“Most American women today have little confidence that they are able to bear labor pain. They worry that they will lose their composure, yell or scream, writhe, and lose their ability to think or express themselves clearly. They worry about embarassing themselves, scaring their loved ones, or being judged by the staff. The specter of losing control of their own behavior may be as much of an incentive for women to have an epidural as their fear of pain.”
– from “Easy Labor” by Camann & Alexander, pg. 47
This really resonated with me, because I think it’s probably the closest thing I’ve read to describing how I feel. I expect pain. I expect a lot of pain, more than I can probably conceptualize at this point in my life. I don’t think I’m afraid of the pain so much as I am afraid of losing control.
But, most of all, I think I am just a generally ‘uptight’ person in a lot of physical ways. I’m not touchy-feely, I don’t hug friends often, I’ve never found it easy to smile casually, and I don’t giggle when people fart or burp. Sure, I can open up verbally to someone without a problem, but when I hug them at the end of the conversation I’ll still feel awkward. I worry that I’m not as in touch with a more relaxed, accepting, and maybe even ‘primal’ side of myself as I need to be to really just stop caring during childbirth and let my body do what it needs to. I have a desire to read as many accounts and watch as many videos as I can that relate to labour and childbirth that contrasts sharply with a gut feeling to stay away from them and not base my expectations on other people’s experiences.
I will have to give up intellectual control of my body and let that crazy “instinct” thing take control. And this loss of control in general isn’t even temporary, this is a permanent thing; I don’t know what life is going to be like in two months, once she’s here. It’s going to be like having my heart living outside of my body. I’ve started referring to her as “baby” again rather than by name, and I don’t know why — I used to call her by name to make her feel more real, and now everything about her is so incredibly real that it consumes every minute of my days, so am I calling her “baby” to try and get distance from that?
I signed all of our Christmas cards this year as being from Chris, Tatiana, and Maia, but into each of them I tucked a wallet-sized photo of Chris & I taken in July, and it feels like a silly, hollow gesture to have just the two of us smiling at the recipients when really, there’s a third party who already determines the pattern of most of our days. Next year I’ll get to put a picture of all three of us, or maybe even just Maia, in our cards… and I can’t wait for it.
I’m not afraid of whether or not I’ll be a good mother. I will be. And if that doesn’t scare me… why does giving up my physical control during labour?