In less than three months I am going to give birth again…..and I am PUMPED. I know that may sound totally bizarre to some. I know women who have only had one child that cite child birth as the main reason they didn’t have another. It is always something along the lines of making a deal with God that if the epidural worked they would NEVER get themselves in that position again.But for me it wasn’t like that.
Maybe it was because I had an AWESOME book that is now out of print (I looked into getting it for a friend, but $68, ouch). Maybe it is because I have a high pain tolerance after years of fibromyalgia. Maybe it is because I know LOTS of women who gave birth sans pain meds and are really positive about their birth experiences. But for me birthing babies is a little like what people describe in running marathons. Yes, it hurts, yes there are moments when I feel like I cannot do it. But then you keep going and at the end it is AWESOME and you feel so accomplished, and the natural high that your body gives you………I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I am told that a high like that is very expensive and can have some weird side effects.
But not every woman comes into the hospital laughing about 6 or 7 centimeters. The nurses were certainly surprised. And not every woman had all the awesome opportunities and support I had. And pain is a really. really, personal thing. Like so personal that we can never experience each others. We can both stick our thumb in the exact same place and get hit by the exact same hammer at the exact same force, and yet….it could very well not be the same pain. Who knows. We’ll never know. Maybe your thumb is super sensitive. Maybe you literally have more pain receptors than I do (people don’t have the same amount, isn’t that crazy?)Maybe my nerves over-react to certain stimuli. It isn’t the same. It never will be.
When you have a muscle disorder for as long as I did, you start thinking about pain, reading about it. The studies about chronic pain are beyond depressing. You actually lose IQ points if you are in chronic pain long enough. You wonder how a body that looks healthy can be in that much pain. You literally forget the sensation of “pain free.” I started to wonder about the pain scale at the hospital. “On a scale of one to ten…” At my worst I calculated that I walked around everyday with what I would describe as a 6…..so what did that mean, was 6 my new zero? Did my scale now go from 6-16 while yours capped at 10? Could I feel more pain than you……like my body had somehow gotten good at it? Would I even notice a 2, or would that now seem like relief. Like a 2 for me would now be like you with an Oxycotin?
It was all so strange to think about. We can talk about it, and describe and calculate and attempt to define. But we can’t ever experience someone else’s pain. And we shouldn’t pretend that we do. I know what it is like to be told it can’t possibly hurt that bad when you are doing everything you can not to sob uncontrollably and scream the exploitive that rhymes with duck. So do you need an epidural. I don’t know. I’m not you, I can’t actually feel your pain.
I think spiritual-emotional pain is a lot like physical pain. For whatever reason some things that seem the same from the outside, break ups, parental abandonment, heck even a harsh word don’t always hit the same spot in the same way. We certainly don’t feel them in the same way. I have two sisters, and Emily (the oldest) seems to be built less sensitive than I am. Things don’t hit her in the same way. But when I call her crying because….oh who knows why, but my feelings are hurt again…..she doesn’t tell me that it doesn’t hurt, that I shouldn’t be crying. She acknowledges my pain and helps me figure out how to move on.
I however, am often not so gracious. When people are talking about what a difficult time they are having I sometimes am rolling my eyes internally. I want to shout “GET OVER IT! YOU DON’T HAVE PROBLEMS!” But they do. They are hurting, their spiritual nerves are shot. Maybe I would rate their pain as a 2 but I am not the one who is experiencing it. Maybe it is an 8. I wouldn’t know. Often times people are hollowing because there was already a bruise there, you know? I will just have to trust them and hear them and be a little more empathetic. Because your pain, ain’t my pain.