Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Acknowledging the Fear

So how is it that I read all of these blogs about pregnancy and at the end everyone starts talking about how ready they are for baby to come, but no one mentions the fear? Is it that they don't want to admit the fear? As if by admitting it it may over take them? Or is it because everyone is planning on using pain meds and I am the only person crazy enough to face this unarmed? Or is it just because everyone is trying to put on a strong face?

I have talked about having some fearfulness related to the recent bleeding, but there is a greater, deeper, chasm of fear that seems to be lurking in front of me as I tip toe forward one day at a time. In the chasm lies little monsters of doubt. Little voices screaming up about the pain I will experience, the fortitude I will need, the determination it will take, and the sheer exhaustion that is waiting for me. The voices whisper about the doubt. Can I do this? Am I strong enough? What kind of person will I be when put to the test? And then there are other darker fears. Such as, will I be a good mother? Will I know what to do? Can I face this enormous life change and accept that nothing will ever be the same again?

It just seems that no one acknowledges these fears, and yet, I cannot be the only woman to have had them. They are so typical they really just walking cliches. But, instead of voicing these fears, people talk about being so TIRED of being pregnant and so READY to be done. People have told me that these desire to be DONE pushes away the fear somehow because you are so uncomfortable you really stop caring about what you have to go through to be done with it. Well, I don't feel that way. I am excited to be done because I want to meet this little boy. But I have yet to reach a point where I am so miserable that I can ignore the ordeal I am facing. To me, this is just being realistic.

Now please don't overinterpret this. I said I was walking along this chasm of fear. As in, walking along it and looking down. I haven't jumped in and given over to the fear. If that were the case, then sign me up for that epidural. No, I still see childbirth as exciting. As a challenge. A test to find out how I will cope. While for me a natural birth is important because I think it is best for my baby and the best chance of avoiding multiple interventions, the real reason I am choosing this is because I see it as something amazing and powerful that I want to experience. And, if allowed to occur naturally, I am trusting my body to be able to manage the pain with evolutionary responses of biology and coping. Hopefully my body has a direct line into those evolutionary processes.

But the thing is people, let's not deny what is happening here. On a day to day, moment to moment basis, I am living on a precipice. I have always been a planner. I plan everything because I happen to love planning. If you've read my blog you will know this about me. But you can absolutely NOT plan this. I can't even plan a grocery list because who knows if I need to buy ingredients to make meals next week or if I should just be buying frozen pizzas for my husband to heat up for us in our sleep deprived state? I can't schedule a hair appointment for next week (which, btw, had to be rescheduled when I went to the hospital on Friday), because I don't know if I will be in labor or already a mother. Basically, who the hell knows. I am sitting here right now, typing these words, enjoying the kitten sleeping on my chest and the dog snoring at my side, and any second now I could have the first real contraction of labor. Any second.

I know we live with unpredictability in this world. I specialize in treating anxiety and I try to teach my patients that we need to accept some amount of lack of control. For example, we cannot control if there will be an earthquake (yes, I work in LA) on any given day and terrible things could happen. But, we need to accept that fear and live despite it. But this! This is different. There will be an "earthquake," sometime in the next few weeks. It's just a matter of what specific moment it will choose to arrive.

So yeah. I say, fear is real. Because not only have you gotten on a rollercoaster that you can't get off of without going through the entire heart-pounding-upside-down-holy-shit-i-am-going-to-die ride, but when you get off of the coaster feeling shocked and exhilarated, you will disembark into an entire new world than the one you left behind. I think what I'm saying here is, there is strength in acknowledging this fear. It is better to know that it is there than to avoid it altogether. The question is, how to accept the reality and yet not become overwhelmed by those little whispers of doubt?

And you? If you have given birth, what were your thoughts in the weeks proceeding? If you imagine giving birth someday, what fears do you secretly hold?



To end, just a quick update on Labor Watch. No real new symptoms. Just ongoing amounts of bloody, stretchy, mucus coming out of me (it's been four days now!) and a very close relationship with the toilet impressed upon me by multiple bouts of diarrhea a day. It's quite humbling actually. Alas, the true and most important symptoms - contractions - are still alluding me. I do think I may have dilated more though because I woke up this morning with more bleeding (not as bad as before) mixed with the mucus and it just seemed like something more was going on with my cervix. But, who the heck knows. I could still be here two weeks into November and so OVER the pregnancy that I have become one of those women whose discomfort has swallowed their fear. We shall see.

