The Birthing Plan:I just want to appear tough when compared with other women

I’ve been reading up on different kinds of ways to get a kid out of your vagina, and I have to say, I think I’m way too cynical to have a natural birth.

Take this book for example (Thanks dooce.com! Woot!) The cover shows a pregnant woman sitting peacefully on the floor, looking skyward at a ladder that will lead her and her unborn child to a blissful exit. Also, the book is called “Birthing from within.”  Sigh.

I have read a total of 16 paragraphs from various print resources on “hypnobirthing.” I normally get about 2 or 3 graphs in before I want to repeatedly ram my head into a wall. The idea of closing my eyes and imagining myself inside some pain-free bubble where there are no “contractions” but only uterine “surges,” makes me immediately open my eyes and roll them. I can’t imagine myself being open to that kind of thing. I don’t want to find the tension hidden in my body parts–let alone release it. I have no desire to figure out what the word “deepening” means.

This is not to make fun of women who do these kinds of things. My sister-in-law used hypnobirthing to her advantage. She talked to the family about her classes, and by the end, she was able to convince me that she actually believed that birth could be almost pain-free. Hollywood and culture and stuff make us think it will not be. During her son’s delivery, she had music playing that was soothing to her, she asked the nurses to avoid using specific words, and I’m sure there was some sort of three-ring binder type of birth plan situation with lots of spreadsheets. She was in labor for roughly one million hours and had a healthy baby boy without relying on any pain meds.

Sis-in-law Kate also went without meds, although I’m not sure specifically how she accomplished this. When I was trying to pump her for info earlier this summer, she said she did not really study any methods to cope with the pain, other than maybe some Lamaze breathing. She sort of just went in there with the idea that she didn’t want an epidural, and then she didn’t get one. She also runs marathons, which I think speaks to her sick love for pain.

The exciting part is:  When it comes to coping with pain, I have no idea whether I’m a wiener-wimp or not! But I’m very curious to find out. I handled a broken jaw and arm all right, but I had shock to pretty much eliminate all the pain you’re supposed to feel in that kind of situation. Seriously. It did not hurt. I’m not sure how that happens.

In more normal circumstances, I’m definitely not embarrassed to take drugs when I feel uncomfortable. In fact, I prefer to.  I just took a Pepcid AC five seconds ago. I’ll pop a Benedryl if I can’t get to sleep. Acetaminophen has been my friend of late. The only reason that I want to entertain the idea of a natural birth is strictly, at this point, morbid curiosity. And mostly, I want to appear tough to everyone around me.

I don’t believe that epidurals are dangerous, and I think that a lot of women who go without one, for lack of more creative phrasing, might “get off” on thinking that they are doing the right thing by suffering so that their baby can have a sharp, alert start outside the womb. I dunno. I mean, if you’re crazy enough to go without meds when they are available, you HAVE to convince yourself it’s so that your baby will be better off, right? If  I entertain the idea, I know I will be scrounging for only the most alarming statistics.

But I’ve been drugged lots of times, and I think adults, kids and babies mostly get over it without very many permanent disabilities. Like, 90 percent of them do, right? It may be a little harder to breastfeed for a few hours, or even days, but I don’t believe that a baby born without meds will be any more or less well-adjusted than a baby born with some.  If you do, that’s okay.  I just haven’t read that book yet.

I kind of just want to see how REALLY BAD it is. Is that stupid? I guess I could go lay down under a car tire right now to see how bad it feels to get run over, but it wouldn’t be as fun because it’s not something that lots of other chicas go through. Plus, I want to see where I fall on the Pain Tolerance Scale. God was all like, “this is your punishment, wicked woman.” And I’m all like, “ALL RIGHT LET’S DO THIS!”

And the best part is that you can’t really lose. If you say you’re going to tough it out, and then you bail and get drugs at the last minute, you are normal. If you stick it out, you are perceived as awesome and tough.

Did you get the epidural? they’ll ask.
What? Oh, no. I’ll say. No.
OH MY GAWD! they will respond.
Oh, it’s nothing, I will say humbly. Women did it for years on their own. No, seriously, don’t bow before me. It was nothing. Nothing.

The problem is that I’ve heard that giving birth hurts like a real bitch. Plus, I’m pretty small-framed, relatively. I’m not sure whether my inside parts are correspondingly small, or whether that matters. At first blush, it seems like it might hurt worse somehow to get your average-sized kid out of a smaller-than-average-sized hip structure. Someone told me a story once about a 5’2 110-pound type having her tailbone broken by a 10-pound baby. I’m nowhere near that small, and I pray to Jesus that the baby won’t be that big, but.  I mean…

I guess it would be even more awesome if I could say, “Oh, yes, my pocket pet-sized uterus did just fine. No problem here. Just as strong as your average uterus.”

If you’re already a mama and you’ve had an epidural,  I imagine you are laughing in a sort of, “Your time is coming, woman. You have no idea what’s comin’ down the track.”

And I don’t!!! Isn’t that crazy? Well, I guess I do to a certain, perhaps tiny degree. Because the other component in this decision involves the little preview I had at 10 weeks during my first, and much less successful pregnancy. That hellish nightmare–I’d call it maybe the worst pain I’ve ever felt, especially if you include “emotional” in the mix– lasted about 8 hours, except it came in a more constant wave that eventually hurt to the point where I couldn’t Google “Lamaze,” without seeing spots. At some point I had the realization that, OMG—I don’t think I’ll be able to do this for one more second.

And that was only ten weeks into the gig. Hopefully I won’t have quite the emotional, or the theits’ pain of an angry punch or ten on the bathroom wall during this next round. That’ll be one less thing to worry about. But I assume I’ll need to multiply that uterine “surge” intensity between one and four hundred depending on who you talk to, and I’ll need to add the sensation of having my … well. Nevermind.

So, I need all you mothers out there to help me prepare for Woman Hall of Fame. Basically, I’m wondering if there are any coping methods for those who refuse to, or find themselves unable to, imagine their cervix as a blossoming flower.

Is meditation my only option? Should I just chew on a stick or something? Cause I looked for books, and nobody has written one called,  “Bragging rights: Sticking it to the hippies and the normals.” That is more what I’m in the market for.

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  • mandy

    I could have written so much of this just a few days ago. I was thinking so many of the same things. I’m a wuss and don’t like needles and IVs and things and really was afraid of the thought of an epidural. I too wanted to see just how bad it would be and how much I could handle.

    But after having cramps/contractions for more than 12 hours, I was ready to try the epidural. Contractions hurt. And I am a wuss. The breathing techniques helped, but weren’t enough for me personally. I got to 5 centimeters on my own, but got the epi after that.

    The epidural was awesome and my baby was very alert and I would definitely get one again. I was able to enjoy the labor and delivery without being blindsided by the pain. And as I understand it, the epidural just numbs your body. It’s not a drug like a narcotic that messes with the baby.

    And yeah, if you do it without an epidural or drugs, you will be my hero.

  • http://monsterbeard.tumblr.com Monsterbeard

    What about a water birth where the kid comes out in a bathtub. I heard it’s supposed to be more natural and less traumatizing for the baby.

    I know a lot about birthing babies.