Saturday, January 13, 2007

J thinks I am insane.

I decided a couple months ago that I might want to try an un-medicated birth with this baby. It’s not that I’m anti-meds—hey, down ‘em if you got ‘em—it’s just that I am extremely sensitive to most medications. I usually only need half of the dose of whatever I’ve been prescribed. The only exceptions are antibiotics because I’m not down with creating drug-resistant bacteria to wreck havoc on civilization as we know it because I can’t be bothered to take a whole teaspoon.
It shocked J that I would rather feel the pain than the side effects of most pain medications. All that being said, when I got to the hospital with El Guille, I elected to have an epidural. Hey, I didn’t know, it might have been the one pain med that was no big deal.

Don’t worry; I don’t have a crazy-horrible epidural story and this is not a graphic tale of birth (I save those for Sundays.) The epidural was completely routine and no big deal. However, when you get an epidural there are a whole bunch of other things that happen: saline to keep you hydrated, catheterization, etc, etc. I was not a fan of the nurse-trainee who stuck me four times trying to get in the saline line. J almost fainted when he saw the blood rivulets dripping from my arm to pool on the floor. That gal was a keeper! The saline itself made me puff up like a marshmallow over a campfire. J pushed his thumb into my forearm and made an indentation that stayed for hours (ok, that didn’t happen, but wouldn’t that have totally illustrated how puffy I was?)

The hospital also gave me the Pain Clicker Thinger (official trademark name) with which I could control the amount of medication that flowed into, well, into my spine. I clicked it a lot at first, which I think slowed down my labor (for various reasons that I will not go into so as to not freak out the three guys who read this blog—hey DM!) I also didn’t like the ‘asleep’ feeling in my legs, the shaking, or the nausea.

Ok, let’s be honest, I’m just not a fan of the out of control feeling I get while on pain meds. There are a dozen other valid reasons I want to try without pain meds this time. Most of all, it’s because I think I can do it.

J thinks I am crazy. He says, “Why would you elect to feel pain?” I try to say it’s not that simple and give him all the reasons. He goes back to his original argument, “But you don’t have to feel the pain.” I guess it’s because pain isn’t that terrible to me. I mean, labor is not equivalent to breaking my arm for fun. The whole thing is a process that my body was built to execute. Additionally, there are things you can do to mitigate the pain that are not drug related. After talking with my midwives, I felt like I had a handle on what I wanted to do: try for no medication and if I change my mind, they can hook me up (don’t get J started on midwives.)

A few weeks ago J had a root canal that he had been postponing for years—years! The root canal also came with a prescription for Lortab. J dutifully took the first few scheduled doses. A day later he said to me that he finally understood. It’s not that I am electing to have pain, it’s that I’m choosing between two outcomes: pain or medicinal side effects. This epiphany occurred while he was blinking slowly through the dizziness of the Lortab. He had thought that it was either pain or no pain, and when weighing the two more complex options, my choice was more understandable.
I’m glad he kind of gets it now.

However, I bet if you ask J directly, he still thinks I’m a little nuts.


compulsive writer said...

Good on you. I think it's all about having choices, making whatever choices work for you and then everyone being OK with what you choose for you.

I love that you have midwives. If I had it do to over again I would so go that route (remember, I started having babies back in the dark ages). That said, I had different doctors every time and a completely different labor and delivery experience every time as well. But my best delivery and recovery was with a female ob/gyn.

Best wishes--and I'm happy for you that J kind of gets it now. (Although I have to admit I am a huge fan of Demerol.)

Tori :) said...

You can do it and if you decide not to... No biggie. I've done 3 out of 5 without an epidural. My last one I had planned on no meds, but when the pain really started coming I thought, "Screw this. I know what it feels like and I don't want to feel it." I got the epi. But then they gave me an extra shot like 2 minutes before I gave birth (I don't know why!) and my legs were totally paralyzed for the next 4 hours. Yuck. Things like that are the reason I preferred not to use epidurals. I've had my spinal membrane punctured which had to be fixed with another epidural with blood to coagulate the hole. Then the paralyzed legs... And the whole bag of pee by the bed makes me sick. But the NO PAIN ROCKS!!!! :)
Anyway- didn't mean to give horror stories. They aren't that bad, I just would have preferred they didn't happen!!
Good luck with whatever you decide!! Either way you get a great, healthy baby!!

Emily said...

Did you read Nie Nie's post about natural childbirth after Nicholas was born? It was very inspiring.

I think "because [you] can do it" is a perfectly perfect reason to go without drugs. I've done it every which way, and I'm very proud of my without-meds experiences.

If you're sensitive to meds, stay away from Stadol.

La Yen said...

Um, do you all not understand that people pay BIG money to feel that wooziness? You are getting it legally and for free. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston--they have all the money (well, they USED to)and they don't get this sensation legally and for free. Do you think that you are better than BB and WH-B?
And what about Hobos? Don't you know that there are Hobos who would give their fake left arm to have some Demerol and Lortab? Think of the Hobos!
And the students at PHS!

fijiangirl said...

