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.