Thursday, May 29, 2014

Doubts about Motherhood: Pain Medicine

Two weeks ago I started a series about doubts I have experienced as a mother. I think every woman experiences doubt about something in her life. When we become mothers, it gets worse (in my experience). Today I have another doubt to share with you.

'Lidocaine HCl' photo (c) 2011, JL Johnson - license: I was pregnant with my first a goal of mine was to give birth without the help of any epidural or other drugs. A friend of mine gave me some wise words about the whole issue. She told me to make sure I was okay with the idea of needing drugs. She told me that she had been disappointed in herself for needing them. When I heard that, it upset me. I was upset with the fact that a woman could be disappointed with herself while she was giving birth. Where did we get the idea that giving birth should follow this pattern to be acceptable? That's a load of crap.

We go into the hospital as one and come out of it as two. That is a miraculous experience. I have only had two, but I'm guessing that each birth experience is different. And that isn't a bad thing. It is a good thing and should be celebrated.

One reason that each experience is so different is the number of choices that can be made and changes that have been made. To get an epidural or not is one of those choices. As I mentioned above, I was staunchly against it with my first one. My friend's words cautioned me to back down from that stance. When I went in to the hospital, I signed the release from in case I needed an epidural. I was told myself it would be okay if I needed one. I didn't need one and I was proud of myself. I have heard multiple times that I was blessed with a quick labor, 4 hours and 45 minutes of pushing. The second time around I thought I could handle it.

I was wrong.

Labor with my daughter started like it did with my son. Everything was going as planned. Then labor moved into my back. It hurt. It hurt bad. I got up out of bed and used the birthing ball. My husband used his elbows to massage my back during the contractions. That helped a ton and then it stopped helping. I would tell him when the contraction started to go away and he would let up. I told him it was okay and he let up, but it wasn't okay and it still hurt. So he would get back down on the floor and start on my back again. I remember looking at the clock on the wall and thinking, "You will have her tonight. This is only temporary. Keep going." That worked for a couple contractions. Then my thoughts changed to, "I don't know how I can keep going with this pain. I think it might kill me. And I'm not sure that I'm being facetious about that."

When those thoughts ran through my head, I asked my mom and husband how much longer they thought this would go on. That was a rather stupid question because of course they don't know and they said as much. The don't know part, not the stupid part. What I was really asking for was permission to get an epidural. I said something about thinking I needed one. My mom and husband both said whatever you need to do. So when the nurse came back in, (I don't remember why she had stepped out, but she did.) I asked about getting something for the pain. She told me there were a couple options and I picked the epidural. She told me it would about 30 minutes because they had to put a certain amount of fluid in me first. She went to go get that started and then about 5 minutes later I was ready to push. 15 minutes after I started pushing Lily was here. So I didn't end up getting the epidural after all.

So I have now had two children without any pain medicine. I am proud of that. However my pride in my accomplishment in no way diminishes my views of woman who do get pain medicine. Each woman is built differently and each pregnancy is different. I understand the need for an epidural or other medication. If you didn't get one, congratulations. If you did get one, congratulations. Either way, you gave birth to another human being. That is amazing and you should be praised for it.

Your ability to be a good mother or a good woman is in NO WAY tied to your lack of or need for pain medicine. Don't let anyone tell you any different. You gave birth. You are a mother. And I bet you are a good one.

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