Seems like ever since school got out, I’ve just been too busy to blog. Here to bail me out, local writer – and mom of grown children confronting their own kid issues – Kathleen Clary Miller shares this column. Enjoy!

Should I tell my daughter childbirth is a bear?

When I answer the phone Kate is breathless.  “I’ve decided on the theme for my baby!  Winnie the Pooh!  It’s gender neutral!”

I blink twice.  First, to understand that babies now are thematic.  Second, to process the term “gender neutral,” then glean that she is referring to Winnie being appropriate for either girl or boy rather than the baby being neither girl nor boy.

Despite the urgency in her voice, she is whispering into her iPhone since she’s out shopping with her mother-in-law for her sister-in-law’s baby shower—the party for the baby who is actually due in a month.  “I know this isn’t about me!” she giggles, “but I just can’t help it!”  She keeps her voice down so no one else can know that when it comes to anything related to any newborn, it is about no one else but her.

Kate’s baby is still a twinkle in her eye, a conversation she and her husband engage in daily, now that Kate has the childbirth bug.  She has successfully negotiated with him to “start trying” in December.  Something tells me he’s gonna get lucky a lot this Christmas.  In the meantime, she leaps onto the Internet to determine what foods might enhance fertility. (I point out that if she is anything like her mother, she’ll be pregnant five seconds after she ceases birth control).  She visits her doctor to wonder when to commence pre-natal vitamins and cease double shot lattes.  She prays her sister-in-law won’t take the baby names she’s already chosen.  As Pooh would say, Oh, bother!”

Last week, she called to ask whether I thought she should have a spinal during labor, or experience natural childbirth.  Uh-oh, now there’s a loaded question.  Her friend Dory had opted to give birth to her second child the way nature intended it.  Recovery from the tearing that occurred during her first birth experience because the spinal had rendered her too numb to feel it happening had been “the worst part of all,” she reported to Kate.

Twenty-eight years ago I gave birth naturally to both my daughters, primarily because the mental image of a spinal being administered was enough to make me buy another puppy and forget being the mother of a human.  When everyone was in awe that I had done so, I went with sainthood instead of confessing my real motive.  Should I tell her the truth about labor pains or what I told myself when I thought transition might be my final hours on earth?

“What did Dory tell you?”  I asked, hoping she would determine her path due to someone else’s advice so I wouldn’t later be the bad guy.

“She said she thought she was going to die, but then when it was over, it was over.”  That about summed it up.  Except for the distinct memory that after birth, in the maternity ward, where nurses offered a class on bathing your newborn, I seemed to be the only woman who had trouble walking down the hall to attend and took a sits bath for myself instead.

“It takes a little time to heal from the episiotomy,” I said sheepishly, not going into the details of that particular procedure.  I subscribe to the old adage that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

I quickly decided to offer encouragement, the practical and helpful information that, hand in hand with the silent vow that I would never have sex again, astonishingly saw me through a billion hours of labor and into blessed delivery.  After all, I would like to have a grandchild someday.

“It helped me to remember that the uterus is just a muscle.  Contractions are like squeezing your arm really hard.”  It felt more like cutting it off, like that guy in the book and movie had to do when he got caught between a rock and a hard place…but why go there?

My motherly instinct kicked in; I wanted to spare my baby the agony while having her baby, so I should advise “spinal.”  But what about the ecstasy?  She’d seen me, certifiably menopausal, still sob whenever I watched a woman giving birth naturally on some cheesy sitcom.  That moment of personal triumph is as overwhelming as Rocky winning the fight.  Ironically, despite the paralyzing pain, I’d trade every moment before or since just to be back there again, hee-hee breathing and willing my cervix to dilate to ten centimeters.

“Does it hurt to push?” Kate asked while snapping pictures in Babies R Us and emailing them so I could instantly see all the Pooh paraphernalia.  Winnie or not, there’d be plenty of pooh all right, once the diapering began.  I told her that when I pushed it was quick and actually a huge relief, but many a female friend had informed me that hours into it her bearing down had been…well, hard to bear.

“That’s when you might wish you were gender neutral,” I answered.

Read more from Huson writer Kathleen Clary Miller at