Childbirth Is Terrifying, But If Courtney Love Could Do It So Could You

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Love And DaughterThe panic subsided two days after the test showed positive, and my first thought was “Frances Bean seems nice.” If Courtney could do this, then so could I. And then I hit the Googles and panicked anew.

I had acquired a fetus completely by accident one drunken snow day, and, not having really planned to be in the fetus-to-child business, I hadn’t done a lot of research ahead of time. I knew that labour and delivery would be uncomfortable at best, but the Internet, in its collective one-upmanship and infinite righteousness, well … it put the fear in me. I tried to schedule an elective c-section at 36 weeks based entirely on the existence of episiotomies, but my obstetrician talked me down. “Will there be drugs?” I asked. “Yes, there will be drugs.”

My OB was perfect (for me) in that he was a 70-year-old man and I am, in my heart, a 70-year-old man as well. “Should I do prenatal classes?” I asked. “They cost a lot of money and you’re going to have a baby either way, so you can if you want but I’d save the 80 dollars.” “80 dollars is a lot of money to you?” “No, but it’s a lot of money to learn to push a baby out of your vagina which you’re going to have to do regardless of whether you’ve taken a class or not.” We got along pretty well.

I had a relatively easy, sweaty pregnancy during which I routinely cried about milkshakes, iced tea  and Eminem, and though I spent a great deal of time hate-reading the iVillage and BabyCenter message boards, I didn’t take too much of what the crazies said to heart. The problem was not the crazies, it turned out; a sanctimommy is a fundamentalist and therefore a terrible bore to engage with.

But it’s the other women, the honest, relatable women with their tales of trauma and indignity and injury that got into my head. I worried that the odds of an easy delivery were not in my favour – not in anyone’s favour. Birth can be a serious, potentially devastating thing and more than ever I wanted no part of it. My mother kept reminding me of the stubborn 48 hours it took me to be born (I am a human sloth) plus all the stitches; women on Facebook and Twitter told much darker, more tragic tales. I just sort of resigned myself to the horror of it all; my entire birth plan was basically “all the drugs” and “hopefully come out not still pregnant and in possession of a human baby, ideally my own.”

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