I seem to remember discussing with you about 4 years ago that our bodies were made to have children and we could physically do it with out med and you thought I was crazy. funny how things have changed! Having gone through child birth; one with an epi and two without I must say I much prefer the no meds route. Honestly the recovery time is so much faster when you don't have meds getting in the way of letting your body heal naturally. Funny how our bodies KNOW what to do after child birth. With this last one I was walking (not speed walking or anything but none the less walking) 15 minutes after my son was born! and I had energy that I couldn't believe and nothing like a natural high! I know you will do it! You are such a strong person and I admire that you always accomplish what you set your mind to.

Azúcar said...

Fiji--I know! This is a course reversal. I think it took actually having a baby to realize that I didn't have to be scared of the pain. I didn't understand that labor was a different kind of pain; one that accomplished a specific task, not a signal that something was wrong with your body.

It dawned on me in the middle of Guille's labor--it was uncomfortable, but not excruciating pain. I remember thinking "I see how women do this over and over."
It was that realization, along with what I viewed as the impediments to the progression of labor and the after-effects of the medication, that started me down this path. The other signpost was listening to other women (like you)and to my heart about faith in our abilities and my growning belief in my body's capabilities.

Yen--you are right. I am ungrateful and inconsiderate! The least I could do is share.

AZ EM- I love that post! Although the point where she's telling the midwives she can't go on is a little scary.

CW- Isn't that the whole point? Seizing control of your situation and pointing it in the direction you want to go? Demerol is scary.

Tori - I like that you changed your mind, haha! I want every woman and family to have the experience that they want.

I am excited to labor in different positions rather than in the (recently) traditional lying in bed.

c jane said...

Why Azucar is my hero:
"I guess it’s because pain isn’t that terrible to me."

Fear? What Fear?

metamorphose said...

You can do it! I have to say, after my little niece Lucy was born au naturelle, I'm going to try and go drug free when it's my turn to make a human. My sister-in-law couldn't get over how great she felt the next day, as opposed to her first time, when she had had an epidural. She's planning on doing it drug free for her next as well.

(I think I already told you this, but I'm not above repeating myself. :)

Lucky Red Hen said...

I tried both times with none but ended up with epidurals and there ain't no shame in it. Worth a try, right? I know a girl who went au naturale with hypnotics or something. Good on ya.

Azúcar said...

There is no shame in it! I don't think I will be one of those flip "oh everyone could go natural if they really wanted to" chicks. Not everyone ends up with the outcome they would have wanted. Pain management is a really personal decision. I like what LVC says, "There's no medal."

People have different pain thresholds and mitigating circumstances. I've heard that Pitocin ratchets up your pain levels--I might not be so brave in the unlikely case that I have to face Pit.

Bek said...

Yes, that is what I was going to say about the Pit... if you get induced (pitocin) it makes your labor come on so hard and fast it is almost like your body can't quite get used to it before it goes up a notch. That is how it felt for me anyway, my SIL who just was induced two days ago agreed.... that epidural was a godsend....

I am a big fan of choices. With my children, I have delivered one, been labor coach for another and was on a plane for the third...all equally painful and wonderful in their own way. In my current circle of friends here in CA we have one that wants the epidural at conception, one that delivers in a pool in her living room, one that does midwives, no meds, one that loves her doctor and the hospital.. you get the idea. It is about control. You nailed it Carina when you used that word. We women tend to love control and when we have some (ie...we do what WE want to do) it helps it go better. :-)

Good luck!

Sarah said...

I did a drug-free birth with my first and fully intend to try again with my second barring any unforseen complications. I don't know why people don't at least consider trying before jumping to extreme medicine. Like you said, pain is relative. I did a hypbirth program that taught me how to disregard pain so that the entire process was really amazing and I've been looking forward to another birth ever since. Plus, the pain management techniques I learned have been very useful to me since in all kinds of different situations. Pain shouldn't be feared - you can actually master it! Good luck :)

compulsive writer said...

OK, I know I just said I'm all for choices. And I am. Really. But I still can't wrap my head around "elective C-sections." All my friends and fam who say they prefer C-sections have only ever delivered C-section. I guess I shouldn't really say I prefer not to have C-sections because I have never had one.

And about Pit--when I was induced with my last one I toughed it out on the drip for most of the day and did not progress a single centimeter.

Finally I asked for the epidural and whoop there he was. It was great. I kept wondering I'd have asked for the epidural earlier I'd have saved myself hours of unproductive labor. I've heard my story is not so unusual. So who knows?

(I know some people think forceps are the worst things EVER. But I can tell you now that if my doctor with baby #2--the 10 lb. 5 oz. baby--wouldn't have used forceps that kid would still be inside of me even now.)

word verification: bdssx

Azúcar said...

The documented risks to both mother and child engaging in elective c-section seem to outweigh any perceived benefits. I don't know why anyone would elect a c-section either. Maybe we have someone reading who elected a c-section and could tell us why.

