The fear of giving birth

I’m not afraid to admit that I was afraid of giving birth. Serious FEAR, people. Pregnancy was no picnic for me, and I expected labor to be the end. Would I even survive to see the other side? I didn’t think I was strong enough, mentally or physically. And I was convinced I would let myself and others down. Disappointment all around was coming my way. 

Making artwork about these emotions helped me face them. I started a journal and designed the cover with the baby in mind. Throughout pregnancy I felt drawn to music and lyrics, so I included sheet music as the background, and since this baby was and is going to be an artist, I printed verbs of inquiry about the world. I added the obligatory ultrasound photos and image of my belly, reflected on why I was grateful, and wrote myself notes of courage.






The layered egg/cocoon page above firmly established my connection to the womb. I was pregnant. Holy cow. And this organic fetus thing was going to have to come out! Through my vagina! I hoped.

I made a page in tribute to Frida, my goddess of strength.

After the December meeting of the White Noise Collective, I created the page above about embracing all that you need to face, including the fear of childbirth, the challenge of raising socially conscious white kids, and the need to share resources and build community. The umbilical cord is a discarded print, a draft that was part of a multiplate print for my inspiring mama friend Tenaya. She has taught me to be a loving, compassionate, and educated mama! Although she now lives with her partner and beautiful babe in faraway Idaho, I got to be inspired by her transformation into motherhood, which happened here in California.

At my transformation themed baby shower—a month before my due date—my mother gave out amaryllis bulbs. A few weeks later people started sending me their photos of the bloomed flowers, hoping it was a sign that I had gone into labor. But my bulb remained closed. When it finally began to open I began drawing it every day, reflecting on the journey (or, as I saw it, the barrier) that lay before me, and envisioning my body transforming and opening.

The last page I made before labor was about Surrendering. Ultimately my birth did not go as planned. Whose does?! If I wanted the natural birth I wanted, I needed to focus on surrendering to the pain. As it turns out, I did, in the form of an epidural. My doula says I could have gone without it, but I didn’t want to. After 32 hours of contractions two to three minutes apart, and a left side pain in between that one nurse suggested might be a kidney stone, I was going to surrender to the medication gods. Mind you this was a decision it took me h o u r s to make, but once I did I was in heaven, and I was ready to PUSH. After just two more hours, a bit of pitocin, LOTS of pushing pain (wow, the epidural didn’t numb that out), an episiotomy and a tear, the little babe was born.

Until recently, I struggled with these details. I would never have been able to admit to you that I had all these interventions. It would be a disappointment in your eyes, and therefore in mine. But today I feel confident. I feel grateful. I don’t care about any possible disappointment that exists out there or in here. I can say that for me it doesn’t matter at all how he got here, because that glowing smile of his is glorious.

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