wow... I thought I could do this all in one post. But turns out the event was monumental (duh) and putting it into concise words is next to impossible. So here's part three...

Once they broke my water, the contractions really started coming full-force. Within 3 hours I went from 2.5cm to 6.5cm and I felt every cm, let me tell you. Can I be frank for a minute?

In a few short hours my plans to not even consider an epidural were out the window, but the guilt wasn't. I really thought having a natural birth was the most "womanly" thing to do. The most natural, that the best Moms don't need drugs, etc. Even the word drugs has such a negative connotation. I have to admit, I had a lot of pride surrounding the whole decision. But God knows what to do with pride. He humbles us. And nothing is more humbling than giving birth.

As I said, I didn't want an epidural. I was so committed to doing it all natural, that I surrounded myself with articles and information based solely on moms who hadn't had epidurals. I figured it would psych me up for the big event, but in hind sight, it lead to a lack of accurate information. Kind of like Republicans only watching Fox News.

When you only learn about epidurals from sources that swear against them and have never had them, you're bound to end up with skewed info. When you google search "natural, drug-free birth" that's what you're going to find (duh, again). How did that not cross my mind before, when I thought I had all the facts?

Here's what I thought:
  1. Epidurals will make you and the baby groggy post-birth
  2. Epidurals will take away from the birthing experience
  3. Epidurals are extremely risky
  4. Epidurals make it harder to push
  5. Epidurals make you tear more because you can't feel what you're doing/how hard/if you're pushing
  6. Epidurals in themselves, hurt. Plus needles are scary.
Here's what I experienced (just in case you're about to give birth and are watching a lot of Fox News and not enough NBC):
  1. As soon as Lily was born she was squirming all over the place, crying, and very vibrant. I was 100% awake, in awe of her, and aware of my circumstances and loving it. Groggy? Not at all. In fact I don't think I slept for another 12 hours.
  2. Pain takes away from the birthing experience. Blinding pain. Pain that takes away your ability to breathe, think, and control the contents of your stomach. The epidural helped me be 100% in the moment. Before it I was so not there...
  3. Except for extremely rare cases, epidurals (as I was told by the nurses and doctors when I was deliberating whether or not to "cave") are not risky.
  4. Because the pain medication is administered intravenously, they can lessen the amount of medication you're given when it's time to push. Resulting in you feeling a lot more, though not near the full amount of pain, so you can push accordingly.
  5. Epidurals actually make you tear less because your muscles aren't as tense. In general you're more relaxed.
  6. Nothing compared to the pain of contractions. Nothing. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm terrified of needles. I STILL cry when I have to get needles. And a needle as big as the one they give you when you get an epidural was scary for me to even think about. Fast forward to experiencing labour contractions: I welcomed it with OPEN arms. I didn't even notice the pain of it, compared to what I was experiencing.
So I took the epidural.
Moments before taking it, I couldn't think, talk, or breathe.
Brad couldn't comfort me at all. Nothing he said or did could help. No position (and I tried a LOT of 'em) helped. It was horrible.

Moments after taking it, I was laughing, talking, praying (yes, I couldn't even pray the pain was so severe) with Brad, cuddling my husband, and yes, NAPPING. I had a NAP. When that pain relief came, it was the greatest pleasure I've ever experienced. The LACK of pain was the greatest pleasure. That may sound twisted, but believe me, it's accurate. I was me again. I was able to enjoy the experience. I was able to be present. I was able to get excited for Lily, instead of dreading ever having another child (and experiencing this pain again!).

It was lovely. Three hours later, the nurse came in to check my contractions (the three hours in between Epidural and this check up Brad and me were alone in our room, completely in peace. It was wonderful!), and she said it was almost time. What does almost time even mean though? One more hour? half an hour? Try 10 minutes!

So they lowered my pain medication and said every time I felt a contraction coming, to push. So I did. Brad was beside me, two nurses, a med student, and the doctor were before me. And after about 10 minutes of pushing, she was out. We heard her beautiful cry (which somehow sounds less beautiful now. Go figure.) and she was on my chest within seconds of being born.
In all her goopy glory.

She stayed on my chest, getting all the benefits of skin-to-skin for about 45 minutes before they weighed her and cleaned her off. Then she was back on me, breastfeeding, for another 45 minutes or so. We enjoyed staying in the delivery room for so long, and never felt rushed. In fact, all of the phone calls made to immediate family took place right there in the room!

Brad and I were filled with so much joy, holding her slippery little 7lb body in our arms. We were in a constant state of laughter and tears for the next two days, just marveling at the baby God had entrusted to us. Amazed that He would let two sinful, selfish people raise a little life. There's really no high like it. And all we want to do, is do it again :)


  1. thanks for sharing, em! it sounds like you made the best decision in taking the epidural, nothing to feel guilty about! (I'm sure women have always tried to make it more bearable, you just didn't have to bite an arrow/swig booze) :-)

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  3. clarification: they did tell me the risks of an epidural, and there are some. The reality is that the potential side effects don't occur often, that's what I meant about not risky. Risks are there with any medical procedure, but the chances of being fine post epidural are extremely high. I'll be taking my chances with our next baby for sure!

  4. :) I think there's a saying like...avoiding pain is the most natural thing do to! I think you should feel guilt-free about avoiding pain Emily!!