So, birth, huh?

Warning: the words that follow are not Zen-ish, politically correct, or mature in any way. I accept that.

I am freaked the f*ck out about giving birth. I’m not having nightmares, exactly, but birth-related thoughts get pushed to the furthest recesses of my brain to be confined and ignored. Things that make me uncomfortable get compartmentalized pretty well, but the low-level constant anxiety wears on me.

So, birth: it’s what’s freaking me out right now.

I tried desensitizing tonight by watching birth videos on YouTube. Whoa. The first one I watched sounded like p*rn to my husband who was in the other room, so he came into the living room expecting, well, something other than an alien-like head coming out of some woman’s streeeetchy nether regions.

Me: Ack! *eyes averted*

Him: Huh! *totally normal*

First the head popped out while I tried not to look away, then the body just flopped out all at once. A few silent seconds and then the baby started to scream. My husband laughed! … then apologized, thinking he’d done something wrong by the look on my face.

‘Twas not his reaction that was the problem.

There’s something about a woman giving birth that is so… feral and raw. It makes me uncomfortable, like I’m being a voyeur. I’m embarrassed for them that other people are watching them be so primal. I’m embarrassed that their husbands climb into the birth tubs with them (ew), their kids run around while they moan, that they are making sex sounds in front of bystanders.

Remember the Friends episode where Phoebe refuses to give Monica any more massages because Monica makes sex noises the whole time?

That.

Clearly I have hang-ups.

The idea of giving birth feels as intimate (and rife with the potential for awkwardness, discomfort, and embarrassment) as Twister. Twister with innocent bystanders, no less. And this is me. I’ll admit I’m often embarrassed the day after a particularly inhibition-less Twister episode with my husband, like I should be more prim or something. This doesn’t bode well.

So after three eye-searing close-ups of a woman’s hooha streeeetching and producing a wee little alien-like creature (vernix, ew), I moved on to something a little more soft core: hypnobirthing videos.

Have I mentioned we’re starting our HippieHypnobirthing classes this Saturday? If you’ve ever met me, you know I’m the one in the back of the motivational seminar cracking jokes and rolling my eyes; while I like the idea of yoga, I still struggle not to giggle at some of the phrasing. And yet, HYPNOBIRTHING.

Chalk it up to a project manager’s innate need to assess risk and benefit. Worst case, we blow a couple hundred bucks and six Saturday mornings trying not to giggle. Best case, a zen freaking birth experience. I’m all over that.  Plus, it seems like the whole shebang would be less stressful for the partner.

Quiet moans and soft music seem way more my style than the raw (and, honestly? somewhat horrifying) sounds I heard in some of those videos. Though I’m loath to admit it, they left me feeling all creeped out and skin-crawly.

And wondering if an epidural is the way to go, hospitals be damned. (So far, I’m considering the low-level yearning for a needle in my back sort of like cold feet before your wedding: a sign to be heeded, sure, but more evidence of the understanding of the significant transition about to happen than that one should run.)