24 comments:

  1. Umm, I am planning to use pain meds, and I still feel the fear. All of it. I think it is a normal reaction,knowing that there is an *earthquake* waiting to happen. Not feeling the fear would be a rather extraordinary (as in, uncommon) reaction. Everything will change, but I am sure, for the good (even if that means everything will be more complex too).
    I don't worry about us being good parents / about being a good mother, maybe I am naive, but my view is "we'll figure it out" when it happens. Of course I read and try to prepare, but since most of this is unpredictable, I think we will do fine / ask for help. (I remember having a similar reaction to math exams... when I studied I tried to understand the general, but I didn't focus too much on memorizing or practicing specific exercises / old exams, figuring we would be getting a particular exam and trusting that knowing the basic rules it would go well... this worked excellently until calculus).
    It's funny, I will hopefully get an epidural, but I'd still consider it a natural birth.
    You know what I am afraid of? And maybe it's selfish / superficial, but not knowing how long it will take for the perineum to recover, and how / when we will be able to have intercourse again scares me. I am afraid it won't be the same, or it will be painful, or it will all have stretched so much.... (But people have had herds of kids throughout history, so I guess things do get back to functioning?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chiming in on this because I just went through it! I was the MOST scared of hemorrhoids and tearing, and both happened to me during birth (I had second degree tears up my perenium and horrible 'roids--when the nurse winces, you know they're bad....). From start to finish, everything healed by 8 weeks and I was able to have intercourse which was a bit longer recovery than expected, but now, 12 weeks later, everything is all good!

      Delete
    2. You know I was never, ever afraid of the "will I be a good mom thing" until the last week when I realized I will bring home a newborn any day now and have no idea what to do with him! Ha.

      Also, about the hemorrhoids, I am totally afraid of those too! I'm just happy I've made it through the pregnancy so far without any, but I'm terrified post-birth. As far as the sex? Meh. It'll heal up and get back to normal eventually. Ha.

      Delete
  2. I lay in bed nightly and confess my fears to DP. And ask why doesn't anyone else express theirs? I can't be the only one out there, scared of the pain, the unknown, things changing forever. As always, your post = honest and refreshing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are a brave one. My mother did all natural births and so did all my aunts. Just recently my cousin did too. She said told me it was the bravest thing he did and the pain is worth the outcome. Goodluck!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think I'm almost completely over being pregnant. Almost. If I go another 5 -6 weeks I will DEFINITELY be over it. I'm a bit wary of the changes to our family life, but I don't think I'm afraid of labour. I just keep thinking that millions have done it before, millions will do it again and it's only 24 hours. I can cope with anything for 24 hours. The recovery scares me a bit but my mummy will be here and there will be painkillers. The tiredness and strain of a new born passes, and I look at my friends and a few months in they were all happy and relaxed and enjoying it, none of them knew what they were doing either. It'll be tough but you'll be fine! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well you are just so calm it never ceases to amaze me! I'm sure you will make it through labor and recovery with just as much calmness and dignity as you are doing with the pregnancy. So impressive.

      Delete
  5. Things are DEFINITELY happening for you. This blood and mucus is alllll normal and all part of the process. Your body is doing EXACTLY what it is supposed to do, when it's supposed to do it! Congrats! You're on your way!! As one who recently "crossed over" and went through a vaginal birth without any drugs (not even an IV at the hospital), I can impart some words of wisdom, but take them with a grain of salt because truly, every labor is different. I was two weeks past my due date, and still didn't feel completely mentally ready for labor. I think this helped me in a way, because for the first few hours of contractions, I actively denied I was in labor. When they came naturally, my contractions ramped up quickly, but nothing so bad that I didn't have time to adjust and ease into them. A good friend who went into labor about a month before me said hers felt more like "pressure"--I kept that word in my head, and it seriously helped with pain management. Thinking of each contraction as "pressure" vs "pain" saved me during early labor. My labor went quick, relatively speaking--a total of about 8 or 9 hours from start of contractions to baby in arms. Towards the middle and later parts of my labor, being able to walk and stand SAVED me. I cannot tell you how important that is, as is counterpressure on your hips through EVERY contraction. You have the support team to give this to you. Seriously, with the counterpressure, the contractions were all very very bearable. I never thought I'd be that sort of "roar like a lion" type woman, but I must say, although I felt foolish at first, moaning loudly through each contraction felt really good too! And then, of course, there was the shitting in front of everyone. I just laughed and apologized profusely. No one "gave a shit" :) The pushing/crowning part was probably the most painful, yet provided the most relief, if that makes any sense, and seriously--the rush and high of feeling her slide out of me completely erased that pain from my memory (seriously--it was the best!!) However your labor goes will be the right way for you--just remember that! If you feel like getting drugs or managing your pain other than "natural", that's ok too!! But from my experience, the contractions were way less scary than I made them out to be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is all GREAT advice. Especially about "pressure vs pain." I like that and can wrap my brain around it. Hopefully I can remember it in the moment. Also, I need to force myself to move around instead of curl up in the fetal position ;)

