April 11, 2007

Facing Reality

When I was a teenager I decided to try an experiment. I would never cry out in pain again. I don't remember what lead to this decision, but I do remember weeks of conscience attempts at pressing my lips together at stubbed toes and rolled ankles when I would have otherwise given a healthy yell. The habit stuck.

Ever since I've officially been a Pain Denier. I don't take Aspirin for aches as I'm too busy pretending they don't exist to simply reach for the pill bottle and put myself out of my misery. It frustrates my husband to no end when he sees me grimacing on the couch and he asks for the millionth time, "have you taken Tylenol" and the inevitable, stupid answer. Any sudden brute trauma I experience is usually met with narrowed eyes and a deep breath. I gave up acknowledging pain. It's kid stuff.

The first time I gave birth I took my obsession to a new level. I decided to learn self-hypnosis so that I could fully overcome any pains my body felt without having to succumb to the trendy parlor tricks of modern medicine. For the two months leading up to the birth I took 45 minutes every day practicing my technique. I skipped all the formal labor and delivery education to instead teach my body to be "limp and loose" and imagining a "circle of strong women representing my cervix." My husband was in fits over my decision.

It was almost as much of a surprise to me as it was to my husband when the self-hypnosis actually worked. I day dreamed through 24 hours of constant contractions without so much as a moan and when it came time to push I was well rested and ready for action. I had won. Nothing but my head stood between me and the pain of childbirth and I'd pulled it off. I vowed to use this technique with all consecutive births.

Which brings us up to present day. I've been up all night with heavy contractions. Today is the day for birth number two but I'm not feeling the same confidence that I did last time. With a two year old, the last thing I had time to do was sit around with headphones on listening to hippies tell me how my birth canal is stretchy and soft like a sweater sliding over my baby's head. I've spent 45 minutes total during this pregnancy "practicing" the cds and now it's time for me to face the facts. I'm going to have pain this time and there isn't going to be much that I'll be able to do about it on my own. I'm human.

It's a surprising relief to finally accept that I don't have to manage the pain alone. I'm not sure how it will go today, but I'm committed to have pain control. Whether that means I'll somehow be able to resurrect my voo-doo self-hypnosis or ask for a big needle in my back, I don't care. Today the denial ends. There is nothing weak or immoral about pain. Having come to this obvious, yet belated realization a few weeks ago, I'm surprised that I'm not more anxious about this birth. I'll let myself be weak. I'll ask for help. I'll grimace when I feel the daggers in my belly. Nobody but me thought I was Superwoman so why bother continuing the act? It's utterly lost on my adoring audience.

My husband and kid should be waking up soon. Then the real show begins. It will be off to the birth center and on with this whole ordeal. After over ten years of telling myself pain is for the weak I'll finally come face to face with the fact that all my pressed lips and untouched Aspirin bottles have been for nothing. I feel strangely liberated by my decision to confront pain. I can feel the hateful stares of dead hippies looking down on my head as I write this, but maybe some good strong drugs will lessen the weight of their glares. Or at least make me see leprechauns. I could use some happy leprechauns today. Wish me luck!

50 comments:

citymama1 said...

Good Luck!!!

citymama1 said...

P.S. I'm impressed you could write such a great post while enduring contractions. Is blogging the new pain management now? Good luck, again.

s'mee said...

I am with citymama1, you amaze me!
I did the whole "natural" childbirth and there is nthing natural about it. AFter all these years I would change my mind too.

Good luck kid, we'll be here when you get back!

Clyde said...

VENI VIDI VINCI! It's your motto today so go for it, dear Sarah. Our prayers are with you.

PS I highly recommend some druggy help, you'll see butterflies and unicorns. :)

Susan said...

Do NOT take demerol! Go for an epidural. Good luck!

Bethany said...

Good luck Sarah! I just saw your comment on our blog. I'm glad you think our baby's cute. Can't wait to see yours!

Mrs. M said...

Thinking of you and sending the relaxation of a warm shower your way...

Heather O. said...

