I think the most “my mom” statement that has ever been made was her recent comment; “I hosted a tea while I was in labor and no one even knew it”. If you’ve ever read this blog before, this will make sense.
Let’s just start with the “hosting a tea” aspect of this scenario and just how “my mom” this is. Her assumption that teas are a normal everyday life activity that aren't novelty-themed bridal showers is just so 19th century of her- in the best way possible. Let’s get down to the other aspect of this though that is quintessential Jo-Anna Holden. She has asserted for many years that “labor is easy- it’s nothing like the way it’s portrayed in the movies”. She has said many times she would rather give birth than go to the dentist, her logic being that labor is natural and gradual and that the dentist is forced upon you externally. Let’s just acknowledge here that my mom had a terrible dentist growing up, who, it became known later, had a severe alcohol problem. She also had a textbook twenty-four hour first childbirth experience and a textbook quicker second experience, both completely natural. Let’s also say that my mom is a horse.
When it comes to withstanding pain, I have witnessed my mother practically slice a piece of her finger off at the restaurant, and literally not stop moving through the kitchen for the rest of the night, as is her way (with the thing hygienically bandaged enough, of course). When she swam into the side of the pool while doing laps one day, she still served a lunch to friends that afternoon. My godmother, a nurse, had to force her to lie down after it hadn’t stopped bleeding for several hours, all the while threatening that if she didn’t get out of the kitchen, they were going straight to the ER to get stitches.
My mother attributes her high threshold for pain with her Ukrainian side. Her grandmother reminded her often that we are descended from a people who gave birth in the fields during a farm work day. Mothers were expected to carry an armful of crops back to the house along with the new baby so the trip back wouldn’t be a waste.
As I get closer to this baby’s birthday, I am actually grateful for having grown up with this attitude toward childbirth. And yes, I say “birthday”, because that’s what it is. I resent these blogs that refer to it as “D-Day” for delivery day. I mean, really? Who at “The Bump” thought a WWII reference was adorable? Not adorable. At all.
The more I read, the more I learn that yes, it’s going to be painful, but you get distinct breaks unlike other types of unrelenting pain. (I say this as someone who's had kidney stones, migraines, a pretty bad car accident, and one walloping ear infection on an airplane.) And I've read childbirth is a bit like the anticipation of a blood tests, vaccines, and needles in general. Dwelling on the anxiety is only going to make it worse in a scenario where relaxation is your friend. Is it often described as “intense”? Yes. But I think people mean that in more ways than just pain. There are so many feelings of vulnerability and love that you experience at this time of life, and on that day, it happens in a span of a few hours, and all beyond one's control. Twenty four or forty hours can seem long when you’re thinking about pain, but when it’s (hopefully) gradual, and the result is so emotional, it really seems so short and finite, compared to all the challenges to come. The way I see it, at the end of that long day, you get to meet your baby! However, I am a realist. I’ll report back.