I’d been trying not to think about it much the past few months, to be honest. I’d cover my ears and sing “lalalalala” til the cows came home … anything to avoid having to think about it.
Fear of childbirth is not abnormal; of this I’m sure. Few women get excited at the idea of squeezing out a watermelon. But childbirth is something absolutely unavoidable once you’re pregnant: there’s really no turning back!
Baby has to come out.
My best friend, who had a great labor with her son a few years ago, gave me a copy of Great Expectations (a book I highly recommend; it’s become like my bible of sorts) and, knowing my fears, suggested I might want to skip the graphic images of the pelvic bones separating during labor for now, as they are quite disturbing.
I”m glad she forewarned me — I definitely skipped over that chapter upon first read! But then recently one day while flipping through the pages, I came across the graphics … and let’s just say my whole body hurt thinking about it.
Still, it needed to be seen at some point, so I’m glad I got it out of the way. I mean, we all know the baby has to come out somehow… I was just trying to put the “how” out of my mind for as long as possible. 😉
But now I’m past the half-way point. And sometime this fall, my husband and I will need to take birthing classes, breastfeeding classes, etc…. and as I grow, it will continually feel more real, which means the actual birth will be coming … it’s just a question of “when.”
And therein lies the dilemma. My “due date” is December 19. But anyone who has ever had a baby or knows someone who has had a baby knows due dates are not usually accurate … estimates at best … and often babies come sooner or later than said “due date”. Which means a helluva lot of uncertainty for mamas-to-be.
Which is, in a word, scary.
My whole life has, for the most part, followed a trajectory I controlled. While I’ve had to endure some unpredictable experiences and moments (and had to be patient a lot!), for the most part, I’ve been able to map out my first 30 years.
But now, with a baby, I’ll be entering completely unchartered territory. If my anxiety levels were high before … I can only imagine how they will be with baby or in the days leading up to baby’s arrival!
Unless for some reason I have to have a scheduled C-section (or at the last-minute have to have one), I’ll be at my baby’s whim … contractions, water breaking, labor … nothing I can control.
She’ll be ready to go… and I’ll have no choice but to roll with the punches — something I am NOT good at. I’m getting better, believe me, but the thought of being truly physically out of control terrifies me. Hence, I’m trying now to face these fears by putting some thought to them instead of avoiding the inevitable: because she WILL need to come out and I WILL have to deal.
Fortunately, I have a husband who is very grounded and will do his best to keep me sane throughout this whole process … but ultimately, I am going to need to be OK with unpredictability.
And I believe thinking about these things now — mapping out ways I can handle it when time comes (or throw them to the wind, who knows!) — will be helpful in the months and years to come.
I’m not saying I’m not still afraid, or that I’m totally embracing the idea of it being so unplanned and uncontrolled … that’d be a blatant and utter lie.
But like all my experiences thus far with anxiety … I know I have the power in me to manage my reactions to it, even if I can’t control it.
I’d say that’s a pretty good lesson to have learned, and one I can carry through this pregnancy and mommyhood and beyond.
How about you? Are you afraid of childbirth/the unpredictability of it all? Any moms care to weigh in on their birth experiences?