Still feeling great with the pregnancy, lots of energy and no major discomforts. Only thing that is now slowly creeping up is my tokophobia, the fear of childbirth. Yeps, there’s even a scientific name to it so it must be a real thing.
As long as I can remember, I have always feared childbirth. Not that I had to worry about it much in my twenties, but when I met my now-husband and realized that I wanted to have children, the fear became much more real. First of all, I couldn’t understand how nature had constructed us so freaking wrong that childbirth could be directly dangerous to both the child and woman. Secondly, I didn’t understand why nobody was talking about it. It seemed like it was super clear and intrinsically understood to all women that this was going to happen and that they were all prepared for it. It felt like I had missed the most important class in school where all the girls saw a big watermelon being pressed through a plastic vagina and then were hypnotized to believe that this is nothing to worry about.
The first thing I did when I realized that I had missed that class was to go on Youtube and search for “natural childbirth”. That was not a good idea. The fear was even more real now and I couldn’t engage in any romantic activities with my husband for two weeks. I started to consider to just skipping children or perhaps adopting to avoid having them delivered through my lady parts. I started to share my fear and “new” insights with friends and colleagues who all seemed so relaxed and chilled about it, so I couldn’t find any understanding or support and that was when I realized that there was probably something wrong with me. I became obsessed with this topic and the fact that I knew absolutely nothing about it. I started to look at women who were mothers with new eyes, I felt so sorry for them. Instead of Youtube I started to read birth stories online and all of those women seemed to have gone through hell too. From the birth stories I learned that beside the hell during the actual labor, one would end up with permanent damage down there that would affect your everyday life for the rest of your life. Sphincter rupture, incontinence, postpartum depression, prolapse, you name it. The Swedish obstetric care replies to these complications as normal and something like “Did you think you would go back to have a normal life after childbirth? Mohahahah”. One would now think that I could just choose to do a C-section and stop worrying, but the ugly truth is that the Swedish obstetric care does not allow C-sections unless there is a proved medical reason for it, so that option was not even part of my consideration.
I decided that I had to take matters into my own hands and found a podcast with 200 birth stories. They were a mix of all kinds of stories from good to ugly ones. I would listen to them on my way to and from work while looking like a meerkat on the subway (really surprised and chocked). Sometimes the podcast would last 10 minutes longer than my commute to work, so then I couldn’t stop and listened to the end while having my morning coffee at my work desk. I looked quite frightened and my colleagues would sometimes ask me if I was ok. After 200 stories I had learned a lot. I knew all of the different pain relief methods, birthing positions, possible complications, breathing techniques etc. By this time I had a couple of friends who were pregnant and knew less about child birth than me and I felt like a midwife telling them about different options and what they should do to minimize their risks. I can’t say my fear of childbirth had disappeared after those 200 birth stories, but I did start to become curious about it and I understood that besides all the shitty stuff it was also an amazing experience.
This is when I decided that I’d give it a go and we started trying for a child. Little did I know that it would take us much longer than expected to get pregnant, and that it for a long time looked like it would never happen. All in all it took 2,5 years before I finally got pregnant after our fourth IVF trial (that is, fourth egg retrieval). It was an irony of fate, like the Universe tried to show me how ridiculous I had been – “Afraid of childbirth? Try infertility!”. It did help me realize that for me, childbirth is preferable to infertility. Not knowing if I would be able to have my own children was way more devastating than my fear of childbirth.
One could say that I have seen a really good therapist for the tokophopbia (infertility problems), but it’s not something I would recommend to anyone. It seems way more effective to participate in that watermelon class in school. I’m so thankful for being pregnant so any childbirth scenario is just fine. I’ve even come so far that I want a natural birth without anesthesia, in order to really experience the whole event (plus, the risk for severe tearing decreases without drugs :P). I can’t say the fear is totally gone – what I’m feeling is rather a mixture of horror and delight that I respect and look forward to(-ish).