Monday, July 26, 2010


To be a Mother is to know fear.

I used to say I wasn't afraid of anything tangible. I'm not unreasonably afraid of heights or snakes or anything like that. Spiders don't really bother me. That said I highly respect the fact that certain things can kill me and give them their due but I don't say freak out and run away of a picture of a snake like a girl I once knew.

The only thing I really feared when I was younger was to die alone. To never know love. Yes, I was definitely a teenager.

Now I am a Mother. Now I know what it is to fear. I fear that something will happen to my baby. I have a whole new level of empathy for every story I see on TV. It used to be I'd see the horrible things that happen and go "Oh man that sucks". Now I feel a true and gripping terror that it could happen to my child and I feel a depth of empathy and sympathy for the poor mother involved that I never felt before.

Now days if I have a nightmare I can pretty much guarantee you that it involves my being unable to stop something horrible from happening to my baby. And I can't just shrug them off. These dreams will haunt me for days.

Every story I hear about gives me the intense desire to run to my child and hold him tight and check him over from head to toe just to make sure he's okay.

And as much terror as I have for the baby I have now, I have ever bit as much, if not more for the ones to come. No matter what else happens with my Caleb I did get my wish I so fervently prayed for when I was pregnant. I had a healthy baby. So many, many people do not and I did and I was so amazingly grateful.

I'm so scared to do it again. To hold my breath for 9 solid months and pray to hear that first cry with everything I've got. I think thats actually part of my attraction to adoption. Somebody else has to deal w/ the pregnancy thing. I can know the kids full medical history and that they cry regularly before I bring them home.

No, I do not have an unnatural attraction to crying its just that thanks to a million movies and everything else I have associated everything being okay with a birth with that baby's first scream. They show up, and you pull them out and everybody holds their breath and you wait for that baby to fill his lung and start screaming in protest over the indignity of being forced from their warm comfy cocoon. It means they're breathing. It means their lungs work. It means life.

I do also have a fear of the pain. I am not a wimp. I've broken bones and torn ligaments and cartiledge and had stitches, and even migraines so bad they made me cry. Labor was so many levels beyond that I cannot even find words to express how painful it was. I couldn't think of anything but the pain when the contractions were happening and when they stopped I wanted to scream and sob and weep like I'd never wept before but all I could do was breathe because I was so exhausted and even though the active pain had stopped every muscle in my body was still tense and I was shaking. It wasn't like there was major relief from the pain between contractions. It was just like someone had stopped actively tightening the vise and had let go for a minute to get a good grip for the next go.

My epidural was the most amazing thing ever. The actual epi didn't hurt at all. Was just annoying to have to hold still through the contractions. But the amazing thing was that even though it took a while for the tension and base level non-tightening vise pain to fade, all of the sudden my torturer decided he had some place else to be and the vise tightening sessions stopped. And then just a while later the pain was gone. It was a miracle.

After that I was like heck I can do this ALL DAY.

The average first labor is 15 hours. I know LOTS of people who are in labor more like 20+ hours their first time so I'm inclined to think that 15 hour number has to include the people who start labor and finish w/ c-sections etc. My first labor from start to finish was 7 hours. I pushed for the whole last hour. I think it would have been more like 6 hours if Caleb hadn't had his hand in front of his face making the pushing that much harder.

Second labors tend to be much shorter. Averaging half the length of a first labor. I am so scared I won't get to the hospital in time for my epidural. An epidural takes time. They make you get 2 jugs of IV fluids first. Then you have to be able to sit up for them to put the epi in. Then it takes a little bit to go into effect. And if you don't have time for an epi you don't have time for regular drugs either because once its too close you risk depressing the baby's respiration too much when they come out. So its pretty much epidural or bust baby.

And if you go by the averages: my first labor was 7 hours, thats 3.5 hours for a second labor. Thats about how long it took them just to get me to my room, after making me hang out FOREVER in the OB Triage room hooking up monitors and taking blood and checking my crotch a million times.

It just happened to a friend of mine a few months ago. She's a big fan of the epi like I am. And they barely had enough time to get to the hospital and no time to get drugs.

Here are her words on the experience:

"Just a side note: I was informed that as you push the baby out someone dubbed the sensation the "ring of fire". This to me sounds more like something entertaining and circus-like. I think a more appropriate name would be "someone took a blowtorch to your crotch". And the "discomfort" of contractions? Really? Discomfort? More like insides hewn in several parts with a knife and fork."

Yes, on so many levels to be a Mother is to know Fear.

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