It happened again. I spoke to someone about my birth experience, and when it came to the part of the epidural, the conversation got…well, awkward.
And it was because of me, not her.
Once again, I found myself scrambling for words as I explained about my epidural.
Why? Why as moms do we feel ashamed that we made use of medical conveniences to alleviate some of the pain of childbirth?
Why do we feel the need to criticize and excuse ourselves? And why do we think that suffering more would have been better for our children, or for us?
Now, before I go on, I want to explain that I am a mostly natural-minded mother. I encourage healthy eating as much as possible. I aim to use non-disposables, and regularly choose the healthier, greener options.
I value doing things with nature in mind. And I respect and admire my fellow mothers who went through the height of the pain with no medication.
But at the same time, I shouldn’t need to feel an overwhelming need to constantly apologize for my epidural. I shouldn’t need to explain away for the sake of averting “epidural-shame”.
As mothers, we regularly make decisions whether or not to prioritize our needs. For the most part, we unequivocally prioritize our children. But occasionally, we need to decide to put our own comfort ahead, with little to no compromise coming from our children.
It’s those five minutes you take to drink a coffee so that you can have the presence of mind to be there for your children, after staying up the whole night with them. You don’t need to apologize for that.
It’s that half hour you take at night to catch up on a single episode on Netflix, while the dishes are still undone, to regain your sanity so that you can go on with the routine. You don’t need to apologize for that.
It’s those two hours you took to hang with your girlfriends so that you could be socially fulfilled, happier, and a better mother. Again, you simply don’t need to be ashamed or apologetic.
It’s a small, tiny-risk compromise that we took to minimize our risk of post-partum depression, to give us a slightly better memory of those wondrous moments when we first met our treasures. It’s those few minutes of slightly diminished pain that might even be giving us more energy for the pushing phase (as is what happened in my case.)
And the same way that we didn’t need to apologize when we had that cup of coffee, we don’t need to apologize for making this decision. We don’t need feel ashamed in the least, like we cheated, or took the easy road. There is NOTHING easy about a medicated childbirth!
So, why am I writing this?
I am sure that I am not the only one. I write this for my fellow moms who feel the “shame” of the epidural when we talk about childbirth. I want to make it a standard amongst ourselves that we do NOT need to apologize for decisions we made that were really okay.
While I still struggle with apologizing every time I speak about it, I know that I shouldn’t. I know that it doesn’t make me any less of a mother. But most of all, I know what I’m going to say the next time I talk with a fellow mother who begins apologizing to avoid “epidural shame”.
I’m going to tell her that she did the most amazing thing in the world, by creating a new life. I’m going to commiserate with the pain she did feel, and I’m going to tell her that she did NOT compromise on motherhood by getting that epidural.
And I’ll hope that she tells me the same.
Did you have an epidural when your child was born? Do you also feel the need to apologize and explain sometimes?