Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Second Thoughts

...about my birth plan, not about Scarlett!

Before I became pregnant, I always thought I would get an epidural, no question.

And then I became pregnant and seriously thought about it.  For various reasons, I decided I wanted to try a natural delivery.  I wrote about it a bit in this post, but here are the main reasons I changed my mind:
  • I've always heard that the more naturally you labor, the faster your recovery period will be.  
  • I want to be able to feel the urge to push, and I want the pain to motivate me.
  • I am hoping that refraining from interventions (including pitocin.  Pitocin is my biggest fear right now after hearing so many horror stories) will help my labor to move forward naturally and somewhat quickly. 
  • It sounds crazy, but I just want to experience it.  I want to know what women have done for centuries before me.  
  • I am no stranger to pain, and I feel like I have learned how to handle it.  I am pretty sure I have some form of IBD, and it just hasn't been diagnosed because I've never seen a specialist.  But for the past four years I've had stomach pain and cramping that I'm pretty sure is nearly as bad as labor pains.  With no cute baby to motivate me at the end.  Those of you who have actually given birth are probably laughing at me, but seriously...  This pain is no joke.  It has gotten point where I am curled up on the floor with chills and shaking and vomiting from the pain.  (If those pains come back after Scarlett is here, going to a specialist is definitely on the "to-do" list).  For now, I feel like it has given me good practice managing extreme pain. 
  • I've heard only a few horror stories about epidurals gone wrong, but they were terrifying enough to scare me away from it a little bit. 
All those reasons were good and well until a few weeks ago when a few ladies on my birth month board on The Bump went into labor and delivered their babies already.  It made it very real that Scarlett's birth is getting so much closer, especially if she decides to come early.  I have made myself push my thoughts and fears about labor and delivery to the back of my mind this whole pregnancy since I am a natural worrier.  However, being within 2 months of delivering her, I feel like I need to prepare myself somewhat. 

I had heard some really great reviews about Ina May Gaskin's book, "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth."

Yesterday I downloaded it on my Kindle.  The first half of the book is all just birth stories of women who had 100% natural births at home or in birthing centers with midwives.  In the second half of the book, Ina May talks about the benefits of natural childbirth, and some tips.  

Late last night and early this morning, I read most of the birth stories.  And while I can't totally relate since I'm giving birth in a hospital with and OB, it was still empowering to read the stories.  Empowering and terrifying all at once.  I just wonder, can my body handle this?  What if I have back labor, or if labor lasts over 24 hours?  These women seem so strong, and I just don't know if I'm that strong.  Not to mention, they were all in situations where epidurals and other drugs were not available.  At my hospital, all I'll have to do is say the word, and an epidural will be delivered at the right time.  

Guys, I'm starting to second guess myself.  Not only that, but I wish I had never told anyone about my plans to try for a natural birth for Scarlett.  Now I'll feel like a failure if I get the epidural, and I'll have to tell everyone that I "failed."

I have a friend who is pregnant with her first baby, and due just a few months after me.  I asked her about her plans, and she said she fully intended to get the epidural.  "I wouldn't get a tooth pulled without Novocaine!"  She told me.  And that is a good point!  Are my reasons for wanting a natural birth good enough?  Or am I just subjecting myself to an unnecessary amount of pain, and being a glutton for punishment?

Will I?  Won't I?  The constant volleying back and forth of my thoughts is enough to drive me crazy.  

So here's my plan:  I'm still going to try it without an epidural, but I'm NOT going to punish myself if I have to ask for one.  My friend says that if I don't go into thinking that the option of an epidural is completely off the table, then I will cave and get one.  And that is probably true.  It is just so easy to ask for one in the middle of all that pain!  

So anyway, best case scenario?  I'll reach my goal of giving birth naturally, and I'll feel like a rockstar.

And worst case scenario?  I'll probably get a lot further into labor than I would have if I had just gone into it planning on getting the epidural.  That way, at least I won't get it too early and slow down labor (I've heard that if you can make it to about 5 centimeters without one, getting the epidural probably won't slow down labor). And you know what?  I waited for over 3 years to meet my sweet first baby from the point that we started praying and trying for her.  I went through 6 weeks of feeling like death constantly, and an additional 6 weeks of feeling like death occasionally (thank you morning sickness).   I carried her with my 6th-grade-girl-sized frame for what will be 9 I'm still going to feel like a rockstar when it's all said and done, even if I can't do this naturally!

