My mom told my birth story frequently, as I grew up. It wasn’t a happy one, like Thor’s. I was born on Christmas Eve, in a military hospital, apparently full of people who just wanted to go home and celebrate Christmas. I was holding up celebrations. I was also tearing out insides. Mom got pretty graphic about the exact amount of damage my delivery did, and how excruciating her recovery was. I also cried a lot, was sickly, and sounded (to my own ears) to have been a misery to endure (though Mom always, always, always, while telling me what pain and suffering I caused, also told me that I was her greatest joy in life.)
I was in my late 20s before I realized that I had spent my entire life feeling guilty for how I was born. Isn’t that silly? You can’t help how you are born. But I felt guilty for having caused my mother so much agony.
A side effect to that was feeling like I should never ask for drugs, since Mom went through her labor (up until the last 15 minutes of the 36 hour nightmare) naturally. I thought that was a mark of excellence in character. I was horrified when I had to be induced to have Thor, and was ashamed of myself for having an epidural. (I would tell you now that epidurals are gifts from a benevolent god, and should be given out freely as soon as laboring women lumber into L&D rooms.)
It has also carried over into being afraid to ask doctors for help with anxiety. This has meant me passing out on two different occasions, while a doctor did surgery on my foot–both times I could feel what the was doing, but was ashamed to ask for more of the local anesthesia. The last doctor told me he’d rather numb my whole leg than have me throw up on him.
So, I was really proud of myself for insisting that the dentist numb my mouth this morning. It’s the little things that show progress. I don’t care who thinks I am a wimp. I don’t care who thinks I am weak. I don’t care if I did sound like a mewling fool, and if I was an oversensitive baby. If I don’t want to feel pain, and I have the means of avoiding it, by god, I am not going to feel pain!
You know, all this is stuff… I wish I had worked through in my 20s. It would have made the 30s and now so much easier. But I guess I had other mess going on. I had to survive my 20s to get level in my 30s, to get awesome by my 40s. The important thing is that Thor gets the benefit of the work, and he won’t have the same struggles I did. Every generation gets a little better, a little smarter, and a little closer to living on Mars. I have taken one small step for dental anxiety, and one giant leap for mankind.
p.s., I am really glad I insisted because I still felt pain, but it was manageable. Had I not been numb, I might have bitten off someone’s finger.
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