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Tokophobia

It feels like there are an endless number of reasons why I never want children aside from an extreme disinterest in child rearing. One of those reasons is tokophobia, the pathological fear of pregnancy and/or childbirth.

I’m a creative person who feels a sense of rewards and accomplishment making something I worked hard on and am proud of so I suppose I kind of get why a lot of cisgender women view pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing as something magical to cherish with every fiber of their being.  But, personally, I view it more like that scene in Alien where one of the crew members writhes in pain before the xenomorph offspring bursts from his chest. The idea of gestating a living thing in an organ inside my body for almost a year and all the bodily changes that occur to accommodate the growing creature makes my skin crawl. In fact, I started writing this blog two weeks ago and had to write it in small chunks because my anxiety was getting triggered by the thought of pregnancy as I wrote this.

The first memory I have where childbirth truly terrified me was when my youngest brother was born. Being that I was six or seven, I don’t remember much about the actual pregnancy, but I do remember a few details about the birth. He was either almost nine pounds or just over nine pounds—he was HUGE. The hospital snapped a Polaroid after the birth when his big, fat head was still bright red and angry. My mother described that the process of pushing out his angry, fat head ripped her “to her asshole”. She talked about needing staples after she gave birth and I think it was because they had to staple her taint back together. She would later describe the birth as “pushing a watermelon through a keyhole”. After my brother was born, she got super sick and nearly died because she developed sepsis. My mother was ripped a new asshole and then nearly got killed off by an infection—and that fucking terrified me!

When my friend got pregnant almost immediately after we graduated, it was the first time I would be around a pregnant woman a lot and be old enough to remember it. She was reading pregnancy books and, being the horror fan she is, would tell me the more morbid facts she learned with great excitement. Sex education never properly taught us that pregnancy causes your organs to be essentially pushed up into your lungs or that the hormone changes can cause tooth loss. Her boyfriend (now husband) described how she had an intense craving and begged him to get fresh watermelon…at 2am…when watermelon was out of season. She went into false labor for two or three weekends in a row before she finally went into actual labor. They had been in the hospital for four hours before I got the call confirming she was in real labor this time. Throughout the whole pregnancy, my friend had expressed she was going to be the bad bitch she can be and give birth with no drugs. When I got to the hospital, however, she was attempting to relax in a hot tub bawling from the pain and begging the nurse for a C-section. Once she got out of the tub, she gladly accepted any sort of pain relievers, which were administered about every hour for most of the time I was there. It was 12 hours of trying to keep her calm whenever the hourly drugs would wear off and witnessing the more disgusting aspects of labor (like not going to a toilet to take a piss) only for her to end up needing an emergency C-section because her son’s head wouldn’t fit over her hip bone. Two pregnancies left her with intense stretch marks all around her entire abdomen that makes it look like she was mauled by several bears with flaming claws. By this point, I already knew I never wanted kids, but I think the experiences surrounding my friend’s pregnancies pushed me towards not wanting to gestate even an accidental pregnancy should I find myself in that situation and never taking on any opportunity to rent out my womb for surrogacy even if I was paid a ridiculous amount of money for it.

My tokophobia is bad enough that I’ll have nightmares about being pregnant and I’ll wake up in a sweat grasping at my belly before I say, “Oh thank God. I’m just fat!” A couple weeks ago, I had a nightmare so bad that I’m positive I had an anxiety attack in my sleep and ended up having to call into work because my body was shaking so bad. I knew it wasn’t real, but the nightmare itself was extremely vivid: I could feel a mass writhing and twisting inside my bloated belly before it slowly slid out of me in a bloody pool like a wet python. It didn’t help that my period was late and triggered my anxiety into thinking that maybe the nightmare was a sign that I was pregnant, which turned out to be wrong as menstruation occurred later on in the day.

I still wouldn’t want children even if I didn’t have tokophobia, but its a big reason why I take my birth control religiously every day.

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