I’m the proud mommy to 6 wonderful blessings ranging in age from 11 to 8 months old. When I started having children, I never thought I’d have 3 children, let alone 6. We had the very typical mind-set of “We’ll have 2, 3 if the first 2 are the same gender…maybe”. My view toward child birth was also very typical. With my first, I watched A Baby Story and Birth Day on Discovery Health and learned all I could about this very “medical” process of child birth. I learned all about the interventions that are very common in a hospital birth (which, of course, I was having—who gives birth in any other way?). As my due date got closer, I wrote up my birth plan. I knew I wanted my baby to nurse as soon as possible. I didn’t want her to have any pacifiers, lest she get “nipple confusion”, and I had decided that an epidural sounded like a very good option. I’d tough it out as long as I could and when I couldn’t stand it any longer (but no sooner than 6cm!), I’d get an epidural. That’s what I learned on the shows and it sounded good to me.
I ended up going 10 days overdue (which was WAY more than enough for me) and was thrilled when they decided to admit me and induce my labor. I was so excited to meet my baby girl, and so tired of being pregnant that I just wanted to get the show on the road. I had no idea what to expect. It was painful! I knew it’d be painful, so that wasn’t surprising…but when they finally checked me and said that I was at a 6, I was THRILLED to see the anesthesiologist and get my epidural. Everything went as it was supposed, I progressed quickly and gave birth with no pain and no real sensation. So that is how it’s done. Not too shabby, eh?
When I gave birth to baby #2, I went for an induction again. This time it was for a different reason. With my first, my husband was deployed and was halfway across the world when our daughter was born. It was very difficult and I was not risking him missing the birth of our second baby…so I was induced 2 days before my due date. With this one, I had heard about something called an intrathecal. It’s similar to an epidural in that it goes in your back, but it’s a one time shot and lasts for a shorter period of time. I thought it sounded like a good option—my cousin had one and she raved about it. Well then, if it was good for her, it was good for me! I again toughed it out as long as I could, got the intrathecal at around 5-6cm and was shocked when it wore off in 45 minutes!! They came in to give me another shot, but before they could do it, I had to push. A couple of pushes later, my second beautiful daughter came into the world. This time I was able to experience the thrill of the urge to push. I felt her being born and honestly, it was a high like no other! I realized what I had missed in having an epidural with NO sensation with my first. “If” I ever had another baby, I thought that maybe I could be one of those crazy ladies who chooses to deliver without ANY meds. What a revolutionary idea!
Praise the Lord, we decided to try for a boy. The Lord blessed us with what we desired with a precious baby boy for baby #3. This was the first baby I really, really wanted to give birth to without medication. I thought I could do it, but when the Pitocin kicked in (yes, I was induced again), my uterus was hyper-stimulated and I could NOT endure the constant, long contractions. I have a fairly high pain threshold, but I could not open my eyes I was in so much pain. I was BEGGING for an epidural. They told me they needed to get a bolus going and once the fluids were in, I could have my epidural. I remember saying, “Give me the bag of fluid, I’ll DRINK it!” I needed that epidural. As soon as the epidural was inserted, my face started getting tingly. I told the anesthesiologist that and his response was, “Hmmm, interesting”. Not something you really want to hear. The nurses were all quiet and watching my monitors. My blood pressure dropped to 90/30. They turned me to my left side and I started praying. I was so upset. I kept thinking, “Because I wimped out and went for the epidural, now I’m going to die!!!’ I had to give myself a mental kick in the pants and remind myself that I was giving BIRTH here…LIFE was going on, not death. Within a short period of time, my blood pressure came back up and I was ready to push. Praise the Lord, from that point forward, everything went fine and my darling little boy was in my arms, as perfect as can be.
#4 was another induction—are you seeing a theme here? I hadn’t yet caught onto the whole idea of waiting for the Lord’s timing. I’d get so impatient at the end of a pregnancy, there was always a good reason to “get the show on the road”. This was no exception. We were moving…we needed to have this baby and move, so when induction was mentioned, I jumped on the idea. I really didn’t want an epidural this time. I actually asked for an intrathecal due to what had happened with my previous epidural, but I was told that an epidural is a much better option, they could give me less medication, they’d monitor my blood pressure and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, I had another bad experience. The placement was all wrong. One leg was completely dead while I still felt the other as well as all of the contractions. At one point my leg was lifted and let go of and nearly fell off of my bed (that sure would have been very painful to my poor, overstretched hips) because I was so numb I could do NOTHING to stop it. Thankfully someone was there and caught it. It was horrible. It took at least 6 hours after delivery before I could walk again.
