Childbirth Through the Eyes of a Soon-to-be-Mom
“I am never going to have kids!” I declared decisively. I had been awakened to the gruesome torture of childbirth that day in my middle school health class. I watched as a small creature slowly stretched its way from a woman’s most sensitive area. Then as the doctor yanked the being from the dark prison, the baby poured out along with the muck and yuck of her mother’s insides. If interrogators inflicted that pain on their captives, they’d be sure to have the whole truth and nothing but the truth within a few, short moments.
I think I’ll pass, thank you very much.
And I did pass. Until last fall when I read “PREGNANT” in bold font and realized a foreign invader had infiltrated my womb without my permission. I wish I could paint a pretty picture of this moment, detailing each flutter of my happily soaring heart. But instead of rising, my heart stumbled and face-planted. It may have even flat-lined briefly. As my knees buckled at the bathroom sink, Surprise quickly called ‘shotgun’ as Terror took the wheel. I don’t think Joy hopped in until a few months down the road.
I had spent my childhood being afraid of roller coasters and now I was clicking my way to the top of the most terrifying one. Click, click, clack. There’s no turning back now. Click, click, click. You are in for a world of hurt. Click, clack, click. You don’t even know how to mother. Click, click…
With sweaty palms, I grasped the edge of the sink, praying I wouldn’t plummet. “Oh Lord,” I muttered.
“Oh Lord,” I muttered again eight months later during our Childbirth in a Day class. My belly had continued to grow, but my eyes remained unblinking now – paralyzed – absorbing the last gory detail of an uncut, unedited labor and delivery video. The kind of visual I had intentionally avoided for over a decade. The kind of film I had especially avoided over the previous eight months. While the credits rolled, my husband leaned toward me.
“I think I’ve learned more about your body than I ever wanted to know,” he whispered in my ear. I nodded in agreement. I didn’t want to know that the female anatomy almost dilates to the circumference of my entire hand. I didn’t need to hear about the “Ring of Fire” as the mother squeezes a watermelon-sized being through her delicates. And I certainly didn’t care to see the blood. The blood of the placenta, the blood of the tearing. The months of blood during recovery.
Too much. Too painful. Too bloody. Can I get off this roller coaster, please?? Now that I can see the top, I can tell that the slope is much too scary…and much too close.
But there’s only one way off the ride. And it’s through the grisly gunk. That’s simply how it is: you cannot bring new life into the world without a crimson-stained experience.
Kind of like Jesus, I realized. He not only shed his blood, he shed all of his blood to bring new life into the world. He sacrificed himself so that I could live. And this baby could live.
He showed me that it’s okay to be afraid of the pain. After all, he shed drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane before anyone struck him. He was all alone. It was his immense anxiety and fear that provoked blood-tinged sweat as he clicked to the summit of his own roller coaster.
And if I had to guess, I bet he would choose to do it again in a heartbeat.
I now think about childbirth with a fortified strength. Of course, I’m still petrified of the upcoming pain (thanks a lot Eve…I hope that apple was worth it to you), but I take confidence in God. And epidurals. I’m also soothed by the notion that it’s okay to be a little afraid. I am thankful I do not have to sacrifice my life, simply my comfort, to bring this baby girl into the world. And I know when I have my sweet little lady pressed to my chest, I would willingly choose to do it all over again. In a joyfully soaring heartbeat.