My daughter told me yesterday that her roommates were impressed that I had all four of my children naturally. That's sweet and I appreciate the implied coolness–factor of it. But, I feel like I need to clear something up. Of course I had my children naturally. As opposed to . . . unnaturally? Like, while playing the tuba, marching in the Rose Parade and eating a snowcone? All babies are born naturally. Delivering a baby without medication, now that is unnatural.
So. I gave birth to four children (not simultaneously) without an epidural or other pain killers. One of my kidlets was induced, the rest came along like they were supposed to, more or less.
I didn't do it because, ooh! Look at me! I am BRAVE and TOUGH! Nope. Because I seriously am not tough. Slamming my pinkie toe into the bench my mother-in-law painted for us (which I do regularly) puts me in a coma. Nor am I bringing it up to say, WELL, I simply don't experience pain with childbirth. And that's why I had them with no meds. No, honeys. We're talking about human beings with heads the size of cantaloups squeezing through a doorway made for Lego Star Wars people. IT HURT. ALL FOUR TIMES. LIKE SWALLOWING THE GOOD YEAR BLIMP AND PULLING IT OUT YOUR BELLY BUTTON.
I didn't do it because I disrespect the meds and those who take them. Those are good medications and smart women. Nor was it to wave a flag for those who don't take them. Women have given birth for millennia without meds or my flag waving, and bazillions of them around the world still do. Some while they are out working in the rice paddy. They take a fifteen minute break to catch their breath, strap the baby to their back, and keep working. No no. Compared to these remarkable chicks, my no-meds-thing was seriously wussy.
It was for reasons much more deep and personal. Reasons that make me ask the introspective question: WHY THE HECK–WHEN THERE WERE PERFECTLY GOOD MEDICATIONS DESIGNED TO TAKE ALL THE PAIN AWAY–DID I PUT MYSELF THROUGH THAT? AND MORE IMPORTANT, WHERE THE HOLY HORMONE WAS MY HUSBAND'S BRAIN WHEN HE LET ME DO IT?
My choice to go without an epidural was purely a wimpy one: I couldn't stand the humiliation of running to the hospital shrieking-ready to deliver, and then finding out I was dilated to a point-oh-five and sent home. So I always went into denial ("No, no. It's not labor. It's food poisoning"), and waited until the last possible second to drive over. By the time I got there my dilation was generally at an 8-plus and it was too late for meds without slowing the labor down. AND THAT KID WAS COMING OUT, A'IGHT? I wasn't waiting.
The other reason was much simpler: mortal terror of an eighteen-inch long, three-inch thick needle going into my spine. I mean, duh.
So, I gave birth without meds. Even with the induced kid. Because of the fear of humiliation and big needles. Nothing noble. Nothing great. Sheer wimpitude.
I never advise my daughters to go without drugs during childbirth. Nope. I tell them to go to the doctor a month in advance of the birth and have him or her stick the epidural right into their neck, then keep it going with an IV drip. That way there's no chance of any actual labor pains eeking in. And if my girls are really smart? They'll keep the epi-drip-line in until the kid graduates from college.
This is my advice because I felt like a pioneer after going "natural" the first time. But the second, third, and fourth times? Like a pioneer who had been dragged behind the covered wagon, run over by a herd of buffalo, dipped in a frozen river, and then steam-pressed at the dry cleaners. And if I had to do it again, NO WAY, JOSERITA! I'd go for the drugs.
Unless they still use your spine for giant needle-point. In that case, forget it. The kid would stay in there until college. Maybe even for the rest of its life. I could totally live with that.
And I am unanimous in it.