With Miles and Vivienne, I had a wonderful birth experience. I started labor around 2 AM, got an epidural around 6 AM and delivered my children vaginally around 11 AM. Everything went smoothly with the epidural. I was able to feel the contractions, and I was able to push strongly. I didn't have any negative side effects of the anesthesiology that some women experience.
However, with my twin birth, I felt that I basically had no choice but to have an epidural. Our physicians recommended that we do this, because the likelihood of having a Caesarian birth is much higher with twins. Without an epidural, if I had an emergency Caesarian for the second baby, they would have had to completely anesthetize me, meaning that I would be completely unconscious for my children's arrival to the outside world. I didn't want to take that chance. Because of all this, I didn't even consider natural childbirth.
This time around, I would like to have a natural childbirth (meaning no epidural or other anesthesia). This is for a few reasons. Firstly, I think this is the most natural and healthiest way for me to give birth (in my benefit and the benefit of our Baby Girl). Secondly, this is just a life experience that I would like to have. This is likely to be our final biological addition to the family, so it may be my last opportunity to experience a natural childbirth. Lastly, I feel that it's something that I'm designed to be able to do. I know it won't be easy, but it's a challenge that I would like to face, and I know that I have the capacity to do it.
If you go back and read my twin birthing story, you will notice that I mention how difficult the contractions were around 6 AM. I remember what that felt like, and I remember being very glad to see the anesthesiologist. However, this time, I am going to be equipped with natural pain management techniques that will help me to deal with the pain of labor. Also, I think that taking the "safety net" of an epidural off the table will help me to push past the pain further. I know that this will be painful and will be hard work, but I also know that I don't have to suffer, and an epidural is not the only option for pain management.
I'm in the midst of reading some books and practicing some methods for natural pain management (mostly breathing and focusing techniques). Of course, an epidural would be easier and seems "fool proof", but I think that there are a lot of options for natural pain management that can be very effective. I have many good friends who have had natural childbirth experiences without suffering through the delivery. That's not to say that this won't be hard work, but I'm ready to do it.
I like knowing that this time around, everything will not be new. I know what the room is going to look like, what the hospital staff are like and what the general experience is going to be already. I know what to expect. I think that all of these things make this time around a lot less intimidating than the first time.
It will also be nice to deliver in a labor room (versus the operating room with the twins), and have more freedom to move around as I need to. When I was delivering the twins, I stayed strapped down to the bed for the first few hours. I didn't even sit up until the anesthesiologist came in. When I merely sat up to prepare for the epidural (before anyone had even touched my spine), I noticed that the pain of the contractions diminished considerably. Just changing positions made a huge impact. I wondered why the delivery nurse hadn't suggested that I change positions (perhaps it was due to all the monitoring devices). I'm glad that this time, I will have a lot more freedom to move around and find positions that are more comfortable for me.
I ask all my friends and family to be supportive of this. I know that I
can do this. If something turns out to be different than my plan, I'm
not going to be embarrassed or feel like a failure. I'm going to do the
best job that I can to deliver this baby, and she and I are going to
come out on the other side one way or the other.
I don't think that there is anything wrong with having an epidural. My
first birth experience was wonderful, and I wouldn't change anything
about it. I just have different plans for this Baby Girl, and I can't
wait to go through this process and meet her face to face.
Side Note: If you have something discouraging to say, please don't. If you have a story about a last-minute, unexpected natural delivery that was hellish, please don't share. That's not helpful, and that's not the experience that I'm going to have. Someone having an unexpected, natural delivery (when they were hoping for an epidural, feeling out of control and helpful) is much different than someone who has been preparing for it for months. However, if you have something encouraging to say, please comment to your heart's content and flood me with emails. =)