In 2014 I gave birth for the first time. I approached my pending labor with a mix of anxiety, fear, and excitement. I knew what to expect while not actually knowing what to expect. I mean, I’ve watched enough pregnant women go into labor on television and in movies, I felt pretty well prepared.
My water would break in a tidal wave of fluid while I was at the grocery store or, maybe out to dinner with my in-laws. Then would come the brain searing pain of contractions that would turn me into the She-Hulk.
I also knew from these same portrayals that, at some point, I would end up red faced and sweaty, screaming profanities at my husband and cursing his penis, which put me into this predicament in the first place.
Damn you, penis! Damn you!
In the end none of that happened. Instead we arrived at the hospital at 5PM on a Monday, a week past my due date, for my, medically necessary, scheduled induction.
The thing that I remember most from that day, more distinctly than seeing my daughter’s face for the first time, or that first rush of postpartum love, was looking over at my husband and telling him that I was going to need a good long time to forget everything I had just been through before I wanted to do it again.
We had always thought that we would have three children, (something only people with no children think,) and in those first hours and days after my daughter was born, I doubted that would be in the cards for us. One and done, that was going to be me.
However, the human brain is a mysterious thing, and that good long while I needed came and went rather quickly.
It took almost a year and half for us to conceive again. Almost seven more months would pass before I remembered those words that I had spoken to my husband in the recovery room, as I held our, hours old, daughter.
With it came the memories of the pain, the fear, and the anxiety. It all resurfaced so quickly, one day, that it nearly stole my breath away.
What the hell was I thinking, doing all of this again?! Damn my husband and his penis!
I shoved all of those fears and memories back down in the dark where they belonged, and vowed that they were a problem for another day…
I stood at the kitchen sink tonight, on my due date, and listened to my husband and my now almost two-and-a-half year old running around in the living room as I cleaned up dinner. The fear resurfaced out of nowhere, causing my heart to beat a little bit faster and my hands to shake. This was really going to happen again. I was going to have to deliver another baby.
Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it all went away.
I realized that, despite it all, I actually couldn’t wait to give birth again.
There is something empowering about childbirth.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that you can transcend the pain and gain enlightenment to the secrets of the world, as your uterus blooms into a lotus flower; and that with each contraction comes inner peace. Those are lies; and anyone that tells you something like that is probably trying to get you to join their cult. Just say no to the Lotus Uterus Cult.
Besides, the only thing that’s likely to blossom is your butthole if you have a bad enough perineum tear.
However, there are upsides to labor. Even more than finally getting to meet your baby, and not having to actually be pregnant any longer.
First of all, it is your day. You are the star of this show (until the baby shows up). Everyone wants to know how you are doing and they want to get you whatever you need. You are offered drinks and ice chips and back rubs. People take pictures of and with you. It’s like what I imagine Kristen Bell goes through when she gets spotted at a Taco Bell.
People are also genuinely excited for you. From the staff at the hospital to your friends and family at home (that is, if you don’t go into labor secretly and quietly in the dead of night). You’ll get texts and messages on Facebook wishing you well and giving you words of encouragement. It’s like your birthday and wedding day all rolled into one.
There is also the fact that once you have given birth, you know that you can do it. For me, that meant that there was little else I couldn’t do.
Whenever I feel nervous, or scared, or I worry that I can’t do something trivial, I always remember that once upon a time I pushed for three straight hours, after laboring for twelve. AND MY BUTTHOLE BLOOMED.
I survived the fear, the uncertainty, and the pain. In the end, I was rewarded with a beautiful little girl for my efforts.
So my advice to you mamas, whether this is your first or your fourth, is – don’t be scared. Embrace the fear and make it your bitch. Make it work for you and earn its keep. Then use it in the future to remember that you got through that one time that you were more scared than you ever thought that you could be in your life.
As a parent, you’ll be calling on that strength more often than you’d like.