With #5 I was NOT going to have an epidural. But I was induced again at 10 days overdue. I was feeling extreme pressure and like I was sure I was in transition, but when the nurse came in and checked me and told me I was only at a 5, I gave up. “There is no way I can do this if I’m only at a 5”. The anesthesiologist was called. She was wonderful. She assured me everything was going to be just fine. She inserted the epidural with me lying in the fetal position—let me just say, any anesthesiologist who does it in any other way than this during labor is just mean. This was the ONLY time I’ve had it done in this manner, and it was so much better than the “bend over and arch your back and hold very still” method. While she was inserting it, I kept saying, “I need to push, I need to push”. As soon as she was done, the nurse called the doctor who was 20 minutes away to come in. That wasn’t going to work…when I said I needed to push, I NEEDED to push. They grabbed the nearest doctor out of the hallway and my baby girl was delivered!!! The epidural was removed immediately and I was so glad that I got to experience the intensity of the urge to push again and so happy that the epidural didn’t seem to have any ill effect. I knew that I should have trusted my instincts that although I was told I was only at a 5, delivery was imminent. Apparently I’m not one of those women who is in tune with my body…I had believed what the nurse had said and had caved to the thought that I was not strong enough to endure. I had been told, “Just when you think you can’t do it another minute, that’s when you know it’s almost over” and I ignored that wisdom.
Thankfully, God in His wonderful love and mercy decided to bless us with another child…and give me another chance to trust Him and the natural birth process He had created. This time I decided that no one was getting Pitocin anywhere near me. A friend of mine who had also been induced with all of her babies had recently given birth at home (on accident!) and assured me that it childbirth without Pitocin is a horse of a different color. Boy was she right! God was also merciful to me in that I only went 3 days overdue with this baby. I didn’t even know that I was in labor. I was having contractions whenever I’d stand or walk, but as long as I sat, nothing happened. I called my parents and told my husband that I thought we should go to the hospital, just to have them check me. He didn’t think it was anything, but decided to humor me. While I waited for my husband to put our son to bed and waited for my friend to arrive to watch my children, I went for a walk around the block with my son. I had to stop every 1-2 minutes. WHEW! I still didn’t think it was full blown labor though. It took us quite a while to get home and when I sat down, the contractions stopped. Just what I thought…just a false alarm. Oh well, we were going to the hospital regardless—can you believe I even told my parents that since they were coming down, I’d go ahead and be induced if it was nothing?!??! Hadn’t I learned my lesson?? Thankfully God is good—always! I had not a one contraction on the way to the hospital. As soon as I got out of the car, I had a big one. I had them every 1-2 minutes on the walk to labor and delivery. They hemmed and hawed about whether to put me in a room or to keep me in triage. Thankfully they decided on a room. They did not think I was in labor—at all. They checked me and said I was at 4cm. They told me to walk for 1 hour and they’d check me again. I walked and I stopped, walked and breathed. The contractions were coming steady and strong, but still very bearable. After the hour they checked me and told me I was at a 6—so definitely active labor!! I could not believe it. It was NOTHING like the induced labors I had experienced in the past. I had never made it to 6 without begging for mercy!! They had me get into bed so that they could start my IV and I had a quick bite to eat. I had one very strong contraction that kind of surprised me, but in general they were painful, but nothing like I’d experienced in the past. I labored for a short time while we waited for my doctor to arrive to break my water. The contractions continued, but were still bearable. Definitely nothing I’d want to have pain relief for. When my doctor arrived and checked me, he informed me that I was at an 8. WHAT?!?! 8cm with relatively little pain? Was this even possible? He broke my water and said, “Call me when you need me!” This is the same doctor who missed my previous delivery, so I joked with him not to go too far. The contractions came fast and strong. It was hurting. It was hurting pretty bad…it was hurting pretty bad, but OH THE PRESSURE. THE PRESSURE. Oh my, I needed to push….NOW. With no medication masking the natural process, it was so clear what my body was doing. I was so in tune to my body. Someone ran for the doctor and even though he was only at the nurses station, he barely made it in time to catch my beautiful baby boy in his arms. It was the most wonderful experience I had. My body knew exactly what to do…it sent all the signals I needed because I had not interfered with the process. It was perfect. This was also the only birth were I did not tear. I was up and out of bed within a very short period of time because I didn’t have any medication to recover from. I felt FANASTIC! I even realized that I was still wearing my street clothes because everything had happened so fast, I hadn’t even had a chance to change.
It took me 6 children to realize the innate strength and wisdom the Lord has put into our bodies. While I don’t think there is anything inherently “wrong” with pain relief in child birth, I realized that it had inhibited me from being fully aware and present in the process and I missed out on so much. The Lord has blessed us with another pregnancy and if I get the honor of giving birth yet another time, I now know the difference between a birth with medical intervention and one where my body does what it has been created to do naturally. And knowing what I know now, I’d never choose any other way.
Wow, those are quite the stories, Janelle! Thank you so much for sharing those with us! We really appreciate it!