Oh. My. Goodness. What have I gotten myself into??
This is what was running through my head last night as we left our first Childbirth Preparation class. I'm a little ashamed to admit it but, by the time we got to the parking lot, I was in tears. You can call me a wimp, but let me explain. First of all, I was exhausted. I went straight from work to this 2-hour class. Secondly, I was starving, which never helps my emotional state. Thirdly, and most overwhelmingly, the teacher showed the extremely graphic labor video at the very end of class and left it at that. There was no discussion afterwards; in fact, we were out of time so she even cut it off before the post-labor part where the couple talks about (I imagine) how wonderful and fulfilling an experience it was.
I've never seen a birth video. I mean, I've seen a version of one in a class in high school, but of course it didn't show everything like this one did. There's no need to hand out contraception in schools, people, just show this video of "Deborah's Journey" through labor and delivery and you'll have the most celibate kids in the world. I seriously left the class last night feeling a little panicky. It's one thing to see what's going to happen on a video; it's quite another to imagine that happening, very imminently and unavoidably, to yourself.
I'm not really nervous about the pain part. I know it's going to be super painful, especially if I manage to stick to my goal of doing it without an epidural. I feel like I have a pretty high pain threshold though so it's not that that worries me. I guess it's just the fear of the unknown (even after, and a little because of, seeing what ol' Deborah went through) and the fear of what will happen to me physically during the process. But I'm determined that I want to go through the process and feel the sense of accomplishment that I imagine comes with doing the hardest thing I'll ever do (as the video describes it). I really think I just need to get my birth plan together so I'll have something to focus on and some techniques to practice in order to build my confidence.
One good thing that did come from watching the video was the pride I felt at being a woman. I mean, women are amazing. The fact that our bodies can carry and develop and then birth a human being is truly astounding. I've been thinking a lot about women in third world countries who deliver their babies in tents with no comfort or medication and very little, if any, sanitation. Also, about women in centuries past who would work in the fields until they went into labor, then go behind a tree, give birth, and immediately return to work in the fields with their newborn baby strapped to their back.
If these women can do it in such adverse situations, then surely I can do it in the comfort of a hospital. And, anyway, I have to. He's in there now, he's got to come out one way or another, right? That's the good thing about women -- we know what we have to do and we get it done. Plus, I know that once he's laid on my chest all of the pain and fear will disappear and I will know I've just been through the most amazing experience of my life. I'm lucky, too, to have a strong, wonderful husband who will be at my side encouraging me and reminding me to breathe. So we'll keep going back to the classes for the next three weeks and hopefully the next ones will do more to build confidence than to overwhelm us.