Change of Plan?

I've never had an epidural. Both Judah and Layla's labors were extremely focused on letting my body go through the labor and delivery process on its own. The name of the game was as few interventions as possible. 

In fact, my entire birthplan for Layla's delivery was, "I'd like this birth to be exactly like it would be if it was 1000 years ago...except, just, you know, in a hospital."  That got some fun looks from the staff (but it worked! All I had was an amnihook...which could have been made from a river reed from the Euphrates... so it still works).

By the grace of God, awesome coaching from Jesse, and it being way too late for an epidural by the time I started begging for one (both times), I delivered both kids without pain medicine. With Judah, I did get Pitocin (the smallest dose possible) to speed up labor, as my water had broken and the hospital has a limit on how long you're allowed to have broken water without progressing  to a certain dilation.

It was getting the Pitocin that made me think that completely unmedicated childbirth (no Pitocin) would be different or less painful. This was why I so wanted to deliver Layla old-timey style (spoiler alert: it wasn't the Pitocin after all that was to blame; it was the 8 lb human moving out of my vagina that was the cause of the pain. SHOCKING).

I remember being in recovery, maybe an hour or two after having Layla, and saying, "You know, that was fun and all utterly horrendous in every way, but I think if we have another baby, I might go for the epidural."

And Jesse was all:

he even stormed out of the room just like that. ;)

We changed practices when we found out we were pregnant with #3. We moved to a group that has midwives as well as OB's. I hadn't loved how weird I was made to feel in an OB-only practice that didn't have a ton of experience with the kind of birth I wanted.

This message of, "um, sure okay, you can have your baby like that," from some doctors there turned into full on pressure from them during my labors to let them intervene, to give drugs, to hurry up, and made the whole thing pretty stressful (as if it isnt enough on its own!) as I was made to feel like sticking to my birth plan (strange and foreign as it seemed to them) and letting my body try to do its job in its own time was putting my babies in danger (I never heard anything conclusive on this "danger" or any concrete symptoms of babies in distress, so I didnt appreciate them playing that card). We figured a blended practice with midwives and OB's working side by side would be much more receptive.

As the weeks of this pregnancy passed, I thought more and more about what was most important to us and to me (of course, always/only assuming healthy baby/healthy momma foremost). The more I weighed things, the more I felt like I wanted to allow for an epidural this time.

I have written about how with neither Judah nor Layla did I have that glowing, magic moment of being handed my fresh-from-the-womb baby and it just rocking my world. There was no happy crying or serene Mother Mary feeling of meeting them. This is because I was out of my mind with the sudden transition from worst pain of my life into disbelieving "it's over?" I was shaking uncontrollably and couldnt even really absorb that there would be no more labor and that the baby was HERE.

over 2 hours after Judah's birth when I came out of the OR and anesthesia after needing to have a very complicated tear repaired.

Now, I wasn't catatonic. I did breastfeed both babies immediately and do skin to skin and look at them. But I was so utterly flustered and still in panic-mode, that it was kind of just robotic, and I didnt enjoy those first moments like possibly I should/would have had the labors not been so all-consuming. I really grieved for these once in a lifetime moments afterward.

finally falling headlong in love with her...45 minutes after birth. I hate that she's in a plastic box and not MY ARMS.

So at the top of my "What do I want this time?" list was to be present emotionally and mentally for the moment of meeting Noa.

To be honest, a big part of my two natural deliveries was an element of  "let's see if I can really do this." Let me assure you, that is all gone now. I clearly CAN do it (what does that even mean? My uterus is efficient and by the time I was begging for drugs, there were humans hanging out of me and it was too late...not a lot of heroism or willpower on my part involved).

I've done it twice. I have that experience. It's in the scrapbook (as are the tatters of perineum that I blasted through in a pushing frenzy to liberate myself from hell). And weighing all the factors, I don't feel like the benefits outweighed the drawbacks for us.

