quiet hysteria

Vee is still in bed, after throwing up and stuff last night, so I’ve thrown the cats outside and shut the dog in the kitchen with me (much to his chagrin, because under the bed is his favourite place in the world) to give her a bit of  a lie in.  She’ll be phoning the midwife when she wakes up.  We hope this will pass, and soon!  Poor vee.

What I (jay) really wanted to post about was something that I’ve wanted to say for a long time but wasn’t quite sure how to put it. Umm. Deep breath.

I have an enormous fear of vee giving birth.


And yes, I know this fear is quite probably unfounded. I know it is 2008 and people give birth like, millions of times a second or something, totally unscathed.  I know we have modern technology and The Knowledge and stacks of specially trained staff and drugs and what have you, but all of that doesn’t do much to allay my fear that Something Might Go Wrong.

Because it might. Right?

I think this is largely to do with the fact that my mother died when I was very young – another story for another day – my dad remarried quite soon after, so any references to my mother on this blog will mostly have been to my technically-stepmother. My family is a mishmash of half-bios and non-bios and the occasional bio-bio, and we get along fine, thank you, but I think deep down I’m more morbid than most people.   Not in a weird freaky way, mind you. I don’t collect doll’s heads or anything like that. I just think about, and worry about, death and destruction more than I would like to.

And no, I do not equate birth with death in any way. I just worry that something might happen and I will be powerless to stop it and do the right thing. While I am fully competent in many things that don’t involve blood, I’m hardly capable of doing the right thing when vee’s throwing up (to back rub or not to back rub, that is the question… my answer is invariably wrong).  And that is why I refuse to even entertain the thought of a  home birth. Sorry, vee. You lose on this one, even if our child is bursting forth from YOUR body.

Deep down I know it will all be OK and I’m just being hysterical – quietly, mind you – and I need to get over myself and fast. But how? I know that people’s reactions to our pregnancy have helped some way, because they have just assumed that all will be fine because that’s what usually happens.

And funnily enough, the above fear does not apply to any births involving my own body. Or anyone else’s, for that matter… just vee’s.  And no, she doesn’t have any health issues that we should be worrying about. I’m just neurotic.

Any other reformed birthphobics out there? How did you do it?

Wise words very welcome.


16 responses to this post.

  1. If you figure out how to get over it, let me know? I worried about that so much while pregnant. I bet I could give you a run for your money in the worrying-about-death category.


  2. Birth can be scary; it’s all this stuff that we associate with The Bad (blood, pain, barfing). But it’s really quite normal and natural. Hard to assimilate.

    I highly recommend using a doula — it really, really helped both of us. Not being alone with the experience helps, and being with someone who has seen it go right so many times, just can’t be underestimated.


  3. Posted by soulblisszen on December 13, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    My only advice would be for you to go somewhere very calm and safe….someplace you can still your body and your mind. Then find your quiet and center, and when you have done that take a moment to listen to your insides. Listen to what your calm center REALLY tells yu concerning Vee. If it is still screaming, then address it with docs and midwives….but you may find when you get still and centered and quiet the fear slips away back into the darkness of jumbled thoughts and prattling nonesense.

    Much love.


  4. ugh, the above was Bleu…I try not to be logged in to wordpress as it is only a backup for me but sometimes it does anyhow


  5. I agree with Lo in the not being alone in it all. However, I learned from our first child, that it is a normal part of the process. An odd, but normal, part of it all. The person you love and share your life with is carrying a new life inside of her created by the two of you (no matter how it happened, YOU two created that life). This creation, is causing this person you love some illness, will cause her some pain, even if in the end, it is a huge joy. You dont see that now. What you see is a vomitting Vee with the pale face which even when not talking seems to say, “Help me”.

    I learned a lot about this during this summer when I was in the hospital several times. This pregnancy has had me sick and off work since week 6. When I was in the hospital, Jen had to watch me vomit until even the bile was gone. I’m thankful that she eventually shared her feelings with me. It terrified her, and caused many other fears in her that she had never expected.

    As far as your answers being invariably wrong, ie; the back rubbing etc, pregnancy is a fickle, hormone filled thing, and you just have to take the chance. You will be right. And, you will be wrong. You may never know which, but take the chance. Vee will be so appreciative of the moments when you’re right. And you need some reassurance that you are doing things right.

    The mortality of it all. I truly feel that when you’re bringing a new life into this world, you think about all things life and death. You worry about your wife, the baby, yourself, your ability to care for everyone, and the list goes on. This drove me nuts the first time, and in case you were wondering, it doesnt get easier with the second. I think that it might be our neurotic sides trying to remind us to prepare for in life, what we can, because much of it, we cant.

    I hope that even though this is long, and doesnt have a lot of answer content to it, that it makes everything a little more familiar to you. Even with your family background, you’d still worry about it all. You’re going to be ok, and great even. You’re on our minds xxoo


  6. I was TERRIFIED. Totally. I constantly got stuck in my mind on the idea of dying in childbirth. I was obsessive and drove Wes crazy. I was just utterly terrified.

    The closer we got to the birth, the better it got, amazingly. As I got giant and uncomfortable, I just wanted it to be over. I know this is going to sound sick and awful, but I just ended up in this fatalistic place of thinking, “Well, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I’ve chosen people I trust to help us get this baby out and I just have to trust that all will unfold as it should.”

    I really didn’t feel that worried anymore by the end. Which is funny since my blood pressure was through the roof and I was a few small steps away from pre-eclampsia. But I felt so well-cared-for. I trusted that it was all fine. Maybe the increase in visits to the midwives at the end helped – I just felt like nothing was going to happen so fast that Beck and I couldn’t be saved.

    And I was huge and wanted him out. And I was such a raging bitch that Wes wanted the same thing.


