I included this story as part of a previous post about how women learn about birth, but I wanted to share it as a separate post because it gets lost as side note in the other post:
A powerful pre-birth lesson in my body’s wisdom actually came from an assassin bug (of all things!). Assasin bugs have very potent, posionous bites (and in some countries carry hideous diseases). During my first pregnancy, I was bitten multiple times as I slept by one of them. I had bites on my face (lip) as well as in a row on my arm. The bites caused swelling, ongoing stabbing pain, and joint aching (as well as intense palm-of-hand and sole-of-feet itching when they first occurred).
I turned this into a practice experience for myself in coping with labor—figuring that, like labor, this was something uncomfortable and out of my control, but that would eventually pass and that my body would take care of without my needed to actively do anything about it. The stabbing pain was also intermittent (like a pulse), so I thought that was good practice too. I practicing “softening” around the sensations and “being” with the discomfort. I reminded myself that my body knew what to do and that it would heal itself. And, guess what? It did. Each day as the bites healed, I would marvel, “look how much my body knows! Look what it can do without me even knowing what or how it is doing.” Of course, it took several days of stabbing and aching pain for this process to occur, whereas my first labor involved only 5 hours of intense sensation as well as several preceding hours of totally manageable sensation and my subsequent labors only involved 2 hours each of fairly intense sensation.
This experience in watching my body take care of itself using its own inherent wisdom was a potent (and unexpected) lesson for me in approaching my first birth. I learned almost as much from it as I did from the books I read and the classes I took!