I wouldn't say we regret the path we took with the first two at all. I love knowing that I felt everything in the process from beginning to end (even if it was torture) and that I have that in common with women throughout history. And boy are there women who make natural, crunchy, hippie birth look beautiful and calm and peaceful and it's just so obviously a great fit for them. And yet I am a high-strung, panic-prone control freak of a sissy and after two tries, I'm open to a new birth plan that might be a more cohesive fit with my personality.

So as I'm talking to the midwives at my new practice every appointment during the first months of this pregnancy, hilariously, I start to feel pressured by them to NOT get an epidural this time! I'm all, "y'all, give a momma a break...let me win just once!" Can someone just throw me a damn thumbs up for once?!?!

As I'm all squirmy and trying to hold my ground, the midwife says, "well the first time you didn't know what to expect so that's why it was so traumatic, and the second time you thought without Pitocin it would be easier, and when it wasn't, it was really shocking and scary. But THIS TIME, you know what to expect fully, so it will be soooooo much easier."

And I'm like, wow, that is some next-level rationalization, lady. You so crazy. It's okay to acknowledge that childbirth hurts!

At my next appointment I started seeing the OB's again. P.S., I LOVE midwives. I am related to some, and very awesome friends with others, but this particular one just kept pressuring me in a way that bordered on dismissive of my feelings and options every time I saw her, and that is NOT something I am willing to deal with time time around. Burn my nursing bra and hear me roar!

The great news is that my favorite doctor from my former practice is now at my current one. She delivered Judah's placenta (I was too fast for her to make it in time to catch him!) and we love each other.  I asked her about getting an epidural and the chances that doing so might slow down labor and eventually lead to an emergency situation and C-section (which is my biggest PLEASE NO of all). This is something you hear about a lot in natural childbirth books/conversations, and I wanted to know how much of a statistical correlation there was.

The doctor said that while studies do show that epidurals result in slightly more C-sections than unmedicated labors do, that my personal history with childbirth is far more indicative of how things will probably go. She said I dilate very well, am an efficient pusher and have never had any issues that would point to not being able to progress and deliver even with anesthesia, and that these factors are far more telling than global statistics. She said, "honestly, if you don't get a vaginal birth with this practice, you couldn't get one anywhere," meaning, they are all about the vag and they are not going to just be like, "okay it's been 2 hours,  let's get you a c-section before I clock out!."

So I am planning on taking the epidural as soon as it is offered this time, and even allowing them to induce me whenever they say I'm ready.

Confession: I feel a little guilty typing that sentence out. Like I am betraying someone or some group. I have never legitimately thought less of women who get ALL the interventions just for fun or even have elective C-sections (though I was probably too prideful of my own path/choice), but for some reason I feel like my choice to go a different path this time might open me up to some judgement.

I don't like disappointing people OR feeling judged but I am committed to standing firm in the land of: "Oh well. My babymaker, my birth plan. If you don't like, go play in your own amniotic pool."

I still plan on doing some hippie fun birth things like encapsulating my placenta (totally okay if that freaks you out bigtime!), taking the primrose oil starting this week, not cutting the cord for a good while, not being separated from Noa at all in the first 30-45 minutes.  The thing is, I had wanted most of those things too in previous labors, but was so out of it that I didnt speak up (and Jesse was so concerned for me that he didnt fight for the post-birth stuff either!) and so I didn't get them.

This is likely the last baby that will come from my own body. I want to milk (right?) every memory and be as present as I possibly can, and after lots of thought, prayer and talk, we feel like this is right for us.

As a fun bonus, our photographer is doing her first ever birth session with us! I would have NEVER said yes to this if I'd planned on going natural because it's just not super pretty-looking on me, and the poignant post-birth moments that birth photography captures so well might not have even happened if I was so PTSD-feeling as I always have been before. And when there's a photographer and two big kids involved, I'd love to just cut down on the chaos and unknowns if at all possible.

yeah, no need to frame this one (but let's totally put it on the internet. hello naked haunch!) . i spy AMNIHOOK!

