I have a good friend who is all about medical delivery. And a lot of relatives. This friend and I have had many discussions about birth; as she used to work in labor and delivery, she has a lot of stories to tell. I really enjoy hearing them, there are just so many different things that happen, and I like to know about as many as I can. The other day she was telling me about her epidural, and then asked me: "Why wouldn't you get one?" It's a very good question. Why would you put yourself through it, if you don't have to? I'm pretty sure I blundered through something or other, but now that I've had more time to think about it, here is a more thorough attempt to convey the multi-layered thought process that brought me to the desire to experience a more natural birth.
First of all, I must preface by saying that my husband is about finished with chiropractic school. As a chiropractor, your entire philosophy is that the body takes care of itself. All you do is get it in line, increase movement and bloodflow, and let the body do its thing. If that is your mantra, then you must treat the body well. Since we have come out here, we have done a number of things to improve our health, and I have to say that I am feeling and therefore looking better than I ever have. I have learned a lot about the body and have really increased my faith in its abilities.
Also, I was terrified of a c-section. I wanted to have control over how many children I would have, and not have to worry about how many scars I could handle. I wanted to be able to sit up and walk around with my newborn. And mostly, I just didn't want to get cut up. So in my reading, I learned that each intervention given makes you about 50% more likely to receive another intervention, which becomes a spiral ending in a c-section. On the other hand, I also knew very well that my mom had four children with epidurals as cleanly as easily as could be, and that my aunt had been induced with all six of her children and loved every experience.
However, I really liked the idea of giving myself a shot. I heard on "The Business of Being Born" a statement that absolutely struck a chord with me: "I didn't feel like it was something to be numbed, it was something to be experienced." I did not want to miss out on any part of my baby's birth, and while most women respond to the drugs in such a way that perhaps even enhance their experience, I really wanted to do it on my own. I wanted to see what I could do, and I wanted to do what my body was built to do. I didn't want to have to stare at a machine to know a contraction was coming. I didn't want to depend on a clock to tell me when to roll over. I wanted to bring my baby into the world.
Also, I wanted a quick recovery. A normal birth -- without tears, or cuts, or swelling, or numbness -- will always be easier to recover from.
All that aside, I did not check into that hospital one hundred percent sure that I would go without an epidural. I could not rid myself of the idea that I couldn't take the pain. I just wanted to see what I was capable of. I did end up getting some sort of narcotic at about six centimeters, and it took me a while to come out of it. I hated feeling so out of control. Eventually the contractions pulled me back to the real world, and I was able to feel it all as my son was born.
Looking back, I would do it all again. There would be a few things I would change, but believe it or not, they actually all involve making things more natural. Good thing I want a few more kids, maybe by the end I'll get it down.