A recent revelation in my own life brought back memories of a patient I cared for many years ago. The expectant mother, who was married, well educated, and in her thirties, attended all six prenatal classes with a smile on her face. Following the final class she pulled me aside and spoke of how frightened she was about the pain she would feel during childbirth. The youngest of five siblings, she had always been called the “cry baby” of her family. Apparently the running joke throughout her pregnancy was the family’s concern about her ability to tolerate a labor contraction, given the terror she displayed over removing a simple splinter during her childhood.
Her uncomfortable laughter was no disguise for the self doubt she was revealing. Ultimately, she decided to speak in greater depth with professional counselor and kept in touch.
I hadn’t thought of “Cry Baby” in years until Cheryl and Colleen, two of my best girlfriends from back in junior high school, visited a few weeks ago. We were enjoying breakfast on the sun porch when something was said about my eyes. Suddenly I was transported back in time. (more…)