blood and babies

I faint when I give blood.  I actually walk into a blood lab and warn, “Listen, no joke I’m going to faint from fear, so give me someone who knows how to do this, and whatever you do, don’t let me see anything.”  If I cut myself, even when it’s bad and I need stitches, I’m never fainthearted about it.  But when someone is invading my body and taking what doesn’t belong to them, I cover my head and answer their dumb, “let me get you talking so you don’t notice I can’t find the vein” questions.  Then I stop. 

“Just tell me when it’s over, and really, don’t let me see anything.”  It’s not like I’m trying to see anything; believe me.  “No,” I clarify, “I mean afterwards, too.  I can’t see the vials or even the band aid.”   I want no memory of this, so pull down my sleeve and let me get the hell out. 

I remember in college when the nearby hospital thought an infected lymph node of mine was an appendicitis.  They wanted to operate.  My white blood cell count was up, indicating infection.  Three teams examined me, each pulling on my ovaries as if they were turning on a right-hand blinker.  They wanted to rule out an ovarian cyst.  One doctor asked, “Well are you hungry?  I mean do you have any sense of appetite?”

“Well, I’m not hungry, but that’s no indication for me.  I mean really, I can always eat.”  This is true, I fear.  Even if I’m in the bathroom with cramps, fearing I might die and wondering who is listed on my beneficiary forms, I could still eat.  When they asked to take more blood, I turned to my mother, “I hate this, and I’m scared.  Why do they need more blood?”

“What are you so afraid of?”

“You know I don’t share well.  This is MINE, and it’s invasive when they go in there, and the minute I feel or think anything is involuntarily leaving my body, I get sick.”

“Oh stop being such a baby.  There are women your age having babies.  This is nothing.”

In part, this is why I’d like to have babies soon, because after child delivery, a cervix scrape or blood test will no longer faze me. 



  1. I totally understand… *sigh* in basic training, we weren't allowed to have sweets at all. Then, suddenly, in the third week, they took us to donate blood as a squadron and told us it was voluntary, but if we didn't give, we'd have to do push-ups. If we did give, we'd get cookies. You offer a wimpy sugar-monger girl cookies, damn right, I'll give blood… :P

  2. Were you forced to give blood? I find that a horrible idea, so hopely you were willing and scared, like most people.

    I don't get squicked out by the sight of blood at all, I actually like to watch when they stick the needle in, just because I'm really curious about these things. Though, I hate the feeling of numb coldness that takes over my whole arm after I give blood. But the feeling of accomplishment kind of makes up for it, because my blood will be saving lives :-D

  3. After childbirth, your crotch is a war zone. No one prepares you for this. You will sit completely naked in sitz baths with strangers walking in and out…. and you won't care. Gradually the war zone clears and becomes a functioning vagina again…. but you will never be the same….. you will catch glimpses of yourself in the mirror with a breast pump squeezing your nipples into these long cones. And it's cliche, but yes it's all worth it. You'll then start forgiving your body for its imperfections. You'll easily wear a bathing suit in public regardless of the extra pounds because… holy !@#$…. this body gave birth!

    I hope you do have a child. Just reading your words about your mother…. I get a sense that you will be a natural.

    Oh, and if it means anything, I still will contend that dental procedures are worse than childbirth.

  4. whenever i give blood, i cant look. which is weird because when i have broken bones, bruises or assorted cuts, it doesnt bother me at all. its something about having blood in those little bottles. blah.

  5. Wow..You really just put it all out there for your readers don't you! haha

    I think that's really what makes your site great. You just don't hold anything back.

    I Always look forward to reading your posts.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. I couldn't agree more. Pre-baby, the whole GYN checkup thing bothered me (as it does most women). After you have two babies, and at some point in each delivery the room fills with people you've never met, and you're already in that position – and you JUST DON"T CARE – it does change everything.

    Now I even nurse, in front of all kinds of men I've never even met, and it doesn't make me blink an eye. (Sometimes it makes them blink an eye or two. If I even notice.)

  7. nope. I've had 2 kids and giving blood still creeps me out to such an extent that I have to look the other way and breathe through my nose till it's over.

  8. I've had 2 babies and giving blood still creeps me out to such an extent that I have to look the other way and breathe through my nose until it's over.

  9. steph-interesting post-did u just donate blood for the katrina fund?? (ok, the real question is…how are things going w/ you & phil?)…

  10. Lol I guess we're all freaks in our own ways. I, for one, freak out about dating. Oh no, can't do that, he'll suffocate me!

  11. I'm with MJW; I'd prefer childbirth every six months to my semi-annual dental visits. Though the dentist does give me a free brush AND floss (the expensive kind!) — stuff I actually have use for. What would I do with all those babies?

  12. Surely you have better reasons then that to have children ?

    There is a book that takes on a funny view about the reasons why people have children (it's an old book, I forgot the title, it was authorized by Bill Cosby).

    I forgot most of the reasons that people gave, but I do remember that the only reason he didn't mock was "we had too much time at hand".

