Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Big Ouch

So in recent days I have had a renewed fascination with the concept of natural childbirth. I have no childbirth impending in the next 9 or 10 months, be comforted. I'm just fascinated and intensely curious and intrigued with such an idea. Pretty sure my Mom would tell me I'm in Looney Tune Land. Tim says that it makes as much sense to him as signing up to eat 150 hotdogs "just to see if you could do it". But I wonder so intensely - could I?

There's lots of people all over the world making it through. So could I. I have this intuitive gut feeling that tells me I would come out the other side "empowered" and newly confident. I have this belief that if I could see myself weather the pain of childbirth I would have a new understanding of a strength I hadn't previously realized I possessed. I would be able to say "I am woman, hear me roar." :) To me, it fits more along the parallel of running a marathon. Why subject your body to all of that? To see if you can do it. For the triumph of completion.

Quite likely a lot of idealism and naive romanticism mixed in here...but I have always had this idea in the back of my brain that for one of my pregnancies, I am going to go the route of Genesis 3:16, and experience one of the most visceral experiences of humanity - just to see myself make it through. And I'm going to have a faint, whispering disappointment in myself if I just don't give it a real go. Am I crazy? Am I not? Could such an experience be worth it just for theoretical, unmeasurable gain?

Just pondering...

14 comments:

Alice Mary said...

it was worth it to me but i had a short labor with Evan - compared to most women...i could tell you more about it sometime

joy said...

I really wanted to have natural childbirth. I said it was because I'm not a fan of drugs and like things natural in general (I really do), but there's also that little bragging factor lurking in the background. Like I'm not a real woman until I've experienced the full pain of childbirth. I think I could probably make it in a home-birth setting -- it made it much harder in the hospital, hooked up to a zillion different things, stuck in a bed, not being able to move and writhe properly, and having every nurse/doctor who entered the room push for me to have an epidural. I was progressing slowly and having severe back pain...and I caved halfway through. I'm hoping to try again to go the natural route in the future. Maybe we'll both make it yet... ; )

Carrie said...

Hey Alice Mary!!! How are you guys doing? I think I remember that you had an insanely short labor with him - like 5 hours, right? I guess that might make a difference in "tolerability". I guess part of it is that I feel like both of my labors were kind of induced, so it's hard to know what it would really be like if I had a truly natural start. With Gabe, the cervical ripener they gave me put me into a continuous contraction and then they had to give me mag sulfate to make the contractions back off. With Israel, I was having regular contractions, but once I got to the hospital they backed off, and I don't think I would have had him that day unless I had been in there because then she broke my water. My water was broken both times. Both times my contractions were tolerable up to that point and then they hurt like crap. When I went to see my friend have a baby at home, her water didn't break until right at the end. Not that her contractions didn't hurt up to that point, but I'm just curious if it would have been more bearable without the interventions.

Joy, I totally agree that the hospital setting would be a lot harder to have a natural childbirth. On the other hand, I'm not so sure I want a home birth. Your "freedom" in labor is pretty compromised in the hospital - although I wonder if I were very very clear with my doctor with what I wanted before I went in if I could refuse some of the stuff like a continuous IV, or continuous monitoring if the baby was fine. I was sort of irritated how when I went to the hospital with Israel, 4 cm dilated with mild/mod regular contractions, they just tried to park me in bed, when that just doesn't make any practical sense. When I asked if it was ok if I got up and walked, the nurse acted really dubious and looked at me like - why would you want to do that? Um, to advance my labor, thanks. ?? You know what I mean? Or stuff like, they had me pushing Israel from flat on my back. Not at an incline. I still don't get that. He was a big baby, and he wasn't coming down right away, so why not use gravity. Maybe my pushing wouldn't have had to be such a lengthy experience if I had been in a different position. Not that I'm saying that I know more about it than my midwife. I just felt like she sort of forgot about my position as opposed to specifically placing me in it. Anyways. Just thinking.

Cottonista said...

