Birthing Pains

I came across an interesting article in the New York Times about homebirths. We talked about having one after seeing The Business of Being Born, but decided against it, primarily because we’re not thrilled with our closest hospital, where we would go if complications came up. I also wasn’t down with the mess factor, and joked that we’d have to cover the floor in trash bags. In the article, people talk about using old shower curtains as a bed liner, so I guess my joke wasn’t too far from the truth.

One of the mothers interviewed vomited because her labor pain was so intense. Great. How do you prepare for this? Soldiers have combat drills where they practice adapting to chaos and dealing with pain and discomfort. Will our birthing classes help with this? I want team building exercises. I want labor simulations! I want to have some idea of the best way possible to be there for S. I fear getting on her nerves, or worse, increasing her stress level and adding to her discomfort.

When I told this to S, she used driving as a metaphor of what might happen during labor. We only drive on vacations, and we used to fight whenever we got lost. Now we’re clear on our roles. I stay calm and collected and navigate, and when I need time to look at the map I find a spot where we can pull over. S remains focused on driving and keeping us safe on the road. During our honeymoon in Spain we went astray a few times but never argued about it. She thinks this means that during labor we just need to figure out our parts to play and everything’ll go smoothly. I’m not so sure. Dealing with stress is a lot different than dealing with intense pain. Guess we won’t really know how either of us’ll deal with it till the heat of the moment. I hate high stakes tests!

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