In T-minus two months and counting (I’m the one that’s counting, for the record), my due date for baby #4 will be here and while I am simultaneously feeling joyful to not be pregnant anymore and meet my little girl, I am also not feeling terribly prepared for life with a newborn again.
What I do feel ready for, however, is birth.
Having gone through the labor and delivery process three times before, I’ve done the birth spectrum–all-natural birth with a midwife, laboring in the tub, and then with my last child, I chose an epidural for my labor.
And this time?
I know exactly what I want to do again.
After having my own babies and working as a labor and delivery nurse, I’m not foolish enough to know that any two labors are ever the same.
But I know what labor is like for me–and I know my body.
I know that I am capable of any type of birth that I want. Could I have a home birth? Yes. Could I make it through another all-natural birth in the hospital? Absolutely. Could I handle a C-section if I had to? I know that I could.
But this time around, I am hoping for the experience that makes sense to me. I want the type of birth that feels right to me. For me, this means laboring at home in the early stages, being able to be out of bed once I get to the hospital, and finally:
Choosing an epidural for the last stages of labor.
For my last birth, that meant only having an epidural for a little over an hour, and it was an amazing experience. I got to labor naturally until the hard work of transition began, and then it was smooth sailing with a little help from my friend Ms. Epidural.
Why does an epidural work for me?
Quite simply, why I’m grateful that I experienced the intensity of an all-natural birth and got to know, at an intimate and primal level, the depths of my own power as a mother, having an epidural really was wonderful last time. Whereas I was completely focused and in my own world during my natural births, with my epidural, my husband was amazed at the difference. For the first time in my labors, he was really able to be present with me and support me–even making me laugh while I was fully dilated–something that just would not have happened with my other births.
And it might sound a little crazy (or maybe even lazy), but the truth is, succeeding through an all-natural birth, for me, takes almost a whole pregnancy of preparation. It’s a completely mental game that takes visualization and preparation–last time that was in the form of lots of yoga and during labor, I have to stay on top of the contractions mentally or all is lost.
So an epidural, for me, feels a bit like well, taking a more relaxed approach to birth. I’m not intent on proving anything–to the world or even to myself. I’m focused on doing what I need to do to have the best birth possible.
Ok, and it may be a little bit about survival.
Hey–it’s my fourth baby–it’s ok, right?
Image via Chaunie Brusie