Oddly enough though most of the responses from the post-childbirth crowd were along the lines of "eh, you'll be fine". That was even my response. Like for some reason, it's just not that horrific to think back on.
Which is WEIRD and has to be hormonal or something. I mean logically I know that childbirth was the most traumatic thing to ever happen to my body... I'd never had stitches before, never had an IV, never spent the night in a hospital, never needed a team of nurses to hold me up just to get from a bathroom to bed. But when I look back my emotions associated with the whole thing are just sort of distant and matter-of-fact. I even remember the nurse telling me, "If you want an epidural, you'll have to get it now, soon it'll be too late." I'd been yelling and screaming but when she said that I just chose to ignore her.
My second most traumatic injury happened when I was ten years old: I flew off the front of my bike and broke my teeth out of my face. It was awful. And it's stuck with me. I remember every detail, every tiny blade of grass as I turned and notice the side of the street. Time slowed down. Then I was in the street, with my bloody knees and arms, feeling my lip, yelling at my friend to help. It was 20 years ago and it still totally squicks me out.
I also feel sick when I remember tripping over a hurdle in track as a college sophomore. I was just carrying it, but I tripped and fell and it took these chunks of skin off the front of my shin in this nasty pattern like a rock skipped over water. blood everywhere. white layers of skin. scars.
So that's what's weird about childbirth: when I remember it I don't get the stomach-knot of fear like I get when I think of other injuries I've had. And I don't think it's because the baby-joy erased it... honestly I was more worried about the baby in those early days than in love with her. That evolved. And the first time I held her I was so stunned because I was so tired, I felt like labor was going to last forever. That's what I remember: fatigue. frustration. but what was the pain like? Surely there was pain?
And there are major details about my labor that I blacked out on, like my sister being there! And what the room looked like... there were these huge lights on the ceiling I pointed out to marc the next day, like, "wonder when they turn those on!" He raised his eyebrows and said they'd been on the whole time I'd been in labor! like, "hi, was spacefem there?" No details.
I do remember feeling isolated afterwards during recovery. I make an extra special effort now when I'm around new moms to ask how they're doing, because I remember people seeming to act surprised that I wasn't, like, running marathons. I had some over-ambitious expectations for myself, and I felt like other moms were all in some magic carefree place where they'd forgotten what recovery was like. I made a mental note to act like I remembered, even if I forgot.
Which apparently I did. Hormones? Sleep deprivation? Cute baby? Who knows what tricks happen to a mind.