Thursday, May 28, 2015

When an Epidural Isn't an Option

I wrote this in response to a post on Scary Mommy, "You're Damn Right I Had an Epidural," because there are those of us, whether we wanted one or not, who simply can't have one. It's not always about being a warrior.

“My sister said to ask for the epidural before you really need it, then you’ll be sure to get it.”

“Oh, I can’t have an epidural.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Have a baby.”

No, I’m not afraid of needles. In fact, I got stuck with them once a week from the age of 9 until I started refusing weekly blood tests at 16.  Needles schmeedles.

Due to ITP, a condition in which my spleen thinks of my platelets as tiny little chocolate covered cherries and gobbles them right up, my platelets have never run the required 80-100,000 required for an epidural.  I’ve known pretty much my whole life that whenever I had children, it would be all natural.  It’s nice to have had decades to prepare for the pain of childbirth.

I know that modern technology makes pain relief readily available, and lots of moms talk about how this isn’t a game of who can best who in the pain department. But I never had the choice.

Oh, sure, doctors offer me the horror drug known as prednisone to up my platelet count before delivery just so I can have an epidural.

So, let me get this straight, you want me to take a drug that makes me swell painfully, gives me aching joints, makes me all sweaty and weird, and could potentially harm my unborn child just so I can have a “pain management tool” that will result in a catheter, possibly a longer delivery, and potential long-term side effects?

Gee. Let me think about that. Take drugs so I can have even more drugs?

No, thank you.

For those moms who are ready and willing to have the epidural, go for it.

But for moms like me who would have to put our bodies through another form of torture before even going into labor, it’s not worth the effort.

I get plenty of looks when I decline the prednisone. Lots of, “Oh, sweetie...you just don’t know” type of looks.

But let me tell you, I do know.

Even before I had my first child, I could tell you about killer period cramps that made me cry for days. I could tell you about running half marathons up hills and on tired legs. I could tell you about recovering from major abdominal surgery while gradually tapering off morphine at a rate faster than anything ever seen by my nurses.  I do know how to handle pain, and I can handle this pain.  

The second time around? Those “Oh, sweetie” looks are just insulting.  

I know that this will feel like the pain of a thousand periods all rolled into one. I know that this will hurt like hell.  

But, for me, not having an epidural really is the only choice. So bring it on, labor, sweetie, let’s see what you’ve got this time.

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