A patient once told me that when her first baby came, she happened to be out in the country where she had to call in a doctor whom she did not know. He was an uncouth sort of fellow who inspired fear rather than confidence. She soon found that labor stopped whenever he came into the room, and started again when he went out. She had the good sense to send him out and complete her labor with only the help of her mother. Unfortunate is the obstetrician who does not know how to inspire a feeling of confidence in his patients. Even childbirth may be mightily helped or hindered by the mother’s state of mind.
A woman’s body has more stability than she knows. It is sometimes out of order, but it is more often misunderstood; usually it is an unobtrusive and satisfactory instrument, quite fit for its daily tasks. The average woman is really well put together. We hear about the ones who have difficulty, but not about the great majority who do not. We notice the few who are upset during the menopause, and forget all the others. To be comfortable and efficient most of the time is, after all, merely to be “like folks.”
The special functions which Nature has been perfecting in a woman’s body are as a rule, easily carried through unless complicated by false ideas or by fear.
If the woman who has no organic difficulty but who still finds herself handicapped by her body, will cease being either resigned to her languishing lot or envious of her stalwart brothers; if instead she will set out to learn how to be efficient as a woman, she will find that many of her ills are not the blunders of an inefficient Creator, but are home-made products, which quickly vanish in the light of understanding.
In which we lose our dread of night.
THE FEAR OF STAYING AWAKE
To sleep or not to sleep! That is the question. In all the world there is nothing to equal it in importance,—to the man with insomnia. His days are mere interludes between troubled nights spent in restless tossing to and fro and feverish worry over the weary day to come. His mind filled with ideas about the disastrous effects of insomnia, he imagines himself fast sliding down hill toward the grave or the insane-asylum. It is true that his conversation very often politely begins something like this: “Good morning. Did you sleep well last night?” but if we fail to respond by an equally polite “and I hope you had a good night?” he seems restless until he has somehow disillusioned us by stating the exact number of hours and minutes during which he was able to lose himself in slumber.