In the past, I've dealt with fear in a number of ways: denial, avoidance, sleeping with my door open and the light on (this was specific to the months following my viewing of Halloween as a tween), and drowning my sorrows in white wine. However, during a pregnancy, none of these tried-and-true coping mechanisms are viable options, and we are forced to find other ways of dealing with fears about childbirth. Denial and avoidance are pretty much impossible when your body is reminding you during every second of every day that your child's birth is approaching. Sleeping with the door open would only work if I was sleeping at all. And white wine? Yeah, avoiding that is pretty much a given, unless you have one of those doctors who says wine is OK, in which case I must ask, is he or she taking new patients? Asking for a friend.
I don't mean to speak for everyone because I understand that there might be women out there who aren't, or who weren't, afraid of giving birth. In fact, if any of you are reading please show yourselves and please consider producing an infographic of some kind that explains how you managed to do this. I'd seriously like to know. For me, for my friends, and for many women whose experiences I've read, giving birth is a scary thought. The concerns are legitimate, valid, and oh-so-real, especially during the months of pregnancy.
So what do you about this very real fear of giving birth? If you're a grown-ass woman who doesn't back down from things that are challenging or scary, you probably do the following:
Cry About It
I'm putting this one goes first because, yes, I cried about it. To be specific, I broke down IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BIRTHING CLASS WHILST SITTING IN THE FRONT ROW. Crying about something — all grown-ass women know — doesn't mean you're a coward or that you're weak: it means that you know that directly allowing yourself to acknowledge, feel, and process your hard emotions is the only way to work through them. Suppressing your fear and anxiety is only going to keep it bubbling below the surface, threatening to be an ongoing liability that would upset your chances as having an awesome birth.
So you cry, because not crying would be the weak and cowardly thing to do.
Stop Crying About It
I am pretty sure it's physically impossible to cry for 40 weeks straight, so rest assured, at some point, the tears will dry and you will have a new resolve to face your fears head-on. Or head-first, hopefully. Unless your baby is breach in which case your doctor will most likely explain your options. The point is, you allow yourself to cry and release all those sh*tty fearful feelings — but you don't wallow. You don't stop there. You move through the fear; you don't settle down into it for good.
Do Things That Make You Feel Brave
I used to joke (usually after being asked if I was afraid of giving birth) that, "Welp, I'm on the ride and there's only one way to get off, so... shrug." Not the most empowering way to put it, but it was my semi-subtle way of reminding myself, and whoever asked me the question, that I don't really have a choice but to face my fear, so dwelling on it didn't really help the situation.
Research Your Ass off
I've written before how my breast pump has been the inspiration of the greatest love/hate affair of my life thus far. However, not far behind it is Google. I love having information and answers at my fingertips; I also hate having information and answers at my fingertips. Because no matter what symptom I'm looking up, even something as mild and innocent as "cute baby bunnies" or "puppy and cat friends" or "taking nap under flannel blanket on a Sunday afternoon," I will inevitably come across a legitimate-sounding story about how it's killed someone.
That said, grown-ass women go into the terrifying fray that is Google and arm themselves with all the knowledge, and the empowerment it brings, about what's happening — and what will happen during labor and birth — to their bodies and babies. Even when the news is...unpalatable, grown-ass women would rather know, and would rather be prepared. That extra degree of control does so much to ease fear.
Know When To Stop Researching
But then again, there comes a point when reading one more story about bed rest, or nausea, or blood clots isn't going to help anyone, including you and everyone you interact with on a regular or semi-regular basis. You know when to close to laptop and walk away. There actually is such a thing as "too much of a good thing" and "information about labor and birth" is definitely on that list.
Talk To Friends Who've Given Birth
Grown-ass women know that just because you can do everything on your own, that doesn't mean you should. So you go to the experts: other moms. The good thing about talking to people who've been through it, is that every single person you talk to has lived to tell about it.
Mentally Block Your Friends' Scary Stories
That said, some of your friends will be more helpful than others. Proceed with caution if anyone has a story about seeing their doctor run towards them. And yes, even if they do realize that it's not cool to tell you about it, yes, Justin Bieber, it's too late to say sorry.
Count The Things That Make You Trust Yourself
Even if pregnancy and birth are brand new to you, you know what's not brand new to you? You. Your awesomeness. When you're feeling scared during pregnancy, you know that the best thing you can do is spend some time thinking about all the times you proved to yourself that you can rely on yourself more than anyone else. In the immortal words of Katniss Everdeen [MOCKINGAY PART 2 SPOILER ALERT], there are much worse games to play.
Think Of All The Times You Were Stronger Than You Realized
What do all of those things have in common? Um, you. You've got this.
Images: Lionsgate; Giphy(9)