4 years ago, while I was still pregnant with Sweet Terror, I was sitting on a park bench, watching my kids frolic, when another mom came and sat next to me. I noticed that she had 3 kids of her own and, also like me, she had tattoos. Ok, so I only have one small one, a lizard on my foot, and she had both her arms covered from shoulder to wrist. Feeling a sudden kinship through our similarities I couldn't help but say, "I hope you don't mind me being nosy, but, seeing your tattoos, I just have to ask, did you have all your babies naturally?" (Naturally meaning no drugs). She got a big ol' smile and proudly said, "I sure did!" And from there we had a long and wonderful conversation about tattoos and natural childbirth.
I love telling people that I have had all four of my children naturally. Yup, I am one tough mammasita! Ok, so I'm not being a hundred percent honest here. I do get a shot of Stadol in my i.v. but I'm not sure how much pain it kills because it still hurts like nothing else can. And I actually asked for an epidural with Sweet Terror but couldn't because she came too fast (that includes caster oil and deserves it's own post).
Why go natural? For lots of reasons. One: I am a sniveling, yellow tailed, chicken. I can't stand the thought of needles in my back, someone messing with my spine, or having it go wrong (as it did for my sister, and that was awful). Two: I like to think I'm tough. And three: I read way too many stories about Native Americans when I was little and if they could do it, so could I.
After giving birth to my second I started reading in magazines about using hypnosis or focus therapy in childbirth instead of drugs. Everyone was talking about it as if it were some great new invention. I felt even cooler as people would bring up these articles and I could say, in a snobby superior voice, "Oh yes, I used focus therapy and self hypnosis for my first two children." To which most would ask if I had taken a class or where I had learned to do it. There was no class for me, I just did it.
The first time I ever used "Focus Therapy" or self hypnosis for pain was when I was about 8. I was driving home with my dad after a fun daddy-daughter date at the shooting range when I was suddenly in physical agony due to some intestinal something-or-other. All I knew was that I had had it before and it usually entails me writhing on the floor in agony. I felt I couldn't turn into a whiny baby after having just made my dad proud by actually hitting my target several times and almost getting a bulls eye. Plus it was going to be a good 30 minutes till we got home and had a bathroom handy. I panicked. Then I told myself, "Be an indian warrior." I remembered reading about Native American boys going through certain trials before becoming a man. I recalled several stories about how they had to learn to ignore pain. So, what I did was I pretended there was a ball of white light inside me. I focused on that white light and pretended to be in that light where I couldn't feel my body. I stared at the road with a glazed look, not really seeing anything but not wanting to give my dad reason to ask questions. I was able to carry on a conversation with him, only coming out of my light long enough to give a small answer or to say, "Yeah." or "Uh huh". And I made it all the way home without so much as a groan. I don't think he ever knew how much pain I was in that night.
When it came time to have my first baby everyone was asking if I would go natural or get an epidural. My answer was that I was going to try going natural but was open to anything. I don't think I even made a sound until it came time to push (Again, I had read many times that Native American women wouldn't make a sound when delivering a child). I pretended that my head was dislocated from my body and that I was watching the pain instead of feeling it. Part of my focus included a rhythm I was keeping by swinging my knee from side to side. The only time I lost it was when people would touch my knee or try to hold it still (my poor mother in-law, I about bit her head off for touching it). DSSH finally realized what was going on and was very good about protecting that knee. It was still painful beyond belief. I felt it all, but with the focus technique I was able to free my body from reacting to the pain (does that make sense?). Total time 4 hours and only 10 pushes.
With my second baby I used the same technique and also used it to keep my body calm enough that I was able to keep from pushing until the doctor could make it. As soon as she came in I asked, "Can I push now?" She said yes and he came out in one push. Total time 4 hours and one push.
Now my third baby (Monster Man) was a lot harder, but most of that was due to a doctor who would not listen to me no matter how many times I told her how my body worked. I was in so much pain for so long that I had to sing in order to stay focused. This was very entertaining to my husband because I was singing songs from primary when I was a little girl in church. Try singing this when in full labor. He came after 9 hours and about 20 pushes. Stupid doctor!
Baby 4, like I mentioned above is another story for another post.
And as for this baby? I had asked for an epidural with Sweet Terror because I thought she was going to be my last and figured I should just try it. But now I'm thinking I don't want to ruin the awesome record I have going here. So, I'm going to do this one natural too. I can promise you this, though, if I have to do this one more time I am going to ask for the epidural as soon as I'm 3 months along. Can one be kept numb for 6 months?
As a funny side note, the mom with the tattoos shared this little tid bit with me: "Yeah, I thought I would be the coolest mom in the world because I'm so laid back and I've got all these cool tattoos, but whenever I go to my 9 year old son's school he asks me to wear long sleeves so I don't embarrass him. I guess there is some cosmic rule that mom's just can't be cool." I consider that a piece of great wisdom from an experienced mother.
What was your most memorable birthing experience?