Saturday, December 23, 2006

Thoughts About Childbirth

Some women love childbirth. You can read all kinds of articles on the internet by women who say it was a natural high, that they loved every minute of it, that it was even pleasurable. I went into labor hoping I would be one of those women. I really tried to not think of contractions as pain, but as “rushes” (a la Ida May Gaskin) that helped move my baby down. I tried to distract myself during contractions by singing or remembering Hubby’s and my honeymoon in Hawaii or conjuring up other relaxing images in my mind.

I was determined to do everything as naturally as possible (no drugs, etc.), and I did, but boy did it hurt! It was NOT pleasurable. The only thing in the whole process that I remember as pleasurable was when the placenta came out. I barely even had to push; it just plopped out into a bowl, and the relief I felt then was marvelous. But before that point, I had about 8 hours of light contractions, 48 hours of strong, REALLY PAINFUL contractions, and a couple hours of pushing. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and (gasp!) I didn’t actually enjoy it very much. But getting to meet my baby was amazing.

I am writing all this because I found myself thinking this morning that someday it will be wonderful to grow another person in my womb and add another tiny, totally dependent newborn to our family. Baby boy is not a newborn any more. He can entertain himself for a while with toys, he sleeps in his own crib (most of the time), and Mama is no longer his whole entire world (although he still likes me quite a bit). :-)

Some women say, “Oh, just wait a while, you’ll forget all about the pain of childbirth.” Well, it’s been four months, and I still vividly remember the pain. I don’t think I will ever forget it. I do want more babies, lots of them, but I’ll admit I don’t want to ever go through labor again (although, Lord willing, I will do it again, because it’s worth it in the end).

I never understood the sacrifice that my mother and all mothers around the world have made in giving birth and caring 24/7 for a child until I became a mother. This is what God put me here for, to love my husband and grow babies and yes, give birth to them. I’m not saying I have no other purpose than to take care of my husband and babies, but I think that is the most important thing I do. What could be more important than raising up people from infancy to adulthood to love and obey the Lord? Then, I hope and pray, my children will pass on this godly heritage to their own children, and on and on and on until Jesus returns.

Edited to add:

For clarification:

The reasons I chose not to use any drugs were that 1) they can easily pass to the baby, with detrimental effects, and 2) any "unnatural" interventions in the labor process can lead to the need for more and more interventions, and possibly a C-section in the end--for an example, read How Childbirth Went Industrial.

I wanted to do what was best for my baby and for me, and I honestly believe that choosing the pain was the best option in my case. Besides, the sense of accomplishment I felt when my baby was finally here, and without drugs or interventions, was huge. I didn't have to wonder if drugs were affecting my baby's first minutes and hours. Baby Boy was very calm but alert, and his Apgar scores were 10 and 10.

That being said, I know there is a point when drugs or C-sections may be necessary, but the percentage of women who really need them is very small.

I'm hoping that my next labor is a lot shorter! It usually is, with the second child.


Candice said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on childbirth. I totally agree with you and truly know what you mean. I absolutely feel the most fulfilled than I have ever felt in my entire life by being a wife and mother! It is a great joy when you are filled with the spirit and you are living to please the Lord and by doing so serve your husband and nurture another human being. It's undescribable what it's like to care for a baby that is totally dependant upon you for life! What an amazing gift the Lord has given us. I too wanted to have a natural birth without drugs but by the time I reached 2 centimeters I could not bear the pain and took the epidural offered! I thought I had a high pain tollerance but it was so bad I threw up twice! Anyways, I ended up having a c-section with my 1st because his heart rate dropped so rapidly, but I went through maybe 20 or so hours of hard labor. Anyways, the Lord is gracious and he will not give us more than we can handle, I think that includes physical pain. Well, my mind is starting to fade...I'm tired but just wanted to drop you a note. God bless you!

Shannon said...

