To the women who give birth without pain medication…
I salute you. I bow down to you. You are a fierce warrior.
With my first son, I lasted approximately 10 minutes before waving the white flag and requesting the anesthesiologist. My knight in shining blue scrubs. I thought the epidural would take effect quicker than it did. I was soon doubled over and vomiting- something they leave out of the mommy-to-be books. For an hour I felt the full effects of my contractions before the meds kicked in. Fast forward 18 hours and I’m in the final stage of labor, pushing, and my epidural wears off. Hello vomit bag, nice to see you again. I vividly remember holding my 9.5 lb son minutes after giving birth and telling my mom that I would never forget the pain- or be having another baby any time soon.
For the second time in 15 months I had a stubborn baby boy refusing to make his entrance Earth side. Somewhere during the 41st week, I agreed to be induced… again. I had this delusional thought that even with the Pitocin driven contractions I would be able to make it through without an epidural.
We checked into the hospital and I was pleasantly surprised to be walked to the corner birthing suite with a view over Lake Champlain. My nurse was also a pleasant surprise. Instead of cranking up the Piton, she lovingly amped the dosage at a reasonable rate. I felt as if I was going to be able to handle the contractions with the gradual increase.
When the pain became too much, she put me in the bath. I thought she was nuts, but I felt immediate relief.
A short time after getting out of the bath to walk around the maternity wing and visit with my dad, I calmly let my nurse know that I was, in fact, wrong. I wanted to get ahead of the pain and would like the drugs, now. NOW! For the next 45 minutes I could have been mistaken for Linda Blair auditioning for the original Exorcist movie. Each time the nurse walked in without the anesthesiologist I’m confident that my head spun around and demonic noises were expelled from my mouth. There was NO way I was going to deliver that baby without drugs. I explicitly (using four letter words) let the resident OB know that.
The anesthesiologist bravely walked into my room an hour after I requested the epidural. She had heard about my antics and proceeded to give me a cocktail of pain medication to speed the process up. Within 5 minutes I could feel nothing below my waist. I was then able to re-enter the world of the sane and peacefully resume conversation with my mom and partner. I was no longer screaming, crying, or vomiting which allowed me to take a nap before the final stages of labor ensued.
12 hours after I checked in to the hospital, I gave birth to a 10.86 lb baby boy and never regretted my decision to ask for another epidural.
I have no idea how a woman lives to tell the tale of an unmedicated birth.
I didn’t really reflect on my decision to use pain medication until a friend of mine asked about why I chose to have epidurals a few months before delivering her own son. I thought about the questions for a few moments. I wanted to be able to give her an honest, real answer, and I wanted to answer the question for myself as well.
I told her I wanted to be present.
I had carried those big baby boys along with me for 10 months. I talked to them, I nourished them. I laid in the bath at night wondering who they were going to be and what they were going to look like. What it comes down to is that I wanted to be as pain free as possible so that I could be present and aware of their first minutes Earth side. I did not want to be so wrapped up in the pain that I was completely exhausted and devoid of the ability to remember every single detail about the first time I looked at them.
That’s the beautiful thing about birth. Every story is different. Every mama is different. Every baby is different. To all the moms out there, your birth story is beautiful, unique, and inspiring.
To those mamas who birthed drug-free, well… you know how I feel. May you always remember your strength and ability to do what many deem impossible!
Written by Megan Cowette
As a New Hampshire native, I knew immediately upon entering Burlington as a student at UVM that I never wanted to leave the oasis that is Vermont. In 2015, we bought our first house in Bristol, making my transformation to Vermonter officially official. I’m the proud and sometimes exhausted mom to Jack (2) and Joe (10 months). Oh yeah, and our fur-baby, Colby. I have my Masters in Education and plan to teach when my boys get to school. I’m a part-time SAHM and part-time after school coordinator. I am a wanna-be work out freak with horrible taste in music. I enjoy being on the lake, but prefer the ocean. I also enjoy nature, but hate the bugs that come along with outside activities. I am a work in progress, learning to slow down and appreciate the little moments, especially with my little boys!