I’m throwing up into a bowl while my 1-year old cries beside me in bed. He is worried that I am dying. Sometimes I feel like it. I get wretched morning, scratch that, all-day sickness that doesn’t stop when I need to put my first born to bed at night. I soothe him, and he falls asleep. As I sneak out of the room with puke bucket in hand, a different nausea emerges from my belly and I feel anxious about how I am going to manage two of these gorgeous little ruffians.
If you had asked me a year ago whether I would have another baby I would have said no way in hell. I really want to, but I just won’t face that torture again. Then I met a bright daring woman named Brittney, and hope flooded my every bone. She described what seemed like a fairy tale about giving birth pain free naturally. I wanted to believe her. I needed to believe her. Her eight-week course assured me I could get through the next one unscathed and I clung to this hope like a life raft in a raging sea.
7 months pregnant and armed with affirmations, I tap my fingers against my glistening skin, soft from Burt’s Bees Mama Belly Butter. I reach for Grantly Dick-Read’s Childbirth Without Fear, and his words are like an arrow straight into my heart:
There is no greater loneliness in the life of a human being than being alone with one’s own suffering; and no suffering is greater than the mental torture of impending agony from which there is no escape and of which there is no understanding.
The words bring me back, trapped screaming into an abyss, no escape, seeing no way through, and suddenly…a strange realization straggles in like an early dawn just on the edges of my grasp…this was beyond pain. Beneath the terror of physical agony there was a deeper dread…
Loneliness. Despair. Overwhelming loss of control. Not knowing what the hell was going to happen, again.
The pain was all I could think about, but suddenly I saw the physical torment as a strange kind of chaos swirling around confusing and muddling my perception so that I couldn’t quite see what was truly looming in the shadows. I could sense it now though, dreadful and dark, a seething writhing creature waiting to swallow me whole.
As I shoved away the vision that caused my body to tremble and my heart to pound, I reached for a glimmer of light that would indicate a way out. That’s when I felt it. A strong braxton hicks wave came on and
the underworld came up like a sustained earthquake shaking every cell that wrapped the boundaries of my body, the barriers of my self, I heard a deep thrumming tone in my ears that sounded like Hades himself had opened up the gates of hell and the hounds had been summoned forth to carry this missive.
The dense unfamiliar shaking rolled through me, up and out, and the silence that followed in its wake left me stunned, still humming with deeper power than I had ever felt before.
And I knew. this was beyond pain, beyond logic…this was beyond birthing.
And I needed to know what had just happened.
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