I briefly mentioned in a previous post that I was considering a natural birth. Since then, I have been surprised by how many people 1.) actually read that post and 2.) have asked to know more.
Disclaimer: I hate reading pregnancy blogs that make you feel like a monster for even considering pain medication. Let’s be clear. I’m in no way anti-epidural. In fact, I would opt for the drugs too…but for me it’s not that simple.
My dad says, “Shelton girls come with zippers.”
Remember those days in gym class, when the school nurse would visit the locker room to do scoliosis screenings? You know, when you had to stand there in your sports bra, put your hands together and bend over to try and touch your toes while everyone watched?
I nearly failed every screening between elementary school and junior high. I mean, how embarrassing to be the only girl in your class held back and asked to re-screen every single time?
Finally, when I started high school, the nurse sent a note home to my mother that said I may have a “slight” curvature in my spine. Normally, a slight curve isn’t too much of a problem – but unfortunately this wasn’t my family’s first rodeo.
I was soon on my way to a spinal specialist in Indianapolis.
It turns out that “slight” didn’t cover it. I had a major curvature, which would require a major surgery to correct – or I may end up looking similar to Quasimodo with unbearable back pain for the rest of my life.
So, over spring break of my freshman year of high school, I had a 6-level spinal fusion from T10-L3.
Methodist Hospital is an excellent vacation spot. Basically a combination of metal rods, hooks and screws were attached to my vertebrae to join the bones and straighten them out, and donor bone tissue (both from my own hip and…well, someone who is not me) was used to fuse the whole thing together. This is very similar to the surgery that my sister, Grace, has underwent TWICE.
Again, Shelton girls come with zippers. I would take a photo of my 12 inch scar, but you’re just going to have to trust me. 😉
To this day, the recovery from this surgery is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.
I missed more than a month of school. When I returned, I was given an A for the day in gym class if I was able to put on my own shoes and make it up the stairs to the gym. I missed an entire color guard season (save for a swing flag solo in which there was no way I could injure myself). Still today, I have back pain every time the weather changes.
Now my natural birth idea doesn’t sound so crazy, does it?
When I got pregnant, I had no idea if an epidural was even an option for me. Frankly, neither did my OBGYNs. So today, I met with an anesthesiologist to see what my options actually are.
I told the doctor where my fusion was, and I immediately knew by the look on his face that the answer was not going to be favorable. He delivered the news like the 36 week pregnant chick standing in front of him could either a.) throw her purse at his bald head or b.) have a complete emotional breakdown.
I will not be able to have an epidural. Should I need a c-section, I will be put under general anesthesia.
Before today, regardless of what the anesthesiologist said, I was going to first try for a natural birth. Not only do I want the option to move around during labor, and have learned about the risks associated with epidurals and spinal fusion, but I don’t particularly like the idea of a needle going into my already bionic spine. Can you really blame me?
Do I think I’ll be able to do it? I have absolutely no idea, but now I at least know that I have no real choice. Am I too proud to get other types of pain medication if I decide I need it? Absolutely not.
I don’t know what birth feels like, but I did survive a spinal fusion. Women have been doing this for thousands of years, surely I can handle this….right? RIGHT?!
I would appreciate any words of encouragement or advice from other momma’s. Seriously. Share your wisdom.