I've never been very good with pain. Not that I've had to deal with a whole lot of it in my lifetime-- I've never really broken a bone, had major surgery, stitches, or lost any extremities.
I do have a memory of soaking in the bath tub for hours, anticipating the pain of pulling off what must have been 30 band aids lining my little 6yr old leg. Our first grade class had been out in the school yard playing kick ball, and one of the monstrous, mature 2nd graders tripped me into the gravel, scraping up my legs into what my little mind believed was a deforming injury. The school nurse picked gravel out of my gaping wound with her 6inch long pink finger nails, and fixed me up with every band aid in the box.
After a shameful amount of time, my parents finally convinced me that I had to remove those band aids-- even if it pulled off some of my leg hairs & hurt worse than the original injury. I sat in that tub soaking, with tears in my eyes, sick with fear over the impending pain. From what I hear, I was still crying "Don't do it, I'm not ready!" long after the band aids had been removed.
Like I said, I'm not so good with pain-- or the anticipation of it.
Throughout my pregnancy, I've wondered what it would be like to sit & wait for labor to come on, knowing that at any moment, I will experience the worse pain of my entire life. I envisioned those band aids waiting to be ripped off. Even more than that, though, the image that came to my mind was from Lord of the Rings. There's a scene when all the men are preparing for an epic battle (one of many), knowing that their odds are hopeless, that they are outnumbered, and that most of them will die. They sharpen their swords, put on their armor, and wait all night for the orcs to come.
I wondered if the coming of my due date would feel like that. I wondered if I could start the epidural a few days before I go into labor, just to make sure. I wondered how someone like me could actually make it through an ordeal like child birth. From what I hear, it kind of hurts.
Surprisingly, though, as I sit here on my due date, I feel no fear. I don't know what has gotten into me, but I am actually hoping for contractions to start (I know, I know-- once they do, I will change my mind... but there's no turning back then). I'm not under any delusion that it will be easy, quick, or painless. I'm pretty sure it will be the hardest thing I've ever done. I suppose the same hormones that have made me cranky, nauseated, irrational, sleepless, etc. are also injecting in me some insane courage, strength or carelessness that my cautious self has never known.
This afternoon, once we realized that we were not making a trip to the hospital, Chris & I took the pup down to the beach, where it was strangely warm, sunny & beautiful. We walked for miles, watching the dog ooze joy while splashing in the waves, and took a deep breath. After a while, we sat in the heated sand and prayed together-- prayed for our delivery, for our little boy, for God to be a part of all of this. As we prayed, two dolphins jumped out of the water, higher than I've ever seen in the wild. It was so beautiful, it was almost cliche. I felt full, content, refreshed-- anything but the fear & anticipation I thought I would have.
I can't explain the sudden calm & confidence as I stare down something as intense as child birth, but I'll take it, nonetheless.