Epidural = spa-like birth experience

This picture was taken the evening of June 2nd, three days before I (miracles of miracles) went into labor by myself, one day before my due date.

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When I look at this picture, the thing that comes back to me is:

back pain.

It was with me almost constantly from February to June.

And a few days after having little Benjamin, suddenly I realized: it left the moment he popped out. And it may have been connected to the fact that he was a whopping 9 lbs 3 oz. Just maybe.

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Now I can sleep again, sit without grimacing, and don’t have to drape my back with hot rice bags on a nightly basis. Alice was so used to this routine that one night, when she was fishing for excuses to call us into her room when she was supposed to be sleeping, she said to my husband, “Daddy, my back hurts, so I need a rice bag.”

Little stinker.

And by the way, going back to Benjamin’s birth, the phrase ‘popped out’ is not ironic, but totally applicable: he came out in three contractions.

Three contractions!?

Yes, three contractions. I know–it’s the stuff of dreams.

In fact, by the beginning of the second contraction they said, ‘oh, there’s his head!’

Already? I almost exclaimed, but then I didn’t, because the epidural had turned me into a Zen goddess and instead I probably just smiled serenely.

Let’s just say that I had a blast giving birth–after the epidural kicked in (during the last hour or so–there was some hell before that to get those first 7 centimeters accomplished, including a most dreadful walk from the parking garage to the hospital itself).

But giving birth to him with drugs was a complete 180 from my horror story of having Alice au naturel. (If you have yet to be scarred by my story, well, you may be the happier for it. Then again, you might just feel so relieved by the end of it that it’s not happening to you at this very moment, that it might make you happier to read it after all. Only you can be the judge.)

I liken my experience giving birth to Benjamin to relaxing in a spa.

I got the epidural about an hour into transition, when the suffering was starting to reach a fever pitch–and then an angel with a needle showed up. For anyone afraid of needles, let me tell you: when you’re in transition, that awful phase of labor that sucks you in, chew you up into a pulp and spits you out, you don’t care about any amount of needles. They could have stuck me with four needles at once–heck, four hundred needles–and I wouldn’t have cared. Big needles, long needles–whatever. Heck, make it the length of a hand–or an arm! As long as it puts the drugs into my spine as quickly as possible. Normally I’m a needle wuss and feel a little faint when I get blood drawn. But in this context, I was like, ‘jam that in there!’ because I wanted the pain relief so badly.

And then, the epidural worked–first on only half my body, but when I turned on my side, it flooded into the other side as well. Aaaaah. Sweet relief.

I took a nap for a whole, magical hour.

When I woke up, someone said, “Alright! You’re ten centimeters–it’s time to push!”

Two wonderful, encouraging ladies (one nurse, one midwife) calmly stood there saying, “okay, push now!” So I pushed–while feeling no pain. They cooed, “Oooh, good job! There’s his head!”

By the way, there’s his head–

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–in another context, of course. It came out nice and round because he flew out of there so fast.

Anyway, there’s a profound irony in being told ‘good job’ when there’s nothing hard about what you’re doing. I mean, just compare that to my experience with Alice, when I was doing the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, and giving my all to push her out while experiencing the agonies of what felt like a torture chamber. Then no one was telling me ‘good job.’ Then it was more like, ‘push harder!’ And ‘stop yelling! You’re wasting energy! Grunt deep, like this!’ and furious shouts of ‘COME ON, COME ON, COME ON, KEEP GOING!’ and “COME ON JENNA!!!”

I’ll take the soothing, approving ‘good job’ in the hospital/spa any day. Also, did I mention that I only swore, like, twice (in a quiet whisper, too) instead of at least two hundred times AT A THUNDEROUS SHOUT? Yep. That encapsulates the difference between the two experiences, all right.

When we were taking our Bradley Method natural birthing class the summer before Alice was born, sitting on yoga mats in the intense heat that had descended on Chicago that year and learning from a wonderful woman named Denise about the wonders of natural birth, I never thought I would say this. But now, I will.

(I’m sorry, Denise.)

Drugs = magic

Happy Monday from this little man who turned 1 month old yesterday.

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10 thoughts on “Epidural = spa-like birth experience

  1. Giselle

    Yaaay. Congratulations!!! He is just precious. I’m glad you had such a wonderful birth experience. I completely agree that drugs can be magic! God bless those anesthesiologists. Enjoy every bit of him, you know how fast it goes. Hugs to all 4 of you!

    Reply
  2. Erin

    aren’t they lovely? Such a fan of epidurals. :) I’m so glad that you had such a positive experience with your little guy’s birth! He’s adorable :-)

    Reply
  3. Stacy

    So glad it worked out that way for you. I love epidural’s too…they allowed me to get rest. Unfortunately it didn’t work out the same for me.

    Reply
  4. Pam H.

    Love this – haha! (I’m sure you know what you did to your mom, too. :-) And he’s just beautiful, Jenna. So very thrilled for you!

    Reply
  5. Veronica

    Haha spa treatment! It surely must have been like one after the hell you went through the first time. So curious minds would love to know: are you breast feeding this time, and if so, do you feel the epidural affected Benjamin’s ability to nurse?

    Congratulations, he’s sooo scrumptiously plump. I love him sun bathing in his rock ‘n play. 😀

    Reply
    1. Jenna Post author

      Yep, I’m breastfeeding and it’s going great =) The epidural didn’t affect things at all–the potential problem (with nursing) was that Benjamin came out with a lung infection and was whisked away to the NICU instead of going straight onto my chest. They didn’t let me nurse him until 2 days after he was born, and I was worried he wouldn’t be able to figure it out–but he did! Such a relief–and I’m enjoying it so much. Speaking of nursing, the little man is needing some now … =)

      Reply
  6. Tobi

    A 9 pound baby! Good for you! I had twins and they were only 7 pounds total 😉 But they were also 2 months early. I have been thinking about you and hoping to hear something soon. If I ever do give birth again, which is highly unlikely, I will definitely go for the epidural! Why not?! I’m so happy for your little family. How special to have one of each, so healthy and wonderful! xoxo

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  7. Stephanie

    Congrats, Jenna, Benjamin is adorable! And 3 contractions?! Like, from start to finish?! Sitting here scratching my head over that one! But, high five for being done with the aches and pains of pregnancy. I remember the relief.

    I’ve enjoyed catching up on your blog!

    Reply
    1. Jenna Post author

      Thanks Stephanie! And to clarify, the three contractions were just the ‘pushing’ ones. I had contractions from about 2am until when he was born right before 5pm, heh heh, so waaaay more than three. It was just when they said ‘ok, you’re ready to push’ that it took 3 (fopm that point) to get him out.

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  8. Sherri

    Congrats. Nothing wrong with an epidural :). My last baby was almost 9 pounds too and probably my easiest c-section recovery (I was told that, by baby 4, it would be hard – you just never know right? Like who knew pushing three times would work :)?). Pretty baby – you are living the life with these two beauties!

    Reply

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