I think it's pretty safe to say that every woman who has ever given birth had fears of the unknown while they were pregnant -- especially first-timers.
I was full of fear from the first moment I found out I was pregnant up until the actual birth. In fact, I think I was still in shock that I was even pregnant at all for most of my pregnancy.
The constant, frightening chatter thrown at me by other moms who had already given birth didn't help my fear factor much along my pregnancy journey. It almost seemed like seasoned moms were delighted to horrify me with their terrifying and frankly gross birthing stories. I get it. Sharing is a part of trying to relate to one another. But when you've never given birth and you're already anxious, some of those birth stories can be disconcerting, to say the least.
Being pregnant is one of those strange, surreal experiences that causes you to feel both fully connected to your body and also disconnected from it.
On the one hand, you're very much aware of your body while you're pregnant for the clear reason that your pregnancy is controlling how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. This can also be a disconnecting experience because many women like myself are used to being in control or at least feeling in control of our own bodies. Then, one day, you're just not in control at all because you're carrying a human being inside of you.
I was one of those people who honestly felt like I was in a science fiction movie the whole time I was pregnant. There was an alien in my body and I didn't know what it was going to do next. Well, I knew that SHE was going to grow and come out at some point but there were so many other variables to worry about. Would she be healthy? Would she come early? Would she come late? Is she okay in there? Is she breathing? Is her heart beating? How much is the birth going to hurt -- really?
I have a hunch that I'm not the only woman who has experienced the feeling of being both stunned and downright scared to death while pregnant.
Full disclosure -- I didn't attend any birthing classes. I didn't go to any form of class while pregnant. I read some books. I watched some videos my best friend sent me. That was it. Looking back, I think I was in complete denial that I would ever be giving birth.
Don't get me wrong -- I made sure I ate well and exercised while I was pregnant. I went to all of my doctor appointments, and for a 35-year-old who was monitored a little more closely due to my "older" age, I had no major issues besides absolutely horrendous morning sickness ALL DAY for 3 months.
I think the real reason I never went to a birthing class is because I was afraid to confront the physical aspect of giving birth to a human being. It's that simple. Sure, the whole birthing experience may have been smoother for me if I knew what I was getting into -- but I opted out. Insert hindsight 20/20 here ________.
Now that I have experienced giving birth naturally and without any pain medication, I think I understand what many of you reading this are already wise to which is that I truly wish I had been more prepared. Not just with the birth, but with important tools like breastfeeding.
You can read a book all day long about something like breastfeeding, but when you actually need to do it -- well that's a whole other story indeed.
I'm not going to be having any more babies. We've closed that book. Sometimes I wish I could have another just so that I could be more organized about the whole adventure. But then I remember that sometimes no matter how much you plan and prepare, there will always be unexpected issues that come up.
It's true that giving birth is excruciatingly painful and can be quite traumatic. If you take the steps to prepare for certain things, you can make the experience less difficult for yourself. Reaching out to others for support is helpful as well. Staying in an isolated bubble can cause more fear to well up in your mind.
Luckily, my daughter came out gorgeously healthy and happy.
Do I wish I'd done it differently and been more pro-active? Yes. Am I one of those moms who now shares her own terrifying birth story to others? Hell yes!
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