It’s Okay To Be Afraid Of Childbirth Because It’s Terrifying

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shutterstock_147246833__1383760372_142.196.156.251I’ve been thinking about how terrifying childbirth is lately. If you are pregnant, I’m not trying to make you feel worse. I’m actually trying to make you feel better, so read on.

Yesterday, my editor Eve Vawter wrote an amazing piece about the one year anniversary of her hysterectomy. What struck me the most about it was this confession:

One year ago on this very day I was letting a robot remove my lady parts and I was truthfully terrified that I would not make it though the surgery. I even went so far as to make sure my refrigerator was super clean just in case I died during my operation because I didn’t want anyone to be appalled at the condition of my produce bin. Since I underwent my operation, I’ve received countless emails from women preparing for their own hysterectomies, and everyone was just as scared as I was.

I’ve written extensively about how hard I tried to avoid a second c-section. I was not successful. The thing is, it wasn’t the fact that I again wouldn’t be delivering naturally or all of the stigma that sometimes surrounds surgical birth that bothered me. It was the fact that for some reason I was convinced that I would not make it through my surgery. I even went as far as to write a note to my toddler that I left in my nightstand in the event that I did, in fact, die on the operating table. The note was my clean fridge, I guess.

Then today I read a blog on Huffpost Parents written by Kate Fridkis, a woman who is preparing for childbirth titled, I Am Afraid Of Giving Birth:

I really want to focus on the baby. But birth is so damn distracting. It’s just looming there, at the end of pregnancy, like this massive Mount Doom with Sauron’s fiery eye flicking vigilantly back and forth above. I am definitely Frodo in my birth story, with the wide, terrified eyes.

Is it possible that I am making birth into too much of a big deal in my head? “My mother did this before me, and my grandmother, and her mother, and her grandmother,” is one of the mantras on the sheet that my doula gave me…

Kate approaches her impending birth with humor, which I love. But I wonder if she’s written letters or cleaned her fridge or panicked the way that so many of us do.

I don’t know if all of these stories weave together cohesively – I just know as women, we face some pretty terrifying mountains to climb and are expected to scale them with ease. I wrote a note to my “future adult son” that I told no one about. Eve cleaned her fridge. Kate admits to a terror that I’m pretty sure all women experience. Point is – if you are pregnant and terrified, or awaiting a planned c-section and terrified or about to get a hysterectomy and terrified – write the note, clean the fridge, freak out – do whatever you have to do. Just know that you will emerge on the other side of this and the terror will be gone.

It’s okay to be terrified. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.

(photo: Renia Metallinou/ Shutterstock)