October 21, 2011

Who's afraid of the big bad birthing room?

That would be me.

Maybe it's the idea of pain so great I would want to inject heroin to make it stop. Or the photo lab I used to work in where, once in a while, a roll of film came through with detailed photos of a birth. Or maybe it's the complete lack of control over my own body, coupled with the thought of being bedridden with a foot-long needle in my back plus a device attached to my urethra plus an IV drip plus.. plus..

Oh man. Just the thought makes me a little queasy and makes my pulse race a bit.

Until fairly recently, a standard blood draw would make me pass out, or at least render me motionless until my blood pressure resumed normality. I would kind of freak out at my own pain, like the time I got two fingertips shut in a car door, or a pinky caught in a heavy door frame (that hurt like a sonofa).

About six years ago, I had an eye test done where the doc shined some light across my retinas to check for glaucoma. I felt okay for a minute, then suddenly I had no idea what happened to me – I couldn't tell if I was about to faint, or run to the bathroom, or barf, or all of the above. She gave me smelling salts to bring me around, and I had to have my husband come pick me up. It was a horrific experience.

I can be calm as a cucumber on the outside, but my subconscious says "hell no, we won't go!"

Yeah, so that's one thing that has intimidated me for decades about having children: Going through the birthing process. I have rationalized that, after all, it's just one day compared to a lifetime of the joy of parenthood; a rite of passage of sorts. Millions of women have done it, stretching out tens of thousands of years before me and without a needle in their backs. But on the inside, I'm freaking out. Last night I was reading through a chapter on birthing methods, coping techniques vs. medication, doulas and partner roles, blah blah.. I couldn't sleep for crap last night.

What in the world is my problem? It's not like I can avoid it – believe me, I would entertain the thought of general anesthesia if it were a possibility (and not just in an emergency).

I think I would prefer to go med-free mostly because I loathe the idea of being strapped to a bed with a bunch of crap attached me, unable to move. But I have no idea what the process will be like – will I manage it, or will I have a breech baby that demands a c-section? Will I have a reasonable labor, or will it drag on for 20-30 hours until I'm so miserable I beg for medical mercy?

This is a problem, and I need to address it sooner than later because time isn't slowing down. Sigh…

Any advice from those of you who have been there?