I would be lying if I said that, at this point, I was able to concentrate on anything other than the impending D-Day for more than 5 minutes at a time, so please forgive any typos I missed here–I just don’t have the brain power left to find them. The fact that I will be an official parent in about 2 weeks is an all-consuming idea, one filled with all kinds of lists over what’s left to do and what’s been done, what baby items still need to be bought as “need-to-haves” for the first few weeks and what are 6 mo. + items, what paperwork’s been filed, and who to call when…
Though, honestly, THE most consuming idea of all of them is the birth itself. I’m not going to try and pretend that I’m not terrified (and I really don’t mind admitting that at this point, either). A lot of the moms I know in VA seemed totally together and planned for how they expected it to go down—they attended the birth classes (done), read the books (kinda done), made the birth plans (done yesterday), meditated/did yoga/mentally prepped (less done) and seems completely chill about the whole thing. But despite my having gone through the same knowledge-finding actions (because I am, among other things, a DAMN fine researcher), I still can’t help but feel like I’m missing something really important, something that, once I heard it, would make this whole thing come together as officially “Planned and Prepared” and I’d be like, “OH! So THAT’S how I’m supposed to do/handle/react to it… Oh, well that’s easy. LET’S DO THIS.”
But instead I just feel kinda scattered and unsure. I know the process of birth, know the stages and the Impending Signs of Uterine Apocalypse. I know the breathing techniques and “helpful” positions and a good deal of where the Baby Comfort Paraphernalia is supposed to go on the baby’s person. But I’m still not sure how one mentally prepares for birth, esp. since most of what I’ve researched approaches this as a 2-step process:
- “Step 1: Educate yourself about what birth is like (process, stages of labor, medical options, etc.).
- Step 2: Realize that no two births are the same, so most of your rational, educated intentions are less of a ‘Plan’ and more of an ‘It-Would-Be-Nice-If-This-Happened list’ of preferences, thus rendering your Birth Plan useless. Congratulations, you just wasted the last 4 months.”
I find myself reading and rereading the same birth stage info like something new will suddenly pop out at me. So far, my reading would lead me to believe that birth can be analogized like riding a roller coaster for the first time. After walking around the amusement park for hours, seeing your ride towering in the distance and becoming increasingly apprehensive about it, you finally arrive at the line. You wait for a very long time, getting increasingly anxious as you watch clumps of people get on the ride and proceed to scream non-stop for the next 2 minutes of the ride’s duration. Hearing the screams makes you more nervous, but the people you’re with who’ve ridden the ride before assure you how much you’ll love it after you’ve done it, and they encourage you to take deep breaths and stay calm. They point out sections of track that you’ll be riding on (a loop here or a twist in the track there)—this is meant to reassure you, too, since you can clearly see the path you’re about to travel. This never helps, especially when the next screaming car passes while you watch, but you take your deep breaths and tell yourself you’ll be fine, try to convince yourself that you’re excited about it. Eventually you see the ride stop and people get off laughing. Maybe, to make this more like birth, we’ll even analogize that they all get a T-shirt to take home. (Because T-shirts = JUST like babies.)
However, even after my reading, here’s what the analogy actually feels like to me: all of the above, up until the part where the clumps of new riders get on the ride. Before the ride leaves the docking station, a huge black curtain swings shut and you’re cut off from watching any more of it. All you can hear is the screaming for the duration of the ride. And so, for two whole minutes, all you can imagine is that the ride is systematically removing organs from them one-by-one. Then, when they re-dock to get off, the curtain opens and you see everybody all laughing and getting their T-shirt and trying to tame the wind-afros they just got. Only some of them have stitches and can’t walk too well, and their T-shirts spontaneously throw up on them before they leave the docking station. And when you look fearfully at the people you’re with who’ve ridden before, they just smile like nothing’s wrong and tell you you’re next and you’re gonna do fine.
And then after you’ve already gotten on the ride, you totally miss the people you were with who’re all like:
“She totally fell for it!”
And unfortunately, trying valiantly to derail the one-track mindset for even two seconds, is the information that my barn owner passed along this afternoon: that Gabe’s small bought of diarrhea, which he always has gotten up here in VA to a mild degree during the first month of winter for some reason, has turned into more than a “small” bout, so his entire backside is now caked with frozen poo. Delicious. I feel really bad that I haven’t been out recently enough to realize it had gotten that bad—sometimes I am an absolutely terrible horse owner. 😦 Hopefully, the huge snowstorm we’re supposed to get this week won’t be bad enough that I can’t go out and clean him off.
Which, I just realized, should probably be videotaped, since I imagine it’d be a pretty funny video to show a 9 mo. pregnant hippo furiously scrubbing frozen poo-mess off the hind end of a Quarter Horse and then toweling it dry before the water has a chance to freeze to his already unhappy backside. And then coating his buttcheeks with Vaseline to minimize the chapping. Tons o’ fun, really, for both of us. I’ll keep you posted.