To Be So Lucky

I’m sort of overwhelmed as how to write this post.

Just the same, a little bit of anxiety has never stopped me from blabbing my mouth.

Months ago I wrote this post about my fears surrounding THE EPIDURAL (dum dum dum). I was so nervous about it mostly because it seemed inevitable and because the idea of having a needle stuck in your back freaked the crap out of me.

In the wake of this article I received a lot of advice on the subject. I also saw hugely differing opinions on the matter while reading and researching and asking what labor would in fact be like.

I seemed to get extremes.

People either liked the epidural so much that they would never imagine giving birth without it or they were extremely prideful about the fact that they gave birth naturally.

I’m not saying that there were not people in the middle.  I’m just saying that over all, this is the kind of thing I saw.

Today I want to defend both sides of the birthing seesaw.

Let me say this: I was lucky. And by lucky I don’t mean lucky to have a drug free labor I mean lucky to have the labor experience I wanted…which just happened to be drug free.

I will be the first to let my pride down and say that it was not me who did natural labor…it was my husband and my nurses and God.  I actually asked for pain relief when I was going through transition. I was desperate. I couldn’t make it.  I needed help.


me and my belly before labor started.


I thought it was all about inner strength and determination.  It isn’t really.

My sister-in-law, Andrea, is one of the most driven and determined people I know and she had an epidural with both her children and I have to say that I admire her for it. She knew what she wanted/needed and she has two incredible little boys because of it. She is great mother…the epidural didn’t effect that.

It’s not like YOU yourself really go through natural labor anyway. It’s not like you (your mind) does anything.  It’s your body that does it whether you like it or not.

To be honest I find that most women who had epidurals are much less snobby about their birth experience.  They knew their limitations and this is so valuable as a mother. Isn’t it? Friends who had the epidural said that it helped them do what they needed to do.  It helped them be a good mom from the start.

Who knows…the epidural could be the redemption of the fall, where it is said that because of sin women will experience pain in childbirth…who knew Christ came and took our sins away and in addition gave us the epidural. (just kidding)

Women DIED in childbirth because the pain and the bleeding and so on.  I would have died from hemorrhaging…so in a way… even though I had a natural childbirth experience I was still in need of modern medicine to help me.

The point also needs to be made that pain and I have a little love affair. It’s a long story but I’m not really afraid of pain. What I am afraid of is being out of control.  So the pain of labor was actually interesting to me…all the way through to the end. What scared the shiitake out of me was the unpredictable nature of labor. I felt totally out of control.

I was lucky to have a supportive husband (many women don’t), lucky to be unintimidated by pain and lucky to have wide hips…seriously!

Now that I’ve defended my epidural peeps I would like to defend drug free (I don’t like natural).

I’m the kind of person that wants to experience everything she can in life.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out for me. For example climbing a mountain. I actually physically could not do that. But I want to experience all the depths of my humanity.  So numbing pain during labor didn’t seem right to me.

Andrew and I had a discussion about death a few months ago wherein I told him that I wanted to be present when I died…I know…right? Obviously Val!

No I mean I want to experience death – I want to be conscious. Who’s to say that death is all that bad.  Has anyone ever told you? No.  It’s a mystery and one I want to experience to the fullest.

So labor – a type of death in a way – was something I wanted to experience fully…every single twinge.

And it was incredible.

Everyone should at least try for a drug free birth…I beg you.  At least try for it. Broaden your human experience. Now that I’ve experienced it I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Each woman is an individual.  Each pregnancy is different but I would like to call women to stop talking about the natural birth club like it makes them better and to not automatically ask for an epidural “on the rocks” when they get to the hospital.

Know yourself.  Love yourself and your baby and do what is best for the two of you.  Our birth stories are all incredible no matter how we get there.


In other parts of my world: masons are reconstructing a new stone walkway across the street…big excitement in the neighborhood. Who knows maybe 10 cars will drive down the street.




5 responses

  1. I don’t fit into either category. I had an emergency c-section with Tabytha because my body didn’t go into labor after 24 hrs of pitocin. She went into distress (heart rate too high) and the doctor did an emergency c-section to get her out and make sure she was ok. With John and Jessi, the hospital’s policy was an automatic c-section because of my section with Tabytha. I never got to experience labor or the joy of actually birthing any of my children. I’ve always kinda envied women who delivered vaginaly, no matter who grusome they discribed it. But it wasn’t in the cards for me.

  2. I am so glad you got the birth experience you wanted! That is so wonderful. I also appreciate that you point out many positives for both sides of drug-free and non-drug-free labor.

    That being said, I had demanded an epi the second I got to the hospital. My contractions were every 5 minutes at their LONGEST stretch from the minute I started labor. By the time I had dealt with them every 2-5 minutes for 10 hours at home, I was exhauseted and ready for an epidural.

    During the push through the birth canal AND having an epidural, I experienced some of the most horrendous pain. I was told they had given me the highest dose they could and that it was a constant drip so not like it ran out.

    Come to find out she had her thumb in her mouth when I started to push her through the canal. It had slipped up and was resting on the bridge of her nose. Not only was I pushing out a head but a head AND a hand!!! Imagine that much more circumference coming through the birth canal!

    I shook and was absolutely in the most excruciating pain. Every muscle in my body had given out and I was just trembling from the pain. I had only gotten a half hour of sleep in 24 hours leading up to her arrival because no sooner had I fallen asleep, the nurses woke me up to tell me the baby’s heart rate had dropped. Heaven forbid I would need a c-section! The epi was already there though if I did.

    This is not to tell you anything other than, we never know what will happen when labor begins. We are definitely out of control of it. Personally, I would not recommend people try a drug-free labor first nor would I tell them to do what I did and get the epi the second you get to your labor and delivery room.

    I would recommend people listen to their heart, use those mother instincts God has given us. God knows how our labor will go and the Holy Spirit may just be trying to tell us something. God gave us our personalities and our pain-tolerance levels. He gave our husbands with their personalities, some able to cope with their wives in the pains of labor better than other husbands. (Infer what you’d like here. :0))

    I’m thrilled you were able to give birth without drugs! That’s such a beautiful experience that Lord willing I hope I never have.

  3. This was a beautiful post. I think you handled the subject well. It does seem to be a touchy one among mothers doesn’t it? Both sides defending why they did what, many feeling insecure about what the other side feels. I find very similar hostility and insecurity with the nursing vs bottle debate. And sadly, many other mothering issues. I wish as women we felt more comfortable with who we are and the choices we make and didn’t feel the need to lash out at the other side to make ourselves feel better. As sadly I see all to often. I try, try so hard to not come across that way to new moms I encounter. I want so badly for women to feel comfortable around me. I don’t know whether I achieve that or not, but it is my goal… keep it real, be yourself and don’t compare. But, man it is so hard not to compare ourselves.
    I am so glad you had the labor you wanted. And I am so glad that you are open minded about the whole debate and not judge mental. What a great mom you are!

  4. I also appreciate the defense of both sides of the debate. I like the way Jen ended her essay. And I also appreciate Crystal’s viewpoint, recognizing that the tension over preferences extends into motherhood. I think it is important to be true to what God is speaking to your heart, what is best for the baby, recognizing who you are and what your strengths are.
    As my daughter-in-law Care very calmly says when someone is pressuring her to change mind, “that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it.” Our differing experiences and opinions don’t make us better or worse than one another, they just highlight our individuality. Life would be absent or oppressed if we were all exactly the same.

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