Now I’m off to Google concrete counters for the kitchen, a little bit of escapism being just what I need if I ever hope to fall asleep.

~~~

I’m 29 weeks pregnant with less than a third left to go.

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12 thoughts on “So, birth, huh?

  1. Hypnobirthing is amazing. In college, I saw a video of a woman giving birth while practicing hypnobirthing techniques. I was stunned. She was calm, quiet, not screaming…she didn’t look like she was giving birth. I think if you can get yourself into that state of relaxation, it would be an amazing experience. However, that is just my take as someone who has never given birth. It can’t hurt, right? Good luck!

  2. Having just given birth to my daughter 10 days ago, I would like to offer my perspective. In preparing for the whole birthing experience, I too was a little bit weirded out by the noises many of the women were making in the videos I watched. I was uncomfortable. I was unnerved. I thought, “I hope I don’t sound like that.” HA! As it turns out, during labour I was making all sorts of noises to ride out the sensations of each contraction (and back labour–oh the back labour!). Being able to vocalize and release during the contractions was immensely helpful. (I didn’t do hypnobirthing, though, so I can’t speak to that method.) In between contractions at one point I remember thinking how bizarre I must sound to people passing by my hospital room and wondering what they might be thinking was going on in my room. All sorts of irrational thoughts were going through my head at that moment: Could they hear me? What would they think? OMG, why do I care what they think? I’m trying to birth a baby here! Then I realized I was on a maternity ward and people probably weren’t even batting an eye. The breathing and vocalizations helped up to a certain point, at least for me. (My labour and delivery ended in an emergency c-section, though, so this is probably not a possibility you want to think about at this point). My advice, if I may offer it, is that you probably won’t be able to anticipate what brings you comfort and relief until you are actually in labour and experiencing the contractions and pain. Having a bunch of tools and techniques to draw upon, though, when the time comes, will give you many options (not that you’ll remember them all–that’s your hubby’s job!) for how to successfully cope. If yelling and screaming work, then go with it. If breathing and gentle moaning work, then go with it. If it’s something else entirely or a combination of things, then go with it! Wherever you deliver, the doctors/midwives/nurses/staff have probably heard it all before! Good luck!

  3. Sometimes, reading your posts make me sad because you’re so hard on yourself for being ambivalent or not being 100% prepared for an experience that is not 100% prepare-able for or needing to process your feelings longer than you think you should or just being human and slightly neurotic, like we pretty much all are.

    It’s okay that birth videos make you uncomfortable. It’s okay that the idea of giving birth makes you nervous. It would be okay if they didn’t. Be you! Don’t apologize to us. We think you’re awesome.

  4. A very good friend of mine REFUSED to really talk about birth or watch birthing videos (I know this because I tried to force her to watch them).

    She labored for just under 8 hours. Non-medicated hospital birth. Friggin’ champ.

    This is the girl who can’t have her blood drawn without fainting.

    You will kick ass. Try not to stress out too much (says the girl with no children).

  5. As I was reading your post I was thinking “she really needs to do hypnobirthing”! I was actually planning to suggest it in the comments. So, I’m glad you are already on it. We just finished the classes a couple weeks ago. It is a little hippy-dippy and alot of the words they use are on the cheesy side in my opinion. BUT it really does work! You can get into this deep relaxation where you barely feel pain. And you do alot of work to let go of your fears about labor/birth. It was extremely helpful to me in feeling much more zen about the whole birth thing. Anyway, I’m due in 3 weeks so I’ll have to let you know how it goes for the real deal.

  6. (This is a book and kind of all over the place. Forgive me. Oh, and just my experience/opinion.) Ok, 4 months out (on the other side) over here so there may be a little bit of rose-colored glasses going on. (Because “they’re” right–you forget a little bit about the pain after it’s all said and done. Not immediately but it fades.) Let me first say that we are VERY similar re: Twister, primness, etc. We did Bradley method classes and watched several videos there (in addition to YouTube ones). I watched kind of in amazement at first. Then one day it hit me (and I think pretty close to the point where you are now and it happened to my best friend then, too) that I’M GOING TO HAVE TO GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME. Yeah. I read up on all sorts of techniques. Like Melissa said, it’s great to have a big bag of tricks because you don’t know what will work and you will never be able to be fully prepared for this. Hypnobirthing? Go for it. If you don’t end up going natural? Big deal. As long as you end up with a baby and everyone is ok then that’s a success. My goal was natural but I was totally open to changing my mind once I was in it. And I did. I don’t regret the epidural. I labored until about 7cm and had such a small break in between contractions that I didn’t feel like I could do it anymore (this to say I did experience pain). But the Bradley stuff helped me get that far so I think it was worth it. Things that I read (and my doctor agreed) said that the more flexible you are to how things will go, the better off you’ll be. You won’t have control over parts of it and you just have to let go of that (as hard as it is for peeps like us to do). People with those super specific birth plans are bound to be disappointed because the baby doesn’t get a copy of that plan. Also? I’m quite modest and I didn’t know how I’d feel about all the, well, exposure. I had read that at some point you lose modesty. It’s true. You’re just focused on getting the baby out. One good thing? If you don’t want to see your girl bits stretch like that? You don’t have to. Somehow it was easier for me not to see it. Oh, and I think it’s some built-in mental-boost-type thing that when you get VERY pregnant? You start to think that you’d rather give birth than carry this baby one more day. And that helps get rid of some of the fear. I’d say to think about how you’ve managed pain before (what worked/what didn’t) and how you do and don’t like to be touched/massaged and then inform your husband. Mine? Thought it would be a good idea to crack jokes. Yeah, not so much. You still have time to work thru some of this stuff. And you’ll be fine. Really. And you end up with a super good prize for all of your hard work.

  7. I completely agree with cjm! I did much of the same – read some hypnobirthing stuff, studied up on what I could, even wrote up a flexible (hope to go natural) sort of birth plan. When the day came, I had some tools to use to handle the labor, and that helped me get to 7cm (without the screaming or any meds) and then the contractions were coming so fast that I felt as though I needed help. The epidural helped me through the end with complete ease (re: still no screaming)! It was an amazing birth and a beautiful prize, to be sure. 🙂 The fears are normal, just know that you can do it!!!

  8. I’m all for modern medicine (ie, epidurals) and have never really been into natural remedies. So it’s a bit weird how I was never that scared about birth. I never watched birthing videos, I never researched laboring techniques, I didn’t have a birth plan, I didn’t take any classes. I just knew that my body would know what to do and if I was having trouble, that my doctor would know what to do.

    I was in labor for about 12 hours but had an epidural after about the 3rd hour. As soon as I got the epidural it was a BREEZE. I napped, I chatted with visitors, I watched old episodes of Scrubs on my laptop. And during this time I asked my nurses for tips, and they were more than happy to give me advice. And when it came time to push I literally pushed for 5 minutes — she was out in just 12 pushes!

    I know that my birth story is a very uncommon one, especially for a first-time mom. But I do like to think that my not sweating labor (and not obsessing about it beforehand) helped a lot. 🙂

  9. Just like a wedding is just the day that we begin a marriage, birth is the day you begin your life as a parent. It is just a day– a day where you may be awed by your own capability or by that of your husband,or by that of medical science– or by all of the above– but other than that it is just a day after which you, your husband and your new child begin a life together. Do what makes you feel comfortable– whether you think about it or not, prepare or not, in the end you’ll have a baby– your baby.

    • @Turtle, Thanks… I was trying to put my finger on why I’m not all that obsessed with THAT DAY, and this is why. Assuming at the end we have a healthy baby, the day itself will be just a doorway from one world to another.

  10. Hypnobirthing gave me the best birth I could have wished for. I actually enjoyed labour (weirdo) and it was a hell of a lot easier than the next bit! I guess very like wedding/marriage. I’m training to be a hypnobirth practitioner now after having that experience. And I was worried about all the noise/mess/indecency of labour but when it’s happening you just don’t care one bit.

  11. I will start by saying, I have had a child and the birthing videos STILL gross me out, I almost fainted during our antenatal classes when they played these for us. All I kept thinking was why on earth these women are all naked…with their socks on?!? Why do you need to have your shirt off when your top half is not involved?
    When I did give birth I was in fact totally starkers and making sounds I don’t think I could replicate if paid, but I can assure you that at the time, it was far from my concern what others were thinking and in fact the midwives told me I wasn’t angry enough yet and to let go. I wish you a safe delivery whatever you choose to do and hope that you don’t lose too much sleep worrying about the unknown.

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