Many of you lovely readers already know we’re gearing up for the arrival of baby number FOUR here in the Shafer house. Only a couple more months now until sweet baby Girl makes her appearance, and it’s got me thinking about the absolutely inevitable:
I’ve done it three times before, and lived to tell the tales. You’d think I’d be cool as a cucumber, totally zen. But, ohhhh, baby. I’m not.
‘Cause here’s the thing. Every single one of my childbirth experiences was as different as the children that emerged from my womb.
Offspring number one? I was determined to not feel a thing. Not an ounce of pain would I endure. I mean, come on. This was 21st century, people. Surely medicine had advanced to the point that women no longer needed to feel pain when delivering new humans to the world? Surely Genesis 3:16 (you’ll give birth to your babies in pain) was an antiquated, outdated notion.
Wrong. Either I had the world’s worst anesthesiologist, or epidurals weren’t meant to work on me. Because no matter how many times they re-adjusted the epidural (three times), or administered more meds (a lot), all they managed to accomplish was deadening my legs. Not my abdomen.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And expletives. Lots and lots of expletives.
Once the whole ordeal was over (nearly 23 hours from the time my water broke), I remember holding my little baby boy in my arms, trembling, shocked at the fact that (a) something so tiny could hurt so much, (b) that I made it through alive, and (c) that in a couple days’ time, I’d be sent home with this needy little human, where it would be my sole responsibility to keep him alive.
Thankfully, that boy is now ten, very much alive, and has never caused me even a fraction of that kind of pain again, emotional or otherwise.
The second time around, I was a little older, and a little wiser. No way in heck was I going to ask for an epi, and no way in heck was I going into the delivery room unprepared. Boy number one weighed nearly ten pounds when he was born, making the delivery much harder than it ought to have been, so we monitored my nutrition and Bouncing Boy #2’s weight carefully. A week before my due date, I was induced. Everything progressed normally. The pain, when faced head-on with the right tools to deal with it on my own, while not easy, was totally manageable. I remember holding my second son in my arms, trembling in shock that (a) I’d done it pretty much on my own, (b) I wasn’t keeling over in residual pain, and (c) I wasn’t terrified to take him home. Sure, it hurt, but (and yeah, I get it, this sounds weird) it was a good hurt. A productive hurt. A hurt worth its weight in gold.
Then, nearly four years ago, I was preparing to do the same with my third child. A little girl. SweetZ had decided she wanted to be breech, but I was having none of that. Determined to avoid a c-section at all costs, I opted to try external version…which is just a fancy way of saying let a doctor pretend he hates your abdomen for an hour while he tries to get your baby to turn around.
It sucked. So bad. And in the end, SweetZ never fully turned. Instead, she lodged kinda crooked-like, which ended up playing a big part (not the whole part…there were lots of very scary moments toward the end of my pregnancy with her) in the fact that we ended up in an emergency c-section…
Where my epidural failed in surgery.
When it was all over (I still shiver thinking about it) I remember holding my tiny girl (the smallest of all three) in my arms, trembling in shock and (a) wondering when the morphine would begin to kick in, (b) thinking how grateful I was that she was healthy, and (c) wondering when the heck the morphine would begin to kick in.
Oh, so scarring.
So now, I’m sitting here, belly swollen, contemplating the fact that very soon I’ll be delivering another bundle of joy. This sweetie is so active…sometimes she’s breech, sometimes she’s not. She dances and spins, kicks and caresses, and has no idea how much it stresses me out when I can feel her head bobbing around under my ribs…or how much I rejoice when I feel her feet kick those same ribs. I’m not scared of the pain of childbirth – I can deal with it. In fact, I welcome it – especially in light of the pain a person feels when the effects of an epidural wear off and you’re strapped to a table, cut open.
I’m blessed with an OB I love, and a husband who’s more supportive than I could ever ask for. I know we’ll do everything we can to avoid the OR (though there’s no way in heck I’ll mess with version again). But it’s a hard bit of future to wait for, not knowing how it’ll turn out. Not knowing if I need to steel myself for something wholly unpleasant that’s utterly out of my control, or if I’ll end up getting to do it the way I want – with some hard work and pain, but natural.
I want to hear from you – what were your birthing experiences like? Were you scared? At peace? Were you that pregnant woman I love to hate who never felt a thing and was holding your baby in your arms after 15 minutes of pushing? Or can you relate with my topsy-turvy birthing experiences?
And, hey, Dads – I want to hear from you, too! I know my hubster has plenty of opinions about how our deliveries went down!