/**/ The Purposeful Wife: This is M, and this is her Birth Story

Friday, November 3, 2017

This is M, and this is her Birth Story

Friends, meet Miss M. She came to join our family on Friday, October 13th... which apparently was a popular day to have a baby, as I know of three other ladies who delivered the same day 😊. Who says its unlucky?!

7 pounds, 5 ounces, 21 inches long. She has been an excellent eater and sleeper just like my last baby, which is such a pleasant surprise and blessing! I thought that surely I would never get a baby as easy as E ever again... but here she is. Thank you Lord for unmerited favor!

Which, speaking of unmerited favor and answers to prayer- this was my best labor and delivery experience yet.

An alternative title for this post could be, How an Epidural is the Most Amazing Invention Ever.

For my first two babies, I read as much as I could about natural, drug-free birth. Several dear friends have amazing stories of going that route, and I was sold. I didn't want anything interfering with my body's natural laboring process, nursing, or bonding with baby.

I wanted the dreamy rush of endorphins that the natural advocates talked about. I was also under the impression that natural birth reduced my chance of tearing.

Just for a recap:

Baby #1, S, was an emergency c-section at 27 weeks. Everything about S's birth and early life was just different because of her extreme prematurity, so in many ways #2 felt like he was my first.

Baby #2, W, came naturally and quickly. My tear, repair, and recovery were very rough. While I know giving birth isn't easy for anyone, I consider that experience to be a traumatic birth.

Baby #3, I wasn't sure of my birth plan. When I got to the hospital though, I desperately wanted the epidural. I sat still for the needle through the intensest of contractions only for the baby to start crowning... no drugs for me. It was a better experience than W's in several ways, but still no fun.

All that to say, three stressful experiences.

M was my longest pregnancy yet. Six days past my due date I had contractions for an entire day. Not terribly painful, but intense enough to make me think it could be happening. They would pick up, sometimes coming every four minutes for the better part of an hour, only to taper off again.

My mom made the two hour drive to our place, hoping baby would be joining us before the night was out.

No such luck.

By Friday morning, I was 41 weeks and the contractions had stopped completely. My husband was getting ready to go to Ireland for his brother's wedding in a few weeks, so we were anxious to have some time with baby out before he left. Also, my mom needed to be home by Friday night... so I called my lovely midwife who was on call at the hospital that very day.

She told us to come in and she would break my water. After a good, full night's sleep and a leisurely morning with my kids, we slowly made our way in, stopping for Starbucks on the way. It felt like a date! Haha.

Once I was all checked in and comfy, she broke my water. At which point things heated up fast. The sweet nurse gave me the i.v. fluid prerequisite to the epidural, and the anesthesiologist arrived promptly. My contractions were definitely more painful, but still spaced out enough that I could get the drugs in relative comfort.

I will say that the epidural itself is ten minutes of no fun. But knowing the bullet I was dodging, it seemed an easy price to pay.

The nurse assured me that this was unusual, but I also had that pins and needles sensation in my legs and feet, and it didn't go away until several hours after birth when all of the meds wore off. A slight nuisance, but again, no big deal.

Once the medicine had taken effect, I just laid back in bed, relaxed, and couldn't stop talking about how excited I was to meet our new baby. My husband couldn't believe the difference- everything was so calm, relaxed... festive even.

Within an hour it was time to push. At this point I felt super nervous, because I remembered the trial that had been in previous experiences. I really didn't want to do it. But once you get to this point, you don't really have a choice, do you 😉?

My midwife told me to imagine that I was pushing. Yes, imagine! *Snort* I imagined as hard as I could. This went on through a couple of contractions, and they would tell me to stop at certain intervals.

Finally I burst out, "Am I even doing anything?! I don't feel like I'm doing anything!"

To which my midwife responded, "Um... her head is out."

OH. What?

Wait, really?!?

Really really.

It was seriously the best day of my life.

She had a short cord, so I held her low until they had cut it. When they put her on my chest I was just able to enjoy the beauty and the wonder of it all, no stress or pain or agony. It was the most clear and beautiful bonding moment I've had with a newborn to date.

Now for the photographic evidence.

There are no pictures of me immediately after giving birth to W. Probably because I was screaming my head of for the hour long repair. This was at least three hours later- note the dazed and slightly desperate look in the eyes. I am smiling... but I'm still not sure at this point that vaginal delivery is any improvement on a cesarean.

Just moments after delivering E. The immense feeling of relief that came as soon as she was out is one I will never forget. I'm pretty much wiped out in this shot. The purple dots all over my face? Blood vessels burst while pushing. Yuck.

Finally, here's me immediately after M was born:

No, it's not Christmas. No, I didn't just win the lottery. That, my friends, is what makes me the poster child for birth via epidural.

Everything I wanted from a natural birth, I ended up getting from an epidural.
  • An amazing rush of endorphins and instant affection for my baby
  • A great first nursing experience
  • For the first time EVER, no tear or need for a repair after delivery
I don't know how many more babies are in our future, and I know that I may not always have the opportunity to get an epidural, depending on how quickly a labor progresses {I'm looking at you #3!}.

But I do know that this amazing experience made me very willing to do it again. Thinking about birth hasn't made me shudder {I didn't even want to talk about babies for over a year after my last two deliveries}. Niall is ecstatic with how smoothly everything went for me, and how much calmer and healthier I've felt in the aftermath. 

I know that epidurals aren't for everyone. I know many women who have had gorgeous, memorable, life-giving natural birth experiences. I've heard the reasoning, and I understand the arguments.

But I will say that after a few traumatic experiences in the labor and delivery ward, giving birth with an epidural was a healing, wholesome, and redemptive experience for this mama. 

We are just so in love with this sweet little lady. She has a dimple, just like my other two girls. I'm not sure who she looks like yet, but I can't wait to watch her grow and develop, and to see her little personality and face unfold. 

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