I lie awake in bed at night and imagine I can hear his heartbeat. Or that I can feel my hips creaking open.

They hurt so much.

Sometimes I fall asleep on my side, my hand under my stomach, pressed against the bed. I wake up an hour, maybe two, later and my hand is so numb it pulses deeply, radiating pain up my arm. Then my calf muscles, what’s left of them, seize up and I stretch, stretch, stretch my leg to make the cramps subside.

I made the mistake of Googling “child birth videos” on YouTube the other day and stumbled across the full-on vaginal view of a baby entering the world. I think I’ll stick with the shoulder point-of-view offered on TLC’s A Baby Story, thank you very much. Now I know what men feel like when they see other men get kicked in the balls. Birth is amazing and I cry every time I watch a baby being born. But to watch a vagina stretch to impossible angles as a skull forces its way out, when you know your vagina will shortly have to endure that very same trauma, isn’t advisable.

A particularly vivid memory I have from shortly after Violet was born is this: I hold her. Serge holds us. I am blown away by the enormity of the situation. Pure love. Bliss. Joy. And then I become aware of intense tugging and yanking. I look down and my doctor’s hands are flying and I realize she is sewing me back together. I tore. The image of a thick, white jump rope stitching my bottom together materialize instantly in my mind. That’s what it feels like. She is weaving a jump rope into me to hold my skin together. Yank, yank, YANK!

I think about that and wonder what secrets, good and bad, the upcoming birth of my son holds. I make no plans. I am a firm believer in taking what comes and making the best of it. No birth plan doesn’t mean I won’t make informed, educated decisions should the situation require. For me, it just means I am not setting myself up for disappointment. I don’t ever want to look back at the birth of my boy and have it tinged with the disappointment that I got an epidural (failed at natural labor) or had a C-section (failed at vaginal birth). I see none of it as failure. It, whatever it will be, is all a part of the triumph of bringing my son into the world.