You go girl. Experience the pain, embrace it, and then call for that epidural, baby. You really can have it all! See you when you get back.

Stephanie said...

Definitely forget the demerol--I had an epidural and promptly pledged my eternal love and gratitude to Mike, our anethesiologist. I love him to this day, even if he's old enough to be my dad. Good luck!

emma jo said...

I am so pleased. Make sure you post moments after giving birth...there will be a computer at hand, right? Beeee the cervix, beeeee the cervix...

Melissa said...

Good luck! There's nothing wrong with an epidural...or two. I think my hubby would have liked one the first time - he looked more miserable than I felt! :) Oh, and I agree with the others... I had the demerol - it was supposed to "take the edge off" - it didn't, and it made me dizzy... :S

Inexperienced Mom said...

I can't wait to hear how it all turns out. I've been blogging about my own hypno/epidural experience and I'll be glad to hear your perspective after this birth.

AzĂșcar said...

It's like we're twins, I swear. I had the same moment as a teenager. I think I was 12 when I decided I wouldn't cry any more with pain. My drug pusher husband is always asking me if I've taken that Tylenol yet.

As for me, this time, I went with a spinal. It is a one shot deal. You have 1.5 hours of relief and then it wears off; if you are too far they can't give you another one. I had the spinal at 9 centimeters. It just took the edge off. I could still feel the contractions, I could still guide my pushing, and my labor was really quick. I was up walking within 30 minutes or so. This was a huge change from the epidural with number one. That deadened so much it was hard to direct my strength and the recovery was far harder.

Anyway, I'm saying, if you decide you need something to take the edge off, I really liked my spinal (in comparison to transition or the epidural.)

chronicler said...

Yay! I am sure you'll get through it without all the fuss and bother of drugs! It's like riding a bike!

Tell Adam to keep us posted!

Chanel said...

YAHOO!! TODAY IS THE DAY!!!!
Im so excited for you!
You proabbly won't even see this comemnt, life is about to change, but I am so amazed you posted such thoughtful stuff before leaving to give birth!
Hope all goes well, no drugs, drugs, or lots-o-drugs (my fave)!!
You're still the toughest girl I know!

Amy said...

I too did the hynpo thing with number one and felt happy about the experience. I thought I was committed to do the same for subsequent children, but you remind me to consider reality.

Adrienne said...

Squeeee! So excited!

Rachel said...

WaaaaaaaaHoooooooo! I hope Baby Flake makes it here quickly and safely. Good luck to all of you in the next few weeks. I'm anxiously awaiting to read about this new adventure!!

compulsive writer said...

Pain is not for the weak. It's for the mortal. Getting out of denial is for the very brave. Good for you!

Luck and prayers to you today. I can't wait!

CACKEL said...

If it's a girl, you should name her "Holly Wood Flake," since her entire in utero experience has been shared with all of your blog fans.

Good luck.

PS my word verification is "suxnfun" which reminded me of labor, as in "sucks, no fun."

acte gratuit said...

Good luck!!!!!!!! Hope the epidural works wonders for you!

s'mee said...

As if you have nothing other to think about right now...I add this:

You kill me. Every day you come up with something witty that is personal to you and to most of us, and of course the political world. Because of your constant wit and the ability to not only make us laugh, but think....

I nominate you for a "Thinking Blogger" award:

http://www.thethinkingblog.com/2007/02/thinking-blogger-awards_11.html

Now you can tag 5 of the people that make you think!

coolbeans said...

I'm very late with good luck wishes. I hope everything went swimmingly and everybody's healthy and happy!

Molly said...

Your public anxiously awaits the news of little Molly's arrival. Can't wait to see pics of her. :)
Good luck.

L. A. Mommy said...

Good luck and... take the drugs, if you can!

Abby said...

Why are you so hilarious? I think I love you. (Thank you for the Cyrano bit--I'm not prego now, but then--an elephant [mother] never forgets. (It's the reason I actually skipped church the day before the birth. 'Couldn't face the incredulous looks one more day!)

Jill said...

Good luck!

Colleen said...

Yay!!! Good luck!

