When I was pregnant for the first time I was terrified of labor. Swollen feet and piercing backaches due to pregnancy was a minor inconvenience. Morning sickness was like a mild (and daily) case of the flu. Falling asleep while sitting up and being hungry every two hours was just a short-term hassle. I could handle everything that baby was throwing at me until I went to a birthing class.
My husband and I giggled as we held hands and propped up my feet with pillows and the chair in front of me. It was our first of the two-day express birthing class. In just two Saturdays, we were going to learn everything that we needed to know about the birth of our baby and soon, way more information than I would want.
The first Saturday class was fine. The instructor talked about breathing, concentration, comfort, and if we were interested, pain relief. My husband turned to me to ask, “What do you think about the epidural?” I almost laughed out loud. I have always had a low tolerance of pain. I broke my arm once and no one asked me if I had an interest in pain medication. My views weren’t going to change at the most hormonal time of my life. My answer was one word, yes.
By the second class, my fear was beginning to build. The instructor passed around medical instruments that might be used to “guide your baby out of the birth canal.” I found myself holding large, cold metal tools that looked like salad tongs. Normally this would have made my stomach growl but this time I could imagine where this instrument was meant to be placed and I started to feel woozy. Towards the end of the class, we were shown the birthing video. The woman screamed in agony and there were times when I didn't even recognize what I was looking at. I had seen things stretch before like rubber bands and playdoh, but nothing like this. When it was over and the lights were turned back on, my eyes were wide, my mouth was dry and I was unable to move as if I were frozen. When I began to think that in less than two months, my body would experience what I had just seen, I felt the walls of the room closing in on me.
I began to take in deeper, heavier breaths.