I’ve done this before, so why am I still terrified?

I am 35 weeks pregnant as of this past weekend, and we really started kicking it into high gear in the past few days: packed my hospital bag, installed the infant car seat bases into our cars, called my insurance company, went over plans with my parents about taking care of my 2 1/2 year old, etc. I feel confident that we are “ready”, as ready as you can ever be whenever you are about to bring another life into the world. But really, we are just ready logistically. When I think about the actual birth, I’m filled with anxiety. I’ve done this before – I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby boy in 2012 with really no complications whatsoever. So why am I still so terrified?
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I distinctly remember a conversation with my husband a few weeks before we had our first son. He told me about some horrible birth story he had heard from a coworker (why he chose to tell me at that point, I have no idea). I immediately became hysterical and told him I didn’t think I could do it. I cried and cried as my husband tried to calm me down with that overused argument of how so many women give birth every day and are just fine, which did nothing to ease my anxiety. And anyway, it was a little late for my freak out, as I believe I was already full term at that point. But I truly, truly thought I wasn’t going to survive childbirth. Seriously, I’m the worst person ever at medical things. I passed out in a Claire’s Boutique at the mall when I got my ears pierced. I’m a wuss. But fortunately, I had a very smooth birth with my water breaking naturally at home, a successful epidural (I want to make out with the person who invented those by the way), and only 8 hours after arriving at the hospital, my bundle of joy was born as perfect as can be. It wasn’t by any means easy, but I did it and it was amazing.

And I think that feeds somewhat into my fears this time around. I was so lucky last time, like, maybe too lucky? Do I have enough good karma to last me through this birth as well? Now, 3 years later, more of my friends and acquaintances have had children and I’ve heard a plethora of frightening stories of emergency C-sections, blood transfusions, and failed epidurals (NOOOOOOO!!!!). And of course, I’ve heard of babies being born with health problems which obviously trumps all of those challenges. I’m more aware of all the possible difficulties and outcomes now, and back then when I had my first child I was only somewhat aware and somewhat blissfully ignorant.

I feel like women are just expected to be able to handle having a child. I have a very close-knit group of friends and we have spoken about our birth fears and that has helped me. But I think it needs to be more socially acceptable for us to express these feelings in public, openly, because for some of us, giving birth is our first time going to a hospital or having a major surgery, and the fact is there can be complications and that is reality. We are bringing a LIFE into the world – yes, it’s wonderful and exciting, but it’s scary! So for all of you pregnant mamas out there, or those of you considering or planning to become pregnant, just know that if you are terrified, I am right there with you. But hopefully, and all we can do is hope, we all come out on the other side with a healthy baby.
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