The inevitability of birth looms. For the past week, every evening has brought sensations intense enough that I have left the pottery studio where I have been working until late at night, or called Lee in from the studio. Then, after a couple of hours of wave-like expansions, I inevitably fall asleep… I do have twinges of trepidation in regards to the birth, like everyone, but mostly excitement, and an unstoppable drive to clean, organize and simplify. Yes, nesting. I have dragged box after box of stuff out of the bedrooms: clothes, books, toys, everything. We have three small rooms upstairs, but our nearly-finished studio renovation means that I can move my office from the house to the brand-new big beautiful space soon, which will free up a third bedroom for guests, life, and the musical beds that tends to happen a bit around here.
Still though, the subject of birth and fear is on my mind. I am not afraid of childbirth, but the excited trepidation I mentioned earlier is, I think, at the beginning of the spectrum of feeling that ends in terror. While speaking to a friend the other day (also pregnant, but in that early stage of invisible nausea and exhaustion), I relayed to her my thought that it is the very inevitability of birth and the way we think about it, that could maybe help to relieve fear: No matter the methodology, there will be a birth. Whether drugged in the hospital, or surgical, or, God forbid, a miscarriage or stillbirth…there will be an emergence, and you–the woman–will be transformed. I do believe that when it comes to birth, the nature of our transformation as women and mothers can be quite different, depending on our birth experience. I also believe that fear is at the root of most of the problems that arise during childbirth, and that our childbirth experience, in turn, will affect the way we relate to our babies and to the experience of motherhood. But despite the cultural conditioning we have all consciously or unconsciously absorbed (that birth is painful and terrifying), we are designed to be born and to give birth. As proponents of normal birth often say, Birth is as safe as life gets. Like so much in life, overcoming the fear of birth often comes down to simply making a choice: not between whether or not we will be afraid, but whether or not we will allow the fear to overcome us, to dictate our reactions, and to affect the outcome of the experience. Fear does need to be acknowledged and accepted and respected–but we can all find ways to ensure that fear doesn’t control us.