...Life is too short to start feeling mom guilt before I'm even technically a mom!  God is in control, and I'm handing this over to Him.  Whatever will be will be.  Worrying is not going to help.  Labor is coming, and there's nothing I can do to stop it!  

No matter what happens, I think Scarlett is enough motivation to get through anything.  As long as she is safe and healthy, nothing else really matters!


  1. Have you seen the documentary The Business of Being Born, and the follow up More Business of Being Born? It really put me in the same track if thinking as you, even to the point where I think I would prefer a home birth. They even visit "The Ranch" and interview Ina May in the follow up.

  2. I think you are at a good place- I'm in the camp of saying something about how far medical care and pain management has come over those hundreds of years, but I couldn't get an epidural with either girl.

    My Doctor gave me the best advice..when I asked him what I should do about a birth plan he said to "think it over and be knowledgable of your options and their risks and benefits but that the best patients and the ones that have the best experiences are the ones that have no "birth plan," but instead follow their bodies cues and needs." That way, if you do end up deciding on an epidural, you won't associate disappointment and failure with the same day as one of your greatest accomplishments- bringing Scarlett into this world!

  3. Jessica,
    Making decisions while you are pregnant and then about how you want your baby to come into the world is the very beginning of the wild ride. It is so hard, because we want the very best for our babies! You are so right to try to put that mama guilt behind you, mama guilt is just terrible and I wish we could all put it behind us.
    I had both of my little girls drug/intervention free, and had an amazing experience both times. Those memories are some of my all time best! It was a lot of work, duh, it's called labor for a reason. I like you questioned myself, am I going to be able to be mentally strong enough, physically able, will my body even know what to do when the time comes?! Even second time around, I wondered if I would be able to do it. You know what, though, the Lord is so gracious to us. I strongly encourage you to ask the Lord specifically for things in your labor that you would like. Speak to Him about what your plan would be and then listen for what He tells you. I drew the greatest comfort in that both times, that the Lord knew exactly what I wanted and that He would provide, and he did, ABUNDANTLY.
    My first labor was very long and while it didn't feel like a relaxing day at a spa, it was painful, the worst part for me was the overwhelming mental challenge. I related it to trying to get pregnant, if I knew it would happen it 2 months or 2 years, the wait would be a little easier to manage. It was the same way for me with contractions, if I knew I only had 10 more, then it would be easier to get through them, but you don't know when that baby will finally be out. My mantra during both labors was, every contraction counts and once its over breathe it away and start fresh.
    Anyway...don't feel discouraged about going back and forth - it's a new experience and no one knows how you will react or manage, not even you! Of course you would question yourself a little! Every birth is different, unique, and ... beautiful! It's worth trying the natural route, if you are up for it, i don't think you will regret it. You can't compare having a tooth pulled- a tooth comes out and is dead. A baby comes out and is your whole life!

  4. I just wanted to say, Jessica, that you should go for trying for a natural birth - but if you need to get the epidural, there is no shame! Don't let yourself feel like a failure if you decide to get it - every birth experience is different, and everyone experiences pain differently - honestly I've heard of people who had totally taken the epidural off the table beforehand but then still wanted one the time came! I don't think leaving it as an option will mean that you'll end up getting one, but it'll be less of an emotional struggle at the time if you decide you need it if you were open to it before. Honestly, it was awful not being able to move and being checked with Wyatt, and that's why I got the epidural - but then with Gwen I think I wouldn't have gotten it with her until the last half hour, even if I could have, and by the time I would have wanted it it would have been too late! No matter how it happens, giving birth is amazing, and you should pat yourself on the back because you made it! Praying the delivery goes perfectly when the time comes!

  5. Amen to Callie! I'm finally getting caught up on your blog this morning! ;) The most important thing is the grand finale! Sweet Scarlett coming into the world! Epidural or not. Natural birth is an amazing experience and I would encourage everyone to go that route. But, at the same time, you should not be worried about "failing" if you decide to get an epidural! There should be no guilt involved in how you birthed your baby!


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