    I'm pretty sure that your "not caring about giving blood after such an experience" wasn't in the "good reasons" list…

  13. The one and only time i gave blood in high school, i passed out in the auditorium and woke up with my shirt pulled up to my boobs and ice packs on top of my chest. I looked around and students were just staring at me.

  14. The whole needle thing is like riding a roller-coaster: I freak on the idea of it, anticipating the worst, but find that once done or in progress, it isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.

    As to childbirth, and the idea of what you ladies go through with pap smears and pelvics, and SCRAPINGS!?! Holy hell! It makes me so happy that my equipment is on the outside.

  15. This is MINE, and it’s invasive when they go in there, and the minute I feel or think anything is involuntarily leaving my body, I get sick.”

    WARNING: this is exactly what childbirth is…and it's not a whole lot of fun. You may be right though, it does cure you of a lot fears. I am still deathly afraid of throwing up though. It didn't cure that.

  16. funny, giving blood never bothered me. i'm curious about it like a scientist or something would be (i'm not a scientist or something) and i like to watch the blood being sucked through the tube. it's interesting. i almost forget it's mine- maybe that's the trick. pretend you're watching a medical tv show. i'm just like, "ooh, cool! it's so red! look at it go!"

    though i AM kinda terrified of being pregnant/giving birth (i'm 31, never have, don't know if i ever will). that person who wrote "after childbirth, your crotch is a warzone" may just have cemented my idea to adopt and adopt only! ugh!

  17. Every time I tell nurses/doctors that I faint when blood is drawn, they never seem to believe me. Then they'll hear the loud THUD of me hitting the ground and when I come to everyone is looking at me amazed and bewildered, as if I had never even warned them!

  18. Yeah, me too. I'm alright with stuff being put in but I've got this completely unjustified fear that someone may become distracted while taking stuff my blood out and that I'll bleed to death.

  19. To MJW and Barbara: I'm guessing that if you prefer childbirth to dental visits, you weren't on the natural childbirth plan????? Just wondering…

  20. Am I the only one who thinks this post sounds like abortion? I don't mean to sound cruel…truly. You seem like a good person. But you wrote it and you've made your past choices public so this post just begs the question: If you can't handle giving blood, how did you get through an abortion?

  21. Okay – I have to weigh in here. I pass out when I give blood too. And the IV whilst giving birth was almost the worst part of it…I loathe needles. I had 3 babies, no drugs (not my choice…there was no anethesiologist where we lived). It was 'here, have an ibuprofen'. Nonetheless, gave birth to a 9 lb boy, face up, no less. I told my awesome Australian nurse who was prodding me to get up and prance around about 15 minutes after baby arrived that I would – but please don't let me see any blood. She looked at me like I was mad – but I tried to assure her that if I saw blood, I was hitting the floor. She didn't believe me – I hit the floor. Anyway – great post as usual.

  22. No anesthesiologist? In what hellish corner of the country do you live? What happens in a surgical situation, say, emergency surgery? Is it: "Here, drink this whiskey and bite on this stick, and then we'll start cutting?"

  23. Actually Fielding, you're not far off. It was in the early 90's – in Wyoming (of all the godforsaken places in the universe). What a city girl like me was doing there, well – that's a whole other story. But I sure nuff learnt myself sum tuffness. I is one tuff chick now. Okay, not really, I'm still a wimp. That's why I moved back to civilization – couldn't handle the taste of that stick dipped in whiskey. Ew.

    But, may I add that I went and had two more babies – both without drugs (still in Wyoming) – and I don't suggest it to anyone. Ever. Take the drugs. I may be a slow learner, but…

  24. Hey Stephanie – cool post. I actually like giving blood, I find it very fulfilling, but I totally understand why a lot of people are freaked out by the process.

    To the person who asked about the corrolation to abortion: Using phrases like "I don't mean to sound cruel" and "you seem like a good person" make it seem as if you are issuing a judgement, rather than asking a legitimate question. It may have been better to articulate what you saw in this post that made it sound like Stephanie was describing abortion.

  25. joli,
    you're right–i shouldn't have put in those phrases. i didn't write them in my post originally, but then I put them in because I didn't want to sound too harsh. This is because I was trying to NOT be judgmental even though, inevitably, I am. This is a delicate arena. I don't want to judge someone on abortion. I know the stats, the sides, I come from a pro-choice background. However, as I grow older I find that my gut reaction when learning a friend or colleague has had an abortion–my own visceral reaction is really sadness and a strong feeling that it's just wrong. The part of the post that made me think of abortion really was the entire post, but specifically this line: I’m never fainthearted about it. But when someone is invading my body and taking what doesn’t belong to them, I cover my head and answer their dumb, “let me get you talking so you don’t notice I can’t find the vein” questions."

  26. I have had the same anxiety my entire life with giving blood..and the baby thing. When I was in College I had to have tests due to food posioning and fainted in the ER before the needle hit my arm. I have since convinced myself to never ever get sick and see blood. It doesn't help that my brother married a perfect, nurse, baby breading woman to remind me each time I see them that I am full of fear and insecurities. Screw it—reading your blog reminds me that their are others feeling the same way I do! Thanks, it was like you read my mind.

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