Scout’s honest: I’m not a fan of horror stories.
If ever a film featured children centered ’round a fire in the woods presented itself, I’d turn the telly off. I didn’t want to see their little round faces folded inwards with fear. I didn’t want to hear the horror. Because I feel it too much, as if it’s happening to me. The normal line between reality and fiction is very thin and pale in my mind. Because I feel so thoroughly when reading a novel or listening to a story, I am constantly guessing at the next plot twist, the next narrative leap. (Yes, some simply refuse to watch films with me. Because I’m that obnoxious.)
Perhaps this complexity in my brain makes me a decent storyteller. Ever the writer, I consistently try to squeeze the most out of my narrative before it occurs, so that I may twist and bend to my preference.
The most extraordinary life event thus far was my pregnancy and subsequent delivery (shocking, eh?). I confess that the story of my little guy’s labor is my favorite horror story, but what may be equally intriguing–particularly to women expecting their first child–is just how many women (and some fathers) stood inches from my face to confess their own horror stories while in the delivery room. Complete with my plastic smile, I’d wrap my limbs ’round my stomach as they spat out their terrible renditions, nodding at all of the right interjections.
Now on the other side of baby bumps, feeling unheard, wanting to share with my fellow woman, is all too relatable. And yet, it is hard for me to fathom why a mother-woman would wish her shrieking pains, her preemptive water breaks and pushing, pushing, on a poor naive female just trying to avoid projecting some form of bodily function when she should not. Once while expecting, I was surrounded by mother-women in my kitchen, and someone initiated a sick round of labor horror stories. They spoke of real horrors I had contemplated, and after I felt the weight of all of their babes and all of their deliveries in my own womb, they all chimed in with versions of: “Oh, it’s such a beautiful thing, having babies!”
I was mortified. I was all too scared.
If I could tell my pregnant form a few anecdotes, the first would be to ask all of those mother-women to write their stories down and give them to you in nine months time. Or have them swallow their own versions until babe arrives. Now I love to hear their tales from hospital–even moreso if she was brave enough to deliver at home.
I’m sure these mother-women are ripe with good intentions, just wishing to inform. Alas, each pregnancy, each delivery, is as unique as the beautiful soul coming into the world.
My advice: If you’re expecting, start carrying ’round paper + pen immediately. These mother-women with their horror stories will find you. Even if it’s a strange mother-woman at the grocer, she will see your bump and invite herself into your face to tell her tales. Try best to listen to the good parts because we all need to be heard. She just needs a voice. But if she gets messy, hand her the pen + paper and tell her to mail that shit to someone else. You plus babe only need words chock-a-blocked with positivity, now.
And you, my pregnant lady-friend, are brave enough to handle what’s to come–go ahead and tell that to every single person who asks you if you’re scared, because you surely are. But fear not. All of your great energy will rush forth in the most profound way when your babe is meant to meet you. Until then, refer to paper + pen.