Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Perceived vs. actual pain

Every once in a while in one of the myraid pregnancy/childbirth books I read, a woman or expert is interviewed who claims that childbirth is actually not painful. It's just that we, as women, are conditioned to believe it's painful, and the prophecy self-fulfills.

Anyone who has actually given birth knows that this is a lie. But I do wonder about the underlying principle there. Especially since my recent experience taking Miriam in to get some blood drawn.

I've never met a bloodwork lab in Tucson that I liked. I hadn't been to this particular one before, but true to form, it was vaguely grimy, staffed by smoky-voiced technicians in scrubs, and plastered with signs about drug test policies.

Still, it had to be done, so I decided to just get it over with. Before we were called in, I explained to Miriam what was going to happen. One of her favorite books these days is all about the various systems in the human body (cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, etc.), so I used that as a background to describe the blood-drawing process. After I was done explaining, I hesitated to tell her that it was going to hurt. I knew it would, but I didn't want to freak her out ahead of time and cause a scene in the waiting room. Instead, I told her it "might" hurt "a little bit." She was OK with that and when it was her turn, she walked with me back to the room without a fight.

We got situated in the chair (she was on my lap) and I held her arm down as the technician got ready for the first poke. Miriam was watching her the whole time. I tensed for her to flinch or squirm once the needle actually entered her skin, but to my surprise, she didn't even blink. She observed calmly as the technician put the needle in her arm, wiggled it around to find a vein, and then she saw how the blood slowly traveled through the tube into the container.

I couldn't believe it. She wasn't even tearing up. But the blood wasn't coming fast enough so they had to poke her again in the other arm. Still no fussing. The blood still wasn't coming out.

Then another technician came in and tried again on the first arm. Miriam was still fascinated by the whole process. She wasn't smiling or laughing or anything, but she still didn't seem to be upset or in pain at all.

On the third poke, they were able to get the blood they needed. If I hadn't been so amazed by Miriam's coping skills, I think I would have complained about them giving us the less experienced (or just less talented) technician first. On myself, I don't care if they have to poke me multiple times to get blood - and they almost always do - but it seems like with kids, they should get out their best blood-drawer right away.

When she was all done, Miriam got two stickers and walked out of there happy and smiling.

Later, I asked her if it hurt. She said it did, but she didn't seem too concerned about it. I don't know if her calm reaction was necessarily because of how I described the process to her ahead of time, but I have to wonder. The other possibility is that she was so excited to see her own blood come out of her vein - just like we'd read about in her book - that she didn't worry about it hurting.

Either way is fine with me.

Running against the odds

Flashback Friday: Photos with friends from The Summer of Tennis