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Everybody's Talking at Me

Or, rather, yelling.

I was at a dinner party recently and ended up in a conversation with two mothers about natural vs. drug-assisted childbirth. One woman had birthed in a hospital, the other, at home.

The homebirth mom was tall, with long thick gray-blond hair and kind crinkly blue eyes. Both she and her husband had been birthed at home, some 40 years ago, so the whole homebirth idea was not at all foreign to them.

The hospital birth mom was short, dark-haired and outspoken. She'd had a very traumatic giving-birth experience.

Apparently her doula and midwife had made her feel that her asking for pain medication was a sign of weakness, when actually, the baby's head was caught in the birth canal.

"I wanted to die," she said.

Ultimately, she had to have a c-section. The whole experience soured her on the idea of natural childbirth. She said to me, "You wouldn't have your liver taken out without anesthetic, would you?"

Well, no.

Actually, she sort of yelled it. And then she went on to advise me, as she advises all mothers-to-be that she meets, "Take the drugs."

The homebirth mom was sympathetic, but she herself reported having a very easy delivery. "The midwives oiled me up and the baby slid right out!" she said.

"That's because you're tall," said the hospital-birth mom.

* * *

The day we told my mom that I was pregnant, after the initial joy and shock wore off, she said (yelled), "I have only one thing to say about childbirth: E-PI-DUR-AL!" (And she said it twice for good measure.)

* * *

It seems like most women I talk to very emphatically press upon me the importance of having an epidural, and speak with some disdain about natural childbirth. It may just be the crowd I run with. But somehow, it seems that my desire to try to give birth without drugs is at the least naïve, according to most folks, and at worst foolish.

Another friend told me a story of a cohort in her childbirth preparation class, who had given birth before the eight-week session was up, and came back to tell the others how it went. She'd succeeded in having a natural non-drug birth, but told the group, "I'm not sure why."

* * *

Meanwhile, I've just finished reading the book,Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, which made me want to fire my OB and run off to The Farm to give birth. The book has tons of stories about successful natural childbirths, even in cases where the baby was large, and the mother's pelvis small. The book practically yelled at me NOT to have the epidural, not be induced, not not not... It scared me. It made me wonder, will I be fighting the hospital at every turn?

I don't want a needle in my spine. I don't want to be drugged.

I want to be mobile, I want to try breathing and yoga positions and massage and screaming and...

I am choosing to try to have a natural birth in a hospital setting. I am choosing to have the comfort and safety of medical services readily available, even while I may refuse some of them. I will make a birth plan.I have hired a doula who hopefully will help me achieve my goals, and not get in the way if I, or circumstances, change my plan.

In our interview with her, when we inquired about her position on pain medication, the doula said, "I'm fine as long as you're not asking for the epidural in the parking lot."

Here's to hoping!