"Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain."
I'm not usually afraid. I can get shots, blood draws, or IVs all day long and not wince. I've gotten a tattoo and it only made me want more. (Okay, okay, it's a really small tattoo. But it still involved a needle!) But this? This is my Mount Everest.
I was terrified of labor the first time around. Everyone tried to ease my fears by reminding me that many mothers purposefully choose to have more than one child, so it must not be that bad. The problem is, I have an unusually crystal clear memory when it comes to that time between my water breaking and holding Millie for our first meeting...and for me? It was that bad.
My labor was 22 hours long, which feels long to say but really isn't when I compare it with what many other moms I know have gone through. When I met with my doula last month, she asked me if I had had the kind of labor I wanted (which, by the way, sounds like a silly question had I not gone through it, but makes perfect sense now). And I said no. I was doing fine and going slow, and it wasn't fast enough for the hospital. So I was pumped with Pitocin, something I absolutely did not want, and the pain became unbearable. After hours of that pain, I couldn't handle it and begged for an epidural, also something I didn't plan to have. They used a vacuum and forceps at the end. Their idea of cheering me on was to tell me that if the vacuum didn't work by the third try, I would be having a C-section.
That experience was just about the opposite of everything I had written on my birth plan. I wanted things to be as gentle as possible and as natural as possible. Of course, the point of labor is to have a healthy baby, and Millie was 100% perfect. And yes, as soon as I heard her first cry, the pain was irrelevant because I had had my baby and nothing else mattered.
But it matters now. It matters so much that it's honestly hard for me to write this post, because I avoid thinking about the fact that I will have to go through the labor process again. I am scared to death, you guys. Second time moms always seem so confident and assured, but I think I am more afraid this time than I was with Millie because I actually know what to expect. People have tried to calm me by saying after the first baby, labor time can be cut in half, but 11 hours of that kind of pain hardly seems easy. Then there are those people who tell me how their labors really weren't so bad, and all I can think is, "Then you have this baby for me!" I know that pain is so subjective, and there isn't a fair way to compare it, so all I can do is go by my experience- and it was less than pleasant, to put it mildly.
I'm so glad I'll have a doula. I'm glad Sky will be there, and I'm glad my mom could possibly be there as well. All the support in the world can't take the pain away, unfortunately. I can tell myself that it is temporary, and, of course, that the reward is greater than anything, but I'm finding it so hard to brace myself for it. As much as I felt like a superhero in those moments after it was all over, I felt the opposite of that for 22 hours. I don't know how to plan for that again.