I learned quit a bit from my experience. This post is for those who really want to do unmedicated labor and delivery. It's certainly not a post for everyone. It's my honest assessment of what I wish I had known and the things that helped me achieve my goal of unmedicated labor and delivery despite being aggressively induced.
-My goal had been to have an unmedicated labor and delivery and I met that goal. So why did I feel like such a failure? I think, along with my goal of natural birth I also developed some expectations that were somewhat unrealistic. Ok maybe not unrealistic but certainly inflexible. When those did not materialize I felt like a failure. I expected it to go faster. I expected to be more "present" and have the "birth experience" I wanted. That did not happen. I felt I had been sold a bill of goods. I felt I behaved poorly or must have done it wrong becasue mine did not feel like the "zen" experience the books described. Looking back I realize it's not the fault of "natural" childbirth that mine was not "zen". However, the books need to do a better job at leveling with women just how much pain they are in for. They tend to minimize it, in my opinion. Of course, my labor being induced probably had a lot to do with that but even those women who are not induced say it much more difficult than the books lead you to believe. Not all but many.
I met my goal with pure grit. I'm not saying I had the wrong goal becasue I absolutely believe it's the safest option but I also brought some unrealistic and inflexible expectations into the situation which lead me to feel disappointed, angry and depressed about my birth experience immediately afterward. Not anymore. I have the experience firmly in perspective. I do feel proud of making it through but for months after I felt like a failure even though I met my goal becasue I yelled, screamed, panicked, became weak, indecisive, vulnerable. I expected to be clam, stoic, present, level-headed. Yep, during unmedicated labor and delivery. Totally unrealistic.
-I was not prepared for induction...not mentally, not physically, and mostly I did not have the information I would have needed to make better decisions. Yes, I have the right to make my own medial decisions. I did not have to simply acquiesce to their protocols. However, I didn't even know what my options were so I had nothing to contribute. No ideas, no requests. I was just a sitting duck. More on my induction recommendations later.
I absolutely want to have another unmedicated labor and delivery but if I am induced I am not sure I could/would be able to do that again. If you want an unmedicated birth option you CAN do it even while induced. It's possible but I'm not sure I'd want to or could do it again. It completely changes the game. As long as one is mentally prepared for that I think it's possible.
This is why I am avoiding induction at all costs. If my water breaks again I am not goign straight to the hospital. I'm going to wait around a bit and see if labor really kicks in. I might not even be honest with them about the time my water broke. Once your water breaks the clock starts as do their "protocols". This is not medical advice. Just my personal strategy.
-If I must be induced I have a whole new understanding of how I think it should be approached. I have no doubt that they were overly aggressive inducing me. To go from 0 to 10cm in a few hours....3 min contractions 1 min apart is completely unnecessary and potentially dangerous. I will firmly request to have a gentle-as-possible induction. Low doses. No increasing until at least 30 mins has passed. Once the desired pattern of contractions has been achieved they should turn it down or off. If there is any fetal distress then TURN OFF the pitocin and see if that helps. Never go beyond the recommended dosages on the packaging of the drug.
-If you really want to go unmedicated then you have to put the option of artificial pain management out of your mind. If you approach it with the attitude of "I will try it" then you will fail. Without complete commitment you WILL ask for the drugs...especially if they are offered. If you are undecided then ok...try it...but if you are committed you have to just not even think of drugs. Put it in your birth plan that the staff is not to offer drugs.
-Expanding upon the previous point...have it in your birth plan that the staff is not to mention drugs, or other interventions (vacuum, c-section, induction medications) unless it's an absolute emergency. When you are in the middle of it you will be tired, indecisive, vulnerable, scared, and in pain. If anyone mentions an alternative you might cave. You might think something is wrong when, in fact, feeling tried, indecisive, vulnerable, scared, and in pain are all NORMAL. No matter how well meaning, they should not offer. This applies to your husband as well. He will hate to see you this way. It's up to him to help you. He doesn't help you by offering you the thing you are wanting to avoid. He has to be strong for you becasue there WILL be a time when you think you can't do this anymore; that you just want it over with. He needs to be the one to get you past those self defeating thoughts. You will not be able to do that for yourself.
-I actually wrote out 3x5 cards for Mr. Peeveme with all the things he needed to say to me when I lost it. I made him promise to keep me strong. I made him read those cards to me...in my own words. When I heard them it helped to remind me of the strong determination I have. It helped me a lot when I had no more determination or fight in me.
OK, so that's what I have for now. My friend who introduced me to unmedicated labor was the only person who level with me and gave me any inkling of what was in store. Because of her I was able to do it. If I had just depended on the books I would not have made it. So I wanted to level with you.
As hard as it is, it's still my choice. I know there are easier ways to go about it. I know that many people will read this and think "Why on earth would you put yourself though that if you can just have an epi or a c-section" My response, I'm afraid, might offend or hurt some people but here it is: This pregnancy, labor and birth is not about me. It's about my baby. It's about what is best for her. This is the first of many sacrifices I will make for her.
I am a little worried this time around because I am not feeling as strong (mentally and physically) going into this one as I was the last time. It was just so grueling that I don't know that I could or would be able to do that again.
My inflexible goals/expectations lead me to some disappointment with myself afterward so I am trying to manage determination with a certain amount of flexibility as to my expectations.