Saturday, April 21, 2012
Childbirth. Must I?
I had a high pain tolerance once. I could function well enough at level 10 that one of the paramedics didn't believe me when I told him it was that high. I offered to scream and projectile vomit for him (which I was trying very hard not to do) at which point his partner guided me onto the gurney. In the emergency room it took 3 doses of morphine to bring my pain-level down to a point that my body would lie still for an MRI of my internal organs. That's pain.
Nearly four years ago I was admitted to the hospital with a wound that had gone septic and beyond, to septic shock. I apparently came within hours of dying, had a couple of surgeries, weeks of hospital and home health care, and ended up with an 8-inch long & 4-inch deep open wound that had to heal up from the inside out. Endless bags of antibiotics until my veins were exhausted and I cried through IV pumps rather than admit it was time to change the IV site and invite even more agony (lesson learned: demand a PICC line if I'm going to be on an IV for more than a few days).
Talk about pain. The memory of the pain is still with me: it brings tears to my eyes. It cut through my dilaudid-on-demand; it made my whole body tremble and jerk, even in my sleep. I spent 10 days checked-out from my body, burrowed deep into some remote place in my mind. Those 10 days are lost to me, just pained haziness punctuated with moments of extreme agony. I vowed that I never, ever wanted to experience that kind of pain again.
Childbirth. On a scale of 1-10 it's just over 11, I've read. I am assured that the memory of labor pain fades with time. And of course, it does. It must. It's the thought of that in-the-moment gut-wrenching pain that freaks me out. I just don't know if I can muster the courage to face that kind of pain again, even with the help of an epidural. Sometimes I think about scheduling a C-section just to avoid it. And I probably would if I didn't want to have to deal with recovering from major surgery. I also know it is better for the baby to experience vaginal birth. Its like a full body massage--it gets the blood and lymph flowing, stimulates the muscles, etc. And that matters to me more than the memory of pain.
Childbirth. Never intended to go through it, feel completely unprepared to handle it. But it's how human life begins, so... meh. I'll keep trying to pysch myself into it. Perhaps the Labor & Delivery Tour at the hospital next weekend will help take the edge off some of the anxiety.