If you get multiple young moms together, chances are the conversation will turn to birth stories at some point. Each story is unique, just as each mother and child are unique and special in their own way. I love hearing birth stories and sharing my own, but there is one particular conversation I’ll never forget. It stands out in my mind because of the way the woman sharing honestly shared her feelings.
We were all gathered and telling our stories, there were a few that had completely unassisted births, those planning future home births, there were some moms that had c-sections and then this mom, who, when asked to share her story, quietly said “I cheated, I got the epidural”.
Cheating birth? Is that even possible? I do not believe that it is. But I know that many mothers are told that they somehow “cheated” because they didn’t do things the way they had planned, or the way other moms told them they should.
So what about you?
Maybe you were induced (I was with my first)
Maybe you got the epidural
or the meds in your IV (I did that too)
Maybe you elected to have a C-section
or had an emergency Cesarian (like two of my friends)
Maybe you went completely drug free (I did with #2)
Maybe you had a water birth
Or a home birth
Maybe your dr wasn’t even there in time to deliver your baby (this happened to me too)
Whatever your story. Whichever way your precious one entered the world. It’s awesome, and you are awesome. There is no “cheating”, that’s not possible. You birthed a baby, an entire human being. It’s a wonderful (painful) gift we’ve been given as women to birth children. Regardless of the method you choose, or the method that is chosen for you, it’s awe inspiring.
It’s your story. Share it with pride. Don’t let another mama convince you that you did it wrong. You brought a baby into the world and that is nothing short of incredible.
Thank you, Paula. I always feel like I did it “wrong.” I know that I had no option on the c-section the first time because my baby was breech and my doctor tried even the risky methods to turn her. But then we elected to have follow-up c-sections because we firmly believe it’s safest and best for us. And over and over again, I feel like I cheated, like I did it wrong in the view of everyone else.
Faith @ Artistic31Mama says
I know that feeling. :-) A lot of women in my church have given birth with no medication and it made me feel like I did it wrong too. But looking back I think I’d do it the same all over again given the choice. :-)
Thank you, it’s nice to hear that, especially from someone who had a VBAC. See, Mommy Wars don’t have to happen! :) We think about and pray about our choices and should feel very firm in those convictions, but they’re for US, not everyone else. Having a healthy baby really is all that matters.
Faith @ Artistic31Mama says
I left a comment on your Facebook page but just had to comment again and tell you how beautiful this is. :-) It touched my heart. Thank you. :-) I always felt like I cheated. 1 c-section and 3 VBACs with epidurals. I always felt weak and not “tough enough” but looking back it was best for us and I had wonderful birth experiences. :-) I do try to avoid medicine when possible and not become dependent on it but I don’t ban its use either because I have seen God use medicine to heal people. :-) So no more feeling guilty.
I’m so glad this blessed you Faith :) you are definitely not a cheater! :) I’m glad you made the decisions that were best for your family
Love this post, because it bothers me that getting an epidural is treated that way too. It’s all hard work, and bringing a baby in the world is a miracle any way it happens! There is no cheating. Good post!
It is definitely all hard work! I had one birth with medication and one completely drug free, and the latter was actually easier! lol Both were hard though, no matter what you do it is going to be hard, and it is something to be celebrated!!!
I’ve had five kiddos, two without (one at home) and the first three with. With my fourth, I went without on an induced birth and I remember the nurses saying they rarely see women actually go without an epidural. It’s something like 10 percent. However, I feel so good about the med-free births that I think I talk more about them. It’s an awesome feeling if you can get it. Like running a marathon, except that when you’re done you feel like you could run another marathon ;-) So, long story short, I think the perception is that everyone does it without the epidural and you’re a weakling if you don’t, when in reality, most moms have some type of pain relief medication.
Randomly Fascinated says
When I saw the title I was afraid that you were going to say that my birth story was cheating, but I should have known better, you would never condemn another mom like that :). Thank you for always being so encouraging and open and willing to let everyone be who they are not who you are or who you think they should be.
I often feel like I have to justify or defend the fact that I was induced two weeks early. It wasn’t something I chose for fun, my water broke without me going into labor. I also chose an epidural, but for some reason I have never felt like I needed to defend that. For me it was the best choice, I have a very low pain tolerance and I would have been completely worn out and stressed out from laboring. It most likely would have made pushing way harder (trust me it was hard enough, the epidural didn’t go low enough) and probably would have made my labor longer and more dangerous for both of us. I respect the women who can go it without the epidural (although part of me thinks they are a little crazy for trying, but it is also amazing :) but it would not be the right choice for me or my baby.
Thanks for encouraging us again!
