Thursday, August 21, 2008

I've Fallen Off the Deep End and Can't Get Up

I can't stop reading books about childbirth, specifically unmedicated childbirth. I started out thinking, "Oh, since it went too fast last time for an epidural, I should be prepared to not get one this time." I was so unprepared last time that it was traumatic. So, off I go on my happy way, reading Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. And suddenly, she is convincing me. Big time. And now I'm considering moving to a commune in Tennessee to birth this baby au naturel on all fours in the woods.


I'm not moving to a commune. I was just joking. Ha ha.

But, wow. I had no idea about how all the high-tech medical interventions really work against labor's natural progress. And that fear and being in a scary environment (i.e. hospital) actually can make your labor go backwards. And that some OBs put arbitrary time limits on labor and if you aren't progressing fast enough for their made-up time schedule, they just start doing things like breaking your water and adding pitocin, which totally increase your C-section risk instead of just being patient and letting you eat a damn cheeseburger if you want one. Ina May would let me eat a cheeseburger. Oh, except she's a vegetarian. A garden burger, then.

But, I'm afraid to even put it into words that I am thinking about purposely going natural, because I'm not really sure I am. While I can't really remember the specific pain of labor, I do remember saying that you could cut my leg off and it wouldn't have hurt as badly as labor did. I was still asking for an epidural after she was out just to try to numb my memory of the pain. And, I just know that when someone comes in waving an epidural under my nose during a contraction, that I will likely jump at the chance to stop screaming like a slaughtered cow. So, I'm not putting it into words. I'm just thinking it into cyber-space and planning to see what happens!


MaryB said...

Am I really allowed to comment on this??? I'm goignt o have to go organize my thoughts in a methodical, objective fashion and then get back to you.

Until then can I just say that I hate, despise, abhor, detest all the scare tactics both sides of this isssue use to support their cases??? AARGH! Ill be back with rational thought in a few minutes.

Until then stop reading books. really, childbirth and parenting books are teh bane of modern parenting. we should stop banning novels and START banning self-help!

joanna said...

When I was pregnant with Julia I was sure I was going to go natural with her - but maybe that's easier to do when you're at home and not dealing with annoying nurses making you go pee all the time and strapped to things that beep? I am amazed that you want to watch/read about other people's childbirth stories. There reached a time in each pregnancy when I didn't want to even think about anyone else's experience - and while I like to hear others' stories now I still change the channel on the birth stories! (and I really don't like watching Jon & Kate & 8, but I guess that's another subject!).

Erin said...

Our "birth plan" for both our boys was as follows: NO PLAN AT ALL.

We went in with zero expectations, just like "WHATEV!" It's not that we were uneducated; we just didn't want expectations that were so subject to so many variables it was impossible to plan anything. That's how we felt. Both my birth experiences were great.

Kristi said...

With my daughter, I totally planned to go natural. I figured that women had been doing it for centuries, so I could too. After 2hours of contractions I begged for the epidural ans spent the rest of the time in the hospital watching Friends reruns on tv. I'm such a wuss.

Anonymous said...

Don't they have natural childbirth classes at the local hospitals where you can learn all the breathing techniques, etc. for pain control (mind/body stuff)? I you learn those and find that in the actual event it isn't enough, you can always get the epidural. Even if you just postpone the pain medication for a few hours, minimizing the amount of powerful chemicals circulating in a newborn has got to be A Good Thing. I've heard that the second time is often easier/faster than the first, but unfortunately I can't say that from personal experience.
(Great) Aunt Linda

Andrea and Ben said...

My doctor says the complete opposite about the epidural slowing things down. His patients tend to be more relaxed and things progress quicker in his experience. Each doctor has their opinions though. I used to think I would go natural, but after being induced, pitocin sucks by the way, I would get the epidural every time!! I had a good anesthesiologist (sp) and could still move my lower half, so I hear I got very lucky.

Susan said...

when you told me that i nearly shat a baby-sized brick onto the dining room floor au natural.

