I thought about not writing this because I know this is a hugely personal decision and people have strong opinions. In the end though, I decided to share.
There are so many (beautiful) birth stories out there about natural births, which is wonderful, but when I was pregnant, it made it almost seem (to me) like it’s the only legitimate way to give birth, like if you have an epidural, you should just keep quiet about it. This may just be because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, I don’t know, but that’s definitely how it seemed to me.
I went into the whole birth experience unsure of whether I wanted to get an epidural. I didn’t really have any strong feelings against it, but my head was also full of all of those natural birth stories I’d read…gotta love the internet.
I wrote more about James’s birth here, but in short, I was induced and did not react well to the medication. I started having strong contractions just over a minute apart right away and they eventually had to pull the medication and give me some kind of shot because the contractions were so strong and frequent for so long that James’s heart rate was dropping.
Things continued to be painful, but not unbearable until my water broke (about 15 hours later). After that, I “gave in” and got the epidural. I wish I had gotten it sooner.
When the pain subsided, I immediately felt so happy and excited to welcome our little guy into the world. Before the epidural, there was no way I could sleep because it hurt too much. After it, there was no way I could sleep because I was too freaking excited. It allowed me to be present and take in the moment. I lay awake just daydreaming about what he would be like and have the fondest memories about the hours before his birth.
The epidural may have also helped move things along for me, as before it I was hardly dilated at all and a few hours later I was 9 cm. I know this can happen sometimes as it calms you down, but I also know things may have just moved along because my water broke…who knows.
The happy mood continued all the time through the pushing stage. I was joking with the nurses in between contractions and continued to be unbelievably excited. Granted, I had a pretty easy time of this part of labor and it only took around 40 minutes. Still, I’m pretty sure I would not have felt so happy and light if I hadn’t gotten the epidural.
Again, this is just a reflection on my personal experience, but for me, “giving in” and getting the drugs turned a stressful / really tense night into an extremely happy and exciting time that I cherish. Would I get one again next time? Who knows, but I will certainly put less pressure on myself not to.