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I never asked for the epidural, but at the very end, not knowing it was the very end, I started to think about asking for the epidural. I thought, "I can see why women want relief." Luckily, once that thought crossed my mind, I was being pulled out of the birth tub, feeling that need to poop that you hear about, and got my first cervical check by my midwife. I was completely dilated. 30 minutes later I was holding my baby.
2. The pain really does go away immediately. Once I had Lily in my arms, that tempest I has just been experiencing seconds before immediately stopped. I no longer felt any contractions. I'm sure my body was doing the necessary work to help birth the placenta, but I didn't notice it. There were a few things that happened that I did notice, such as the first poke of local anesthetic for a few minor repairs and the vigorous massage of my uterus after the birth. Other than that, I just noticed my sweet little baby and was basking in her entrance into the world.
3. It hurt, but it was not the worst pain imaginable. At least it wasn't for me, thank goodness. And I have a pretty low tolerance of pain.
I grew up hearing childbirth described as the worst pain imaginable, so I had an expectation that labor was going to be pretty miserable. It really got intense for awhile. I had a fairly quick labor for a first time mom. The entire process lasted about 4.5 hours, from the start of the first contraction that I felt, to Lily being in my arms. Once I started feeling contractions, I didn't get that break in between that I heard about. It was fast and furious, one on top of the other. They never completely went away. It wasn't a walk in the park by any means, but it's hard thinking back on the process and describe it as painful. But it didn't really feel good or anything. There was something about that pain that made it bearable. I knew it served a purpose. I knew that my body was supposed to feel like that and that what I was feeling was normal. That it was part of the process. It wasn't pointless pain-in-the-butt pain like a headache or toothache or a migraine. Now what is the point of that pain? Honestly, I can think of things that would hurt worse than childbirth. Like...getting a limb chopped off in an accident or being burned alive. I've never broken a limb, but that seems like it would hurt really bad too. Childbirth is not the worst pain that I can imagine, but I really hope that it is the worst pain I ever experience. I don't want to go through the things that I can think of that are worse than that. Like, ya know, a kidney stone. That is definitely pointless pain-in-the-butt kind of pain.
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5. The birth high. I honestly did not expect to feel the way I felt after having a baby. I felt so energized, excited and empowered. You see that word everywhere on natural childbirth websites. I see it on just about every doula's website. It makes me chuckle every time I see it because I will never look at the word empower the same way after reading this post.
I felt beautiful. Even with my stretched out skin, jiggly belly, stretch marks, leaky boobs, sweaty skin and all, I still felt beautiful. I had a sincere and deep appreciation for what my body could do. I was in awe, and I respected my body. I wanted to treat it better for what it was able to do for me and my little baby.
I wanted every woman to feel like I did after giving birth, so eventually it led me to want to be a doula. Here I am!
Any time I feel discouraged about motherhood, which I honestly think is harder than giving birth at this point, I think, "I did that? I can do anything!" I will draw on that experience for the rest of my life when I need a boost of strength.
6. The animosity. I think this was the biggest thing I didn't expect. I can't really describe the feeling I got when people found out I gave birth without pain medications, but it wasn't what I expected. It seems like some people who liked me before no longer did. It seems like there were some people who tried to belittle the experience. Yes, I felt proud of myself for giving birth, but I didn't go around bragging about myself. That's not my style! It seems like the mere mention of, "I had a natural childbirth," elicits responses along the lines of, "That doesn't make you better than me." No. I never said I was better than anyone. Really, the only ones I told that I had a natural childbirth were the ones who knew I was trying and asked, "So, did you do it?" Other people were told by my totally-proud-of-me husband. He would volunteer that information, and I could tell he was proud of me. I won't lie. I liked it. It felt good. Who wouldn't like hearing their husband speak of them with pride?
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