Back in the late 70′s my mother was a midwife. Some of my earliest memories are of bunches of pregnant ladies sitting in a circle in my living room and watching home childbirth movies. My brother was actually born in my parents bedroom with a midwife. I was there through the early stages of my mother’s labor and I was allowed back into the room after he was born and everyone was cleaned up. Mom was smiling and I was holding him just minutes after he was born. No one was hooked up to IVs and there were no warming lamps around. It was all very tranquil and calm. I grew up with the notion that childbirth was peaceful and that our bodies were meant to do this naturally.
When I got pregnant, and knew immediately that I would have a natural, drug free birth. Not because I have any problem with the plethora of numbing options, but because I felt like it was part of my legacy. I was also terrified of a C-section. I am not down with being sawed in half and that’s pretty much what goes on. You can dress it up however you like, but it’s major surgery with a long recovery and I wanted no part of it. The minute you start with any sort of medical intervention i.e. pitocin, epidural, stadol, having your water broken, you give up control of your labor. You don’t know how your body will react: will you be too numb to push? Will the contractions be so intense that you’re in agony and then need more pain relief? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and you just don’t know what it will be. It’s different for everyone. I had friends that had the epidural and swore it was heaven and made the whole experience pleasurable. I had others that said it didn’t work or wore off by the time the baby was being delivered. I even had one that got severe headaches and had to have a spinal tap days after the birth. I am not a fan of any drugs, so I didn’t want to leave any of it to chance.
My mother had taught The Bradley Birthing Method, so that was the route I went. I got online and called the coach that taught Bradley that was closest to my home. We chatted a bit and I mentioned that my mother had been a midwife. She asked my maiden name, and when I told her she went nuts. It turns out that my mother had delivered 2 of her children and inspired her to become a nurse and birthing coach. Crazy how the world world works. Now I was more determined than ever to have a drug free birth because I felt like she was sent to me by the universe so I could have a successful, drug free birth.
Now fast forward, I’m 10 days past my due date. They teach that if you induce labor with pitocin then it is extremely difficult to stay in control of your labor pain because it’s synthetic and makes contractions come on like a freight train. I walked the dogs for miles, went swimming, did yoga, had sex, tweaked nipples- all the shit they tell you helps. Nothing worked. I was so tempted to induce because i just wanted her out! I heard a very nice doctor from the Caribbean say “when the fruit is ripe, it will fall from the tree”. In other words, when the baby is ready it will come.
And she did. 10 days late and 26 hours of labor. The first 12 were easy, the middle 8 were serious work, and the last 6 were medieval torture. Like, no joke, being drawn and quartered. Everyone always thinks it’s the head coming out that hurts and, although it’s not sunshine and lollipops, it’s not the hard part. What sucks is when the baby moves down into your pelvis. It feels like your spine and your sacrum are being ripped apart. The pressure is so intense and scary, it feels so far from natural, you can’t imagine that it’s going to turn out well. And then I tore. Down there. The Holiest of Holes. Fortunately my Dr. gave me a shot of novocaine while I was crowning so I didn’t feel it when he had to sew me back up later. Also not much fun. And then I blew a blood vessel in my eye while I was pushing. I pushed so hard. I was beyond exhausted but I dug deeper. I went to a place of determination that I never knew existed. And finally, my beautiful girl was in my arms. They could have handed me a chiuaua and I wouldn’t have cared though- she was out! Hallelujah!
So if you were expecting yet another bullshit story about the crazy granola lady who has labor orgasms or whatever the fuck they call it, you came to the wrong blogger. However, the reason I am inclined to share this story and still STRONGLY advocate drug free births isn’t for all the reasons that you have all heard about it being the best for your baby. It’s because after natural childbirth I knew I could endure anything. That there was nothing in life or in Motherhood that I couldn’t accomplish. That the fight in me was greater than I had ever imagined and that no matter what motherhood or life threw at me I could take it. And I do. And it is an amazing, triumphant powerful way to feel as you begin the greatest journey in life: being Mommy.