MaryB said...

Okay - Im back.

I can confirm andrea's doctors assertation. In fact, after they gave me my epidural with #1, they told Tich to go get some food because the epi was goignt oslow down/stall me out for a while. He ran down one block to Burger King and when he got back 15 minutes later, I was in the delivery room getting ready to push crying because he wasn't back yet! Took four hours to move from 3 cm to 6.5 or so (id been at 3 cm since 26wks. then after the epidural, I went to 10cm in about 20 minutes. They think it is exactly what Andrea's doc said, I finally relaxed. i even napped! they had to wake me up to wheel me to delivery. And, I guess I also lucky with both my epidurals - could totally get up and walk as soon as it was over, and could feel "stuff" during delivery - just didn't hurt. Baby #2 - no epidural. No time when they come 28 minutes after you check in! I remember nothing about that labor/delivery except a blur. I enjoyed my epi experiences because I was REALLY enjoying every minute and talking and making memories. I can tell you about every detail. I think natural is AWESOME, but I think epis have their pros also, yet all they ever get is a bad rap.

I say go with the flow and see what happens. And, believe me, I'm usually an anal-retentive, OCD, compulsive list-making planner. So, if Im seeing take it as it comes, then that's sayin' somethin'!

Katie said...

Susan, I just snorted after reading your comment!!

Everyone else: I LOVE hearing your experiences! I am watching A Baby Story obsessively and I have to say there is something really appealing about having the epidural and just chillin' and joking in the room waiting it out while watching TV. Certainly seems better than moaning and writing in pain. But then, if it is only a couple hours, I think I could hand it! Only time will tell! :)

The Quinn Report said...

Girl, you make me laugh! You can do it!!!!!!!!!!

Cari said...

I planned to try to have a natural birth, but if I ended up having an epidural I wasn't going to beat myself up over it. I remember that I was expecting the worst pain imaginable, and although it was painful, it wasn't tearing me in half or anything. I ended up not even having an IV and delivered my daughter 7 hours after my water broke. (I did moan like a dying cow through at least half of it, though.)
No matter what you decide, it will be the best decision for you. I think it all depends on the labor.

I totally read that Ina May book too. How did you like that picture of the baby coming out FACE FIRST. I think my husband is still traumatized that I showed that to him. :)

Natalie said...

Have you watched "The Business of Being Born?" Real eye-opener.

I had an epidural w/Olivia and while it eased my pain, it stopped my labor completly. The OB I spoke w/after did not have the opinion that Andrea and Ben's OB did. He told me it slows/stops labor more often than not. Also, my sister recently finished her round of L&D training as a nurse and said she learned it slows it down too, sames as my midwives, doulas, etc. That being said, I know a few people who got it, relaxed and quickly had their baby.I guess it depends on how much you're stopping your labor w/your emotional and physical response to the pain...

What I love about this post it that you are fully informing yourself! Way to go!!!! Most American women take their OB's word as fact and do little research of their own simply b/c we know no better.

Personally, after having a birth w/epidural and pit and then a drug-free waterbirth, I side with many who feel that birth in the US is in crisis. Natural birth just felt so right to me. Normal. It enpowered me. It wasn't easy, but, when all was said and done, it was a much better experience. I didn't know, until I had a drug-free birth, that the epidural stopped the release of hormones you get with a drug-free birth. I felt "high" after I had Lila in the water. Eurphoric. Actually, words cannot describe how I felt.

That being said, you may not have felt it b/c of your horrible experience with the staff and Bassett, etc. Had you got admitted when you wanted and labored properly, I'm hoping your birth w/Becca wouldn't have been so bad and your memories would be less "painful."

I guess I'm saying, in my opinion and personal experience, nature has a way of doing it's job better than modern medicine/intervention(modern medicine has it's place - we need it emergencies and certain, specific situations - obviously). I fully agree with Ina May (I also loved reading, "Gentle Birth Choices" I forget the author)

As soon as you walk into the hospital, you'll practically smell the epidural. If you get it, you get it. You're informed and know the pros and cons - so, whatever choice you make, you'll be happy w/that choice, I'm sure! So, don't worry so much!

