I know I promised some great pregnancy related posts months ago, but lately all I can do is lye in bed trying not to hyperventilate and wishing I were a marsupial. This pregnancy has taken an unexpected emotional detour. It started months ago at the park with some friends when I casually divulged my intense fears of childbirth and got the awkward stare down. It was in that moment it dawned on me that my fears may not be normal. I always assumed most women were terrified of birth. At the same time, I’ve always wondered how other women can be so excited as their due date approaches. The very thought of an approaching due date sends me into a panic attack. And that’s no exaggeration. From the moment I find out I’m pregnant all I can think is that there is a baby in there. Like, it is IN there, and one way or another it is GOING to come out. Of course I want the baby to be born. I love my babies, and aside from that I’m nearly as scared of pregnancy as I am of birth so I’d like it to be over. I basically just grit my teeth and try to be as unconscious as possible while I wait out the 9 months. Every day, as birth approaches, the anxiety intensifies. Throughout the last trimester its so intense I can hardly bare it. As my due date approaches you’ll be hard pressed to get me to so much as leave the house, or even move around much, for fear I might go into labor. I hold my babies in as long as I possibly can. So, largely, this pregnancy has been about figuring out what the heck is wrong with me, and more importantly, what on earth I can do about it. So far I’m coming up a little short. Most of the info on overcoming birth fear is directed to first time moms (this is my 4th) and most of it suggest the use of hypnosis during birth, which I am already experienced with. So now I’m looking into causes such as my mother’s attitude toward birth. She gave birth 5 times, all with epidurals but 1, and that was not intentional. 27 years later she is STILL pissed about that one unmedicated birth! I was well known for being physically weak as a child and she used to tell me I could never give birth, even WITH an epidural. By the age of 17 I had developed a passion for pregnancy and birth and began reading every book on the subject I could get my hands on. The first book I read was The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger. It was then that I knew I would never use pain medication in childbirth. My mother’s insistence that I couldn’t handle the pain, which she described as feeling like something you should absolutely not be able to survive and like you’re being torn apart, only fueled my fire. So I had a home water birth with a midwife and took great joy in proving her wrong. I reminded myself to ask myself during transition if I would accept drugs if they were available, and by some miracle that question actually did pop into my mind at that time. The answer was an easy and absolute “no.” I wanted it to be over, in fact I actually said, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” but I have never at any point during any of my births wanted drugs. And so I’m this phobic mental case who is terrified of the pain and intensity of birth and refuses to accept modern medicine to assist in avoiding the worst of those sensations. Another thing I’ve been researching is how my own birth may be causing these fears, more on that later as I journey along that path. For now, I’m following my usual course and lying in bed every night panicking and unable to sleep with visions of the upcoming birth disturbing my mind. I actually keep myself awake as long as possible because I know that once I go to sleep I will wake up one day closer to the birth.
Fear has very much ruled me for as long as I can remember. I had my first panic attack at the age of 4. I’ve always been afraid of many things. I’m even afraid of fear! Here are some of the worst fears. Most are normal, I think. But then again I thought the childbirth fear was normal!
the ocean and ocean animals
the sky/universe (esp at night)
being raped and/or murdered
harm coming to my child
ghosts/evil or “stuck” spirits/paranormal
dangerous blood sugar imbalances (I’m hypoglycemic)
deformities/missing body parts
the man who sexually abused me as a child
large social groups
talking on the phone
closing my eyes in the shower
driving alone at night
driving in a busy city
driving long distances
losing physical abilities
the medical & pharmasutical industry
being cheated on or abandoned
letting go of people I love
drugs & alcohol
my own anger
the fact that I can’t save people
making mistakes/being embarrased in public
feelings of physical exertion
fire and hot surfaces, ovens
fireworks (unless they’re a safe distance away)
the edge of the bed/under the bed
death of a loved one
dancing or singing in front of anyone
These are some of the majors, I’m sure I’m forgetting some, and of course there are minor ones as well, things that just make me nervous, like riding in elevators and confrontation and such.
Feel free to chime in. Am I freak? Is this normal? What are you afraid of?