Friday, September 5, 2014

To the mama who “ended up” with an epidural

To the mama who “ended up” with an epidural,

You are not a failure. Let me repeat. You. Are. NOT. A. Failure. Stop rolling your eyes, grab a tissue for those tears welling up, and exhale. You are not a failure. Now, I know, I know… you read and read and studied and studied for your labor. You know more about the birthing process than you even knew existed 10 months ago. You and your husband planned and processed and decided. You worked for this, you prepped for this, you ate for this, you exercised for this, and you even took more vitamins, supplements and herbs than you can count for this. You lay awake at night thinking about it. You practiced relaxing and breathing, you took classes, and you knew just what to expect. And yet you still ended up with an epidural.

You’re still not a failure.

I get it. It happened to me too. And for years, literally years, Satan whispered my failures and shortcomings in my ear- and I listened.

I didn’t have what it took.
I wasn’t as strong as those other moms.
I didn’t fight hard enough.
I gave in.
I had disappointed everyone.
I was a wimp.
I couldn’t handle it.
‘She’ was better than me.
I needed to make up for it elsewhere.
I would never be ‘mom’ enough.
I was a failure.

With my first born, I read it all and took the class and had the greatest birth plan… my due date came and went and then, finally, at 2am on a Monday morning, my first contraction. And like I could sleep after that… I crept down to the couch and timed every single contraction… 10 minutes apart… then 9 minutes apart… then 8 minutes apart…. By morning I was walking the neighborhood, dreaming of meeting my little man in a matter of hours… but at 9pm that night, when I went to the hospital and found out I was on 2cm, I literally crumbled. 19 hours of labor to get to a 2??? So we went back home… more labor… more walking… hot showers and cold showers and snacks…. And contraction after contraction…. We went back to the hospital the next night, 43 hours into labor… I was a 4. I kid you not. But this time, I wouldn’t leave the hospital. I walked around, I went up and down the steps in the lobby, pausing every 2-3 minutes for a brutal contraction. I finally made it to a 5 and so the nurses filled up the pool so I could have a water birth. But let me tell you what I hate- laboring in water. So back out of the tub I came, after 50 hours of labor, with no end in sight, and I started sobbing… “I’m so sorry” I said to my husband and my midwife, “I can’t do it.” I cried like there was no tomorrow. I finally “caved” and “ended up” with an epidural. 5 short hours later, after a good nap, my little man came into the world. 55 hours from start to finish and I was exhausted, but my Max was in my arms.

With baby #2, my water broke at 35 weeks to the day, only God knows why, so not only did I “end up” with an epidural but also a big dose of pitocin… you know the drug I had vowed “never” to get… And my sweet Jack, all 5lbs of him, was in my arms before the day was over.

With baby #3, my water broke around 9:30pm, and my midwife was at my house by about 10:30pm for a homebirth. It was only a matter of an hour or two before those contraction were radiating through my body every few minutes. I walked and swayed, I was in and out of the shower, I worked and labored and threw up and whimpered, and then I met my 3rd little man, Sam my sunshine… 16 hours later. So much for a “quick” labor your 3rd time around. It was my ­first unmedicated birth. 3rd times the charm, I guess?!

All three of those babies made me a mama… one no more than another. All three of those babies took perseverance, wise choices, hard work, and lots of heart. Little did I know, labor was only the beginning of that process. 

So, you “ended up” with an epidural. You are not a failure… you’re a mama. You worked and labored for what you thought was best for your child, and in the end you had to go a different route… you are a mama. You fought until you couldn’t breathe, literally, you are a mama. You had to change the course, veer from the original plan even when you didn’t want to… you are a mama. It was grueling, arduous, sometimes crippling, full of love and devotion… you are a mama.

Motherhood is unknown and hard and ever-changing. It is never what you plan for, more unexpected than you care to recount, and a lot of work. It takes your breath away, knocks you to your knees, makes you weep, and does things to your insides that you didn’t know was possible. It’s the very best thing you’ve ever done… and you got a crash course during labor. You are a mama. As I sit here with baby #4 wiggling around in my belly, can I just say, “Welcome to the best club, ever!” You’ll never be the same, nor will you ever want to be. No, you are not a failure, YOU ARE A MAMA!