I’ve given birth to a baby, but I’ve never actually gone into labor. Now that I’m expecting my second baby in about 12 weeks, I’ve started to think obsess about my delivery. And here’s the thing: The thought of going into labor this time around — water breaking, contractions, frantically trying to hail a taxi (because, yes, once that first contraction hit, I’m positive I would make myself frantic worrying that I would deliver in the taxi before we got to the hospital) — terrifies me.
It’s not that I’m afraid of the pain, it’s that I’m petrified of the unknown. I’ve never coped well with any big unknowns, and any mom will tell you that exactly when you’ll go into labor and how long it takes from that first contraction to baby crowning is a huge mystery. So how can I possibly be Zen about the whole thing?
Back when I was pregnant with my three-year-old son Mason, my labor and delivery was super planned out. suffered severe pelvic floor nerve damage as a teenager — followed by years of debilitating pain, surgeries, and physical therapy before it was finally under control — and specialists recommended that I have a C-Section. They concluded that a vaginal birth could make the damage (and pain) much worse than ever before. I took their advice, talked to my ob-gyn, and the procedure was scheduled. I was relieved there was a way to lessen my risk of further health complications. I didn’t want anything to get in the way of enjoying my new baby.
There was also the advantage of fewer unknowns (and, no, I’m not advocating that people schedule a C-Section to reduce L&D anxieties, I’m just saying that this was an unexpected benefit related to my specific circumstances). I felt more in control knowing the date and time of my delivery. That it all went so smoothly only reinforced my feelings: My water never broke. I never had a real contraction. I showed up at the hospital at noon, was in surgery by 2:30, and an hour later I was in recovery holding my son. I was off the industrial-strength painkillers by day two (only taking Motrin). Two weeks after that I was out and about, feeling good.
So the thought of going into labor naturally, and having to get to the hospital in time to have a second C-Section without complications (in NYC traffic no less), worries me to the point that I’ve fantasized about moving into a hotel within walking distance of the hospital a month before my due date. I think of all of the crazy places real women have given birth, like in a NYC crosswalk and on a plane — and what could happen if I were to have a vaginal birth — and I start to sweat. Then I think of terrible, awful things like uterine rupture, and my chest gets tight.
Do I even need to mention that all the pregnancy hormones are making me just a little crazy right now?
I know I’m jumping to the worst-case scenarios. The chances that I’ll give birth on the street or worse are rare (but, still, I just knocked on wood). However, now that I’m in my third trimester, the home stretch, sometimes I find myself focusing on “what ifs” that would be better left unexplored. I need to stop!
What did you do to distract yourself from your labor and delivery fears?