I’m glad this encouraged you! :) It sounds like you made the absolute best choices for your family! I applaud you for that :)
I love this! I had an epidural too (and some other things that were non-avoidable). With this second baby a lot of people don’t know, but I am going to be having a c-section to some major problems I had last time. I am just waiting for people to got at me when we announce that, but maybe they won’t. Wouldn’t that be nice? :)
I hope that they won’t give you any problems about it! I’m actually glad you are having one! That is definitely the best choice with the problems you had last time!!! I can’t wait to see your sweet new baby <3
I love this post! I have 2 little boys and I also had an epidural both times. I felt like I cheated, and as though I had “failed” somehow. When I think about it though, how did I fail? I have 2 healthy, perfect boys, and all in all had great birth experiences. Thanks for the encouraging post! Will definitely be a regular reader of your blog :)
Glad to have you here Katie, and so glad this encouraged you!!! :) There’s no failing in birthing two wonderful babies <3 sounds like you did an amazing job!
Emily @ My Love for Words says
I felt like I failed when I had my first c-section with my second child. My first was a fast, easy, natural delivery so I assumed the rest would go the same way. The first was supposed to be the hardest, right? Well numbers 2 and 3 (that sounds horrible. I promise, they have names!) were born via c-section. I was extremely disappointed at first, but I have two healthy, happy baby boys both of whom were over 9 1/2 pounds so c-sections may have been a blessing. thanks for such a lovely and encouraging post.
Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life says
Great post Paula!!
Thank you! I feel this way. Although I had a successful VBAC after 3-c-sections after being in labor for about 13 hours at home. When I went to the hospital I took the advice of the nurses and did get an epidural after waiting for a few more hours. There is some people at church that seem to think that it is some kind of sin to get an epidural. This has caused me to feel some guilt. I set out to have a med free birth. Then I realized my goal was to have a successful VBAC and healthy baby. I won’t ever be really close to people that are that legalistic and judgemental. I am tired of the mommy wars :) I prayed about this birth and knew that God would guide and assist me.
Sorry the one sentence is awkward, what I meant is that I was in labor for 13 hours at home before I went to the hospital and then about 2 hours after I got to the hospital I had an epidural L)
Judith at WholeHearted Home says
I had a midwife and was induced and had an epidural (my baby was crowning…so go figure!!) with my first. With my second, I had nothing and had a natural delivery in the hospital. I also had two home births. I was born at home and the doctor never made it!! They are all awesome and so was your post!!
thank you so much for this beautiful post.
i was so eager for a natural birth, one without drugs or assistance. i wanted to do it MY WAY.
and then she was two weeks late, and we agreed to an induction. and then after 28 hours of labour, my daughter was having difficulties and her heart was close to stopping with each contraction. we had an emergency c-section. and oh, the SHAME i had. i had failed, and those in the natural birthing community were quick to remind me just how much i had failed.
i sunk into depression in the weeks following her birth, weeping every night at how i had failed myself and how i had failed my little girl. but now, i am finally starting to see that she was BORN. and she is here and nearly ten months old now, and absolutely perfect in every way. she is indeed a miracle, and nothing about her birthing process was unnatural.
I agree. Each birth story in unique and that’s part of what makes it so special.
great post! I had two natural births, because thats what I really really wanted to do, mainly, because Im TERRIFIED of needles that have a chance of paralysing you (even if that chance is extremely minute) and I also didnt want a major operation (c-section) as I felt, you either go through the pain in however many hours, and then its over, or you suffer the discomfort and inabilty to move much for a week or so after the operation. Id rather get it out of the way. HOWEVER I also decided that IF I needed to have an epidural or a c section or anything else at all, I wouldnt feel bad about it, i’d do whats best for me or my baby, even if it was scary or i felt judged. There is nothing bad about doing whats right for your and your babies health. Thankfully, my births went fine and I was able to have my babies with nothing but the gas second time, to help. I wont lie, I did feel a sense of accomplishment for doing it naturally, very blessed to be able to, BUT I absolutely do not condemn a woman who chooses other options. The only reason I did it naturally is because I found the other options scarier!! But umm… OUCH! if you want to avoid that pain, go for it! and dont feel bad about it!!!
I had an epidural the first time and I’m having one for my next one. I consider the epidural a blessing; I think it’s great that women have the option of drug free or drugs. Either way, it’s painful. But as long as the baby is safe (which is VERY safe these days with the drugs) then both options are great!
Twingle Mommy says
I felt cheated out of my twins birth and it’s a post that I’ve been meaning to write. But basically my darling little twins decided to wrap their cords around their necks and I had an emergency c-section. So much of an emergency that there was no time for an epidural and they put me under. When I woke up they were in the NICU and I wasn’t allowed to see them for 2 days since I was running a fever. Yep, I was cheated out of their birth.
Julie Johnson says
Better that than two dead babies. That sounds harsh but you weren’t cheated you were blessed & they were saved. I hope you can see that in retrospect.
