Okay, I admit it. I had an epidural. That does not make me any less of a mom or woman. If you disagree with these statements, save yourself, stop reading now. I don’t regret my choice.
If you are still reading this post you probably fall into one (or two) of three camps:
- Scared of epidural but would kinda sorta consider trying it if the risks were clearly explained
- Absolutely against epidurals (likely never had one) and want to see what crap is going to be written here
- You’re an epidural advocate (likely because you’ve either had one yourself or known a mommy or two that have had one)
I was certainly not in camp #2. I believe that natural child birth must be truly amazing. So, I’ve been told, is bungie jumping. I have no intention of bungie jumping. Power to the bungie jumpers and power to the natural pushers.
There are many natural birth champions out there. Boy oh boy there sure are a whole lot of them – just get visibly knocked up and they appear – like worms do from meat you left out in the heat. Hard luck with the worm analogy, I mean no harm but geeze you guys sure did try to get inside my head! Anyway, going with my own research and vibe, I decided to give the epidural the try I always planned to.
Don’t get me wrong for the first stages of labour I totally stayed natural. My yoga breathing and focusing on my husband worked – for 6 hours into labour. Then, at hour 6 (yes as in S I X – the number that comes after 5), when I was told that I was at the same dilation I was at hour #1…yeah, I called for “el needle” and made the choice to add $7500TT to my hospital bill. Yes, that price of two/ sometimes three trips to Miami to POS and yes, I knew this upfront and knew my insurance would not cover it. BASTARDS.
I had done my research. In addition to reading the whole damn internet on
epidurals, my cousin is an anesthesiologist in the US, and guess what, his wife sure nuff had her children assisted by epidurals (not administered by her husband – come on, America ain’t Trini – ya can’t treat ya own family… be real nah). So, after he walked me through the entire process and my doctor cosigned on epidurals being more than reasonably safe, I went into the hospital knowing that if I really could not take the pain, I would try the epidural.
I want to be candid in saying this: Contractions are painful. Some say they are like bad menstrual cramps. Look carefully at the liars that tell you these things.
If contractions are like a menstrual cramps…
they are like the ones that come armed with a hacksaw and a big ass shoe to kick you into all out, knee buckling pain. At least they were that way for me. I did not have unicorn, pretty labour.
BUT, to be fair, contractions did not last terribly long and in-between them, there was really like no pain for me. Only issue is, that by hour 6, no pain time seemed to last less than the hacksaw/shoe contractions did (this probably was not the case but is sure as ‘ras felt so). And they were coming fast and furiously. Honestly, I was tired after 6 hours (especially since labour came after a night of no sleep due to worry). So, I got out of my own way, and called for the epidural. I did not need to be superwoman. I’m sure superwoman would spin her way into pain free baby delivery too.
Before I get to how the epidural made me feel, it is important I share the process that I went through.
I never met the anesthesiologist (spell that word without auto correct nah – I dare you) before the day I was consenting for him to literally inject a needle between vertebrae of my spine. That was not smart. Don’t be me. His bedside manner was not exactly warm (interpret this as he was grumpy and to the point).My obvious concern/ visible pain did not phase him.
Even though I indicated I knew the entire process (remember the cousin had did explain de ting already), the good doc very matter-of-factly went through the entire process again with me and once again asked for my consent. I hesitated – then got a contraction and nodded yes, for sure.#takethepainawayJesus
Finally, I turned to the wall, heard him smack on his gloves and noticed the two nurses that were standing by a meticulously laid out table covered in medical equipment looked almost as scared as I was increasingly becoming. Everyone was covered in my interpretation of surgical gowns and, oh yeah, the two nurses and the doc were now donning masks. The shit was about to get real. The room was suddenly very bright. I was certain the end was near. My fight or flight instinct was trying to kick in.
As I was facing the wall, gown off and cold. I felt the tears welling up. Called for the hubby. Wanted to hold his hand. Got buffed by doc – I could not move he said. Made sense. He needed to be precise with the needle. It’s not like he was about to give me a massage.
