I Chose the Pain
Labor and Delivery without an Epidural
by: Becca W.
When I hit the big eight, I told Matt, “I think I’m going to die.” There was no respite from the pain. I felt like my guts were being ripped from my body, and I was helpless. There was no end in sight. I knew the average woman dilated about a centimeter an hour, and there was no way I could last two more hours. I cried out and grabbed Matt’s shirt. “You have to find someone to get this baby out. You have to. I can’t do it anymore. I really can’t.” Thankfully, I was in too much pain to realize that there was no other way. Ceasing labor isn’t actually an option. I also didn’t realize that dilating from an eight to a ten is very fast. My nurse came in and explained it to me.
“You’re almost there. You can do this. You can do this.”
“I can? Are you sure? It hurts really bad. I need an epidural or something. I can’t do it. You have to do something. I can’t do it,” I choked out through the sobs.
“You can do it. I promise. You’re almost there.”
She could have told me it was too late for an epidural, but she didn’t. She boosted my confidence and helped me stick with my plan, all the while helping me feel in control. Going through labor without an epidural is a whole different ballgame when you feel out of control. She was right, though, and I was complete shortly after that.
I’m not sure what pushing feels like with an epidural, but I’m pretty sure it feels better than without one. I was thankful to be actively participating in getting my baby out of my body, but the pain was unbelievable. I could never have fathomed it, actually. Uncontrollable, animalistic sounds escaped from my mouth without my permission. But I was focused. I was so focused, in fact, that the doctor literally yelled at me to stop pushing at one point.
“STOP PUSHING!” he said. “Stop, or you’re gonna rip yourself wide open!”
Maybe that was necessary to say, but come on. That was not the visual I needed at that moment. I did stop pushing, however, so I guess it achieved its desired effect. When it was finally over, and I had pushed a living, breathing human being out of my body, I was in awe. There was a seven pound, five ounce miracle lying on my chest. I looked into his eyes and told him how much I loved him. I told him that Mommy and Daddy had been waiting on him for a long time. He was my dream come true... and the best Christmas present ever.
During this emotional high, my third-degree episiotomy was being sewn up, and I would soon have a latex glove full of ice placed between my legs. It’s a strange thing to imagine, but it does the trick. We got to spend a full hour with our son before he went to the nursery and I went to the shower. Whatever shred of modesty I had left after being spread eagle all day was gone completely when nurses watched me shower and had to dry me off as I was incapable of doing so myself. Over the next days, they would also do unmentionable things to my breasts in an effort to get him to nurse. And I would sit there with my boobs out thinking, “This is weird,” but really just hoping for him to latch on and suck.
I learned months later that this would be my only experience with labor and delivery. I would never again feel the pain or adrenaline or joy. There is nothing like it. I completely understand why women choose epidurals, and now I completely understand why I didn’t. God knew what my future held, and He left me with no regrets. I was able to experience every second of labor and delivery. I know what every centimeter feels like. I know the sensation of needing to push and of actually doing so. I know that despite the tremendous pain of having a child, I still resented the pinch of the numbing shots before the doctor stitched me up. Birthing a child was the worst pain of my life, yet I would do it again in a heartbeat. Call me crazy for volunteering for the pain, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
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