Greetings from the land of forty weeks pregnant, plus one more day. There’s no rounding down at this point - I’ve been anticipating January 8th on the calendar for months, then weeks, then days, and now, the page has turned and it’s come and gone.
These last few weeks are rough. Not just because your body is doing the important work of preparing to give birth, easily one of the most monumental physical occasions in a woman’s life, but because the mental and emotional strain is huge.
This precious time is often overlooked by baby books or doctors. We’re more prepared to have our hospital bags ready early, than to stick around patiently in the last days before our dear babies arrive. I’ve been googling each and every twinge, burp, headache, backache and trip to the bathroom for the past five weeks. Yes, Baby Center, I know contractors and breaking your water means you’re in labor. But what about insane crying jags. Does that mean one more day or one more week? Very thirsty? Could that be a sign of labor? Super tired? Craving egg salad sandwiches with sprouts?
It. is. exhausting.
Never mind that we actually have scurried around to get our bags packed, started timing contractions, tallied up the “you might be in labor when…” signals only to have everything cool down and fizzle out. The first time was at 35 weeks, which my doctor casually brushed off as the stomach bug that was going around (he was right). On New Years Day we took a walk through the woods as a family of three and it felt like it would be a beautiful day to have a baby! Eight minutes, then six, the contractions kept rolling. Then stopped. Then yesterday, while at the grocery, I had to lean over the salami counter to get through a contraction. More excited than fearful, my husband and I looked at each other with a wave of finally!!! written all over our faces.
It’s so hard not to overanalyze each and every little thing or to consider ways to induce labor. It’s hard to be content at 40 weeks pregnant.
Harder yet is managing all of the well meaning, but incredibly frustrating questions about how you’re feeling, are you in labor, is the baby there yet? which are all from a place of love but make you feel like you’re on deadline for something entirely out of your control. I wish women weren’t given due dates and instead birth months and kept wondering. The counting down, arranging for help with older kids, and being pregnant when no wants to be on call (Christmas Eve, New Years Eve) all add to the pressure pregnant women internalize. Even the most balanced woman is on jet fueled hormonal cocktail that makes her want to throw dishes across the room and punch things (errr… maybe just me).
A week ago I was sent this great article, written by a midwife, about the precious time between pregnancy and labor. She uses the German word, zwischen, meaning between, to describe these days and weeks. I found reading it to be incredibly helpful. Maybe you will too. Here’s the link.
But she’s still in there, still getting ready. Because I’m attempting a natural VBAC, my doctor won’t use any medical resources (read: drugs) to induce, so I’ve researched what may work that I can do at home. And every day, I decide to just wait it out a little longer. To just let my body and by baby make the call. To get out of my own head. The world of medicine seems so scientific, but the mystery of going into spontaneous labor is just that - a mystery. We will wait and see.