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Jun. 19th, 2006 | 06:21 pm

I'm packed for the hospital, and have my Xena VCR tapes to inspire me!

I'm feeling much more positive.

And thinking back on what I wrote -- about how my desire to avoid an epidural stems from my fears  . . .   That's in part true, but there are other things too. When Dave jokingly tells people about my enthusiastic personality, he says, "If you tell her, 'Michelle, we're going to stick a fork in your eye,' she'd say, 'Wow!  That sounds great!  I've never had a fork stuck in my eye before!''"

Part of my desire for avoiding medication is that I want to have this *experience* -- my friends who have gone through childbirth and have done it without pain medication seem to come out stronger.  I don't know if I'll have the chance to go through this again -- women in my family go through menopause very early (my cousin is now going through menopause at 37, and my mom at 39!), so this may be the only chance I have to give birth.  I don't want to miss any part of it.  I think if I'm able to get through it, it might help inspire me to get through other challenges too -- like my hope to someday run a marathon.

My friend Tori had a Bradley birth -- a VBAC -- and had a much more positive experience with Bradley.  She said that during the contractions, she just thought of it as muscles working.  She's athletic, and she said it was kind of like lifting weights  -- the muscle is tightening, this is as tight as it can contract, and now it is loosening . . .   I like that.  Muscles working.  I also read somewhere that cross-culturally, the word for "labor" is generally a word for "work" -- not pain. 

It also seems that childbirth could be an intensely spiritual experience -- I seem to turn to God more in times when I am afraid or hurting, and here, I'll be wrestling with fear and pain, and the miracle of a new life entering the world. I found a book called "Angel in the Waters" (by Regina Doman) that really fascinated me -- it's a children's book about life in the womb and childbirth from the perspective of a baby.  I thought it would be sappy tacky, but it wasn't -- it was simple and beautiful.  The baby talks to an angel (depicted not with big fancy wings or a human body -- just a few sparkling stars) and asks where they are.  The angel explains, "This is Mother."  The baby at first thinks of Mother as a place, and is puzzled as Mother seems to be getting smaller . . .    Anyway, it describes the baby's fear of the unknown when the water breaks and it's time for birth.  It made me think -- as scary as childbirth is for the mother, how much scarier it must be for the baby, who doesn't yet have language or any help in understanding what is going on. 

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