It’s no secret that delivering a baby scares me. It’s also not very original. Most American women are scared of birth. The day I found out I was expecting Baby Baer I became acutely aware that I will have to go through the fairly disgusting process and have been nauseated every since. You may be one of those who think it’s all very beautiful and miraculous. I disagree. I think the baby is beautiful and miraculous, but the process to finally hold said baby is raw and gory and I don’t particularly want to watch.
This is not at all the perspective I would like to have on the matter. Ideally, I would be eager and excited for this defining womanly moment. Perhaps I’d get a doula, invest in a birthing pool, invite my friends over to watch. Instead I’m clinging to the hope that I will simply make it through without screaming for drugs or clobbering the guy who only had to contribute sperm.
Talking with other moms on the matter has been somewhat of a revelation. As it turns out, ideas about birth are just as controversial as what to do after birth (you know, that thing called parenting). I have been given a lot of advice on how to push out this kid, with most opinions veering sharply off into the drugs-are-your-friend category. And in some ways, I agree. When I have a terrible headache, I take a pill. When I have an allergy attack, I take a pill. Along comes a urinary tract infection and I most certainly take a pill. So why shouldn’t I have some relief when an 8 pound person is clawing his way out of my lady parts?
Upon further research, many women choose to give birth naturally because they love the challenge and find great satisfaction in working hard and “getting the job done.” Others want to avoid anything that might harm their babies or themselves. But the most compelling reason to choose natural childbirth is a universal one. Women inherently know how to give birth without machines and epidurals, so why not?
You may have seen the very popular documentary The Business of Being Born. I’ve now watched it three times. The film compares various childbirth methods including midwives, natural births, epidurals, and Cesarean sections. It also criticizes the American health care system with its emphasis on drugs and costly interventions and its view of childbirth as a medical emergency rather than a natural occurrence. Even the most adamant hospital-going, anti-homebirth mama can agree that our country has put some unhealthy fears about childbirth in our minds. Examples include shows like A Baby Story where the doctor is always “rescuing” some poor, brainless preggo from the grips of death, reinforcing the idea that we can’t do it without medical intervention.
To be clear, I’m not blaming the network TLC for my (maybe) irrational fears of d-day. Fear of the unknown is a very natural human instinct and I also know that a lot of my beef with birth stems from a strained relationship with seeing bodily fluids. Every week or so I pick up one of my baby books and try to read a few paragraphs about things like the mucus plug and the bloody show. It’s not my favorite nighttime reading, but I’m trying to be informed and prepared for what I hope will be a successful, natural birth. Also, it’s sort of fun to gross out Baby Daddy.
For those of you who don’t think I’ll make it, I don’t blame you. For now I remain blissfully ignorant about the pains of contractions and am maintaining the belief that I can certainly handle it. Whatever happens, it won’t matter in the end when the little guy is, excuse the sappy, in our arms.