To drug, or not to drug?

So we had our childbirthing class this weekend – an all day session on Saturday. It was a long day (we had to be there at 8 am! on a weekend! bastards!), but we were both glad we went. First of all, it was just nice to get a tour of the facilities and actually see where we’ll be having the baby. But beyond that, I think we both left the class feeling a little more confident that we can do this. Not that there’s any other option, obviously, but I’d been feeling pretty freaked out about the pain and the mess and just the whole ordeal. Sort of a massive looming generalized anxiety. I’m still not looking forward to it, but having seen the videos and talked with the nurses and done the breathing, etc., I sort of feel more competent to complete the task without totally losing it.

It’s funny, really, because in general I’m pretty at home with my body. I have definite weight-related issues – can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel overweight, even when I wasn’t – but I’m pretty graceful/coordinated and years of acting training and theatre work have made me pretty familiar with how my body moves and reacts to things. So, I wish it were smaller, but by and large I’m pretty OK with my bod. But this pregancy – particularly at the beginning – has been an excercise in un-knowing my body. Not knowing what’s “normal,” not knowing how it will react to a given circumstance, and not feeling like I have much control over it one way or the other. As a squab, I’m not particularly obsessed with controlling my body – like, I can go with the flow, you know? – but pregnancy has been an almost daily assault of new sensations, most of them unpleasurable, and has made it difficult to be as comfortable in my own skin as I’m accustomed to being. I know this isn’t how lots of women experience pregnancy; my mom, for one, LOVED being pregnant. (Thanks for setting up that expectation, mom!) And I have many friends who’ve found it largely positive, too. Me, not so much. The other day a friend of mine made a passing reference to the “joys of pregnancy” and I let out a huge guffaw before I realized they weren’t making a joke. Oops.

So this whole process had been making me more and more anxious about the birth itself. I mean, let’s face it: my body hasn’t responded particularly well to pregancy. What if the response to birth is equally bad? People would ask me if I was planning on a “natural” childbirth, and I’d make laughing remarks about how I’m not interested in being a martyr, not into macho posturing, hook me up with whatever drugs they’ve got, etc., etc. But after the childbirth class, I’m not so sure. I mean, I think I can do this. And I’m kind of curious to see how long I can go without drugs. I’m not ruling them out or anything, since I have no idea how painful I’ll find it, but I’m thinking *maybe* I could go without. (Plus that video of the woman getting the epidural totally squicked me out. Ew.) At any rate, I’m not so scared of it anymore, which is good. I know I’ve got some mommies reading this blog – any words of wisdom? Any of you do “natural” childbirth? Anyone have any comparisons of drugged vs. non-drugged? I don’t promise to take anyone’s advice, but the more information, the better. Lay it on me.

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