What they don’t tell you about is the feeling of waking up in the morning eight days past your due date to nothing happening. What they don’t tell you is about 11 hours of reliable contractions that just stop for unexplained reasons. What they don’t tell you about is the bittersweet agony of an appointment with your doctor where you learn that despite your best efforts, the baby you expected about a week ago seems happily content and healthy in your womb, and that very little has changed on the dilation or effacement front. What they don’t tell you is how despite their best intentions, friends and family will give you the impression that your desire for a natural childbirth is really inconveniencing their travel plans. What they don’t say is that you might get emotionally exhausted by waiting, false starts, and the knowledge that you derive from a line of women who regularly incubate babies for something more akin to ten months, but that doctors won’t let you do that nowadays – so you may be induced despite all efforts to prevent that outcome.
I know my focus here should truly be on the happy little man swimming around in the abundant amniotic fluid still in my uterus. My womb appears to be extremely healthy. My baby has no desire to leave. This, in many respects, is a good thing. Were it not for my own expectations, and a sense of responsibility to provide a baby to our family who has flown in from as far away as London to see us, perhaps I would be feeling pretty great that I could provide such a comfortable home for the little guy. He has been pleasant and wonderful for the entirety of my pregnancy. I have absolutely nothing to complain about.
But yet, this morning, after 11 hours of contractions yesterday that really got our hopes up, when I awoke to NOTHING happening, I cried. When I went to the doctor and she told me that nothing had progressed despite a rollicking game of Apples to Apples with my family that I was SURE had dilated my cervix at least a centimeter or two – I felt morose. I have more or less outgrown all but a handful of my maternity clothes. I made it to 40 weeks without stretch marks, and then boom – I got like three. My entire body is swollen and I cannot stop itching. I am so ready to be done with being pregnant. All I want to do is roll over in bed without it having to be a monumental effort. All I want is the ability to tie my shoes gracefully without falling over. All I want is for my baby to be born.
According to my terms, that is.
I guess that’s the issue.
I suppose tomorrow I could call my doctor and induce and this all could end. But I don’t want it to happen like that. I want to know the feeling of going into labor. I want to not have drugs in my body when I birth my child. I want to know that I could do it naturally the way mothers have done it for centuries. It’s important to me. I want to maximize the chances of that happening, and inducing seems counterproductive to ALL of my goals – besides that one about having the baby.
I worry that I’m overly attached to this goal of a natural childbirth. After all, detaching oneself from outcomes and living in the moment is supposedly the way to avoid suffering – according to buddhism. But then I wonder if suffering (in this case) is really so bad? I mean, if I suffer a bit for a goal that is worthwhile and meaningful to me, why is that harmful? Is being attached to that outcome truly a bad thing? I know everyone says that as long as the baby is healthy all is good. But, to me the health of the baby is one part of a larger set of goals and I’d really like to achieve them all. I want to have an empowering birth experience. I want to take ownership of my body and experience the monumental achievement of bringing life into the world on my own. I want to feel the joy of having my contractions get stronger and more powerful, and to ride the hormonal and emotional waves that accompany this process. I want to feel the “wall” that I’ve read about so many times, and to push past it. I want a birthing experience that I emerge from as a stronger, more self-confident, and capable woman. And, this delay is heightening my sense of concern that perhaps this will not go as I’d planned.
The stress of the situation is palpable. I want to talk to nobody. I want time to myself. Rick is equally exhausted from the emotional roller coaster. Addie doesn’t know what to do – so she binged on chocolate truffles and took the world’s biggest poop under the baby crib. Clearly we are all at our wit’s end. It is negative 6 degrees, which makes escaping to a park to walk the baby out a bit more challenging. I am trying to remember that these pieces don’t define the situation, they shape my perception of it. I am trying to remind myself that this inconvenience is merely one of attitude. In fact, a recent study shows that women can vary by as much as 37 days in their gestation times, regardless of date of conception. I REALLY shouldn’t be stressed by my baby’s perceived “lateness.” But, yet, I have allowed myself to get emotionally exhausted by this process.
My grandma made it through 3 pregnancies that went nearly a month overdue. So, yet again, I’m attempting to channel her strength to help me manage my emotions as I navigate my way through the vicissitudes of being late. Wish me (and all who must deal with me) luck in the process.