Thursday, November 8, 2007

What I wish I would've known

I was thinking last night about labor and delivery, more specifically about coping with the pain. I've described it to several people by saying it's like it wasn't really me doing the work. When it got really bad, it's as if someone else came in, took over, and I kind of sat around nearby flipping through a magazine. That person really worked hard and endured some hellacious pain, so I'm very grateful she was available for the occasion. (Bertha, was that you?)

I'm betting that those labor and delivery books I read ahead of time said something about pulling from special coping stores to get through this experience, but I don't remember it. Obviously the same thing happens when most of us (maybe all of us) are in a really traumatic or difficult situation and we do something miraculous to get through it. It bothers me (maybe even offends me, though I'm not sure why) when people say "Wow, I could've never done what s/he did" about experiences like this, like when someone heroically performs CPR, or stands up during a violent crime, or beats cancer with a great attitude. Chances are they can, and probably will do something similar if faced with such a situation. In those moments, there doesn't seem to be any choice, and we get to access this incredible innate coping fuel, a secret stash only available at these times to see us through.

My sister-in-law is having a baby in a few months. I'm going to tell her about this aspect of my experience. I wish someone had told me (or that I would've listened!) as it would've alleviated a lot of my worry about dealing with very intense pain. And I bet Bertha will be back for an encore should I need her, one way or another.

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