Tracy said...

Seriously Katie, I agree with Andrea. You have done it once (when it was out of your control) Use modern medicine. Enjoy the last few hours and the birth (well, enjoy is really not the right word) Get the epidural so you are able to remember more about the birth and less about the raging pain. Your life is going to be totally chaotic for years, have a few last hours of calmness. THROW THOSE BOOKS AWAY! Just watch the baby story and see how messed up the people are without it and how pleasant the people are with it!!

The Quinn Report said...


Wanted to pass the info. along that I had to change blogger addresses. The new one is:

Angie said...

OH, no, you got sucked into the natural childbirth CULT!

Jen said...

OMG, a NATURAL childbirth? Are you CRAZY? I can't remember which kid I was giving birth to at the time, but there was this woman who sounded like she was right outside my room, wailing and sounding like an angry cat in general. I looked wide-eyed at the nurse and asked what was going on. She told me the woman had arrived too late for an epidural. Sort of like your first time? I cannot even imagine.

So, that being said (and I do apologize if you decide to go natural, as it is completely TOTALLY up to you), I will not judge you for wanting pain meds. Not One Bit.

Angie said...

Ok, I went back and read the comments and had to laugh at Susan's.

I do have to comment on the "rush of love hormones" thing. Crap. I fell absolutely completely in love with my baby daughter the moment she was born, epidural and all. Christopher was a bit different. Maybe because I didn't get to hold him right away or because I didn't just go through an ordeal for him to arrive. I don't know. It just took a bit longer. I've also heard women say that they didn't even want to look at their babies at first after unmedicated birth, because of all of the pain that they'd caused, and they still felt.

Anyway, I'm not trying to convince you that one way is better. Never had an unmedicated birth. Never going to. For me, c-sections are the way to go.

Natalie said...

I'm going to back track a bit. I'm a bit of a freak in that I didn't mind the pain. Sure, it hurt LIKE HELL and I had thoughts of death once or twice. However, I had great doulas, my mother and a fabulous midwife who helped me get to a calm place, in my mind, that helped me deal w/the pain and view it as a positive thing that was helping get my baby out (Doulas are BEST, despite husband's being intimated by them at first). I came to embrace the pain and, on my video, you'll even find me smiling and chuckling at one point during TRANSITION. My experience was extremely positive and changed my life (I mean this whole-heartedly).

However, if natural birth traumatized you last time and you have no fond memories, have scars, and are living in fear of going through something like that again, and are therefore anxious and scared, then what would be wrong w/drugs? I'm not an epidural hater. Really, don't kill yourself over this. I WANTED to feel the pain. I WANTED a natural birth. I KNEW it was going to hurt and didn't while I worried beforehand as to how I would deal with it, I WANTED it. It's just what worked for ME.

I guess it sounds like I'm trying to defend myself. Not the case. I made a fully-informed decision to go natural and knew what I was getting into way ahead of time and was like, "BRING IT ON!" But, that mind set is not for everyone, some would call it beyond crazy in today's world. Don't let the natural birth lovers like me make you feel guilty in whatever decision you make!

I'm starting to adjust my thinking and now think that women who've given birth should share their experiences (if asked) and what worked for them (books they read, classes they took, etc), but that we should never tell a pregnant mother that she should or shouldn't get an epidural. It's a very personal choice. I know people who LOVED their epidural and people who hated it. Women have mental scars of either types of birth and you just have to know yourself well and decide what's best for you (in my humble opinion).

Katie said...

Y'all, I wish we were sitting around drinking wine and discussing this! It is SO fascinating to me. I appreciate all your viewpoints!

I am just assuming I will not have time for an epidural (probably wishful thinking and I'll end up with a 72 hour labor or something). I do want to be prepared to handle it on my own. And then I think, "Well I've done it before, I can do it again, especially if I'm prepared this time." And then, suddenly I find myself wishing that I wouldn't have to deal with it all and could just get the pain relief.

