Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Blessing or A Curse?

Warning:  Some talk about my miscarriage in here!  If you're in early pregnancy and shielding yourself from miscarriage chat than do not proceed!

I've been thinking about birth a lot lately.

And why wouldn't I?  As it draws near suddenly everything has started to be about the birth rather than pregnancy, ie. childBIRTH classes, HypnoBIRTHING, etc.

But as I sat with a heavily pregnant friend yesterday and she expressed her uncertainty about what exactly a contraction felt like it suddenly dawned on me just how prepared I may already be for childbirth.

The preparation came in the form of a miscarriage.

Though it didn't produce a happy healthy baby in the end and though it was to something infinitely smaller than a traditional birth, my miscarriage was a birth of sorts.

 I know exactly what a contraction feels like.

I know that it feels nothing like a Braxton Hicks contraction and it feels nothing like period cramps.  It feels like a contraction and the term "wave"or "surge" describes it perfectly.

I even know what it feels like to have the urge to "bear down" and why women think they need to poop when they actually are ready to push their babies out.  Cause that's really what it feels like when the baby is ready to come out...apparently no matter how small it may be.

And I know what it feels like to have your cervix uncomfortably open for a few days after.

Oh how I hate the feeling of my cervix being open.

But is this a blessing or a curse?

I've read from a lot of crunchy home birthing hippies who are very anti-hospital birthing say that it's our cultural fear of childbirth that makes it painful and that it's the fear and the ingrained believe in how painful it is that actually makes childbirth painful.  While the feelings of childbirth may be "intense" they don't have to be painful if we can change our mindset.

There was a part of me that believed this and still does to some degree.

But I learned a few other things from my miscarriage besides what early labor will feel like.  

I learned that contractions hurt like hell.

I did not go into my decision to have a natural miscarriage with the idea that it would hurt.  I only hesitated because I was scared of seeing the dead baby, I didn't want to see it and thank god I didn't have to in the end.  

It never occurred to me that it would be super painful.  ESPECIALLY when all the assholes at the hospital tell you to just expect a lot of cramping.

I don't know about your cramps but my cramps have never been particularly painful.

So, I did not have a preconceived notion of pain and I wasn't necessarily scared of the ordeal.  A little panicked about possibly seeing a dead baby in the toilet, but scared wasn't the emotion I was feeling.  There was no expectation of pain and no fear of pain.

But it hurt.  It hurt a lot.

How do you explain that crunchy hippies?

So, now I'm torn, was the ordeal a blessing in that I'm prepared for at least some of this?   I don't know what it's like to go through labor and delivery of a full term baby, but I've had a little glimpse and I definitely know what to expect, especially in early labor.

Or is it a curse because I now KNOW it hurts and thus can never fully mentally prepare myself for it not to hurt...which is part of hypnobirthing, changing your idea of pain and convincing yourself that your "surges" are not painful.  Haha, ok I'm paraphrasing to suit my argument, but hypnobirthing IS about changing your mindset so that you don't think of the experience as painful.

I'm still ready to fully immerse myself in both the hypnobirthing and natural child birthing and still plan on having this baby at home, but a part of me is scared, scared of the pain I KNOW I will experience rather than the idea of the pain of childbirth.

So what do you think?  Do past experiences prepare you or just scare you?  

And could it be the happy ending, ie. the happy healthy baby in your arms after all the hard work, that can make childbirth "intense" and not painful?


  1. I actually hadn't thought about this before and it's very interesting. My first miscarriage was complete with a lot of contractions, bearing down and bleeding but for some reason I've never connected that experience with the actual live-baby birthing experience. Now that I'm thinking about it I actually feel as if I'm more prepared. Prior to today I wondered about the difference between period cramps and actual contractions, etc but you're right..we do know the difference and what they feel like. It actually gives me a little bit more peace of mind and confidence in myself. I got through the miscarriage with no pain medication and it was horrible and it was painful but I did it.

  2. I've had both...a live birth three years ago, and a natural miscarriage at 8 weeks. Now that I'm pregnant again and safely past that first trimester I find that I feel more prepared for a second birth than I would have imagined. And, it's not my first birth experience that I look back on! As odd as it may sound, I look back on my miscarriage as better preparation because my exact memories of it are so much more precise. I think exactly because there's NOT a beautiful live baby to croon over and make it all worth it in the end.

    Interesting to hear someone else speculating on the same thing.

  3. I've thought about this a bit lately too. It doesn't sound like my miscarriage was quite as painful (contraction wise) to yours...but I did experience it all. I really hope that it allows me to know what's coming - also...since I miscarried completely pain-med free...pretty much out of my own strength and determination ... I hope I can do L & D too.

  4. Probably a curse, because you don't have that beautiful little baby to help you forget and make it all worthwhile. But this time you will, so even though the baby will be bigger and labor will be longer you probably won't be as scared looking back.

  5. This is fortuitous, I was just reading through the "Childbirth doesn't have to be painful" chapter in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.

    I think the mindset you'll be in when you're in labor vs. when you were miscarrying is going to make all the difference. At least that's what Ina May would probably say.

    Just promise me you'll try your hardest to have an orgasm during labor. At least one.

  6. At the risk of getting up on my high-horse, I just want to tell you that I think hypnobirthing is a joke. You cannot separate yourself from the pain or from the moment. I'd encourage you to look at the Bradley Birthing Method. It does hurt, but if you KNOW and UNDERSTAND what is going on with your body, and you can really BE in that moment feeling everything, I think there's some enjoyment you can get from the pain. I know that sounds weird, and it definitely does hurt to have a baby naturally, but it is so empowering. Good luck to you!!