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September 5, 2012 by theresiugoes

It was the most traumatic science class I ever sat through.

No, we weren’t disecting frogs legs or sheep’s brains or cow’s eyes.

It was a double period on a Thursday afternoon in year 10, and in Mr Duval’s science class, we watched for what felt like 7 hours a graphic video of a baby exploding from it’s mother’s hoo-ha.

I remember sitting cross legged through the entire class. I remember crying. I remember feeling queasy and faint. Even as I write, my legs are tightly crossed and I can feel the grimace on my face.

I vowed I would never get married or have children.

And then I got married. Still, the prospect of children was long away. “When husbandsylv finishes studying”, which felt like another 20 years.

And then, I got clucky. So much so, that even when I saw kittens in a pet-shop window, I cooed.

And then we got pregnant. As husbandsylv and I revelled in our secret for the first 12 weeks, I was happy and excited and confident. I bought a thousand (okay, 3) books to read, and started watching shows like “one born every minute” and found myself feeling much more calm about the process. Afterall, I’m not the first woman, ever, to give birth. (My God, imagine how Eve felt. Pretty sure she thought she was dying) And I’m pretty sure there’ll be more women after me who give birth.

And then I went to get a massage at the physio. As she painfully teased out my tense sciatica, she told me all of her nightmare pregnancy stories. She didn’t have any of her own, although she has 2 kids. But she did tell me stories about her friend, and her friend’s cousin’s aunty,  and her next door neighbour’s dog giving birth. And there were tears and there were stitches and there were early labours and forceps and emergency caesarians and deformities and babies delivered at parties. I lay there in shock (and immense pain because she was massaging pretty hard).

Suddenly, all the fears that I had as a 14 year old in Mr Duval’s science class came rushing back. What if I can’t do it? It’s going to change everything. I’m not strong enough. That’s gross! I don’t want that to happpen to my body. It took a few minutes to calm down.

I wonder if it stems from the way our (Western) culture despises children, treating them as a nuisance, an interference, an inconvenience. I wonder if it’s because we have a generation (or 3) of mothers who haven’t reallly experience suffering or war or hardship, and so when something a little challenging happens, they fear and dread it.

As one prone to anxiety, the stories don’t help. The stories aren’t appreciated. The stories are scary and a distraction from what I’m actually supposed to do – bring a new life into the world, that I will nurture and love.

Anyway, rant over. Tara Moss has some interesting (and researched, and much more articulate) thoughts that you should read. Here’s an excerpt…

There is a dominant philosophy in the Western world that says birth is something women survive, not something they actively take part in or, heaven forbid, enjoy…. According to experts, “tocophobia” – or fear of childbirth – is on the rise. A report preported 80 percent of women express common childbirth anxieties (Saisto and Halmesmaki, 2003) and up to 10 percent of women report “pathological levels of fear”… As obstetric physiotherapist Juju Sundin points out, “The fear each woman has as she enters childbirth will have a direct relationship to the progress of labour.”

(or read the full post here)


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