“Rain, after all is only rain; it is not bad weather. So, also, pain is only pain unless we resist it, then it becomes torment.” ~I Ching
I am scared of giving birth to my baby. More specifically, I’m fearful of the pain.
You wouldn’t think a woman who was on her third pregnancy would feel this way. This is not my first rodeo and I have encountered a range of labor and delivery experiences.
With my oldest son, I planned a home birth with no back up plan. I was convinced that as long as my pregnancy was a healthy one, there was no need to deliver in a hospital and run the risk of unnecessary interventions. Birth is a natural act that my body was made to do and I wanted to be in the comfort of my home surrounded by the people I love while I did it. It took five (yes, FIVE) days of labor and an unreasonable level of sleep deprivation and pain to finally admit I needed to transfer to the hospital. I was a little too dedicated to my birth plan. Both my baby and I were safe and healthy, I was just beyond exhausted and my little boy was clearly not in a hurry to come out. I’m still not clear to this day why my labor was so prolonged. I think there was a collection of factors playing into it, the biggest one being fear. In the end, I resigned to the fact that I needed the hospital. So a planned home birth turned into a trip to the hospital, an epidural, and not quite the experience I had pictured.
I considered my first birth to be my first real lesson in parenting. As a parent, you can plan, dream, and wish for things for your child, but it’s important to remember that there’s another person very much involved in the decision-making process. It taught me that my plan may not always be the way things should go for my child. I learned to be open, flexible, and cognizant of what my child needs, despite my desires. (Actually, I’m still working on fully absorbing this lesson today.)
For my second, I wanted to try again for a home birth. This time, I received tandem care from my home birth midwife and the midwives at the hospital. I had my birthing tub rented for home and I toured the labor and delivery floor of the hospital so I was prepared and ready for whatever direction this labor needed to go. This time around, things progressed smoothly and I had a wonderful, memorable home birth (<—full story). This was the first time I had delivered naturally and wow what a difference. Turns out that epidural drastically changes the experience. Through natural birth, I have never in my life known so much pain. From a long transition period to over an hour of pushing, I thought my nine pound baby was going to rip me in half. Seconds after he was born I declared I would NEVER do that again. They say you forget the pain in labor, but I haven’t forgotten it one bit. Yet, I also felt a great sense of satisfaction, empowerment, and pride for working through that pain and doing it naturally.
Now here I am, pregnant with my third with about 6 weeks to go. Despite those few hours of unfathomable pain during my second delivery, I loved every other part of my home birth. I loved laboring in my home with my family nearby. I love that I brought my son into the world on my bed and after he was here, I was already comfortable and cozy at home. I was surrounded by comforting sights, smells and sounds. No one poking or prodding or forcing me to do anything. I could just lie in bed and be with my new baby. Big Brother was right there to greet his baby brother just seconds after he entered the world. It felt so right and so good.
I have decided to go for another home birth. Again, I am receiving tandem care to have all my bases covered. I have already come to peace with however this baby needs to be brought into this world, though I really hope she chooses a home birth. BUT, I am terrified of that pain. The first birth I was blessed with blissful ignorance of labor pains, that ended up dulled by drugs. My second birth introduced me to just how crazy painful labor pains truly are. Now I can’t un-know what I know. I know full well what I’m in for. And sure, maybe this will be a completely different labor. Maybe fast & furious, maybe another slow and drawn out, or maybe two pushes and I’m done. Who knows? I’ve heard a million different scenarios of how it could go down. What I’m really struggling with is getting a grip on my fear of that impending pain. I need to find a way to prepare for it so I don’t feel so out of control.
Whenever I talk to friends about this, I get a range of advice from “Be strong! You’ve got this. You know you can do this.” (this mostly coming from my fellow home birth mamas) to “Girl, please. You already proved you can be super woman by having a home birth. Just go get that epidural and enjoy the hospital stay vacay.” And honestly, some days I feel on the fence. But when I really stop to think about why I’m drawn to a home birth in the first place, I just can’t let it go. Assuming this baby decides to be born at home, that’s really the way I want it, too.
Managing the Fear
I’m working hard to manage my fear. I had a three hour session with a doula/birthing teacher who specializes in the Blissborn technique. I had half attempted a similar technique with my first labor & delivery (Hypnobirthing) but honestly did not dedicate myself to it all that much because I thought it was a little corny. But this time around, I’ve decided to give the idea of self-hypnosis or deep relaxation a real effort. In my short exposure to and reading about self-hypnosis, it doesn’t feel all that different from a really good savasana. Now that I can wrap my mind around. As a practicing yogini for over ten years, I know the benefits and understand the state of mind of a deep savasana. My yoga practice has also taught me how to focus on breath and stay strong and steady in the face of pain. So with that frame of reference, I’m committing myself to practicing the art of letting go and going to a place of deep relaxation from now until this birth. I am spending time each day listening to positive affirmations to remind myself that I am strong and made to do this. I have my husband on board to support the time I need to do these daily activities and to know the language of the affirmations that will help in the moments when it matters most. My plan is to make all of this a daily practice so that it all becomes second nature and a valuable tool in managing the pain and stay in control.
Wish me luck. xo