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Wednesday
Apr132011

Tokophobia Comment

This comment came in today, responding to my Tokophobia - Fear of Childbirth post I wrote March 5, 2005. If you look at the comments, you'll see the steady stream of women who've found their way to the post (I really should update it!) over the last 6 years. I thought this woman's thoughts deserved a post of its own.

"While I know that this is an older post, I still feel as though I have to say something. When I read the blog post itself, I felt the frustration that I often feel as a tokophobic woman: people simply don’t understand. This isn’t just a fear of pain; it’s a crippling fear that ruins lives. 

Genuine tokophobia – and I recognize that there are likely different “levels” of the phobia – forces women to end loving relationships with men they adore, to lie to everyone they know and care about every single day of their lives, and to feel absolute shame, guilt, and isolation (after all, even farm animals can do this, so why can’t we?). 

I was mocked and dismissed as “silly” and “weak” during my younger years, and then lied for years after that, saying that I didn’t want children at all. Now, married to a wonderful man who respects my own agency over my body (but divorced from a previous marriage), we are knee-deep in the adoption process and ever-so-excited about bringing our children home. 

I don’t want to get in to the gory details of why I’m afraid. Let me just say that my primary tokophobia can’t be traced to any single event in my childhood or adolescence. It’s just always been there. 

When my husband and I realized how challenging the adoption process is, I seriously considered trying to “get over” my fears, and so I began to educate myself on pregnancy and childbirth. The result? I fainted in my kitchen. I was fine with the pregnancy bit, not thrilled, but it felt doable. When I got to reading about childbirth, however, I was standing in my kitchen fixing a cup of tea, and I hit the floor. I knew then and there that my hunch was true for me: this was not something that I could just “get over”. 

So, now, we are wrapping up our homestudy, and are the excitedly expectant parents of a little boy, and hopefully a little girl as well in a couple of years or less. If nothing else, I hope that this comment/story illustrates that tokophobic women DO have other options, and that there ARE men out there who will love and honour us, regardless of how the rest the world makes us feel about ourselves. 

Tokophobia can’t stop me from being a mother, and THAT’S the most empowering thing I can imagine throwing in the face of this condition: it didn’t stop me. Thank you for providing this space for me to share my story."

Dear reader, thank you so very much for sharing your success story! I am thrilled for you. May you and your growing family live in peace and I hope that with the years of angst behind you, you are able to live in that place of empowerment; you conquered tokophobia... on your own terms.

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  • Response
    Response: Tokophobia
    What is tokophobia, and why do I need to know about it? I hear you asking. I asked myself the same question when I came across a post from a great blog I often read called “Navelgazing Midwife“. So I did some research and here is the result...

Reader Comments (2)

I'm the lady who posted this comment in your other post, and I'm so honoured that you've decided to share it in a larger capacity like this... thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's so nice to know that there are people who are willing to be open minded about all the different options available out there when it comes to growing our families.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

What I think is so wonderful about you creating a whole post on this lady's comment, is that it shows how much our understanding of this phobia has increased since the original post. Thats the power of dialogue.

You wouldn't say that someone had a phobia of dogs because of horror stories or misrepresentations about dogs in the media. Dogs are man's best friend right? And yet, people have deep, unshakable fears about them. Phobias exist about all kinds of objects and thoughts.

People with tokophobia cannot be helped by changing the way our culture views birth anymore than people who have a phobia of spiders could be helped if our society promoted spiders as cuddly pets.

A long, structured program of desensitization, possibly coupled with medications for anxiety (SSRIs, betablockers) with a good therapist can sometimes decrease feelings of fear around a phobia. You might start with just thinking about a spider, then progess to a picture, then a video and finally a real dead spider, then a live spider for example. Could you do that with birth? Is a planned C/S really a bad option for a woman with tokophobia who really wants to carry her own child?

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

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