Like lots of first time moms, I attended prenatal classes designed to teach me about the birth process. I dragged my husband to each class and would enjoy post-lesson discussions. As a result, the classes helped me cope with some pre-labor jitters about the overall process and how much childbirth was going to hurt. When it actually came to actually go into labor, though, there were some thoughts I had that every mom has while receiving her pre-labor pep talk. Well, at least I would like to think every mom has the same thoughts. #Solidarity
Once my contractions were in full swing, my husband tried to boost my confidence using some of the soundbites and advice we had heard in those prenatal classes. In the middle of those contractions, however, everything was way too real and I wasn't in the most receptive of moods. Instead my thoughts and feelings were all over the place. By the time we left for the hospital I went through a lot of different, varied, and unexpected emotions.
While every pregnancy, labor, and woman is different, I can't help but assume that every pregnant person goes through a jarring experience as soon as their labor begins. You know, one in which the reality of bringing a baby into the world hits them and it's impossible to decipher up from down, real from imagined, and what you think you can't handle vs. what you absolutely can. So, with that in mind, here's what I'm almost possible every woman thinks during that necessary pre-labor pep talk:
"OK, I Can Do This"
My husband used the pre-labor pep talk to tell me how strong and capable I was, and that regardless I could birth this baby. I actually started to believe him, especially when my contractions were still mild enough to feel like period pain.
"Yeah, I Can't Do This"
Cue the doubt. As the pain intensified I started to panic. I knew I was only at the beginning of the process, so I didn't see how I was going to make it through the entire thing. I found myself shaking my head at all my husband's thoughtful suggestions and muttering "I can't" over and over again.
"I Change My Mind About Every Decision I've Ever Made"
Writing a birth plan had me convinced that I had some sort of say in what was about to happen. In reality, the entire ordeal of labor and delivery unfolded in its own way and without consulting me, so my "plan" veered completely off-course. As a result, I started to doubt every decision I had made, from the location I choose to go through labor and delivery to the pain medications I wanted to assist me to any other comfort measures I had planned on using, to even the people I had chosen to be in the room with me.
In short, I was confused.
"I'm Not Ready"
Is there anyway we can postpone this whole process until, um, next week? I forgot to pack my hospital bag, I didn't have time to shave my legs, my favorite show is premiering tonight, and I am having second thoughts about this whole "having a baby, becoming a mom" thing.
My baby was already 10 days overdue so, in a sense, I had more than enough time to prepare for the reality of motherhood. Still, in the middle of labor and delivery, I just wasn't really into the idea of a baby exiting my body.
"I'm So Scared"
As the birth of this baby started to move from anticipation to reality, I was suddenly flooded with fear. Not only was I not ready, but I didn't want to actually go through and experience any of it. It was going to hurt, a lot, and I didn't know if I could cope with that kind of pain.
It makes sense to be concerned for your own safety and pain tolerance when you are going into labor. Childbirth is always described as the most painful event in someone's life, so if you aren't even a little bit scared then you're a far braver woman than me.
"I Want My Mom"
Becoming a mom made me appreciate my own mom so much more. Thankfully, she was here through the birth of my son and encouraging me every step of the way. Sure, I was becoming a mother, but that in no way meant I didn't need my own.
"OMG Please Shut Up"
In the middle of that pre-labor pep talk, everyone started to annoy me. Their "helpful" suggestions weren't helpful at all, so I honestly just wanted some silence. I didn't believe the good things they were saying about me, or the process in general, so I didn't want anyone to say anything at all. I didn't want to be encouraged or boosted. I just wanted to be left alone. Thankfully they didn't take my rudeness personally and, you know, stuck around.
"I Am A Goddess"
After a little while all the encouraging words of strength started to change my mind and, before I knew it, I suddenly felt like I could do this. I was ready. I had been planning for this baby for a long time and knew that I had all the support and help I could ask for. I started to relax and, as I let go of my fear, the contractions felt more manageable.
I was actually only a few hours into a labor that would last days, but at this point I felt invincible.
"This Is Really Happening"
After all the planning and preparation, and after more than 40 weeks of pregnancy, the big day was finally here. My life was going to change forever. I was about to become a mom. I only had one thought after this point: let's do this.
I was ready to meet my baby.