I understand what you're saying Carrie, about your fascination with going naturally. I had both Owen and Helen that way, and both labors were induced with Pitocin and my doctor broke my water both times to get labor started. Neither of my labors was long, maybe 6 hours at the longest, or I don't think I would have made it, especially with Helen because she was positioned differently and it was a whole lot harder to get comfortable, "comfortable" being a relative term. I was fortunate enough to have a hospital that was very understanding of my wishes, and capable of handling them...wireless, waterproof monitors--perfect for the whirlpool tub!...although I was asked several times if I wanted my epidural and glanced at rather questioningly when I said NO while doubled over (don't get me wrong, I filled out the paperwork as a back-up plan.) My nurses were great too, and kept reminding me to change positions and such. If I would have been able to, I know I could've walked the halls, but I was pretty much glued to squatting beside the bed and you get the picture. I came through both times incredibly empowered--it's hard to describe the emotional response to the amazing feat your body just did on its own. Although, Jason's vote would be for an epidural next time (no "next time" on the radar yet). On the other hand, you don't get your epidural until you've progressed so far, and usually after that point, my labor goes lightning fast, so what would be the purpose? I'm just so glad I don't even have to think about that yet. I still get a little queasy remembering, so I guess I'm NOT ready for the next baby yet.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand what you are saying. I was all about going natural (esp with Blake), and caved in to the epidural with both boys. When I was having Blake, things were progressing, and I was having some "nice" contractions. Then the nurse came in and said,"well, we should have this baby by tonight". I lost ALL perspective. . all I could think was that I was going to have to do this all day, and I caved right then and there. I should have had them check me because I had Blake about 1.5 hrs later. Then with Brian, I just caved early and gave in to the doc's urging to go ahead and get it if I thought I would want it later. So part of me still wants to see if I could do it, but Brent certainly thinks that epidural is the way to go :). I also would like to go into labor naturally and not have Pit (which I had with both boys). . but so far when the doc offers induction I'm so tired of being pregnant that I spring for it :). Well, maybe with the next one. . .but hopefully thats not anytime too soon!!!!! Janice

Carrie said...

Joyce, that sounds like a really good experience. I really wanted a tub to use both times, and both times I was in a room without one. And I'm pretty sure they didn't have anything cool there like waterproof monitors. I am proud of you - you weathered it right through. You had really short labors too!!! Man. "It's hard to describe the emotional response to the amazing feat your body just did on its own." That's what I'm talking about.

Janice - the eagerness for it to be over is a downfall for me, too. That last month, where you keep thinking "it could be anytime!!" - By the time you actually are at the end, it's just like - I want to see this baby!!! Let's do what it takes!

Tim is right there with Jason and Brent. He is very very very very very dubious and unbelieving regarding any advantages of NOT going the epidural route.

Anonymous said...

My labor was way too long both times to contemplate anything else. With Claire i was in labor so many painful hours (prolonged early labor they called it or something)that by the time i could get an epidural i was desperate for all the help I could get. It didn't fully work though- I got a few hours sleep and then the pain started again worse than ever. With Eliza I worked and worked to get to 4 centimeters to have the epidural. After I had it, I really enjoyed the rest of my labor with her. Like others have said here, I think it depends a lot on what your individual labor is like, and how long it goes. If you don't have to do pitocin next time, maybe you can see how long your labor lasts and if you feel up to it...but I think the epidural is a good back up plan. I don't have a single regret and consider it God's gift to women! :) Candice

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your blog Carrie and all the comments. Although my first labor was fairly easy, and I was able to go the natural route, I'm not looking forward to another labor so soon (13 months after). I think it all depends on how labor is for each individual person and how one's body is built as to whether natural or epidural route is taken. During one of my early prenatal check-ups, the midwife exclaimed "there haven't been any c-sections in your family have there?" (commenting about the size of my pelvic area or something). So maybe it's all in how one's body is built and how labor progresses as to whether a natural labor is doable or not. And also, my hospital and delivery team were superb!!! Not pushy - calm and quiet and encouraging, all combined to make my labor a pleasant (relatively speaking) experience. We'll see how the second one goes!!
-Sylvia

joy said...