  7. Posted by rhetorician on December 15, 2008 at 9:17 am

    The others are right – but I think that information really is your friend and unlike the TTC train, the stats really are on your side . Read some Ina May watch some birth videos. The lovely R and I (our baby is due in – yikes – about 5 weeks!!) just went to a birthing workshop (the hospital ante-natal classes are pretty crap) and it was really good, because the focus was on the fact that birth is a natural process and that it’s what women’s bodies are designed to do. Much to my surprise I actually enjoyed the birth videos (and cried when these strangers’ babies were born – which suggests that there might be a torrent of weeping when my own is born). Most births are normal (or would be if women weren’t continually pushed towards intervention, or birthing by the clock). It’s really important that you work through this because a panicky partner is about the worst thing for a labouring woman (and evidence backs me up – a woman who labours alone will take longer to deliver than one who is supported – it’s all to do with oxytocin). The other thing that I now think is really important is for the couple to retain as much control of the process as possible – and in reality that will be down to you. It’s your baby and your baby’s birthday, not some doctor who wants you done before his shift ends. But you guys communicate so well that I am sure you will have really clear idea what vee wants and how she wants to handle things. And in this, what she wants, she gets. Sit down together and write a birth plan and keep revising it before the birth. And as a good friend of mine says, it’s one thing in life that you really can’t get out of – you can’t write a sick note, or do it next week! It will be fine. I can’t wait.


  8. Ya know, in some ways, I think it was good that I was the bio mom last go’round. It wasn’t so scary for me to think of going through childbirth. I was afraid something would go wrong, something would be wrong with Jo, I’d wind up getting induced or having a C-section… none of which happened, and if they had, well, I would have dealt. I wasn’t afraid of dying. I wasn’t afraid of the pain or the blood or whatever.

    And definitely, I had no fear during the actual birth. I was far too preoccupied.

    But one thing I was unprepared for? Maggie, our dachshund, got really upset when I was in labor. She was aware that I was in a lot of pain and I think she was worried about me. Lo probably felt a lot of pressure to be calm and soothing. Our doula was of course calm and soothing. I think Maggie kind of got to express the anxiety and fear that the rest of us couldn’t. I bring that up to say … I think it’s kind of normal to worry about a loved one during labor. Yes, it’s natural and happens every day and we live in countries with access to phenomenal medical technology if needed. But when it’s someone you love… it’s scary to watch. When it’s your baby and your wife (or in Maggie’s case, her Mommy-Co), of course you worry. It’s totally normal to worry, I think.

    I would say, don’t worry too much about doing stuff wrong. I was kind of fickle during my labor… switching positions constantly and such. Our doula and Lo knew this awesome hip press thing that helped relieve the back pain, and I grooved on it for a while but then hit a point at which I said, “No more hip press. Hands off.” and didn’t want to be touched. I don’t know why. It just stopped being comforting. But it had been for a long while. Go figure. I think if you just take your cues from your wife, it’ll be fine. Hugs. I think it’s totally normal to worry or be scared.


  9. S has been able to overcome some serious anxiety about our upcoming birth. Not to say we will be anxiety free when the time comes, but there have been some things that have helped. Hiring our doula has been great! She is so reassuring. Taking a childbirth class at the hospital we are delvering at was VERY helpful, even though we were afraid it would make it worse. And lastly, taking our hypnobirthing class has helped immensely. We have learned lots of vislualizations and relaxation techiniques specific to the birth.
    As others have said, it is completely natural and chances are that nothing will go wrong. 🙂


  10. i hear ya! All of this new life stuff brings up so much about wellness and living and immortality. and someone in the birthing world did say pregnancy is the work of worry. I think that goes for both the person carrying the wee one and the person supporting the whole process.

    be well. hope vee is feeling much better. xo and my cap came from a little shop in nashville, tn; the brand is grace hats you can find more here:http://www.gracehats.com/english/


  11. I completely understand this fear, as I sometimes have to pull myself away from it as well. Not the best advice, but I try to find as much comfort as I can in that *most* births go ok, we found people we are comfortable with to deliver, and we found a place we are comfortable delivering at which is attached to a hospital should worse come to worse.

    This is a one-time deal for us, and I think we both have found some comfort in knowing it will only be a tiny portion of our lives spent in pain and worry, and then a world of amazement and thankfulness to follow.

    Hang on to hope and each other- you’re going to get through it just fine.


  12. awh. i get this. i completely think that i would feel this way if it was K giving birth, instead of me. i don’t know how i’d feel about her having the home birth….i would be scared something COULD go wrong. a little fear is normal. keep reminding yourself that she is healthy and strong and her body was MADE to do this. don’t worry….you guys will get through it together. i am completely confident! xoxo


  13. This makes a lot of sense to me too though I have no good advice to overcome it. After my father died when I was 8 I spent countless nights for years and years picturing the many details of my mother’s certain death. I think you’re right that death makes kids and the adults that they become morbid. I’m sure there are great coping mechanisms out there and I do hope some of them help you to feel less worried.


  14. Posted by rhetorician on December 17, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    yeah, with you on the bereaved children becoming morbid adults – I guess you never manage to go back to the place where things don’t go wrong. But as you get older more and more people join you on the morbidity train. Another person who lost a parent young (hmmm, wonder if there’s another connection there???)


  15. I hope Vee is feeling better!


  16. I was terrified I would die in childbirth, too. One thing that I tried to keep in mind is that when I am obsessed with something morbid its often anxiety in disguise…So maybe I was anxious about the huge change in my life more then my very unlikely death in childbirth.
    Although I agree with the poster that the whole process of birth/having a child really forces you to think about death and mortality in general.
    I’m sorry about the loss of your Mom.


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