Turns out I am not the only woman who has always found the idea of giving birth pretty terrifying; actress Helen Mirren, who has also never had children, admits to a similar fear.
Jessie Hewitson tells her story in The Guardian:
Photograph: Sarah Lee
I’m lying in hospital, shaking with fear. There are no familiar faces, only doctors and midwives hovering above me, their mouths moving silently. The contractions keep coming, and I’m horribly confused. How can I be in labour when I would never have allowed myself to get pregnant?
Welcome to my subconscious, which regularly reminds me of my terror of childbirth. The nightmares started in my teens, when I decided I could never cope with giving birth; the pain would be intolerable. Since then, the merest glimpse of a heavily pregnant woman has filled me with searing panic – my hands shake, my heart races.
I had grown used to the idea that I would not have children. But when friend after friend started a family, seeing them with their babies led to a brief suspension of terror, and six months ago I got pregnant. At first, it didn’t seem too worrying – after all, I had the best part of a year to go – but the anxiety has grown and grown.
Her story, by yesterday, had drawn — not surprisingly — more than 187 comments and comments were closed off.
I didn’t (which I normally would) even read them, as I’m not sure there would have been much compassion in that pile ‘o opinions.
There are certainly few more divisive issues than women who choose to have children and those of us who do not. For people who want kids, and they remain an overwhelming majority, those of us who don’t, for any reason, can seem like mutants. How can we not?
There is no rational way to explain why being pregnant, and/or giving birth, might seem frightening when for so many women, certainly those who are infertile, it remains their fondest wish.
The truth is that women, even in places like the U.S. and Britain, do occasionally die in childbirth. Every woman I know who has given birth has said it’s never what she expected and certainly a time of total surrender to the forces of your body and the child’s — let alone a medically invasive/managed procedure in lawsuit-averse American hospitals.
Here’s something really scary to think about, a post on a stunning rise in California’s maternal mortality — mothers dying in childbirth or shortly thereafter — from fellow True/Slant writer April Peveteaux.
One usung hero, who remains the patron saint of labor — Ignaz Semmelweiss, a Hungarian physician who, in 1847, discovered the cause of puerperal fever, which killed tremendous numbers of mothers at the time as doctors moved — their hands unwashed — from one surgery to a laboring woman to help her deliver.