Hi Melissa,
I have never been pregnant, so I do not know what labor is like but in your case it is valid to want pain relief. Labor can be excruciating for many women. My mother had to have c-sections. I have a very low pain tolerance and could never endure what you did when having Nolan. Your birth story made me almost cry. I felt so much for you. Babies are indeed worth it but I would consider taking pain-controlling measures with your next delivery. There is no reason to have to go through that kind of pain.

Stephanie said...

"I wanted to do what was best for my baby and for me, and I honestly believe that choosing the pain was the best option in my case. Besides, the sense of accomplishment I felt when my baby was finally here, and without drugs or interventions, was huge. I didn't have to wonder if drugs were affecting my baby's first minutes and hours. Nolan was very calm but alert, and his Apgar scores were 10 and 10."

I totally agree Melissa! It's never worth it to choose one's own comfort over the health and safety of one's baby or childbirth.

My first birth was you, my baby was posterior, and he was posterior the WHOLE TIME...he never turned. For me "active labor" was 24 hours long with 12 hours of "prodromal labor" beforehand and 2 hours of pushing and it hurt worse that Hades! Not to mention, I tore lengthwise down my birth canal (my midwife had never seen anything like it) and it required 3 stitches and gave me problems for 6 months afterward. I ended up producing to much scar tissue and did surgery on myself to remove it...and boy did that hurt too!

I wasn't to excited at the thought of going through all that again either. Then I became pregnant with child #2 and it was during this time that God did a working on my heart, teaching me the principles of servanthood. Jesus died for me and "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."-John 15:13. I certainly love my children more than my friends, and yet it is good for me to lay down my life for my, is it all that unreasonale to go through horrible pain for the blessing of a child?

My whole mindset changed when I understood that my life only matters as much as the amount that I have given of myself to others...just as Jesus did.

Pain in this fallen world is GUARANTEED and often the pain has no least, through childbirth, with God's strength we can endure pain that has a purpose.

My second birth was a lot better, he turned posterior for a few minutes, but we got him to turn back. Active labor was about 10 hours and I pushed for 30 minutes. So, take heart, the second time should be a lot easier :-)

Coeur d'Court said...

Your thoughts are exactly what mine were after I had my first! I almost have to laugh over the irony that someone I don't even know could have the same sentiments, fears and thoughts that I did. Motherhood is certainly a God-given instinct that is obviously universal.

You mentioned not being able to forget the pain of your first delivery and if you're like me, that fear is enough to keep you from ever WANTING another pregnancy again.

The Lord knew what was best for me and literally dumped another one on me despite my fears! I got pregnant with my second baby when our first baby was just 4 1/2 months old. (yes, I nursed around the clock and even was using a back up method of non-hormonal family planning although it was used inconsistently.)

I was so scared about the prospects of another birth but scared or not, I was in for another labor and delivery.

The reason for my comment is that I want you to know that the first is always the hardest. I too go drug free and all natural with my labors (except for my first... I had to have pitocin) but I'm happy to say that my second delivery was so WONDERFUL and exactly what I dreamed of. After only 1 hour of hard labor (that really wasn't all that bad) and 2 pushes, my beautiful baby girl was in my arms. My recovery was awesome -- I didn't feel at all like I had just had a baby.

I'm happy to say that since her birth was so awesome, I could hardly wait to try it again. :) Well, maybe not quite that wonderful but you know what I mean. I just want you to know that you really don't have to worry about it all. When the time comes, you'll have the grace to bear the pain, hardship and any unplanned things. But, more than likely it'll be a dream come true for you.

By the way, I really enjoy your blog. :)

Coeur d'Court said...

I forgot to mention one other thing... I labored in deep water with both of my babies and even had my second baby in the tub. I think that makes a WORLD of difference, if that's an option you can try with your birthing center.

Christine said...

Thank you for sharing from your heart on childbirth. I admire the fact that you did what was best for your baby, even if it wasn't easy. I am planning a homebirth in July. My first two children were born at the hospital with too many interventions. I must say that birth is much faster the second time around. I was in labor with my daughter (my firstborn) for 33 hours. My total labor with my son was 5 hours. Blessings!