We had our first birth class a few weeks ago and I have to admit that when I walked in and that birth video was playing (the one with the English hippy in the birth tub with her naked husband) I just wanted to run out of the room. I felt claustrophobic and afraid. All her moaning and her eyes going every which way… it made me feel shy and young and scared.
And I thought it would get better. That is was good for me somehow to see all these videos, that it would toughen me up or something. But after six weeks of this, I finally said it out loud to the birth class. “I can’t stand these videos! I am so much more afraid to give birth now!”
This felt radical to say. (Especially in Berkeley and especially because these are all very natural, supposedly beautiful birth experiences. They are not inherently scary) I am all for knowledge is power but somehow in this case it’s not working for me. I am left with so much fear and anxiety and I’m not having the “birth is beautiful” experience but something else, something akin to terror or yuck or this is too personal to be watching… and I remember how my teacher didn’t get it at first. When another woman echoed my feelings and said, “Yeah, that last one had me completely in tears for a while afterwards.” and the teacher said, “Yes! birth is so moving…” and how we’re like “No! We were afraid not moved!”
So I felt a little silly the other night when she played a cartoon instead, one called “The Elk and the Epidural” and told me I could sit outside if I needed to. I felt a little alone, immature, unevolved… (but actually enjoyed the cartoon better than the real people videos)
What I really want is to trust myself, my intuition, my body, my spirit, my magic. I want to trust myself to birth, to parent, to feed my child. Aren’t those the most natural of things? and yet, the books stack up on my nightstand, the how-to’s and the what-ifs and the how-to-be-greats what-not-to-dos…
I’ve been wondering what I really need to know about this process and how I need to learn so that I feel confident going in, if I can just go in cold, be a beginner, follow my body and the labor team we’ve assembled. What do I really need to learn about all of this? Can I be even more present with less information? If this process is so natural, then why do I have to read so many books and take these classes? How much can I feel my way into this experience and trust myself to know the way? How much knowledge is power?