As my cousin and this doc who I just met had explained, the first step was the cold (ICEY)
liquid they use to ensure the area where the needle would go was sterilized. Did I say how cold it was? Being a liquid, it also is pretty runny and low and behold…that liquid ran straight down my exposed bum crack to the nether regions. Burning could not, as we Trinis say, done.
I screamed. I moved. The doc literally said, “ok… I have to start over.”
What the actual Foolishness????
So indeed again… wall…cold (still very cold) liquid…no squirming this time…bit through a bad ass contraction ensuring not to move…when it was over el needle was used…braced for injection (no screams I was too scared to move… another contraction (pressure)….plenty tape… more tape…tape all on meh back (buh wha de…)…more tape and then….
Literally, that was the end. Less than 15 minutes later, I was in absolutely no pain at all. I
think birds started to sing. I noticed what was on TV. The grumpy doctor was an angel! The scared nurses seemed relaxed. I actually felt like I could have taken a little wine and jam if the right music was playing. Maybe there was music….
As I smiled up at him, the once-grumpy-now-angel doc explained the excessive amounts of tape were used to keep the injection site and catheter (?) sealed. Gave me a little button attached to a bag of drips that was to be used if I felt the pain come back. Smiled (an actual smile eh) and left.
I then, much more calmly, went through another 5 hours of labour, watching contractions on a monitor but feeling very little discomfort. My husband and I watched TV together. We made jokes. We cherished our last few child free hours together in between nurse and doctor checks of my dilation situation. The last two hours before labour – when I finally passed 8cm, the pain button was removed and contraction sensations returned in time for me to most definitely push my son out.
The experience was so good that, no shit, on the table I told my doctor that I could definitely do this baby thing again soon. 🙂 I mean that. I was not totally high.
So, now that I’m on the other side, here’s my list of top 5 epidural myths that I my experience dispelled.
- You won’t be able to push: My son was not delivered with a forceps. The Patient Control Epidural Administration (PCEA) approach to my treatment (that’s a British Journal of Anesthesia link eh – told you, I did my research), allowed for some (i.e. significant) feeling of the contractions and for ability to feel and push. For all who anticipate the actual delivery room experience is a pain free, flying high type feeling for us “crazy epidural mommies” – #bereal. It’s still giving birth and you are still pushing a small soccer ball out of your lady parts so, yeah, there was some pain.
- You’ll be paralyzed: Ok sooo no. Apparently the risk of paralysis is pretty low and even then it is not usually directly linked to the epidural itself. You’d probably more likely get paralyzed bungie jumping. Want to know how low the risk of paralysis from epidurals is in T&T? Ask around nah because that’s the only way to find out. #sad
- You will end up having to have a C Section: Refer to myth #1. Also, according to US based anesthesia clinic North Star Anesthesia Q: Are my chances of a cesarean section increased with an epidural? Studies have not shown that epidurals increase the chance of a cesarean section.
- You will harm the baby: So, truth be told, my little one did seem really sleepy when his first day or two but hey, babies sleep so its hard to tell if that was a direct link. The fact is that indeed, whether a PCE, spinal or regular epidural, some meds will reach the baby BUT we are a couple decades into common epidurals now and more than 60% of American women (ie: women most likely to sue the pants off docs if some crap hits the fan) opt for epidurals so I’m not worried.
- You don’t get the true birth experience: Eh heh? Big wet steups to that. How come we don’t say crap like that to migraine sufferers who take headache meds or people recovering from cold using (wait for it) actual medication? Wake up and smell the future that is now.
So that’s my epidural story. I want to end by saying that how you choose to give birth is really YOUR choice. Don’t let tantie, hubby or doc choose it for you. Do your research, know your body and be happy we live in a world of options. Hey, chances are your granny had your parents squatting in a bedroom in the Caribbean somewhere and your parents generally came out ok…right?
The choice is yours. Revel in that.