I went to the midwife yesterday, at 40 weeks + 2 days. It was a good visit, but left me feeling scared. It was nothing that my midwife did. She was perfect in fact. Let me explain.
First of all, baby is wonderful! Still in the best position, with her back a little to the left of my belly button, which will make it easy for her to turn just right to slide through the birth canal in the most painless way possible (as opposed to being posterior, which is where her back is facing my back, and causes the head to scrape against the pelvic bones on the way out - ouch!). Her heart tones are strong and steady, to which midwife said "Don't be too happy in there... it's nice out here too!" Everything on my part looks good: urine (she's said that I have the best urine she's seen in a long time! haha), not much swelling now that I'm not working and on my feet every day (but still a little), no headaches, dizziness, etc.
We decided to check my dilation, which I was iffy about doing. We decided to do it only so that we can have a baseline to measure my progress with should I still be pregnant next Tuesday - my next scheduled appointment. (Please, don't let me still be pregnant!)
This is where my naivety pretty much left me. I will try to explain this without getting too personal because I know that my grandparents read this and probably a bunch of other family that just stay behind the scenes, but for years I have had problems with pain "down there." It's very sensitive, to the point where even a regular gynological exam is more painful for me than it is for the average person. I have no idea why this is. I've seen doctors about it, but we can't quite figure it out. It's just something I have to deal with. Knowing this has been a point of anxiety for me with this pregnancy, thinking that labor and pushing the baby out may be more painful than average because of my physical issues.
When my midwife began checking me, I was a little tense anticipating the pain, which of course made it a bit painful. And she told me (warned me) that I would feel a pinching feeling when she pulled my cervix down so that she could check the dilation, which I did. And it hurt. Really bad. I tried to relax and practice my breathing, but basically it really freaked me out and I just started imagining how painful birthing this baby really is going to be (because I know that checking my cervix is nothing compared to pushing a 7+ pound baby out). I squeezed the crap out of Kevin's hand while trying to relax my body. Self-doubt exploded and I cried.
My midwife was so great about calming me. She leaned down to hug me (which I doubt most doctors would do in that situation), she talked with me, she really looked at me and tried to build my confidence. She's wonderful!
We left the appointment, at which time I cried again because it was just me and Kevin in the car, and I babbled and snotted and said "I can't do this" over and over again. He said some really great things, got me to calm down some, and we ran errands before going home for the night.
See, I know my body can do this. My body was made for growing and nurturing and birthing a baby - I believe that with all my heart and being. But I have never experienced a lot of pain before - never been in an accident, never broken a bone, etc. I have nothing to gauge this pain on, and nothing to know what my pain tolerance is. And I know that my appointment yesterday was really just a taste of what's to come. I know on the scale it doesn't measure up to childbirth, but it just opened my eyes to what's about to happen. And it's scary! The fear of pain has been the hardest bit about my decision to have a natural childbirth to deal with.
But I know that this is what is best for my baby and for me. I want to be undrugged so that I can have that immediate connection with my child. So I can look at her and she can look at me and we can actually see each other. So that I can be aware of what's going on around me and within me (however scary and painful that may be). So that I can recover quickly and be able to go home the same day to the comfort of my home. So that I can birth in my own way, moving around and making noise. So that I can choose who will be around me at any given time - women who have braved this passage before and can know what I will be going through, who can help me to believe that I am doing a great job. So that my husband can be a hugely active part of this labor, from coaching me the entire time, to catching the baby, to making decisions, etc. So that I can have a calm atmosphere that I control.
Birth and the pain that comes with it is a very scary thing to imagine (for anyone, really), especially when checking my dilation was a lot more painful than I anticipated, but having a natural birth is still what I think and feel is best for my baby and I. Perhaps having experienced this bit of pain yesterday is a good thing, so that I can better prepare myself for what's to come. I know I still have no idea the enormity of what I'm about to physically experience, but maybe just having a small feel for it is better than going into it blindly.
This post may be a bit too much information for some, but it's the truth, and honesty is better than trying to make everything seem like roses. I know there are other women out there with similar issues, and working through them can be really tough, both physically and emotionally. This pain is something I've been dealing with for many years now. I just hope that I get a surge of confidence and am able to push through my labor and delivery strong and sure of myself. I will have a great support system around me: 2 midwives, my doula, and my husband. My midwives and doula have had natural births and are so supportive and will give me what I need to make it through. And of course my husband will help me in more ways than that. He will be my rock that I will look to for assurance, strength, support, and love.
I just have to think like the little engine that could: "I think I can, I think I can..." I know I can.