Saturday, October 6, 2012

elden's birth / biggest regret

I've been feeling very sentimental and reflective the past few days. I've been running Elden's birth over and over in my head almost nonstop. There's just one little problem: I hardly remember it.

Sure, I know the specific things that happened along the way as I wrote in our birth story (ha, although I just re-read this and realized I left out the painkiller/sleeping pill part I'm about to go into detail about. Man was I tired when I wrote that!). But when it boils down to what happened in the moments just before and just after his birth--what I was thinking, how I was feeling, the expression on Jon's face--I am completely clueless. I don't even remember the first time I nursed him. Yes, we were exhausted after having only slept an hour or two total in over 24 hours. But I know a big part of it is the sequence of events that led up to my epidural.

A certain someone was none too pleased to be out in the world.
Ladies, if you take the same stance I did going into your labor--that you are going to attempt to go naturally but you are not morally opposed to an epidural--I beg you not to repeat my mistakes. I have a dear friend who is a nurse anesthetist on a labor/delivery unit in Pennsylvania who had called me when we went in to be induced letting me know if I had any questions about pain management at all to give him a call, regardless of the time of day. When I first checked in and informed the nurse of my desire to attempt natural childbirth, she had informed me I would be able to take a sleeping pill and/or painkiller to help manage my labor. I immediately texted my friend and his recommendation to me was not to take oral pills because even though these medications had not negatively impacted babies in clinical studies, since we share blood they would ultimately be circulating in the baby's blood. He recommended I just go for the epidural if I thought I couldn't do it without some sort of pain intervention. I naively believed the 2 medications could adequately manage my pain while knocking me out long enough to get some rest in anticipation of ultimately pushing a baby out.

I'll let all you other women who have had the pleasure of experiencing labor take a moment to laugh at my expense here.

The sleeping pill/painkiller (which I don't even remember requesting but Jon said I took it) combo were a brutal memory cocktail that only provided me about 10-20 minutes of sleep. Though the sleeping pill was clearly trying to do its job, the pain was just unimaginable and outweighed the sleeping pill. When I ultimately got the epidural, I fell asleep instantly--actually, I don't even remember much of the epidural because I fell asleep while they were determining if it was placed correctly. I proceeded to sleep until they woke me to check my progress where they informed me I was complete. The problem is that I had taken the sleeping pill somewhere around 1 or 2 am (I think) and given it was only 7ish that bad boy was still rearing its ugly head. That combined with my existing sleep deprivation put me in a major fog. I remember bits and pieces of the rest of the morning, but not much. I literally was falling asleep between pushes. I vaguely remember Elden coming out for Jon to tell me he was a boy, and I slightly remember them putting him on me. But that's about it.

The moral of the story is, please consider not taking the painkiller/sleeping pill. Trust me when I tell you that if it comes to that and you think you need those but will be okay without the epidural that you've pretty much already surrendered to the medical intervention and just get the epidural. It's infinitely more effective (hello! you can't feel anything!) and it doesn't even go to your baby--it's restricted within your spine. Finally, at the end of the day you won't be in a drug-induced haze. You will hopefully be able to remember much more of your special day than I can.

I'm sure this isn't the case for everyone. Since I was induced I'm not sure the protocol for women who go naturally. I'm guessing the protocol varies between hospitals, too. And hey, maybe you can manage your pain with a sleeping pill and painkiller. I'm just speaking from my experience of laboring through the night without any rest. Once I hit a certain level of tired I just couldn't focus on breathing through my contractions and I felt like the walls were caving in on me. That's when I ultimately asked for begged for demanded an epidural.


  1. i never heard of giving a birthing woman a sleeping pill! talk about counter-productive.

    i don't remember a lot of dylan's birth, either. i was so tired and my epidural dulled my sensations so much that pushing took a million years and by the end i was almost strung out and exhausted.

    james' delivery was natural, and i remember it really well. i would take the pain again in a heartbeat for the productive pushes and blissed out first hours together.

    live and learn, right? maybe you'd do it differently (and it's ok to be disappointed), but mama and babe are both perfect, so it's a win:)

    1. I think they offered to me since I went in the night before labor was actually supposed to start via pitocin--they didn't think the cervical ripener would induce on its own! Alas... it was a terrible idea.