Basic Black with Pearls said...

This from the Editor, mother of Sarah: Alice Benac Flake was born last night, weighing 9# 3 oz., 21 " long, to a grateful mother in a gentle birth. We rejoice at the successful and safe delivery of this lovely little girl! Thanks to all of you for your support and prayers for a safe passage for another little bit of Flakey goodness!

Clyde said...

CONGRATULATIONS, Sarah, Adam and Penelope!

Sooo happy for your family, sooo relief for you... Indulge yourself with a delicious dinner/breakfast a-la-carte and donuts for dessert!

Jennifer B. said...

Hope everything goes well--Good Luck!

Torchness said...

Congrats!

9 lbs? Oish.

Clyde said...

After 9 months and 11 days of being pregnant you gave birth to a 9 lbs. baby on the 11? Wow, you're good with Math. :)
Wish you a well-deserved recovery, please!

PS Sorry but I'm dying to read more about sweet l;ittle Alice that I decided to put nonsense comments once an a while just to let you know we're THINKING about you... a lot.

Laura said...

Congratulations Flakes!! :))
Thank goodness Mom and baby are doing well...

chronicler said...

A darling little girl! Congratulations Flakes! Here's to more flakey goodness! In about 20 years I've got this really cute grandson....

Jenny said...

Whatever happened to Lovey?

Congrats!

Amy said...

Hooray!

Catherine said...

I am on the phone with Sarah! Baby is actually named "Charlotte Benac Flake". She still weighs the same.

Message from Sarah:
"No, no, well maybe, no, a message from Sarah... I'll post something this evening when I get home"

AzĂșcar said...

I am SO excited!! Love the name, just love.

Clyde said...

Lovey... Alice... Charlotte.... Is there another name choice that you want to try out before you leave the hospital? You keep teasing us after delibery, funny girl, you!

Basic Black with Pearls said...

That's what I get for running off and playing my tennis match (we did win, though!). As soon as I'm out of reach, the name changes and I don't even know it. So Charlotte it is! Sweet Charlotte. Actually sounds quite good with Flake, doesn't it? See you soon, little girl!

CACKEL said...

If it is Charlotte for real, Chelsea is going to flip out, since her precious one and only doll of 8 years is named Charlotte (after Laura Ingalls' rag doll). Charlotte, Alice, I like either one. I guess her calves weren't big enough to name her Lucy?

I hope you had drugs with a 9 pound 11 oz baby!!!!

Melissa said...

Congratulations! That's awesome! Now, which name is it really?? Is this another one of your teases?? :)

Mrs. M said...

Oh my goodness. Good thing I thought to check WAY down at the bottom of the comments, just in case there was something there...

Congratulations to all the Flakes and especially to Sarah for surviving it all. Can't wait to read more!

compulsive writer said...

Yay! Congrats! Can't wait for more. (But I will. Sleep Sarah. Sleep!)

Jill said...

Congratulations!

Wallinskees said...

Congratulations Flakes, and way to go Sarah!!! We can't wait to see her. So did you end up using the drugs? Good for you if you did.

Adam said...

update:

sarah is going to post for real pretty soon, but we got her home and life is grand. sorry about the false alarm on the name. i had been holding out for alice, but i relented in the end (i am sure sarah will tell the whole story). for the record, she weighed 9 lbs 3 oz, and is as cute as a bugs eye. it is uncanny how much she looks like penny did.

Janell said...

Congratulations!

Lady Steed said...

I too used Hypno-birthing with my first child, and though I did not have the fantastic success you had, I did find it to be a very good way to manage the 'surges' without drugs. But with this pregnancy, I too have found only about fifteen minutes total to look my Hypnobirthing materials and I think i maybe listened to ten minutes of my cd before turning it off and falling asleep. When you are the mother of a three year old there is NO WAY to find any time to practice. The only time is when the child is sleeping and then, well you aren't really practicing Hypnobirthing so much as using it to fall asleep as quickly as possible. I am hoping some of it will come back to me when the labor starts, but I do think I may be asking for that epidural much sooner than last time.