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To Epidural or Not to Epidural

34w3d- I’ve always just assumed I’d get an epidural. You don’t get an extra gold star when leaving the hospital for having the baby without any pain meds. (If you did, I’m so competitive that I’d probably try to see how many gold stars I could get.) But now that I’m getting close to go-time, I’m thinking — Maybe I can do this on my own? 

Bill Cosby’s stand-up act about his wife giving birth is fantastic (you should Google it if you haven’t seen it). He asked Carol Burnett to describe what it feels like to give birth: “Grab your lower lip. Now pull it over your head.” That really doesn’t sound fun to me. I like my bottom lip just where it is. But I feel strong and have a decently high pain tolerance. Plus, women have been doing this forever. It’s what we’re built to do. People all over the world give birth in huts, deserts, jungles — Not at one of the worlds leading hospitals with a staff of highly educated, world-class doctors and nurses catering to their every need. But if those women were given the option, wouldn’t they opt for the pain meds?  Here, bite on this tree branch. Or, here, take this magical potion that will make you feel no pain at all. Wait — why am I debating this decision? 

There are obviously pros and cons to both schools of thought. Where am I going to land in the epidural debate? I’ll figure it out at the hospital. I’ve never given birth before, so I have no idea what it will feel like. I’ll try to endure the pain as long as possible. If it’s too much, I’ll try the walking epidural. If that’s not enough relief, I’ll ask for more and get the fully loaded version. What I don’t want? I don’t want a catheter because I can’t get up to pee. Of all things, that grosses me out the most. (I know, I know… When I’m in the heat of the moment, I won’t care. But right now, ewww.) I also don’t want to stall my labor progress because I got an epidural too early. I learned in the childbirth class that unless they can see the shoulders coming out, it’s never too late for an epidural. So, I’ll push it as long as possible. Maybe that will be 4 c.m. Maybe it will be 7. Either way, I’m sure it’s going to hurt, but it’s supposed to. It’s for a finite amount of time, and at the end, I’ll experience the greatest moment in my life — Having Abby placed on my chest for the first time and Jason hovering over me with a look on his face I’ve never seen before. 

What do you think about epidurals? If you did the natural route, how would you describe labor pains? If you got an epidural, do you think it’s the greatest thing ever?