I wasn't scarred from Becca's birth. In fact, it was the most amazing moment of my life! The high I felt after she was born was like Natalie described. I have never felt that high in my life. It was the most amazing feeling. And, I'm glad to hear from Angie that you can experience that with an epidural as well! I also recovered SO quickly. I almost ran down the hall to the recovery room about 20 minutes after the birth. I had never felt better in my entire life! I did feel so empowered and powerful and strong and that I could handle ANYTHING life threw me after that (except sleep deprivation!)

So, the bottom line is that I don't really know what I want, but I am going to be prepared for all options! Thank you guys for your input!

Molly said...

I heart drugs.

Anonymous said...

P-L-L-LEASE , GO NATURAL IF YOU CAN , iDID 2 BIRTHS THAT WAY , AND WAS MOWING THE LAWN 3 DAYS AFTER GIVING BIRTH. Now all Doctors wanna break the water or INDUCE LABOR , H-E-LL-O . That baby will come out when he's damn good and ready. I truelly believe it's all about there time schedule . YIKES!!!! Let that baby go till HE IS READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...


Susan said...

Uh-oh. Katie, I think you might hurt anonymous poster's feelings if you decide to forgo tremendous pain.

Polite bloggers ALWAYS consider the opinion of anonymous comment authors. Especially when they type in all caps.

Marie Green said...

I love Ina May, and dreamed of birthing on The Farm too- more than the drugs vs. no drugs, I love the attitude of respect for a woman's body and what it's capable of that Ina May has. I think that respecting the process, no matter which way you end up going, is the key. Not enough credit is given to how important the process of labor is. Our labors stay with us forever and shape us in many ways.

Even though I was completely in love with Ina, and was feeling much as you described at the end of both of my pregnancies, I DID end up using pain medications, and then I DID have a csection both times. But I also went quite far into labor before deciding on medication, and being able to FEEL what my body was doing helped me respect the miracle of it.

Also, my theory about pain meds is not that you'll avoid them only if you have a high pain tolerance. I think that decision is more about the LENGTH of labor and not the intensity. If you are laboring your ass off for 6 hours and are still at a "4, maybe 5", and then 5excruciating hours later are "a good 5", you start thinking about having some drugs and a nap. =)

Your labor will be amazing NO MATTER, Katie. Respect that your body and your baby are working together to decide WHEN, trust that you will know when enough is enough, and surround yourself with loving support. I CAN'T WAIT to hear all about it!

Dad said...

My child births were not really that difficult and each one was easier than the last. Just have fun.

Tracy said...

I recovered very quickly with the epidural. The midwife I had turned off my medicine when I baby was almost ready to be pushed out. I felt some (not all) of the pushing. I still had the experience and after they had checked her out, given a bath and all the first time things, I was ready to get up and take a shower.

If someone has that strong of an opinion that they have to write in caps, you think they would be strong enough to put their name to it. (Just my opinion.)

I also agree that child birth is SUPER personal. It is not one size fits all. You will know when the time comes! Relax. Enjoy Becca! Write everything to memory. After you have baby #2, the first time you look at Becca, you are going to think she has grown 5 inches. Prepare yourself for that because that was the hardest thing is realizing how big Madison was after looking at small little Cait in my arms.

MaryB said...

Does it make anyone else laugh that dad said's comment reads like "dad said his childbirth experiences...."

I know thats not what was meant, but it cracked me up!

Glad to see (almost) everyone here is so reasonable. I was afraid this would become one of those ranty comments posts like some I have seen on circumcision...(oh boy, lets hope Katie has a girl!)

Katie - If I came across as overly opinionated, I apologize. My only irritation with this issue is that I have found people to be so intolerant of other's decisions. People who want to use scare tactics to support their argument make me crazy.(and I see it on BOTH sides of most issues related to childbirth and parenting!) Everyone here has been so non-judgmental in their thoughts!I am so impressed!

