On the final day of my birthing class, I felt helpless as I stood in the hallway having a panic attack. It was shortly after seeing a graphic birth video that I began having a physical reaction to the fear that I was experiencing.
I was not naïve. I knew how babies were born but at that moment, I was overcome by anxiety. After darting out of class, I made my way to the end of the hall. I had one hand on the wall and the other on my belly as I concentrated on controlling my breathing. The back of my neck was damp with sweat. I closed my eyes and imagined the air entering and leaving my body at a slow pace through my nose and mouth. I finally managed to pull myself together and join my husband again in the classroom.
I tried to ignore the many sets of eyes that I could feel looking at me as I waddled back to my seat. I sat down and my husband gently rubbed my shoulder. He leaned in to whisper, “Are you okay?” I looked straight ahead as I nodded slightly. Sure, I’m great. I can’t wait to dilate to 10cm.
My mind was racing with thoughts. What was wrong with me? What was I so afraid of? What if my baby is 15 pounds? How will I know if the baby is coming? I tried to remind myself that women have babies every day. The pain can’t possibly be that bad. What was that quote? “Facing your fears helps you to overcome them.” Seven weeks later, I was facing my fear in the delivery room.
It turned out that my anxiety over labor was much worse than the labor itself. My baby was not 15 pounds. My body knew just what to do and performed the task well. When it was time, I pushed for 45 minutes and delivered a healthy baby boy that weighed 8 pounds 14 ounces.