The Three Parts of Pain

The Three Parts of Pain

Long after my last baby was born, I learned that childbirth is not the worst pain a

person can have.

After a surgical mishap, I had two weeks of relentless pain. I used heavy medicines,

which helped a little but made me so stupid I almost forgot to keep breathing. I even

demanded an epidural just to get a break from it. The epidural didn’t work.

I had plenty of time to think about pain then. I discovered that there are three parts

of pain, which I named…

1. Feeling: the actual physical sensation

2. Figuring Out/Fixing: the search for meaning — what is this telling me? what

should I fix? what should I be doing differently?

3.Fear of the Future: the worry that it will get worse or go on forever — or both.

Of the three parts, I had no control over the Feeling, but Figuring Out/Fixing and

Fear of the Future were just thoughts, and therefore I did have some control

over them. I relied on my loved ones to help me through, and they made all the

difference. I was not alone, they held my hand, and sometimes they told jokes.

I hope that this might help somebody through childbirth or other challenges. In

labor, the Feeling is just there, but there’s nothing to Figure Out or Fix. It’s a normal,

natural process.

As for Fear of the Future, it’s really helpful if your labor team can help you stay

in the present moment – if you’re thinking about all the labor that you’ve had,

and what’s still to come, it’s too much to wrap your mind around. What’s in this

moment, and this one, and this one, is not nearly as scary as your worries would

have you believe.

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