Warning: This post will probably be of little interest to some maybe even gross (I’ve lost my ability to assess that category from a normal perspective). But some of you may find it helpful and it’s on my mind, so take it or leave it.
I’m actually considering (gulp) going without an epidural, on purpose this time. Last time the anesthesiologist was delayed; and by the time she arrived I couldn’t hold still long enough for her to stick a needle in my spine. She only needed “3 minutes,” that’s when Chris looked at my face and the 3 sterile kits I’d already knocked on the floor, and asserted for me that it was not going to happen. To make matters worse, Jack turned out to be sunny-side-up, which increased the length and intensity of my labor significantly. I really thought I was going to die. The nurse was nice enough to lie and told me that everyone says that.
After it was all over, and I was still alive, the little twist I didn’t anticipate was that I only took a few Motrin afterward and felt back to normal very quickly. My blood pressure didn’t plummet and I ate a cheeseburger while I was still in the delivery room. I’ve been induced, had a spontaneous preemie, a c-section, a vbac, and gone completely without drugs (though unanticipated). In my limited, yet diverse experiences, I have to say the recovery was by far the best with the drug free labor. All this history to explain why I’ve been peeking around on the web to learn if there really are any helpful tips to coping with the curse besides the blessed gift of the epidural.
While I have run across a few helpful tidbits, I’m mostly impressed by the passionate defensiveness of Mommy’s right to her birth plan. To be honest, it gives me the giggles. I picture women pulling up to the hospital drive-thru with their order, “I’ll take a 2 hour latent phase with a Popsicle, an epidural while contractions are slightly painful but 5 minutes apart, I’d like some soothing music just before it’s time to push, oh and no tearing because I’ve been massaging for 5 weeks, and last I’d like to keep my placenta for the scrapbook.”
Obviously I’m exaggerating (and amusing myself). I really don’t have a problem with planning ahead and imagining an ideal. The problem I see, from personal experience, is that unprioritized ideals can quickly become idols. And idols will rob you of joy and purpose. Unlike McDonald’s, if you’re order doesn’t come out how you wanted, you can’t take it back. The joy of having the baby is not primarily to have a wonderful birthing experience. It is the privilege of raising another human being to glorify God and enjoy him forever. As surely as that baby will come out, that baby will depend on you for life, authority, love, and learning until death parts you. It seems to me that planning for the greater task at hand would be a better use of our time and energy and in the end a far more fruitful endeavor.