Friday, August 27, 2010

Magnolias, Blood, & Childbirth

From Shav's window, I spotted a flash of white:  a blossom on one of the magnolia trees Jeff got me for my birthday a few years ago.  They're still spindly trees, and they don't blossom profusely--not yet, at least--so every single blossom is cause for rejoicing.

I wanted to see it closer so I carried my littlest son on my hip, beckoned the next two oldest sons to accompany me, and set off, still feeling the coolness in the morning air and the dampness on the grass.
There it was.  High enough above my head that I couldn't get the picture of it I had imagined in my mind, I simply held up my camera and pushed the button.  

A view of a magnolia blossom from below is still worth seeing.


You might be a mother of little ones if... afternoon excursion to give blood while Grandma watches the children (and one child spends time at the barbershop with Daddy) is the most relaxing thing you've done all week.

That's how I felt this afternoon anyway.  Despite the tourniquet around my arm and the needle sticking in my vein, I thoroughly enjoyed my time and--for once--didn't regret the fact that I'm a slow bleeder.  I had a book to keep me company, of course (The Autobiography of George Muller, that my dear blogging friend, Margie, sent me), and was easily transported from the mall corridor where I reclined as my blood dripped out to Bristol, England, in the days of Muller.  That George.  He ALWAYS challenges and inspires me.


On Tuesday evening, we had Sally and her family over for dinner; and we loved having time with them and seeing (and holding) their sweet little three-week-old Marie.  As Sally and I were talking about Marie's birth and swapping details of our other birth stories, it dawned on me again that I sort of fell into natural childbirth through default.

Before Josiah was born, I thought it would be great to have a natural childbirth.  I also thought it would be great if the pain wasn't very bad so that I didn't need an epidural.  :)  Wishful thinking, I know.  At that point, I had not even heard of women who delivered naturally without pain and used the incredible power of the mind (and God's Spirit) to take away fear and pain.  Regardless, without taking the time to write all the details of Josiah's birth story, I'll just mention that I ended up getting an epidural when I was 9.5 centimeters dilated; and although it provided some initial relief, it also slowed my progress and made it extremely difficult for me to push.  The pain returned, the baby still wasn't out, and I nearly went out of my mind before he was finally born two and a half hours later.  Four months later, Jeff's sister had her first baby; and we were at the hospital, waiting to welcome our new little nephew into the world.  At one point near the end of her labor, Jeff was in the hall outside her room; and when he returned to the waiting room where I was playing with Josiah, he said in amazement, "She had an epidural, and she was laughing!"  Even with my epidural, I certainly didn't laugh when I was that close to delivering Josiah--not until after the birth, at least.  :)

So I didn't accomplish my goal of a natural childbirth, but I was just fine with that and didn't feel bad about how my labor had gone (well, I felt bad that the epidural didn't work better, but that's all).  :)

When I was pregnant with David in Israel, I again thought it would be neat to have a natural childbirth--if the pain wasn't too bad.  I was such an optimistic second-timer.  "Surely this birth will be easier than the first, right?"  And it was.  Easier, and shorter.  But even still, if I could have gotten an epidural, I would have.  The only problem was that when we got to the hospital, I was already dilated to 9 centimeters, and there was no time for one.  (The rest of his birth story is here).

I vividly remember that after David was born, I had the strongest sense of relief I had ever had up to that point in time.  I can't overstate how deeply the word "relief" became real for me, as I sank down onto that beanbag on the floor and held my newly-delivered son on my chest.  Besides the obvious relief of "the baby is out of me!", there was also a strong sense of accomplishment because I had done it naturally without pain medicine.  "Now I'm a real pioneer woman," I thought.  "Now I've reached that goal I've had ever since Carolyn Fields started influencing me.  :)  Now I can check that off my list.  Now I've proven myself.  Now I'LL NEVER HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN!"  :)

Before Tobin's birth, I wasn't opposed to the idea of getting an epidural; but I had done some reading about childbirth without pain and my mental preparation was the best of any of my deliveries.  As I've written about here and here and here, I felt GREAT up until the very end.  However, once again, I hit the wall of "I can't take this, and I'd rather be dead"  :)...but it was short-lived, and Tobin was born soon after, and life was BEAUTIFUL.  Another birth without an epidural!

And then with Shav, I've documented (here, here, and here) how I wanted an epidural.  Really, really wanted one!  But the nurses couldn't get my IV started quick enough; and before I could get the epidural, I was completely dilated and ready to push.    Yet another birth without an epidural!

I don't feel like I should get any kind of Hero Award or Strong Woman Medal...or Woman Crazy Enough to Deliver Without an Epidural Badge.  If circumstances had been different, I would gotten an epidural each time - for sure!  However, I am EXTREMELY grateful that my deliveries went the way they did because--this is the best part--in my experience, you just can't beat the recovery from a natural childbirth.  I have loved the ability to get up right away, shower, walk, be normal, etc.  That, to me, was the major difference between my epidural birth and my natural ones.

And all of that is why I feel like I fell into natural childbirth through default.


My latest post for The Foodie Spot is up - a perfect meal for when it's 5:57 PM and you suddenly ask yourself, "What are we having for supper???"  :)


Morning said...

I know so many women who felt they failed when they asked for an epidural, so I think it's great that you realise it's nice if you can make it without, but it's the end result that counts, not the process so much. All I can say for me, is that it took me three years after my first delivery to be brave enough to do it again, but 6 weeks after my caesarian I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Elizabeth said...

Love this post...I couldn't have meds with my first because of his preemieness...and the fear and apprehension that followed my next pregnancy, oh my...but, my epidural failed with my second and I had to do without. I'm not sure there'll be a next time, but I doubt I would try it again. The epidural recovery was worse for me than the delivery recovery and I hadn't gotten any relief with it! (apparently, it was human error with the set up, but still...)

Margie said...

I popped over to the Foodie Spot and loved that dinner idea! Can you believe I've never made quesadillas? How have I missed out? Thank you. (And I hope you're enjoying Mueller.)