Thursday, August 7, 2014

Labor includes my fear landscape

This week in childbirth class we learned all about the epidural, including, but not limited to, passing around a sample catheter and watching a video of one being inserted. I had to use the labor breathing techniques to get through the video, and I'm not even kidding.

I've mentioned this before, but it really grinds my gears that my needle phobia is not taken seriously. Oh, sure, you're terrified to ride in an elevator, or can't touch anything cotton (I have actually known someone with this phobia), it's ok, we're here to help you through it. But fear of needles? Pull it together you big fat baby.

I recognize that it doesn't make sense, but it's not any less logical than any other phobias and most people suffer from at least one illogical fear. I'm not sure if maybe people think that us needle-phobes are primarily concerned about the pain, and that's what gives us a bad rap? I don't even see what's wrong with that, but that's not it anyway. It's the idea of the needle entering my skin, ugh, I can barely even type that. It's like how on our honeymoon we tried snails. They tasted fine, but the idea of what I was eating made the experience gross.

Also, if I ever said anything about my fear, people are always smugly like "just wait until you get pregnant". Um, ok? Yeah, there's more needles than normal when you're pregnant. I subject myself to it because I'm an adult, and there's really no other option. I still hate it just as much. I'm not sure what I was supposed to "wait" for.

I'm under no illusions about my pain tolerance and have accepted that I want an epidural, but just because it's the lesser of two evils doesn't mean I'm happy about it. (Accepted in terms of the needle being shoved in my spine, not in terms of OMG I won't have an all natural I am woman hear me roar birth). I'm willing to bet most first time moms (or maybe pregnant women in general) have some anxiety about giving birth and I don't think adding a major element from your fear landscape is something anyone would seek out. Imagine if claustrophobics had to survive a room that shrinks around you like Four, or if people who have a fear of heights had to bungee jump off a tall building into their hospital room. Not laughing now, are you?

If you haven't seen the movie, this room continues to get much smaller.
Side note - when we practiced the labor breathing they suggested having an object to focus on and immediately I was thinking of a picture of John Stamos or Theo James (above). Then the teacher was like "lots of moms use one of the baby's toys". Call me selfish, but I'll take Uncle Jesse over a teething ring. But let me know if that idea is total crap anyway.

I'm finding it easy to maintain my denial about labor because I've never done it, and have no context to imagine it. All the ways people have described it on the internet or in person are totally foreign to me and I still have no idea what they feel like. "It's like all your organs are being squeezed out of you" or "It's like your body is about to split apart". Yeah, I'm sure that hurts, but I've never done anything remotely similar.

Here's what I mean. Let's take this scene.

If for some reason you STILL haven't taken my advice and watched/read Game of Thrones, he's about to get his hand cut off.

Sure, I've never had a crazy man in the woods cut my hand off with a rusty knife because he didn't care for my choice of vocabulary (and subsequently been forced to wear it around my neck for weeks on end), but I've accidentally cut myself with a knife. That allows me to take that much smaller pain and extrapolate to at least cringe because I have some idea Jaime's experience.

Example 2.

The lady on the right is basically screwed.

I've also never been burnt to death for using blood magic, but I've burnt my finger on a hot pan, so again, I can extrapolate.

My point is, I can live in calm denial about labor, but I KNOW I'm going to hate the epidural no matter how it actually feels, so I'm nervous about it. Apparently they give you a numbing agent, but turns out that's a shot too, so, thanks for nothing.

Some happier news is that this weekend is our baby shower! We have a bunch of family members coming to town starting tomorrow night. I'm quite a purist when it comes to bridal showers/bachelorette parties, and firmly feel they should be single sex. I thought I felt the same with baby showers, and wanted the traditional type. I was concerned because I go for quality over quantity in friends, and also all my friends are super successful and many have moved to various cities around the country. I didn't think I had enough girl friends in one city to have an all girl shower.

Then I realized that typical showers are boring and I would hate one. I don't like being the center of attention, or touching, so the thought of everyone watching me open gifts and say "it's so cute!" a million times or, even worse, playing that dumb game where you measure the mother - to - be's belly is right up there under the epidural. Eric is just as much of a parent-to-be as I am, and pregnancy has made me really weirdly clingy, so we're doing a co-ed shower. Plus, this way the grandfathers can attend too, so it's a win win win all around. I don't know all the details, but my mom is amazing at planning showers, so it will actually be really fun and not at all stupid. And I apparently have more friends than I thought, so it's almost like I feel popular, or at least what I imagine being popular would feel like (that's another one I really have no context for).

What would be in your fear landscape - and if you are on the reproductive train (past, present, or future), what fear would you least want to add to the delivery room? My husband actually has no phobias and it's the most annoying thing ever.

