that he is, he gave me the best motivational speech and told me that I’m a hard worker, that I always kick it into gear when the time comes, and he knew that I had the strength to be able to stay with our plan if I put my mind to it.
So that was the plan – despite everything I had thought before I got pregnant, I had decided and we were ready to have an all natural labor!