Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pregnancy, homebirth, and fear

So, I am 38 weeks and four days pregnant with baby #2. I am riddled with fear and anxiety. I am researching every possible complication and what my choices are to be fully informed and it's like trying to fish at the bottom of an abyss with a pencil and a gob of gum.

In my research I came across this site:

And I tried the exercise and I feel compelled to publish it here.

I believe childbirth is something I never got to do, I was just handed motherhood without the right to experience the most important part, and it’s my fault for not asking more questions, for trusting untrustworthy doctors and for not educating myself.

I believe it is the measure of a woman’s worth in so many ways. Her ability to do it gracefully and without shedding tears or expressing needs or fears are held up by the men in her life as a measure of her coolness, her ability to fit in with the boys and as such her right to be loved. Her ability to just sit back and do her time as deemed by nature or god or whatever higher power determines these things with a smile on her face and no demands of her partner, or special requests from her employer, is lorded over her like a guillotine ready to dice her into pieces should she ask someone for empathy or companionship along the road.

It is a test of the greatest kind, and it seems there is no way of passing it without total selfless martyrdom, the fertile soil of resentment and emotional hermitage, where icy frigid souls grow out of the ashes of once warm and caring hearts that believed they were worth more than their ability to grow an egg into a child. And I am failing.

One of my worst fears for the labor and birth is that the baby will die and I am my ego will be the only ones to blame.

When I talk about giving birth with other people I get defensive and emotionally flustered. I try to retain my idealism and optimism, but every story I read about premature labor or sudden emergency c-sections, I think: all this work, all this research, all this time invested in making sure I don’t let myself be manipulated or terrorized into unnecessary interventions again and what if it’s all for naught, what if I do all of this and I still wind up hospitalized and treated like an empty vessel for someone else’s right to be…what about my right to be, to be the mother I want to be, the woman I want to be, the person I want to be.

And I think; “Why do I feel so alone in this fear?” Why does it seem Jamie’s and in fact anyone's only fear is if someone dies -- a healthy baby and a living mother is all he wants for. There are worse things than dying in childbirth, and there is more than one kind of death that can happen…and what if I can never resurrect the person I sold to the slaughterhouse when my son was born, the once fearless woman I sold in exchange for some cheap sense of security that I had done the most sacrificial thing to save my child. What if all the babies in the world passing through my cunt never ever takes away the mistakes I’ve made. What if I am just broken forever and then I wind up alone and saddled with two children that I can’t help but love but whom I’ll always know I’ll never be able to protect by myself.

I always feel like less of a woman compared to women who gave birth vaginally. My mother, my step-mother, my mother-in-law, my sister and sister-in-law, they all have something I don’t: the knowledge of their power, their strength and ability. I feel weak and small next to them. I want to believe having this baby at home on MY terms will change everything, and I do believe that if I can’t I will always be half the person I should be, and it strikes at the core of my confidence and I shudder to think how I will shrink further into invisibility and self-deemd irrelevance if I can’t make this happen.

I have concerns about giving birth because I might not be able to do it. And then who am I? What good am I to anyone?

What fears arise from your mother's retelling of your birth? That because I was born by C-section all my babies will be too. I took away her right to birth me naturally, and I don't deserve to have a natural birth because of it. I fear my baby girl is going to be born to a mother who has no right to be a mother.

What fears arise from previous experiences at birth? That I am not built to have babies. That my body can’t do it. That I might hate my children for proving to me what a sad pathetic excuse for a woman I really am.

What fears arise from the anticipation of being out of control? Every fear I have ever had comes out of this one thing. How can I give over to my nature and my instincts and a higher purpose if I can’t let go, but how can I trust anything I am not in control of?

What fears arise from the expectation of pain associated with labor? None. I am not afraid of the pain. I believe the pain will be the only thing that saves me.

What fears arise from the understanding you are becoming a mother (again)? That I will be doing this mentally and emotionally alone because my husband does not want to share this with me. That he sees how broken I am and he will leave me for a life of freedom and easy choices and that I am unfit to do it alone. That I will let my children down, or grow to hate myself and everyone else trying not to. That if it is a girl I will make her neurotic and crazy trying to live up to my failed expectations for myself, and that she will grow up never knowing how amazing she is just in her own precious right to BE.

What fears arise from the anticipation of the physical process of labor? Tearing scares me, and that I might never regain my prenatal shape. I also fear I won’t go into labor…that everyone will say it is time and my stupid body won’t be able to do what it needs to do and it will be my fault, for abusing and hating my body for so long throughout my life. Maybe I broke something and it can’t be fixed. Maybe I’m the only one to blame for being such a failure at the only thing I should be able to do right.

What fears arise from the anticipation of being "watched" and meeting expectations? I might let my mother or husband’s judgments stop me from doing what I need to do. That seeing me labor will make my husband feel disgusted with me forever.

What fears arise from the anticipation of breastfeeding? None. Milk, I can do.

What fears arise from comments made by family or friends? If I can’t do it at home, naturally, I will feel like a buffoon. That they are secretly rooting for me to fail, even my husband.

If I felt strong and powerful, I'd like to give birth to my baby completely alone, in my bathroom or my closet, with no one around but my heart and my baby.

There it is. Not pretty. I have so many scabs to pick at and scars to heal.

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