The monthly blog-post theme on the PAIL Blog this month is ‘Birth Stories’. Not just ‘This is what happened, and then I gave birth’, but more specifically how our individual birth stories impacted our lives. While I’m still processing (its only been two months!), here’s what I came up with.
When I signed up for midwife care, I knew that I was signing up for a medication-free birth; or, at least, an attempted medication-free birth. At ten weeks pregnant, that seemed like a completely logical, completely attainable goal, and I didn’t give it another thought.
By twenty-five weeks pregnant, I had made my way through Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, and I felt empowered. Women had been having intervention-free births since the beginning of time, and as a woman, my body was created for just this purpose. I was calm, I was capable, and I was built for such a time as this.
By thirty-four weeks pregnant, I had completed my childbirth classes and hired a doula. I wasn’t just confident, I was prepared. I felt completely ready to use my breathing exercises, visualization techniques, prayers, and kick-ass birth playlist to rock this birth. I was ready to tackle labour head-on, and I didn’t give pain relief a second thought.
By forty-four hours into intense, gut-wrenching back-labour, I knew that all of the breathing techniques and Bible verses in the world would not help me through this. I knew that, despite being made to give birth, and despite all of my preparations, I could not endure one more minute of labour on my own. So began a cascade of interventions, and I delivered my beautiful daughter two full days after going into labour.
Do I regret my decision to request an epidural? Absolutely not. For me, it was completely necessary. I was so tired, so worn out, so emotionally sapped, that the pain relief (despite how brief) was the only thing that got me through. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not going med-free. I don’t see myself as less of a woman because I couldn’t manage completely on my own. And I have no regrets about the situation (except that I *may* have requested the gas a little sooner. And would definitely have brought along more bottles of Gatorade).
Though I have no regrets, though there is nothing about my labour I would change, it has had some lasting effects. I’m honestly researching PTSD, because the impact of the situation is that great. The idea of ever doing it again terrifies me. Thinking about another baby sends me into a spiral of anxiety. I have dreams about being in labour, and wake up horrified that its not over.
But then I snuggle my baby, and know that she was worth it. Every day with her is worth the forty one weeks and forty eight hours it took to get her here. Every day erases the sting of infertility a little more. And I know that I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I know that there are women all over the world who would gladly take my two days of labour if it meant that they had a little one of their own.
So I thank God instead of panicking. And I hug my girl a little bit closer, instead of getting carried away. And I know that everything is going to be all right.