I just said no to drugs

Newborn photo by: camithompsonphotography.com
"I'm scared." "What if it hurts?" "I think it's going to hurt!" {husband: You'll be fine} {Do it quickly.} "I don't want to." {Quickly! Like a Band-Aid. Because we're literally talking about you ripping off a Band-Aid.}

My husband speaks of this moment as the one that made him quite fearful of childbirth. I was a few months pregnant and decided I would try to hide my already protruding belly button with a Band-Aid. I didn't want the little bump on my big bump to show through on TV as I anchored the news (it still did, by the way).

After more fearful groans (possibly even a tear or two) I tore it off. I whimpered and then silently admitted to myself it really wasn't that bad. I heard my husband shout from the bedroom, "and you think you can have a baby without pain meds?"

I laughed.

But guess what? I did it without pain meds.


1) Know what you need. From the moment we got to the hospital I knew what I wanted. I immediately asked for a room with a tub (they aren't all equipped with one). The nurses told me they were all taken but one should open up later, and I could move if that's what I still wanted. I tried to telepathically send that mama good thoughts for a speedy labor (both for her sake and for mine). Wouldn't you know, as I was later hunched over a large yoga ball thinking "man, contractions suck!" the nurse said we can go to the other room. That hallway walk was rough, but I still remember the most beautiful sunrise shining through the window. I thought to myself, today I'm going to meet my baby. I could do this.

2) Support. Support. Support. My husband had a brief lapse in being husband-of-the-year when he asked quickly after we arrived at the hospital, "so if this is going to be awhile, would now be a good time to nap? I'm really tired, and I want to be on my game." My head did a "what the hell did he just say" tilt as I snapped, "how about you're on your game starting now." Aside from that interaction (I did end up granting nap permission as I took a peaceful walk to try to get labor going and get my brain in a good place) my husband rocked! He was there for me. He was a cheerleader. He was a source of peace and hugs. And he had a look of such pride. He was proud of his wife - having someone be proud of you is a really good, empowering feeling. I also had incredible nurses. If I did it again, I would research getting a doula, but thankfully I had nurses who were so kind and helpful. The nurse I had while I felt the strongest pain supported me and my decision to go meds-free. My doctor also had my back the whole time. With them, I could do this.

3) Baby steps. I went into the process thinking I really might end up getting an epidural. I had this thing in my head that if I could think of someone I knew who went meds-free, I could use them the whole time as inspiration. I'm very competitive so there would also be a little feeling of "if so and so could do it, so can I." However, this did not work. I spent my entire pregnancy thinking of a person who fit the bill. The only people I knew who did not get meds were really strong women. I have nothing but respect for them. Even if they could do it, I wasn't sure I could. So I went with baby steps. It was about 7 a.m. when I was told it was likely the last chance to get an epidural if I wanted one. (You can tell people not to bring up pain meds if you're totally sold on the idea, again, I wasn't.) I remember thinking, "I can't answer that question." I couldn't say, "no, I don't need an epidural" because I'll be honest my body was screaming at me, "what the heck do you think you're doing?" Instead I asked, "is it going to get a lot worse?" My nurse told me, "they will get stronger and then you'll need to push and that will be a different feeling too." I also couldn't say, "I want an epidural" because I'd come this far. I never answered the question. I could do this.

10:18 a.m.

Doc: "Jen, open your eyes! Open your eyes" {screams} {loud, loud scream} "It's a girl" {newborn cries} "Oh my God, it's a girl" {husband joyously cries and nervously laughs} "Hi sweetie!" "Can you believe it's a girl?" {husband cries and laughs more} {"You did great"}"She's perfect" "I'm sorry! Did I yell too loud?" "I think I yelled too loud"

I did this. And it was beautiful.

I completely understand why a woman would choose to have an epidural. I completely understand why a woman would never have a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). I completely understand why a woman would learn her baby's gender pre-birth. But I loved the pure, raw emotion in that delivery room on 11/11/16. My husband cried in the most passionate way I've ever seen a person cry. One moment I was feeling a pain unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. The next moment, ultimate joy. I've never felt so alive in all my life.

All pregnancies are different. All women are different. All deliveries are different. All babies are different. And all are beautiful.

Just know this, if you are a competitive woman who wants to give birth without pain meds, you can do it. I mean, if the lady who threw a fit about ripping off a Band-Aid can do it, so can you.

(Mamas, I cannot recommend the birthing gown I'm wearing in the below photo enough! My dear friend got it for me. It is from her sister-in-law's company, Della B.. Since I was in the tub right before I gave birth, I did not have it on for my actual delivery, but it has all the snaps, zippers, etc. to be functional for delivery and breastfeeding. There's a recovery gown too. I think I wore mine the whole time I was in the hospital and when I got home! It was such an incredibly thoughtful gift!)


  1. The agony & the ecstasy, so beautiful your experience, inspiration & courage. Thank you for sharing this remarkable experience & so happy for you & your hubby!

  2. Thank you so much for you kind words!!! It truly was incredible.

  3. I had one epidural with my 2nd child after we found out he would be stillborn. I chose to do it because my heart was so broken I did not think I could tolerate any more pain. I regret it to this day. I was miserable after the delivery, not only because I was going home without a baby to hold in my arms, but because I had missed out on the experience. I have 3 beautiful children that I was able to take home and hold in my arms and I chose to have them naturally. It does take courage, but you find out that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  4. Jill, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for sharing your story. You certainly are incredibly strong. I am so glad to hear you have three beautiful children although I'm sure that does not erase the pain you experienced.


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