Thursday, June 27, 2013's coming up soon

I'm 32 weeks tomorrow and less than two months away from Sylvia's due date. Which means, in two months or so (hopefully not much sooner!) I'll be giving birth again.

In the months leading up to Peregrine's birth, I think I felt every possible emotion on the fear-to-excitement spectrum. Some days I couldn't wait to give birth. Some days I was terrified, absolutely terrified. And most days, I fell somewhere in between.

I remember telling Andrew that anticipating giving birth felt like anticipating death. You know you have to do it, and there's no avoiding it. You know in the end, it will be okay, and beautiful, and good. But you don't know what it feels like to go through it. It's just this dark thing in the middle of your path that you have to cross through, and people have told you the other side is worth it. Pain is a hard thing to envision. When people tell you it's the worst pain you've ever experienced, what exactly does that mean? How do you prepare for something you can't really put your finger on?

I think Andrew thought I was being melodramatic when I told him that. But even now, it's the best metaphor I've found.

I think it's easier, this re-anticipation. I've already been through it, there's not that vast unknown. I know it's the worst pain I've ever experienced. And that's sometimes why I think it's a bit harder, the second time around. I have something real to fear.

I know, I'm part hippie, I'm immersed in the natural birth community, you don't have to remind me that fear creates panic, panic creates pain, birth is just powerful and intense, not scary. I know relaxing is important.

But birth is scary. It hurts like nothing else. And what's almost scarier is that I really can't remember just how much it hurt. I just remember what I thought at the time, which was, why does anyone in their right mind ever have a second child? As Peregrine's head came tearing and burning through me, I thought, consciously and clearly, that despite my lifelong dreams of having a houseful of kids, this pain was enough to make me reconsider it and possibly completely back down. That's a pretty intense thought, for me. How bad was that pain that I allowed myself to think that?

Sometimes I feel like the magic has been taken away from birth, having been through it. That the whole birth-is-awesome-and-mystical-and-powerful mentality I thrust myself into when I was pregnant with Peregrine was dashed by the actual thing. I never really felt awesome and mystical and powerful. It was sweaty and intense and painful. I felt--I don't know--earthy--and not in the beautiful-hippie-mama sense. Just, raw. Dirty and concentrated and primal and body. Nothing metaphysical. No time or space, for that matter, for anything metaphysical.

Until afterward. And I don't mean the moment I held my baby, because honestly, when Peregrine finally emerged, I was just in shock from all the pain and tiredness. But days later. Quiet moments, when I remembered the darkness, and the sweat and blood and tears, and the fact that my body, my incredible amazing female body, had given birth to a child. Then it was awesome. Then it was powerful and sacred and wonderful. Then the mystery, the holy-freaking-awesomeness of it, was so very much more intensified than I had ever envisioned before I had been through it.

And that's probably how it will be again. I'll spend the next 8 weeks (give or take, and please not too much give or take--on either end), waffling between remembering Peregrine's birth for the excruciating painful bloody mess it was, and the awesome powerful incredible miracle it was too. Then birth will come, and it will just be there--concentration and sweat and the very most non-metaphysical sort of humanity. And then, I'll have another story to tell. Another story of beauty and power and wonder. Another life that my incredible body gave birth to.

And quite honestly, it isn't labor that scares me so much. Labor hurt, but I never felt like it completely overpowered me. It was hard, so very, very hard, but I did it, and I'm pretty confident I can do it again.

It's the head that scares me. That's the moment that completely took me over. That's the moment that was bigger than me, and not in a good way. I seriously dread crowning like nothing else.

Sorry, natural peaceful birthing community. That's probably why it hurt in the first place, according to half of what I read. I'll try to relax and think positive, I really will. But mostly, I'm hoping Peregrine stretched me out enough that Gigantic Head #2 won't hurt quite as terribly.


  1. Though I've never made it through childbirth completely naturally, I can say that each experience was easier than the last. The body seems to remember even better than the mind.

    The first time around felt like a revelation. Oh, this is what it feels like.

    Preparing for the second and third deliveries was scary. It's a fear somewhat like the fear I have of God. Respect and awe and the knowledge that it could completely overtake me, but also with the knowledge that it is right and good.

    You remain in my prayers. There are some big moments and adjustments ahead for you. I pray they are beautiful and as peaceful as can be. Many blessings to you!

  2. Thanks Jennifer! I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers. The fear of God is a really good metaphor, actually. Birth reminds me of God in a lot of ways. Terrifying but good.