Now I know what youre thinking. Because I think it myself, and about 90% of jokers that I tell this to like to remind me: "Well, you might not get a choice!" or  "Noa might have other plans!" or "This is your 3rd baby, you might not even make it to the hospital!"

Yeah, thanks guys and no duh. I punch your face.

OBVIOUSLY all of this is predicated hugely on "If everything looks good and healthy and goes like we hope."  I may  go into labor at 38 weeks and arrive at the hospital at a 8cm and have it be too late to get anything but a belt to bite down on. I may run to the potty to go #2 and end up holding my baby instead, like those ladies on that show who have no idea anything is going on. There could be a freak emergency that has me forever singing the praises of Casear and his magical section!

No matter what happens, I look forward to sharing Noa's birth story afterward and comparing it with our other experiences. But it was also important to me to express where we are before anything happens and how/why we want to approach this delivery a little differently.

I think the #1 best thing I learned from all of our childbirth education and experience is that women have choices and should feel empowered to make the ones that are right for them, their bodies, and their families during childbirth.  This is a pretty cool benefit of living when are where we do.

Motherhood is a vernix-covered magic mushroom of a miracle and there is no "right" path of how we all get there each time.

I'm not sure I was on that page a few years ago, and may have been a bit hippie-judgemental and high-horsey that my choice was BEST. I hate that I probably felt that way and may have made any other momma sfeel judged in any way.

Breast/bottle, biological/adopted, c-section/vaginal, rock your momma-story how you feel is best.  Loving our babies and doing our best for them is what makes us a rah-rah team of hardcore GIRL POWER, not one particular decision in a lifetime of millions.

Now then, who wants a dose of my placenta? Take two and call me in the morning.


  1. Two comments from a well-rounded non judgmental middie ... 1. TV and movies make it appear that all moms are straight from vagina to chest with babies and they are always in love four seconds into their child being out of the canal. Pa vre. (Not true.) There is a moment where all moms truly need a pause to integrated what happened to them before they can begin to see and enjoy and move onto the experience of meeting their baby. Please don't be hard on yourself for not feeling instantly over the moon mushy lovey dovey - it is more normal to need a moment. 2. Hurrah for delayed cord clamping! That's one of the best gifts of midwivery. (Ten minutes you won't regret).

    1. YES! i think i am a momma that is probably pretty prone to slow-to-fall-in-love behaviors anyway, so I'd like to get started on that process with as little delay as possible. I love layla pretty soon, but was still a little creeped out by this "other" baby stranger until a good 30 hours after birth. because i'm a naturally mother like that. on the clamping: i was SHOCKED to hear the OB say, "yeah that was one that they turned out to be 100% right about" when i said i still wanted to do that hippie-style. she said that is like totally a medically known thing now. CRUNCH POWER! (though, slightly duh? dont cut the pulsing life-giver while it still breathes!).

  2. Oh Keight. I feel you on SO many aspects here. After going natural for my first birth, I'm not too sure I want to do it again. And I definitely didn't have that immediate flowery feeling when they placed him in my arms - it's definitely a moment of trauma, panic, exhaustion, etc. Thanks for sharing your birth plan journey. It's hard being a woman - we all judge each other for our decisions when we should really be supporting each other and our right to make those decisions. I think its awesome that you're opting for an epidural this time around - I sincerely understand WHY. I pray that this labor/delivery experience is peaceful & joyful. Maybe even a little bit like the movies :)

  3. Oh good luck! And congrats on doing it with no meds even just once! I tried with 2 out of my 4 kids to go that route and never made it without the epidural. With my last 2 births (one a week ago!) I was induced and fully epidural end from the get-go, and let me tell you it was awesome, and calm, and peaceful, and over-and-done with...we felt ready and rested going into it and coming out. Just blessed by the experience (obviously, we got a baby out of it). I hope Noa's birth goes just as smoothly!

  4. Good for you for doing what feels right to you. And for the record, I've had 3 unmedicated births (my 3rd was a week ago!) and this last one was actually the hardest!

