There's no shame in admitting you would rather slice off your arm than deliver a baby without the help of heavy drugs. When I gave birth to my first child, there was no doubt in my mind that I would get an epidural -- if it's good enough for more than 50 percent of women who give birth in hospitals, I thought, it's good enough for me. And it did deliver what it promised: my contractions were so painless, I had to be told when to push.
But the epi also made my body a bit of a wreck after birth -- a shaky, feverish, low blood-pressured wreck. How do I know it was the epidural, you ask? Oh, because when I delivered my son a few days ago -- and I had every intention of getting drugs -- I was denied an epi because I had dilated too quickly. My recovery was amazingly quick and I felt great right away -- but this happy discovery didn't make labor any less frightening. Here are 21 thoughts you just might have if, like me, you discover -- surprise! -- they'll be no drugs for you, missy.
1. I was told contractions are painful, but no one told me I'd feel like I'm dying. When do I get my epidural?
2. These contractions are probably normal. I must have an unusually low tolerance for pain.
3. Thank the lord -- the nurse is here to poke my arm and get it ready for the IV. Miracle drugs are on the way!
4. Aren't contractions supposed to be five minutes apart this soon into labor? These seem to be coming every five seconds.
5. Oh, stop. Of course they aren't coming that fast. If they were, a doctor would have noticed and admitted me to the birthing room. Doctors are on top of this stuff.
6. Why does my husband's face resemble a hush puppy every time he looks at the monitor?
7. Okay, seriously, why did my husband just run to get a doctor? Did I marry a drama queen?
8. Holy crap -- OUCH! -- there's no way that was normal.
9. Why is the doctor suddenly rushing to get me onto a wheelchair and into the labor room? I was just 5 cm dilated, what, 20 minutes ago? I have oodles of time still. I'm not ready!
10. I'm never going to be able to get up from this bed and onto a wheelchair. Where is my damn epi?!
11. Whew, safely made it to the birthing room. Now I'll finally get my epi.
12. Doctor checking me ... routine procedure. I'm probably 6 centimeters at this point.
13. Why does my doctor look concerned? Sweet lord, why does my husband look even more concerned?
14. What do you mean I'm 10 centimeters?! Check again, I can't be! Please, please, PLEASE, get me my epi!
15. You're telling me your anesthesiologist was BUSY tonight? That's why I can't get drugs? How long does it take to poke someone with a needle? What about ME?!
16. You can't be serious. I can't push without drugs. You have to give me something. Is there anything you can give me?
17. There is something you can give me, but it will make my baby drowsy and you don't recommend it. Give it to me anyway!
18. On second thought, don't give it to me. I can't hurt my baby. Even though I simultaneously want to die and kill every person in this room right now. My baby is the only person here I actually like.
19. I don't know if I can do this, but here we go. I have no choice. Push time. Oh God, this hurts.
20. I'm doing it! This is the worst pain of my life, but it's happening. And they can already see my baby's head -- so soon!
21. It's over. It's over. Sweet lord, it's over. My baby is perfect and alert and beautiful and, thank God, it's over. My husband better remember this moment and brag about it to anyone who will listen from now until the end of time.
Did you give birth without drugs? What was your experience like?
Image via Steven Depolo/Flickr