There is a reason why women forget . . . I am convinced of this.
Unless they intentionally practice the art of forgetfulness (i.e. forgiveness), most women can probably tell you who called them “peanut head” and stole their Snoopy pencil in the second grade.
There is this one thing, though. Childbirth. For some reason we forget THAT.
Last week Daniel and I took a refresher course for expecting moms. One minute I am chatting about due dates and birth photographers, the next I am watching a slideshow that plunges me headlong into the most intense flashback I’ve ever had in my life. As my body argued over whether to puke or faint, my consciousness struggled to control the emotions that had tears flowing down my face.
To you first-time moms in my birth class: I am so, so sorry. I did not mean to terrify you.
The truth is, I was scared. Not so much of the pain, but how the pain leads to full disclosure. How it strips away inhibitions in a way nothing else can (not even booze). The thing about an unmedicated childbirth is that there is absolutely no pretense. In the midst of soul-splitting pain it is impossible to be anything other than exactly what I am.
It’s not that I’m intentionally deceitful on a regular basis, but sometimes I’m pretty good at deceiving myself and/or ignoring my own baggage. In some ways, labor is like a near-death experience. I’m sure you’ve heard off that “moment of clarity” . . . the huge spotlight on the forgotten rooms of your soul. That’s what I felt. It’s a gift, really. A very painful blessing that reminds me of this scene from Jim Carrey’s movie, Liar Liar.
Well, that was what was going on inside of me the first time, but on the outside it looked more like this:
If I knew that in one week I would wake up like Fletcher, I would do a heck of a lot of self-assessment ahead of time. I would want to know what’s in my heart before it flies out of my mouth. Essentially, that is what is going to happen. The first time it caught me off guard.
Not this time. Although I loved my birth experience with Katie, this birth holds new promise. Last time my “moment of truth” was about me alone. I found a strength within that I never knew I had. For this birth, I want to let Daniel in. I want to have the courage to reach out to him in a way that few married people do after they experience the humdrum tediums and disappointments of married life. I want this to be our moment of truth.
I know that may sound overdramatic. What can I say? I’m 31+ weeks now, which in essence means I am one walking hormone.
But what I mean is this: We’re not the same people we were when we got married, or got our careers going, or became parents. In fact, who we are individually and as a couple has changed dramatically in the last year and I often have a hard time getting my head around it. Things have changed so gradually I barely noticed, but sometimes I don’t know who we are anymore. I *think* we are more solid and real with each other than ever, but we haven’t faced any huge challenges that can confirm that for us. Last weeks class reminded me that we have an opportunity to test out the newfound depth in our marriage. I feel motivated me to work on the loose ends I have been ignoring, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
It took more than a few days, but it was worth it.