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childbirth, and other injuries

some gal in pregnant made a post about her childbirth fears, poor thing. I was there. In fact I don't think you could ever go up to a woman and say "you might need stitches on your vagina" without getting some REAL negative reactions.

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.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 26th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
I've always wanted more than one kid, but during labour I thought, "never again!" Now, 6 weeks post-partum, I think I want more kids... most of the time. But sometimes I still think back to labour and the first week post-partum and wonder who would ever choose to go through that.
Oct. 26th, 2010 01:06 am (UTC)
To be honest, I'd go through pregnancy, childbirth and recovery again no sweat. It's the baby part I'm worried about! Sweet corn & tomatoes this kid is taxing on my nerves!
Oct. 26th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
I read that it's an evolved process that specifically makes women 'forget' how traumatic childbirth is, so they'll, you know, do it again.
Oct. 26th, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
I don't believe you. I remember reading your posts and wanting to hug you, but knowing it'd make you cry even harder.
Oct. 26th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
awe! I probably could have used a hug. I had too many friends who were like, "come out and eat with us at this restaurant with rock-hard chairs you can't sit on, what's wrong with you being all anti-social suburban mom-like!" that was what I remember being the worst part.
Oct. 26th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
I was just telling a friend who's about to go into labour the same thing... that she will somehow forget the pain and the trauma and although it probably would be the most painful experience it feels not so bad afterward. Maybe it's an evolutionary thing, after all if we could remember every detail of it, my theory is that we would not have overpopulation as a problem but the other way around!
Oct. 26th, 2010 05:57 am (UTC)
Frankly, I have had the totally opposite experience.

I remember all too well the pain associated with labor and delivery. Not exactly, because I don't think my body could handle the association, or the sensational remembering of the actual physical pain, but an awareness that it freaking hurt, it hurt a lot, and at its worst stages, felt like someone was taking a sledge hammer to my back over and over again.

The fact I'm still recovering doesn't help, of course. I'm almost a month postpartum and still incredibly sore. Though the labor and delivery were traumatic for both me and Sephie, I have little outward damage to show for it, only a minimal tear and a few stitches. Yet I'm still fighting swelling on a daily basis, barely mustering enough energy beyond feeding myself and her, dressing us both, and then sleeping. A lot. I can only imagine what sort of position I'd be in, had I had a C-section instead of birthed vaginally.

And so, I remain completely afraid of going through it again. The pain of labor is, not surprisingly, associated with the fact Sephie almost died, which makes sense as I primarily dealt with back labor, which was caused by Sephie's placement due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around her neck twice. I joked about not having another one during my entire pregnancy, but now that Sephie is here, I really don't think I would ever be willing to go through it again.

Edited at 2010-10-26 05:58 am (UTC)
Oct. 26th, 2010 11:46 am (UTC)
It's only been a month though... that's really not much time. I remember at 8 weeks I was barely up to sitting in my office chair for an hour-long stretch, and walks around the block were a big deal. Not to mention I was still in maternity clothes! Recovery definitely takes a while.
Oct. 26th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
agree... i think people think the 6 week checkup means all is well with the mother... i had mine at 10 weeks and I remember Doctor jokingly asking us about baby #2 and I couldn't imagine going through it again! Now 5 months later looking back it felt like it wasn't so bad after all! (although it was.... )
Oct. 26th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
One most critical factor in the childbirth stories I hear and read* seems to be the caregivers around the mother: if they are unsupportive and rude and set her up to believe she can't do it, she often ends up traumatised, if they are supportive and positive and confident, even very painful experiences are seen in a positive light afterwards.

*and as somebody with quite a phobia of medical situations, that's a lot of stories
Oct. 29th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
I gave birth over 25 years ago and I STILL remember the awful, horrible pain! I remember them telling me to shut up and quit screaming during labor because other patients were trying to sleep. But the absolute worst was when the afterbirth wouldn't release and they had to basically repeatedly punch my abdomen until it did. OMG, I will never ever forget that. And yes, I had only the one child.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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