Joyce, your hospital sounds wonderful -- well equipped and not pushy. Shaun's a big fan of the epidural too...he could hardly stand to see me in any pain. Awww...

Angela said...

Wow! Looks like you found a popular topic to blog about! I've had both experiences- with Julia I had premature rupture of membranes so labor ended up being induced, she was sunny-side up (and born that way) so I had horrible back labor, and went with an epidural. With Elise, besides the half-dose of whatever that common pain med is that I can't think of right now, it was all natural, and the way I would DEFINETELY prefer. Was it easy? Heavens, no. I had a terrible leg cramp with every contraction, transition took forever, and since our babies always have large heads and chests I push for hours at a time, seriously. But, "natural" is, after all, how God made your body to work. It's kind of a faith experience too, if you know what I mean. In all, though, each labor is different, and you have to take it as it might come. I do think, that most of us are capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. So there you go- Angela's thoughts. =)

Elaine said...

So much fun getting caught up on your blog again. Your boys just crack me up! I've discovered that natural childbirth always gets lots of comments. :-) You can always look back on labor and delivery and wonder "what if?" I had great support, a jacuzzi where they just came in every hour or so to stick the Doppler on for a couple of minutes. I wanted a natural childbirth, but I ended up with a lot of unplanned stuff. I didn't plan on going past 41 weeks, nor did I plan on having an OP baby. I didn't plan on spending 8 hours with contractions every 3 minutes apart just to get to 2 cm. I didn't plan on spending two hours pushing to try to get my stubborn baby turned. I didn't plan on having a second degree tear or being allergic to the stitches and feeling uncomfortable for months. I'm not sure how I could've pushed for two hours if I hadn't gotten a break for a couple of hours properly. But instead of trying to second guess myself, I know that I did it as naturally as I could at the time. I only got them to bolus the epidural once or twice and let it mostly wear off for the pushing stage. I do have this feeling that maybe someday I'll try natural childbirth, but I wouldn't want to have my teeth pulled without something for pain, and the pain of childbirth (for me) was very comparable to that. Maybe I'm just a wimp, but I think every woman experiences it so much differently, that I don't think we can compare our childbirths among ourselves. I, at least, have found that it's not wise. :-)

Perpetua said...

Hi, You don't know me, and I don't have a childbirth story to share like your other friends. I don't have children and certainly won't preach to anyone about which route to take, nor do I have all the answers. I would encourage anyone who wants to explore natural childbirth or simply know about their options to speak with a certified nurse midwife. These midwives are advanced practice nurses. They are nurse practioners whose specialty is childbirth and well woman care. They practice in hospitals, birth centers, and some of them do home births. They are educated and can help you explore your options. If you decide that "natural childbirth" is not the right choice for you, typically your nurse midwife will still take care of you and deliver your baby (unless you have serious complications). All certified nurse midwives have a collaborating physician they work with who provides consultation and emergency care when needed. Certified Nurse Midwives spend a lot time with their patients establishing a relationship, and are typically there for their patients throughout labor.
So there if you're not asleep by now. That was your lesson for the day from a someone who has never had a child but does have a couple good friends who are CNMs (certified nurse midwives).

Carrie said...

Perpetua - Thanks for stopping by! Actually, I had a Certified Nurse Midwife for both of my births. She was great. I am sure that she would be very supportive if I wanted to do a natural birth...but since all of my "pondering" I seem to have started a swing back towards my lovely lovely epidural. :) Guess we'll see.

Carolyn said...

Been there. Done that Carrie. Didn't know better because I just wanted to be "perfect." At the moment of birth I actually thought I was going to die and then I remembered that my mother and Aunts had done the same thing and survived, and I probably would too. I also gave my own enemas. I can't say it necessarily did anything for my self esteem though. With the second and third babies I got a little more help. You worked so hard on that last birth Carrie. I think a better idea would be just to let the baby decide the moment of birth, if at all possible and not induce. But if you disagree, you are still my hero, cause I was there and I was mighty proud of you!