I saw on Facebook tonight that a first-time mom, Lynsee, was broadcasting her labor and birth on the web via a live webcam recording, so I went on over to check it out. As a matter of fact, it's still going on, and if you're in time you can probably see it:
First of all, good job, Lynsee! Brave girl! And congrats on your upcoming birth! I think it's just awesome that she is broadcasting this.
But watching her labor made me think.
Just a few minutes after I started watching, the screen went blank and I learned that she had opted for an epidural. I was hit with a feeling of overwhelming sadness, and I haven't really checked back much since. I am sad for what she is missing.
Don't get me wrong, and don't write me with complaints of epidural bashing. I don't blame any woman for getting an epidural. Let me be blunt: I spent most of my first labor screaming. And if an epidural had been available, I would have gladly accepted it at least six hours before our baby was born.
But it wasn't available, as I was birthing at home. As a result, I was forced to live through the pain rather than taking the escape route, and I went on to have an all-natural birth which was the most ecstatic and meaningful event of my life. I would not trade it for the world. Ditto for my second birth. My birth experiences have given me an intense sense of pride, of meaning, of self-worth - it's really hard to explain. And I am simply grieved for any woman who doesn't get that experience. Not only does she miss out on all that, but she is left with the feeling that "it was too hard and I couldn't do it" - when she could have. She could have done it just like I did - if the escape route hadn't been easy and available, she could have done it.
Does this make sense to anyone? I don't mean to be negative toward women who take epidurals. Most of my friends are intense fans of them! And I know that I would have taken and loved an epidural with both of my births had they been available. But I'm so glad they weren't.
And that's one of the main purposes of this blog - to encourage women in birth. It isn't the least bit fun at the time (for most women), but it is the most empowering thing in the world. There's nothing in the world like it.
And that's why watching this birth made me sad (and why I don't frequent birth stories/videos of hospital births - I stick with homebirths). I hope Lynsee gets another chance with a subsequent baby to experience the beautiful, God-given miracle which is natural childbirth. It's meant the world to me, and I hope it will to her should she ever be blessed with a drug-free birth.