The panic subsided two days after the test showed positive, and my first thought was “Frances Bean seems nice.” If Courtney could do this, then so could I. And then I hit the Googles and panicked anew.
I had acquired a fetus completely by accident one drunken snow day, and, not having really planned to be in the fetus-to-child business, I hadn’t done a lot of research ahead of time. I knew that labour and delivery would be uncomfortable at best, but the Internet, in its collective one-upmanship and infinite righteousness, well … it put the fear in me. I tried to schedule an elective c-section at 36 weeks based entirely on the existence of episiotomies, but my obstetrician talked me down. “Will there be drugs?” I asked. “Yes, there will be drugs.”
My OB was perfect (for me) in that he was a 70-year-old man and I am, in my heart, a 70-year-old man as well. “Should I do prenatal classes?” I asked. “They cost a lot of money and you’re going to have a baby either way, so you can if you want but I’d save the 80 dollars.” “80 dollars is a lot of money to you?” “No, but it’s a lot of money to learn to push a baby out of your vagina which you’re going to have to do regardless of whether you’ve taken a class or not.” We got along pretty well.
I had a relatively easy, sweaty pregnancy during which I routinely cried about milkshakes, iced tea and Eminem, and though I spent a great deal of time hate-reading the iVillage and BabyCenter message boards, I didn’t take too much of what the crazies said to heart. The problem was not the crazies, it turned out; a sanctimommy is a fundamentalist and therefore a terrible bore to engage with.
But it’s the other women, the honest, relatable women with their tales of trauma and indignity and injury that got into my head. I worried that the odds of an easy delivery were not in my favour – not in anyone’s favour. Birth can be a serious, potentially devastating thing and more than ever I wanted no part of it. My mother kept reminding me of the stubborn 48 hours it took me to be born (I am a human sloth) plus all the stitches; women on Facebook and Twitter told much darker, more tragic tales. I just sort of resigned myself to the horror of it all; my entire birth plan was basically “all the drugs” and “hopefully come out not still pregnant and in possession of a human baby, ideally my own.”