      Delete
  6. Oh lady I am scared shitless- more so of how we are going to deal with this huge life changing event than labor. I mean, the c-section is going to suck but all of it is just very overwhelming. I actually have a post bouncing around in my head about this exact topic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking forward to reading yours....

      Delete
  7. I was scared, but excited, too. I'd seen a lot of deliveries and assisted in a lot, so maybe that helped take a little of the fear away. But once I was in labor, I forgot about the fear completely. That surprised me - not in the moment, because I didn't even notice, but later, after the fact.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm kinda thinking that I may do that. I am the kind of person in a really scary situation that I tend to just get really quiet and do whatever I need to in order to cope with it. I think that may happen during labor.

      Delete
  8. I'm doing a hospital birth and let me tell you - the fear is REAL and I'm definitely not shying away from acknowledging it. I spent so much time trying to get pregnant and then worrying about miscarriage and other parade of horribles that it's only been in the last two weeks that it's begin to dawn on me that I have to, like, GIVE BIRTH to a human child. It's terrifying and so far, my only birth plan is the following: healthy mama, healthy baby. But no idea how I'll get there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That looks like my birth plan too- I ticked all the boxes, even the ones that contradicted one another... 'just want the baby out and all of us to be ok' should be it's own parenting style.

      Delete
    2. I'm with you two. Good birth plan!

      Delete
  9. Sorry I'm late to this! I remember having fleeting moments of fear when I was pregnant with Little K, even knowing I would have the epidural. However, my outlook when faced with hard situations is usually, "It must be done so it must be endured." They baby is in and MUST get out somehow. Also, knowing that labor, though often long, is a finite state. All labor ends eventually.

    Now, ask me that again in February, looking down the barrel of med-free delivery and I may have a different story. For now, I'm focusing on my Creator and asking for His peace every time the fear pops up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Looking down the barrel of med-free delivery." Yep. Exactly. But I do really like what you said about remembering labor is finite. I've read that before and it is so good to keep it in mind when you feel like it's been (and will be) forever.

      Delete
  10. For me, I didn't have the fear of labor and delivery, but I did have the fear of what came after - keeping the baby alive and trying not to fail as a parent.

    I think that the strong belief that my body can do it allowed me to not be afraid of labor and to deliver without pain meds. (Although, let me tell you, there was definitely a moment during labor when I thought there was no way I could do this without an epidural, but it turned out that I was in transition already at 9 cm dilated by that point.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I think you nailed it. It's not so much a fear that I will be a bad parent. It's a fear of keeping the baby at alive! That's it at its most basic. It feels like a huge responsibility entrusted into you.

      Delete
  11. I was definitely scared!! It actually gave me some peace having an induction date since I'm such a planner. I was worried though, especially knowing my little man had a growth problem. All throughout the labor, I was nervous and scared something would go wrong. BUT when you get "in the zone", you will be focusing on nothing but your body, contractions, pushing, and meeting your baby. I couldn't think of anything else or be too fearful once I got in that mode. You're going to do great, I just know it! Sorry I've been so absent! Thinking of you!! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was terrified. Not like in a constant state of fear, but every once I awhile I would stop and realize the reality that I had 2 tiny humans growing inside me and I had to get them out somehow. I might have written about it had I stayed pregnant longer. I was afraid of the epidural but knew it would likely be necessary. My biggest fear was having to have a c-section. As much as I was afraid of labor, i preferred that over the alternative. Well, we all know what happened with that. In the end, a c-section wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. As with most things for me, the reality is never as bad as the anticipation.

    ReplyDelete

Don't just sit there, say something!