All through pregnancy I was pretty bloody nonchalant about the birth bit. Months of lying awake at night all hot and bothered had got me really fed up, I was sick of hefting my stomach around and people in the street looking at me as if I constituted some sort of medical emergency. The endless vomiting, the carpal tunnel syndrome, the relentless torpidity of my bowels all seemed much more tiring than the idea of ‘doing a birth’. ‘I’m more of a sprinter than a distance runner anyway!’, I thought cheerfully. My game face was very much on.
Then, as my due date approached and then passed, a nagging doubt took hold of me and started festering inside, growing bigger and bigger each day until I was carrying a baby, a placenta and a big old lump of scares. I didn’t talk about it, because I was trying to pretend it didn’t exist, but then it just came tumbling out and I spent a few hours in tears, legs crossed, thinking fervent anti-labour thoughts and researching ‘ways to keep babies inside’.
So I developed this phobia of the whole thing, and then even more stupidly, a fear of the fear itself. Settled nicely in among all my other insecurities is one about being strong, being brave. Feeling or appearing weak terrifies me just as much as do snakes, drowning or falling down stairs in ill-fitting slippers to only be found, knickerless and without makeup three weeks later by a postman with a pet tarantula. Ugh. It took me a lot to confess this fear, and having geared myself up to make this startling revelation to family and friends, I felt they weren’t being completely sensitive when they delivered their robust responses, mostly along the lines of “Dude, OF COURSE you are.”
So there you go. Everyone is scared, and it’s a very reasonable fear. Reasonable not because the birth bit is so terrible, but because the anticipation is much, much worse. You’ve got horror stories from unhelpful people, your own imagination running wild and you’ve been gearing up for one moment for an unreasonably long time. This is why waiting to go in for an interview is much worse than the interview itself (usually, unless I dunno, you soiled yourself while trying to explain where you see yourself in five years time). Pregnancy is one of the most protracted countdowns in existence, and what with hormones and very normal fears and hopes, it’s not surprising everyone choosing to do it goes a bit loopy at the end. It’s fine to be scared, but from the other side the only useful thing I can say is the terror comes only from the unknown. Once it all kicks off, whether naturally or in my case, sixteen days late with huge amounts of chemical coaxing, you will be so busy DOING that there won’t be any time for THINKING, and in my experience, this way round is much, much better. Until then, you’re stuck in the crazy little waiting room in your mind. I can’t tell you how to get out of there, but I can say, like most waiting room experiences, it is improved by friends, books, telly, strolling around, dozing occasionally and eating plenty of crisps.
Love and luck to those who are waiting xxx