I don’t want to scare you.
But I’m going to be completely honest because I think you should know.
I naively went into hypno-birthing classes assuming I would too look like the calm, relaxed woman floating graciously in the birthing pool. No drugs. Meditation music in the background. Candles softly burning on the window sill. Small, quiet hmms and aaaahs with the slow perfect descent of a small human being. Within the time it takes for the kettle to turn hot, the baby was safely in her arms.
Our teacher told us again and again, “Birth is natural, this is what your body is made to do. Your body will know what to do, let go and let your body lead you.”
I believed her. I really did.
I mean, it’s true, my body IS made to do this. But that didn’t make it any easier.
It was pitch black. I felt a twinge on the side of my belly so I quick sat up to try and feel which way it was coming from. The next one I felt hard right up the middle. The contractions started coming every 7-10 minutes irregularly, I turned Netflix on because I couldn’t sleep and the sound of Brad Pitt talking about baseball calmed my nerves.
I could hear my partner softly snoring next to me. I was angry that he was allowed to sleep and I was not. He offered to stay up with me but I told him to get some rest, we could be in for a long night.
The sun glared through the window. I hunched over the hospital bed like a sad gargoyle out of Batman and Robin. Staring hard at the thin white blanket my skin shrieked in pain. A wave of tingly pins and needles flowed up through my body and down into my toes as if I was warming up to do some sort of elaborate ballet move. I stood there on my tippy toes for a minute until the contraction simmered down.
I looked at my partner and very quickly my eyes welled up in shame and guilt and anger. Why is this so hard for me? After 24 hours, I was still only at 1cm. I was in early labour.
Looking back now, I shouldn’t have been made to feel guilty for being in pain, or for wanting drugs.
The ten months leading up to my son’s birth, I prepared. I prepared. I fucking prepared. I did breathing exercises and kegels every day in the morning and in the evening. I did not miss ONE DAY. I attended all of my classes, took careful notes and reread them late at night.
But when it came to the day. My notes flew out the window. I couldn’t concentrate enough to even remember anything I learned in my classes. All I kept thinking was how many more seconds? How much longer will this last? Please somebody help me.
But nobody could help, I felt helpless. It was all me yet it wasn’t me at the same time. My body took over and I had no control over what was happening, not even my thoughts – despite what they tell you in hypnobirthing.
I believe that the only way you would be able to control your own thoughts would be if you were a Yogi, and you meditated every. single. day. for at least two years or more. There was no fucking way I was going to be able to let the negative thoughts wash over me, or disregard the excruciating pain my body was feeling and think about cool water dripping on my arms with only 5 months of breathing exercises and occasional mediation under my belt.
I felt like such a failure for such a long time. I believed I was not strong enough because I was in so much pain. Despite the fact I was in labour for over 72 hours, I believed I was weak mentally and physically because I had to opt in for an epidural on day three of my labour. I believed I was not good enough, not smart enough or tenacious enough to go through my labour without having to take drugs.
For months afterwards I looked back on my son’s birth feeling ashamed and guilty. Feeling like I should have done better. Why wasn’t I like those gracious woman in the birthing pool? Why did my birth take so long? Is there something wrong with my body? Wasn’t this supposed to happen naturally?
But I was wrong. I was so wrong.
Labour is fucking hard and you have to do whatever you have to do to get through it. Unfortunately my body took a long time for some reason and I needed medical help to push things along. And that is okay.
For any pregnant woman out there, here are my two pennies.
It is okay to feel pain. It is okay to ask for help. And it is okay to take drugs.