The other day, a woman at work mentioned that she was terrified to one day find herself in labor. Without skipping a beat, I replied, "Women are so overly dramatic about it. It's not that bad."
Yes, I said that. Really. And at the time, I meant it. As soon as it left my mouth, however, a little voice inside of my head -- the Memory Keeper, perhaps -- laughed.
The first half of my statement I stand by. Hollywood paints labor as a gory, blood-curdling nightmare where women scream at their husbands and kick their doctors, but for me? I was surprised at how organic and primal our bodies, our minds, can be -- making it more fascinating than terrifying. I think if we keep perpetuating this generic image of what labor looks like, women will continue to be scared and tense, which in turn causes more pain. Which in turn creates more horror stories.
The thought that kept running through my mind when I was pregnant was this: Women have been giving birth, naturally, forEVER. Forever. What makes them stronger, better, than me? Why can't I?
But as for the second part of my statement, "It's not that bad." Is that true? Was it really not that bad?
It's interesting -- unsettling -- how much of our memories aren't remembered at all. They're imagined, improvised, as we string together bits and pieces; not only with labor, but especially with labor. Maybe it's an evolutionary survival mechanism for our species or maybe it's just the true insignificance of the pain, but now, looking back almost a year later, it's hard to remember the intense six or seven hours I spent in hard, The-Baby-Is-Pushing-His-Way-Out-NOW labor. The six or seven hours that my meditative mind-state slipped, that I looked at the small clock on the wall and was unsure that I could go on. The six or seven hours that are a smudged version of reality.
While I can't remember the intensity of the pain, I remember flashes clearly:
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