When I was pregnant with my kids I was always amazed at the things people would tell me when I was very obviously pregnant. Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows what I am talking about. I heard horror stories about 127 hour labor, botched C-sections, epidurals the size of the Space Needle, babies born on couches, car seats, bathroom floors, etc. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about some of the "stories" and playing out unimaginable scenarios in my head. I swore that even if it turned out that the epidural was the size of the Space Needle or if childbirth resulted in 1,758 stitches in my nether regions I would NEVER subject someone else that was past the point of no return to such horrors.
Fast forward a few years ... A friend of mine is getting ready to have her first baby and guess what I found myself doing . . . That's right, I was recounting this hilarious story about this woman who ended up having her third baby on her living room couch, followed by a grim warning about why you should invest in a mattress pad. I finished the story with a soft chuckle and a big smile. I could tell by the look on her face that she was making herself the same silent promise to NEVER tell a pregnant woman that kind of story. I started thinking about why I had regressed and fallen into this same pattern as so many that have come before me. Was I trying to frighten her? Had my pregnancies and the ensuing years mitigated my brain cells to such a degree that I had lost my better judgment? Does misery really love company? I do think my mental capacity has been compromised to some degree by having kids, however I do not think I am either mean or miserable (at least not on a regular basis).
I think the real answer has to do with the distance between where I am now and where she is. My friend is worried about all the standard pregnancy things - her water breaking in the middle of the grocery store aisle, not knowing for sure when she is in labor, not being able to get in touch with her husband when she does figure out she is in labor, being in labor for 1,000 hours only to end up needing an emergency C-section, what kind of nursing bra she should get, etc., etc. Those are all things that every pregnant woman since the beginning of time has worried about. I think maybe I told her the childbirth stories because from where I sit now they do not seem like the scary part. I think I tell her those stories to avoid telling her about the huge sense of responsibility that she will feel for the rest of her life, or the panic that comes from a croupy cough in the middle of the night, or the horror of stomach flu, or the heartbreak of sending your first-born to preschool, or the terror when you realize that you have lost track of someone at a busy park for a split second. I guess it is really all about your perspective, because in hindsight I realize that having kids is really not as scary as raising and loving them. Luckily, the pay off is worth it. By the way, just in case you were wondering ... the epidural is the size of the Space Needle, but trust me when you get right down to it ... you will not care in the least.