Really, I'm kind of a wimp, and a pretty whiny one at that. But, in a totally unpredictable move, I still chose to birth Avie without an epidural.
I can't really say why. One of my very good friends strongly encouraged me to look into it after her own convictions had been aroused. She knew I was crunchy and into the natural world, and perhaps that's part of what made her so encouraging, although to her credit, she's pretty much that way anyway, so I think I was just in the right place at the right time.
She wasn't the first friend I knew who'd studied natural birth. And, though I figured there was probably "something to it," I didn't want to get involved. Research always makes me change my mind, and I swear I get weirder every single time I begin another fateful Google search.
But I did. And things fell into place, in that way they do when you know something bigger than you is at work. I found a great teacher, who offered to reduce the cost of our birthing lessons to practically nothing. She also said she'd be my doula, although her back surgery ended up getting in the way of that.
I also found the amazing certified nurse midwives who practiced together at Central Utah Clinic Women's Center with some great practice-sharing OB/GYNs they use if complications arise. As I learned more about birth, I brought some of my own ideas to the table, and the midwives were always very supportive. They delivered at two hospitals, one of which was especially friendly towards natural childbirth and made all sorts of accommodations. I couldn't believe how perfect everything was! I'd really found an ideal situation!
Later on, quite a while after I'd made the commitment to a natural birth, and when Avie was somewhere around 34 weeks, she was given an IUGR diagnosis. (Basically, she was underweight, and nobody knew why yet.) I can't say in what way the epidural might not have been good for my specific birthing situation, but I strongly believe that things worked out just the way they needed to.
Because she wasn't growing as she ought to, it became necessary to induce labor. Not so much fun. And not the experience I'd dreamt about, where if I was going to be feeling it all, I could at least begin at home instead of in some sterile room with an audience. I mean, labor has some pretty intense sensations, and it's really much nicer to deal with all that misery in the dark. At home. With your own cozy blankets and bed.
And my last-minute fill-in for my doula, while being a marvelous human being, was a stranger. I'd literally met her just that morning. And labor really isn't a time when you want to have to be nice to anybody, let alone extra-nice the way you should be to a visitor.
Suffice it to say, it wasn't a piece of cake. The pitocin got knocked up to 15, and I was less-than-cheritable to everybody, including Scott. Then I got downright mean. And also, I got naked. (Your body does these weird temperature shifts at different stages of labor. Sorry, folks, it's true.) And then I wanted an epidural. But my midwife, bless her heart, and my husband, bless his, decided to just ignore me. So I threatened to get up out of that tub and walk my naked self down the hall to the nearest anesthesiologist.
Since nobody believed me, and there was no way I was going anywhere in that amount of pain, I guess you could say they called my bluff. But about thirty minutes later, I had my baby. So that worked out.
For all the changes to my wonderful plans, the most important details couldn't have gone any smoother:
1. Avie was born on my Dad's birthday. Obviously, I hadn't planned for that, but it's kinda cool.
2. She was our Avie. She was sweet and a fighter and a special soul I was blessed to get acquainted with long before she left my body. (No, that doesn't sound weird. You're imagining it.)
3. Scott got to deliver her, just as he wanted to. And I think it thrilled him even more than he thought it would.
4. Avie needed no time in the NICU or any other special treatment... other than an IV in her head for some lame reason I can't remember.
5. The whole thing was roughly five hours, maybe four. I can't remember. But relatively quick.
6. Together, Avie and I were drug-free wonders. Or survivors, at least.
Yes, Avie came just the way she needed to. Other babies don't need that. Other moms don't need that. But, as hard as it was, there was something very emotional about birthing naturally that I think I especially needed with her.
Did I loooove my drug-free experience? No, but also yes. Will I do it again someday? I think so. But that's a post for another day.