Lastly, just wanted to second what angie said...I got the "high" with both my medicated and unmedicated births! I cannot imagine that any mother holding her baby for the first time doesn't feel as though the world has stopped turning no matter the circumstances of the birth - even if it was on the side of the road in a cab!

Katie said...

MaryB--did you really give birth in a cab? HOLY CRAP. I have to hear more about this!!! I don't think you're overly opinonated at all. You obviously have had experience with this. I totally agree that everyone has been very open minded about other viewpoints. I'm impressed too. I didn't intend for this to turn into some big is just what I've been dwelling on lately! But, now that I see how strongly people feel it makes it even more interesting to me!

Katie said...

And,'s comment is cracking me up too!

Jen said...

It is good to see everyone being reasonable (except perhaps anon) on this, because it is such a personal decision. If at all possible, it should be up to the mom (unless you have unreasonable nurses who send you back home because you're not really in labor even though you are and it's January in Alaska, and then you can't have an epi!).

I had an epi with both girls. Kate came on her own - we went to the hospital in the middle of the night with contractions maybe 4 minutes apart. I think I was 3cm, so they kept me. They had to start pit by around noon, since walking around the halls and sitting on the ball weren't helping much. Even the pit took forever. Then once I got to 6cm, I think it only took about 15 minutes to get to 10, and the doc wasn't there! Long story. The drugs started to wear off with this birth and I felt a lot. And I did feel that hight that everyone talks aboutj.

With Claire, I was induced about 5 days early, I think. I went in at 7:30am, had the epi maybe around noon, and she was born at 8:30pm. This birth was so much easier, and if I have another baby, and have the option, I will go this route again. I was afraid she would come early like Kate, but she didn't, so the induction was a good thing for me.

Whatever you choose to do, it will work out the way it is supposed to, and you will love your baby just as much as if you had done it the other way!

Katie's Mom said...

Well, first of all, your dad DID mean that HIS childbirth experiences (that would be the birth of "his" 3 children - you and your two sibs) were "very pleasant and quite enjoyable!" They were MY childbirth experiences, too! He was right in there helping me breathe and timing contractions and writing everything down. He DID say, however, that there was ONE hard part - when I squeezed his hand SO hard during contractions that he had to take off his wedding ring because his fingers were getting squashed. But, that being the only DIFFICULT part of childbirth, he could handle it OK!

He did also mention that my "false labor" made him miss an episode of Star Trek! BTW, there was nothing false about it, but they did send me home for an hour or two!

Katie's Mom said...

Katie, here is the abbreviated story of your birth:
Went to the hospital around 10PM after having what I thought were hard contractions. Sent home for "false" labor. Ya, right. Went back about midnight when my contractions were so hard I thought I'd never make it back - had to lie down on the lawn. Got back to the hospital and was only dilated to 2 or 3 or something depressing. Had the worst experience of my life - an enema. I was LYING on the bathroom floor by myself. Got back in bed and they broke my water. Labored long and hard for MANY hours without much progress. Squished your dad's hand over and over. Was EXHAUSTED. Got a "saddle block" (is that the same as an epidural?)about 8 AM - finally! Had a great time after that, but things definitely slowed down - that's why they didn't give it earlier. You were pulled out with forceps about 9:30 AM. I was TOTALLY HIGH - and could hardly believe how absolutely beautiful you were even with the forceps marks!

katie's mom said...

Oh, and you were born on MOTHER'S DAY!! What a gift!

And another thing, when we were driving back to the hospital in "real labor" after the "false labor," a BLACK CAT crossed our path. Ever since then we've KNOWN that black cats bring GOOD LUCK!

Katie said...

I never knew about you laying down in the grass, Mom! That is too funny (though I'm sure it wasn't at the time!)

Molly said...

I heart Susan!

Anonymous - I encourage you to continue to give birth without drugs.

Katie - I encourage you to do whatever YOU want.