Once Pokey got through the morning sickness part, she loved being pregnant. She was fascinated by the progress her body made, the way she looked and felt. It’s powerful making that life, walking around with your belly sticking out, no apologies. You ladies get what I mean.
And I had a book coming out! A book! I felt important. Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I did.
So Pokey Mama went into the whole birthing thing with the kind of cockiness only true ignorance can offer. And I was the classically obedient pregnant woman: took my vitamins, cut out the wine, did the classes, and read lots of the theoretically helpful but actually incredibly scary and confusing baby books. What I remember most, however, were the videos. Water births were getting lots of attention, and in birthing class they showed us a video where small schools of mothers floated serenely beside the rocky shores of the Black Sea, birthing their babies into the water as if they were guppies. No TV show style screaming and panting, just a relaxed parting of the waters. Wow.
The other film, the one I really connected with as representing what MY birth experience would be like, was about a woman who basically strolled about in a meadow (there’s that meadow again!)as she labored, parting tall grass and wildflowers, while her other small children romped around her. When she felt it was time, she returned home and got in her fabulous tiled tub with the whole family, finishing off the process with an intense, deeply spiritual but seemingly not terribly painful, delivery. Awesome.
Naturally, therefore, when it came time to write up my “birth plan” with the midwives at our supposedly progressive but kind of mainstream practice, I, of course, elected for “natural” childbirth. No drugs, no intervention, just music, my happy place visualization, deep yogic breathing, and if I was lucky, water.
My friend with three children tried to tell me. She said, “Amy, drugs are your friend.” But you know Pokey Mama—she went her merry way, obstinate and oblivious as always.
I know many women have a fine time giving birth without drugs; (I haven’t met many of them, but I know they exist) I’m just not one of them. I’m not talking about labor, the labor lasted forever, but it wasn’t that bad. I’m talking the part on TV where everybody yells “push” and the mom grimaces somewhat unattractively and squeezes somebody’s hand and then they all collapse into smiles as the baby emerges, coated with cheesy goo but nonetheless, adorable.
Nope. Didn’t happen. Flash forward from ideal birth plan to two weeks “overdue,” stalled labor, Pitocin, and six hours of trying to push my baby out accompanied by excruciating back labor. No water. No meadow. No happy place.
Finally, after much shameless begging on my part (yes, I asked for a C-section) they brought in the big guns: a tube kind of like the one the Teletubbies got all excited about, but shorter. Yes, reader, they vacuumed Pokey Mama’s baby out. My beautiful girl emerged from the suction screaming, sporting a decidedly cone-shaped head, and I have never been more relieved and grateful.
It’s possible that someone other than Pokey Mama might have gleaned critical information from this experience. This other person may have thought: hmmm, maybe having a baby isn’t going to be what I thought it would be. An even more insightful person might have wondered: how does my idealization of this experience manifest itself in other areas of my life? Or a more practical and really wise person might have pledged: next time, epidural.
Pokey Mama let none of these thoughts intrude upon her infant joy. Pokey lives in the moment, apparently, and has cultivated a special form of blindness that allows her to move forward, despite what previous moments have to say about it.
Yes, it’s a survival mechanism, and at times it’s probably served Pokey Mama well. Maybe I’d be even pokier, paralyzed even, if I thought through what lies ahead at every moment. Remember those sinkholes from the last post? I could fall down one of those. I could be there now.
Pokey prefers to see herself as more like Jane Austen’s Emma, but not as spoiled, and not as played by Gwyneth Paltrow, more like the PBS version, and not blonde. But definitely with good if ill-informed intentions that eventually manage to land her the rich guy and great clothes. And a book. Don’t forget that book.
Because having a book is going to change everything for Pokey Mama, isn’t it?