For some people, an epidural spells “failure.” Here’s why that’s wrong, and why Plan B could be the best plan ever.
Have you ever watched the show Call the Midwife? It’s the best show on television. It chronicles the adventures of midwives in the 60s in an impoverished area of London. They deal with every situation imaginable, and the storytelling is real, raw, and tender. (I cry in every episode).
I recently had my own “Call the Midwife” experience, but instead of being the midwife, I was the photographer. I was summoned at 2:00 a.m. to come to the hospital to photograph the birth experience of a family friend. This young woman used to babysit my children before she got married, and I was honored that she asked me to be there during the birth of her first child.
She had a midwife and a birth plan which included no pain medication or other interventions.
Before we continue, I should tell you that I had ALL the pain medication and other interventions. Of course, I have high-risk pregnancies, so I might be a special case. But even if I didn’t have complications surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, I would still have gotten epidurals. You see, all those screaming mothers on t.v. shows really convinced me that childbirth was the most painful thing a woman could ever experience. I was traumatized from a very early age, and was scared to death to have a baby. I have often thanked God that I was born in this day and age when epidurals are available. (The fact is, without medical intervention, I would have died after my first baby, so there are MANY, MANY reasons I’m thankful I was born in our modern age).
However, I know that many women want to do things naturally. Afterall, women have been having babies for thousands of years without the aid of modern medicine. I salute these women. They are braver than me. But what happens when a woman decides the pain is too much, and she relents to getting an epidural?
This lovely girl who I was there to photograph had been in labor for over 24 hours. Her water had been broken for 12. At this point, she was in danger for infection. So she decided to get pitocin to speed up her labor. Her labor intensified and became very painful, with contractions every two minutes. But after about seven hours, no progress had been made, and she was no closer to delivering her baby. Discussion began regarding getting an epidural. At this point, she said, “I’ve already failed, so what does it matter?”
Her midwife then said something that I thought was profound. She said (to the best of my memory):
“I know a midwife who worked in Africa for years. They had no medical help. Some of these women would be in labor for four days, and then the mother and the baby would die. The truth is that 5% of women cannot deliver babies without medical intervention.
You are a mother now, and you need to do what is best for your baby. It’s been a long time since your water broke and when this amount of time has passed, we are worried about infection. If you need an epidural so your body can relax and you can have the energy to deliver this baby, then that is what you need to do. Taking care of yourself IS taking care of your baby, and THAT is success.”
I loved that! So many women feel like if they have gotten an epidural that they have given up, or that they were weak-willed, or somehow less than other women who have given birth without an epidural. But that is not true! Doing what is necessary to deliver a healthy baby, AND to have a healthy mom, should be considered a success.
In the case of this girl, plan A was not the plan that nature necessitated. Plan B was the right plan, and was what got her sweet baby boy here safely.
This can apply to SO MANY other areas in our lives. After all, how often does Plan A actually happen? We often look back and lament the loss of what could have been. But the fact is, Plan A might never have happened anyway. Maybe Plan B was the best plan to begin with, but we just didn’t realize it.
So the next time you’re upset that Plan A didn’t work out, accept Plan B (or potentially Plan C or D) and make the best of it. Those other plans could actually be blessings in disguise.
If you know someone who feels like they failed because they had an epidural, or because they had to go to Plan B (for anything), share this post with them!