I intended to go all-natural, but I ended up getting an epidural. That doesn’t make me weak. 

There’s this stigma when it comes to women who end up getting an epidural. Don’t get me wrong, if you were able to have a baby naturally, that’s amazing. I mean that. You were able to show true strength.

You know what else is amazing? Growing a human being inside you and giving birth are amazing things. Those things also show true strength. 

I had planned and decided I was going to do my best to have my baby naturally. I wanted to show strength and to be able to say I was strong. 

I was induced on the evening of June 9 of this year. I went into the hospital with my husband, anxious yet super pumped at the same time. I was 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I was so READY to get that baby out. The baby’s head could not have been any lower, and he had been like that for a few weeks.

I was induced around 5 p.m., and my water broke somewhere between 9 and 9:30 p.m. Up until that point, I was able to joke and laugh. Then 10 p.m. came. I started to cramp. My body started to shake. My husband thought I was freezing, but I wasn’t. I tried to stop shaking but couldn’t.

He tried to tell me to get an epidural, but I said no.

A couple of hours went by, and I was still shaking. I was still having horrible cramps. At this point, I was sobbing, and he told me again to get it. I said no, I can’t. I know it sounds dramatic, but I felt like I was literally about to faint.

RELATED: You’re Allowed To Be Disappointed in Your Birth Story

He then looked at me and said, “Baby, it’s OK, you are strong. You getting an epidural doesn’t make you weak. You’re doing something amazing and hard. You’ve carried him this far, and you are not weak. You are strong.”

The nurse came back in and asked one more time if I wanted it. I shook my head yes, feeling disappointed in myself. I felt like I needed to apologize to my baby for not being strong enough. I felt like I had failed myself. They administered the epidural, and it took my husband and a couple of nurses to hold me because I could not stop shaking. Then the strangest thing happened.

I waited for the relief to come. It did. But just for half of my body.

What?! I had never heard of this. This was not in my birth plan! Was this even a thing? Well, it was happening to me. It was only working on the right side of my body. Sobbing even more, I didn’t understand what was going on. It was the weirdest feeling. There I was not feeling the right side at all and able to move the other. The pain then started to concentrate all on the left.

Would the doctor even believe me? Well, he did. We were so blessed to have the sweetest anesthesiologist. He quickly explained that it rarely happens and was sorry it was happening to me. He made a second attempt to administer the epidural a little higher up. Crying even harder, one of the nurses came around and stood in front of me. She embraced me as I sobbed into her arms.

At that moment, it wasn’t just about the pain anymore.

Due to COVID, I was only allowed one person in the hospital, and of course, that was going to be my husband. He did so great throughout the whole time for me and was really there for me. I had never imagined not having my mom there with me. There was literally a rule that I couldn’t have a second person or any visitors. As strange as it may sound, it’s like that nurse allowed me to act as if she were my mama. She allowed me to cry out my pain and frustration over all that was happening. She’ll never know how much that moment meant to me. Thank God for nurses.

RELATED: There’s Nothing Quite Like a Nurse

I believe the second epidural attempt happened around 1 a.m., and it seemed to work for both sides. And, oh my, IT WAS GREAT. I was able to talk clearly again, I was able to take a nap. I had forgotten about feeling like I had failed to have a natural birth experience. I felt like I had made the best decision for baby and me.

The night went on and then something else happened. Morning came and at 6 a.m., the epidural wore off on the left side again. At this point, I was not even upset with the anesthesiologist. All of my frustration was on me and my body. 

I was so frustrated with my body and myself. Why couldn’t I just take the pain? Other women have been able to do it. This was my thought process.

Getting an epidural isn’t backing down. Let’s stop the comparing. I didn’t back out. I had a baby. I would like to say I wasn’t comparing myself to others during one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. That wouldn’t be the truth. 

The epidural wore off, and it was time to push.

So during my birthing experience, I didn’t get to have the build up of contractions. I would hear that the “ring of fire” was the most painful part. I mean it was pretty painful, but that wasn’t it for me. My pain went from 0 to 10 in a matter of seconds only on my left side when I was 10 cm dilated. When it came to the pushing process, I was so confused. I could only feel pain on the left. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I STILL don’t know how to push. I wouldn’t be able to explain it to you. 

RELATED: A Traumatic Birth Almost Killed Us, But it Couldn’t Weaken My Love For My Baby

I’m able to laugh about it now, but I was so frustrated. There were so many feelings from frustration to feeling empowered in so many ways. There was frustration, but then came the most beautiful sight I have ever seen in my life.

Here was the person I had carried and had been preparing for. He is my love at first sight and my favorite “nice to meet you.” I did what I had to do to get him here, and I would do it again for him. 

Even though the epidural didn’t work fully on me, I’m glad I got it. It allowed me to take a nap. Some may think that sounds lazy, but I knew I hadn’t slept well in months. My body needed that rest. Not that he needs to. but my husband could testify to thatI was exhausted.

Everyone’s body is different. Every baby is different. Every labor is different. This was my experience. I didn’t take the easy way out. I had a baby.

All I’m trying to say is mamas who chose to get an epidural right off the bat or ended up getting one, we are strong. You are just as strong. We, women, are strong whether we had a vaginal or c-section delivery. Epidural or not. We are strong. Let’s get rid of that kind of mom guilt. We carried a human being. You are strong. 

Don’t ever let someone tell you otherwise.

Originally published on the author’s Instagram page

Estephanie Phelps

I am mama to a sweet and wild boy. Being a mom is hard enough without all the expectations. We all have our own stories. Being a mom is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Maybe if I share my good, bad, and the ugly I can help at least one person. That would be good enough for me.