The first time I gave birth, I went into it with no fear. I know that sounds insane given how obsessed our culture is with all things painful in birth, but I was truly very confident and so excited. I was not afraid at all, which is why my feelings this time around have taken me by surprise.
Because I am very afraid.
During my first birth, we used a method called Hypnobirthing. In it, the most important component is fear release. Being afraid makes the body tense and makes birth that much more difficult and painful. I am not sure why exactly I am so much more scared this time.
It seems to be combination of factors. This time I know how it feels. I remember the relief I felt after it ended, how happy I was to be through it. The idea that I have to start all over seems pretty daunting from where I am sitting. The intensity was more than I could have ever imagined and not something I would want to experience on a daily basis. I am anxious about whether I have it in me to do it all again.
I am also nervous about the pressure. Because my first birth was natural and because I am more scared of medical intervention (epidurals, c-sections and pitocin) than I am of the pain, I feel enormous pressure to be up to the task, besides R spent the morning listing all the reasons natural birth is better both for me and for the baby.
I was running two weeks after my last birth, walking two miles just two days later. Sam was alert and happy from the moment she emerged and I was able to get up and walk around immediately. We attribute much of our easy beginning to the fact that I did it naturally. Last time I was committed to doing it naturally, but I did not know what it would take. This time I know.
And that is very scary. At the end of this month, I will take a refresher course in Hypnobirthing with R. We will be working privately with the instructor, mainly on "fear release." Just three more months until the big day.
Check out my new column.