Last November, we took Roo to church for the first time — a Saturday vigil Mass almost exactly one week after she’d been born. I was worn out from her baptism that morning and, you know, having a week-old smallish newborn, but somehow I received the grace to actually pay attention to the homily — not always a given at this season of life!Read More »
Scout was born at 36w0d, which is usually just considered late preterm. She didn’t fit into preemie clothes and she didn’t have trouble nursing and she didn’t need time in the NICU. It was scary to go into labor before I had expected, but much scarier that it all happened in a four hour labor. Once it was over, I didn’t think much of it, except that it saved me a month of pregnancy, which I don’t love. I have had friends who have given birth crazy early, watched their little ones transferred to a separate hospital room, struggled to nurse a terribly tiny baby. I just had a slightly undercooked baby with a lot of lanugo and pitifully scrawny legs. No big deal.
That is, until I went to the midwives with this pregnancy. Then it was all progesterone shots and heaps of extra ultrasounds. I’ve never been super worried about labor as I’m usually preoccupied with the not feeling great bits of pregnancy, but this time I breathed a sigh of relief when I got to 24 weeks and viability. Even prudent vigilance can be a little contagious, a little unsettling.
Now I’m 32 weeks and so much more aware of all the ways things can shake out than I was with my first two. With Pip, I didn’t want to drive to the hospital through Super Storm Sandy and so I spent a day on the couch, willing him not to come. The next day was 11 days before his due date and I decided he could come if he wanted. I cleaned the fridge and woke up to contractions in the middle of the night. Obliging child. He was born the next evening. I was pretty sure this is how it always works.
Now I’ve got a baby who could come at 36 weeks when I stop my progesterone shots, landing her in mid-October. She could be a handful of days early and arrive on her brother’s birthday, Halloween. She could come on her due date, November 14, or wait till my birthday to be induced, at Thanksgiving.
But, of course, this is always the deal with babies. I just didn’t know it, truly, before.
Now I’ve got the glider I longed for and can imagine nursing this new baby in it. I’ve got her room mostly cleaned out, and diapers in both preemie and newborn sizes, just in case. I’ve bought as many Christmas presents as I can, and scheduled Pippin’s birthday party so we can still have it unless she arrives catastrophically early. I’m setting up childcare for when I’m in the hospital and need to write out a few lesson plans for Police Preschool in case J or my parents want to take over for me during lying in.
There’s not much more to do, but wait.
So, I am not, at heart, a runner. I will jog along like a tired old mare if absolutely essential, but you are not going to make me like it. I think I can say with reasonable certainty I will never run a marathon, and you can’t make me.
But maybe marathons make you feel alive. Maybe it’s a goal you work toward in concrete steps, keeping in mind that the purpose, in the end, is to have fun, be safe and use your body — though completing the race would be beyond amazing. You read about running, you prepare for the big day, you talk about it with anyone who shows even a glimmer of interest. No one’s making you do it, but it’s something you always wanted to try, and if you pull it off, you feel rightfully proud.
I feel that way about natural childbirth. No one’s making me, but I wanted to try, for a host of noble and ignoble reasons (mostly because I’m a control freak), so I put a lot of work and reading into it, and it worked, and I’m proud (though some of that success has nothing to do with me), and I’ll talk your ear off about it if you give me a chance.
Pregnancy sucks for me, pretty unequivocally. But birth — that’s my day. I come away feeling like a shocked, tired goddess. My body, which is mostly something I drag from library to library, is reborn: I DID IT. I GOT THIS SMALL PERSON OUT OF ME!
Maybe you don’t feel that way. Maybe you feel about childbirth the way I do about marathons — why go through that much discomfort if not strictly necessary? Why suffer needlessly when you can watch your way through Downton Abbey during labor? It’s a fair question (to which I counter: why run on a Saturday morning when you could eat bacon and take a bubble bath?). Then again, maybe you like both unmedicated birth and running long distances, and to that, I say: You are so ready for the zombie apocalypse.
We can agree to disagree on these matters. While I still am going to say that I think it’s a really good idea to learn about natural labor just in case you have a lightning labor like my second one — so you know what the hell is going on if the meds don’t work out — like most of motherhood (and most of life, I guess), I think with birth you just do what seems most survivable to you, and that might look different for you than it does for me. As Amy Poehler writes on the subject in Yes, Please: “Good for her! Not for me. That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”
But I think we can all agree that birth would be even more awesome with rainbow color powder at the finish line.