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The Brutal Truth About Natural Childbirth (Part II)

Natural childbirth is a journey in humility and in life. As a lawyer, I control a lot in my life. However, how the baby was born, when the baby was born, and whether the baby was healthy were outside of my control.

I wish that I could say that knowledge made me serene. That knowing that childbirth was something that I could not change filled me with the peace described in the “Serenity Prayer”. I wish that I could say that I had a Zen-like experience where understanding my lack of control made me calm, self assured and patient. In truth, that knowledge brought me to the brink of insanity.

Natural childbirth is an exercise in patience.

The more I realized that there was nothing I could do but wait and feel the full force of each contraction the more I wanted to punch somebody. At one point I wanted to be punched myself. I thought focusing on something other than the contractions would help. I even got a vision of me begging Andre to punch me and him giving in out of desperation only to be removed by the authorities and miss the birth of our baby. Even in my somewhat delirious state I realized that no good would come of that! The image even made me smile. However, I soon realized there was nothing that I could do except breathe, which made me frown.

Now I believe that serenity and natural childbirth may be mutually exclusive. At least they were for me. There may be some more highly evolved women who feel otherwise. I’d like to meet them. If someone tells me that “I have a friend who said that natural childbirth was the most serene time in her life”, my response will be, “That chick is lying!!!”

Andre was a rock. He was present. He was strong. And he was willing to help. Unfortunately, he could not provide me with what I needed. The music Andre placed on my IPOD remains unused. The massages that I requested in advance were never done. The positions that Andre planned to assist me with remain examples on the Lamaze form.

Natural childbirth is wonderful, beautiful and painful.

The pain was so intense and so very personal that I had to retreat into myself. I wanted solitude and silence. And most importantly I did not want to be touched. I lost count of how many times I told Andre and the nurses, “Do not touch me. Do not touch me. Do not touch me.” Apparently, I was quite intimidating even though even though I never raised my voice.

I had a good Labor and Delivery doctor, but going natural threw him for a loop. He was not my treating OB/GYN. He was the guy who drew the short straw and was on-call that weekend. I am certain that he quickly regretted having me as a patient. I confused him and overwhelmed him. Doctors are problem solvers. To him, I was a woman suffering needlessly. His solution was to offer me drugs. After I dug my long nails into him while he was examining me, he offered me drugs every chance he could. Doctors offer drugs because they can’t give us an opt out card or a do over. Many women take them because the pain is intense and you don’t know how long it will last. Over time, you doubt that you can make it. I would have likely taken them myself had Andre not been as committed to my drug-free plan as I was.

The nurses were great. However, since I was committed to my drug-free plan, there was little they could do for me. They rounded on me to see how I was doing. And each time they arrived I looked fairly miserable. I even threw my finger heart monitor a few times because it was touching me. Unfortunately, when the monitor detached from me the nurses received a distress signal. So, they’d come in the room concerned only to see that I had thrown the monitor, again. I am certain that I would have gotten lectured under other circumstances, but who’s going to lecture a woman going through natural childbirth and live to tell about it?!

Natural childbirth makes you humble.

In the throes of labor I simultaneously gained strength and humility. I quickly realized that wanting to be badass or impress people were insufficient motivations to make it through. I had to get beyond my pride and go to a place where only God and I existed. What I wanted, what I needed, was to draw on every ounce of faith that I had developed during my lifetime. Hell, I even found some faith and strength that I never knew that I had. That faith and strength helped me survive until I was ten centimeters dilated and I received permission to push. Miraculously, having that permission made the pain more manageable. I was so happy to be able to do something besides lay there in pain.

Labor was intense and life changing. In hindsight, I know that I literally gave everything that I had to give, but in return I got so much more. I got a beautiful, healthy baby. I also learned a lot about myself.

I learned that I can handle anything. I learned that continuing the journey is brave, even if the way that you do it ain’t graceful or pretty. I learned that having someone be there can be tremendously helpful, even if they are not doing anything. I also developed the utmost respect for all mothers who did what they needed to do to ensure the same result. Going through childbirth, with drugs or without, still remains one of the most challenging, most gratifying, and natural things in the world.

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