  5. I've done it sans-drugs for both of my girls, and you're totally right: it HURTS. I'm just not capable of staring at the wall and breathing deeply and relaxing when it feels like a gigantic construction worker is stomping down HARD on my uterus. I don't know what I'll do for any subsequent baby births, but I would be nice not to have the uterus-stomping for once. Keep us informed!!! I love birth stories and I can't wait to see pictures! - Becca Crowe

  6. (I think my last comment got eaten.)

    Good luck Keight!!!

    They finally offered me an epidural 18 hours into labor (water broke at 35 weeks with no contractions, and had to wait for pitocin to get me from 0-4cm). It was awesome! Pre-epidural, I was hurting, exhausted, waiting for impending death. Post, we had 7 wonderful hours to psych ourselves up for the baby that was coming TODAY! I even got to sleep for the last 5 hours before pushing, which meant I was decently well-rested and happy by the time my son arrived. Just wait for the first pelvic exam in which YOU CAN'T FEEL A THING.

  7. I used to be a bit 'high and mighty' about wanting an all natural birth but then a c-section happened. And then I wanted an all natural VBAC and pitocin happened (oh Lord). I ended up getting 3 failed epidurals but for the hour or two that each of them worked, it was glorious. I would do the same thing all over again if given the choice :). My mom had 4 all natural/unmedicated births so I think I felt like I would feel like less of a woman if I didn't do the same thing but I don't... I'm just thankful that I have 2 awesome children and I think I made the best choices I could've for both of their births, as different as they were.

    I agree with the delayed cord clamping... I conceded on a lot of my birth plan plans (?) but I was adamant about that one and I'm so glad I stuck with it. My mom kept saying afterward that Elise "has such a dark complexion... maybe she will take after [my] brother". I don't think she understood the whole 'extra blood' thing. Anyway... I really just wanted to comment and say do what you want and what is best for you and the baby. Why not experience a relatively pain-free delivery if given the chance? :) One thing to consider, though, (and I'm sure you have) is that once you get the epidural you'll be confined to bed. You may not mind that but I'm sure you were probably moving around during your previous labors. Good luck with whatever you choose :).

  8. So proud of you for switching things up! A moms intuition is very strong and everyone should follow her lead wherever it takes them. Hooray placenta will be awesome! I can't wait to hear the story and your reflections... You have great influence over your followers ;-) blessings to you!

  9. "Breast/bottle, biological/adopted, c-section/vaginal, rock your momma-story how you feel is best. Loving our babies and doing our best for them is what makes us a rah-rah team of hardcore GIRL POWER, not one particular decision in a lifetime of millions."

    Love this! Just having the option to choose is a pretty awesome thing that we often take for granted.

  10. I loved reading your birth stories - Actually I still laugh over the thought of Judah wearing you like a turtle neck! - I digress, I've only gone through the one birth myself but post epidural I found myself literally praising God for modern medicine. I was able to actually take a nap before show time! Looking forward to reading about Noa's entrance into this world. Best of luck (obviously) either way!

  11. I love this!! Thank you. I thought I wanted to have mine "naturally" until I had this moment of revelation and realized hey wait, I want to savor and enjoy and remember this. And in my case, getting the epidural sped up my stalled-out, stressed out, no progress, headed-to-c-section labor. Post epidural I chilled out and progressed from 2 to 10 in no time after hours of no progress. I thought I had the best birth plan made, but in being open to changing that plan, we had the best birth experiences for us.

  12. Thank you for this post! I have been considering what my next birth plan will be and feeling guilty over wanting to go to a hospital versus a birth center or home birth. I have always been a proponent of midwives, natural and home birth. But after ending up at the hospital with my first, I realized I actually enjoyed the experience and would want to do a hospital birth again.

  13. Motherhood is a vernix-covered magic mushroom of a miracle and there is no "right" path of how we all get there each time.

    That sentence is PURE GOLD. I am waiting for Noa's birth story and the telling of our love story. Get writing, Momma.