I had one tug on the foreceps with El Guille. I think that the reason the doctor used them at all was because my epidural made it harder to direct my efforts.

Rachel said...

Seeing those needles makes me want to pass out.

I can never bear children.

BowlerGirl said...

Hubby laughs at me because I have become so pro-natural birth. Granted, that could quickly change when I have to start pushing. I have just figured that women have been having babies for thousands of years. Some sqautting along the trail, having the baby and continuing on with thier everyday lives as needed. Thankfully we have passed those times. There are life saving procedures that help the mother and the child. I'm right there with you Azucar, why go there if you don't need to? I'm just grateful that there are options that are right for all women available.

PS...have you heard of 'Too Posh to Push'? This is the craziest thing that I have read in awhile.

b. said...

I just wish for you a peaceful, joyful, successful, and healthy birthing experience.....with or without meds.

~cari~ said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting since you don't know me but I feel I'm kind of an "expert" in this area. I had all six of my children without meds -- mostly because I was scared to death to get an epidural. My smallest was 8 lbs. 11 oz. and my largest 10 lbs. 7 oz. I tell you this only to let you know that yes, it's done and it's not horrible. It hurts and you think you can't do it at times but I just thought that if millions of women have done it, why couldn't I? When it's all said and done, you recover faster and you really don't remember the pain. It is all about choices but for all it's worth, I say try it for sure. You'll know if or when you need meds. It's nice to know it's there if you do need it! Good Luck!

Lyle said...

My wife had the epidural for her first pregnancy. When she dilivered the second one within 20 minutes of reaching the hospital [she asked for them, but she was completely time for meds], she decided that it is possible to live through childbirth without meds. Granted, numbers 3 & 4 have been longer labors than #2, but she delivered those sans med. She hates taking anything stronger than Ibuprophin (doesn't like the side effects). However, when she was haveing gall stone atttacks, she was more than happy to take morphine.

Julie said...

Yay for you taking control! I've toyed with the no-meds idea, but so far haven't gone that route.

My first was a C-section, the other two were vaginal. I had epidurals for all of them. I must say, however, that if I were to compare the C-section with my 1st vaginal delivery, I'd have taken the C-section any day. Recovery was a piece of cake, compared to the recovery after the 2nd-degree-tear-that-took-over-45-minutes-to-stitch-up. Ouch. That said, however, the recovery after my third was awesome. I felt SO good! Like CW said, each delivery is different.

I hope this labor is a breeze for you. I'm sure the boy will make whatever happens all worth it.

Haley said...

You know you are a W-O-M-A-N!, (all caps with exclamation..) when you even CONSIDER a natural childbirth. Bravo.

April said...

I hope you're able to withstand the pain and hold true to your plan. If you can't, obviously I don't blame you. More than anything, I wish you a safe birth and a healthy baby!!

Lorien said...

another testimonial (and of course, unsolicited advice):

first baby was with epidural (a good idea after I bit hubby on the arm and couldn't stop writhing in the bed).

#s 2-4 were sans meds. And unless I ended up with a breech or some other complication, I would do it all over again the same way (if I were still in the biz). What made the difference? Well, first of all I think it didn't hurt that the road through my bagina was already paved once. But a major factor was the fear and tension caused by the unknown and anticipating pain. I was so nervous and tense with #1. Afraid of the pain people talk about, afraid of the unknown (even though I'd taken a class and prepared as well as I could)...and a nurse actually explained to me that fear and tension can increase nerve impulses and the perception of pain. So the way I made it through the last 3 unmedicated was to put myself into a sort of hypnotic, super-relaxed state. I was really focused and working hard at being relaxed. And I read this thing in a magazine that sounded so cheesy, but I thought, what the heck? It couldn't hurt! It said to focus on the fact that the pain, pressure, etc. was good because it was getting me to the desired goal. I focused (now this is the part that sounds so strange!) on embracing the pain because the pressure and pain in my lower pelvis was expanding and stretching me. I used some lamaze breathing techniques I learned in a class, focused on an ugly flower on the wallpaper and just zoned out during each contraction. Hubby understood what was going on and knew to stay out of the way during the contractions and kept people from bothering me while I was in "the zone" (as he called it). Nurses helped with breathing some of the time. And when I felt like I just couldn't go on anymore and actually did ask about an epidural, it was too late and the baby was there in not too many more contractions. I was lucky that my babies came very quickly. (the last baby popped out on the bed without anyone to catch him) Longer labor would be a whole nuther ballgame, I think. But that's how I did it and like others, felt my recovery was so much better than the medicated one. Anyway, I recommend (I know you want my advice!) learning and practicing some relaxation and breathing techniques, and I think I buy the hypnosis deal. A hypnosis class might be cool. The key for me was to stay as relaxed as I could. As soon as I tensed up, the pain skyrocketed. Anyway, good luck, no matter what choice you end up making! You will know best what you need.

Azúcar said...

Lo- Thank you!

First of all, I love unsolicited advice, second, this is exactly what I need to hear! Thanks for validating.