Where are my fellow needle - phobes - do you feel you are not taken seriously?


  1. Funniest post ever. Can't believe I am missing your shower. I know it will be epic! Post photos!

    I am phobic about just about anything doctor/western medicine related. If I ever had a baby, I'd have been one of those weird freaky ones with a midwife in a hot tub in the woods. I'd probably lick my baby and refuse to have it vaccinated. Although licking does sound revolting, I prefer it to having a regular doctor anywhere near me.

    I have had acupuncture and I think it's pretty cool--I'm sure this will be impossible to believe but many of the needles you cannot even feel at all! Maybe acupuncture is a good cure for needle phobia?

  2. The epidural isn't bad (I was freaked out too) because you're just so excited to get some relief. Also, the focal points are complete crap.

  3. I was also totally freaked out about the epidural. I don't have a needle phobia per se, but I have a fear of BIG needles and needles in the my back. For example, I have had acupuncture, which I thought was no big deal at all. One session they placed the needles in my back, and I got dizzy and thought I was going to pass out.
    I am also leery when people/doctors speak of "numbing things first", as that part usually sucks too. Numbing =big needle poke.
    HOWEVER, the lydocaine for the epidural must be delivered via a tiny needle, as I couldn't feel it at all. when he announced he was all done, I was just shocked. He could have touched me with a feather for what I felt. I told him that was nothing. He said "I get that all the time, people say the IV is the worst part". So yeah....I guess you'll have to be afraid of that instead? yay?

  4. My fear landscape would be anywhere in those gopro base jumping videos. I feel ill just watching them.

  5. I (finally) had my baby, as I mentioned on Twitter, and I got the epidural. I was somewhere between 5 and 8cm at the time and was more than ready for it! Luckily I'm not fearful of needles. The numbing was definitely worse than the actual epidural since I couldn't feel it (thank goodness). It was really fast though so I'm sure you'll be fine. Hopefully Uncle Jesse will distract you!
    I don't really have any phobias but the closest thing would be a cat. No cats in the delivery room please!

  6. I kinda can't wait til you share your birth story; I've got a feeling it will be fantastic :) And Will and I are doing a co-ed bachelor/ette deal too! In his words, we're "too old for hookers and blow" so we're just renting a house in the mountains to spend a weekend skiing. I'm sure I'll have a gal night in there

  7. I can't decide if I want to try for all natural or go for the epidural. All my aunts and my mom have done all natural and they said it's doable and that's just what Mexicans do so I'm thinking I'll try for natural. Plus my MIL is all like "no way you're going to do natural it hurts too much!" and nothing would give me more satisfaction than to prove her wrong and say #suckit. That being said--my biggest fear of labor is honestly having the conversation where I have to tell her that "NO MIL you cannot be in the delivery room." I've almost figured out a way tho to keep her out by saying that the only way she can be in the delivery room is if she is also naked and pushing a watermelon out of her vagina. I think that should work.

  8. Baby toys? I'd be looking at some shirtless Joe Manganiello, that's all I'm saying! I've never been through childbirth, and given my ever advancing age, I doubt it'll happen, but I'm all for the drugs. I wonder if, in the moment, you'll forget about the needle thing because you'll just want some relief.

  9. Phobia- spiders. I'm not on the reproductive train, but I can say I especially don't like seeing spiders while I'm in the shower, so I can't imagine that would be any better in a delivery room.

  10. I was and still am petrified of vomiting. I managed to not vomit during both my whole pregnancies, but did both times when I was in labor. I used to take the train to work and was petrified I would get morning sickness and throw up on the train. Fears don't have to be rational; I am not afraid of needles but I was really scare at the thought of something staying in my back. The only people who bother me with a needle fear (and I say this having had to do phlebotomy as part of my job) are giant men that are covered in tattoos. How did they manage to get a bunch of tattoos, but balk at one tube of blood being drawn?

  11. My wife makes fun of me for my needlephobia. I don't watch when there are needles on TV.

  12. They think you should look at the baby toys?? But you aren't the baby! I would totally be envisioning some Bradley Cooper :)

    Fears? Mine are pretty normal - heights, tights paces - but I wouldn't really call them phobias bc I don't feel like they impact me often. I've been in positions where they incite some panic (like going into an MRI machine), but that isn't really a normal occasion.

  13. Hopefully you'll be in so much pain from the contractions that you won't have time to focus on the fear of needles....Wait, that doesn't sound right.

    My best advice is not to watch any of the prep, don't even look at the cart when the doc rolls it in. Sometimes no knowledge is really the best way to go.


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