“My Birth Tiger” by Megan Pincus Kajitani
A pregnant mom faces her worst fears in Pam England’s “Birthing from Within” class.
“I’m afraid my body isn’t strong enough,” I whispered, choking back a sob as I stared through the open door to the dancing fire on the beach. The primal thumps of warrior music pulsed into the warm house from outside. Then I stepped across the threshold into the cold coastal night.
My body had always betrayed me. From childhood asthma and allergies to teenage backaches and, oh, those fun colon spasms of my twenties. I forever envied the strong girls – the ones who could lope around the track without a single huff or puff, or scale a boulder, their muscled hands grasping granite – even the ones who could pet kittens without breaking into fits of sneezing. I never felt like one of those strong girls.
Now, here I was at 32, on the final night of my “Birthing from Within” class, and I had to speak my fear aloud. though I was determined to birth naturally, and knew that my will was strong as an ox, a nagging voice in my brain’s nether regions warned me that my body might still be too weak, might give out again, that I might be transferred from the homey birth center to a sterile hospital and end up with my arms full of IV drops. My pregnancy was already complicated, with gestational diabetes and continuing hyperemesis (constant heaving). I wasn’t gaining as much weight as I should.
Still, as I spoke me fear aloud, an anger rose in me – a healthy, challenging anger. It echoed the howls and drumbeats of the music that called me across the windy beach. It smelled of the black smoke of the flames ahead. It reddened my face and clenched my gut below the wriggling baby in my womb. For the birth of this child, I didn’t want to be the wheezing girl on the sidelines. I wanted to be present and powerful in every way…