Julie Johnson says
So I wrote my reply & then realized that you certainly can feel cheated all the while knowing that you & they were blessed. I shouldn’t have responded so quickly. I apologize.
My last baby, #4, was born just fine but I had major problems after his birth. I ended up in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit for almost 2 weeks. I couldn’t care for him for months, thankfully I had family close by that cared for him with all the love that I would have but I suppose, looking back, I did feel pretty cheated out of his first hours, days, weeks & months. Thankfully we are all ok now but it was pretty rough. I find myself wishing for another partly for the experience I missed with him.
The only thing I ever felt cheated is on the experiences that happened after birth since my baby went strait into “issues” than into respiratory distress and the whole nine yards. The birth part was fine. The amazing thing is when people ask me if I am having a natural birth with my second child and I explain no its a planned c-seaction I get scrutinize. They will give you an odd look or try to advocate for a natural birth. (So I am selective on who I tell) I loved your post because it empowers so many mommas in world that can knock them down. My theory is what ever it takes to get a healthy baby is what matters. Not the process but the fact the baby is healthy, the other stuff I can care less about.
Amen! From the comments you can see that you’ve shared something women really need to hear.
I was not ever had a csec, or been enduced or used an epidural (though I really thought about asking a couple of times!, but I’m in no position to judge what is the right choice for others.
What I’m hearing from many young mothers now is that they felt they had no choice, and that makes me sad.
The important this always is a healthy baby and a healthy mama :)
Thank you for your thoughts today!
Tanya @ Kentucky Sketches says
I had an epidural with my first child, still experienced a great deal of pain and misery, and was sooo frustrated by comments from those women who had “gone natural,” as if somehow those who refused an epidural were stronger, more determined women. But with my next three births, however, I TRIED to get epidurals and experienced what they called a “dead spot” where the medication wouldn’t take effect. Those births were natural whether I wanted them to be or not!
The fact is, childbirth is not the same for every woman. Some women deliver their babies with relative ease while others experience incredible complications. Personally, my labors were fairly brief, but I’ve had friends and family who endured 20+ hours of agony delivering a baby! How on earth can I tell them how they should bring their child into the world when our experiences are so different?
And while I agree it makes sense that the fewer meds we pump into our bodies, the better for us and baby, too, I also question the thinking that insists it’s always best to “do it the old-fashioned way”. The “old-fashioned way” once meant that 1 in 10 women died in childbirth. Those are numbers I don’t believe ANY of us want to see again!
Jamie H @ coffeewithus3.blogspot says
This is SO true! Just as each child will be so vastly different, each birth will be as well. There is no wrong or right way to give birth. I feel bad that so many moms who have had c-sections feel like they missed out- I know I’ve heard that a lot. And it’s just not true. Things don’t always go perfectly, or according to our plans, but they always go according to God’s plan. I know with my first, after a terrible, long, agonizing labor that almost ended in c-section but thankfully vacuum-assist worked, I was wishing I had been able to have a c-section. Nothing had gone according to my plans anyway, so at least that would have spared me a lot of pain and tearing. But… I had a beautiful baby girl, and she was healthy, and that was worth my plans being altered. I hope your post will remind moms that childbirth isn’t a competition, and that each baby’s birth is unique and was known by God when he knit that child together in its mama’s womb– it is a special, amazing event, no matter how it unfolds.
Lisha Epperson says
I wrote about this on my blog a few months ago. The pressure on women to have natural biirths where everything else is less than is terribly disheartening. I agree with you whole heartedly on this post. A natural birth is a beautiful thing but its all about perspective and context. A c-section birth is absolutely glorious…especially if it saved the life of either you or your child. I say “healthy baby, healthy Mama…you’ve won.
Jann Olson says
I agree, if you brought a precious child into this world you did it right, no matter how you did it. I had my first one with nothing. Mainly because I walked into the hospital at 5:35 and she was born at 6:02. She arrived two weeks before my due date. No time to do much. lol! Had a scare with my 4th. By the time I had my 5th hubby was working out of town and we planned the date and I was happy to go with the epidural. Easiest birth by far. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
Jen P says
I sometimes feel like I cheated. I have a lot of back issues and one in particular that make an epidural very risky. I didn’t feel like a natural birth was an option for me but my doctor told me to think about it. Well, my son didn’t give me a choice he came 7 weeks early and was breech. I had an emergency C-section as I arrived at the hospital 5cm dilated and the dr could feel feet. I ended up having that emergency C-section under general anesthetic so I often feel like I cheated but I also felt like I got cheated. I didn’t get to experience that rush of emotions when that baby came out. I actually didn’t get to see or hold my baby for about 18 hours :-( It was a hard thing to go through and I never wish upon anyone to have to feel the pain I did when I had to leave my son in the hospital as I was sent home. For a month I felt the pain of leaving the hospital daily without my child.