9 months :: 40 weeks :: 280 days
Why is it that as I approach the end of this time being pregnant, I can’t help but feel this final stretch to be harder to endure than the months, weeks and days that are already behind me? I find myself swinging between anxious excitement and frustrated despair as I have been having prelabor for over two weeks. There are definite periods where activity increases- more cramping, more contractions- the end in sight. My cervix is continuing to change and make progress towards giving birth. Yet, it seems, inevitably, things calm down and I fall into the feeling of near-normalcy where it feels pregnancy will perpetually continue on. I am trying to be patient and enjoy each day despite discomforts Pregnancy and birth is about change, and change brings with it anxiety. But it is inevitable too, and the result in the end surpasses each of our own individual anxieties we carry into it. I struggle through each day, riding the waves of emotion from the euphoria of impending labor, thinking I should call our doula to give her a heads up, tempted to start charging the air mattresses for our midwives- the anxiety of wanting desperately to have this be the real thing nearly overrides my rational. Each time the crampy contractions come with more force and fervor. Last night the baby decided to start head banging my cervix and I started loosing my mucous plug. Again I think, surely labor is impending! But each time the activity slowly fades. It is a time to be endured and I think I have the strength to get through largely because I know it won’t go on forever, and because secretly I am hoping I will have an easier labor and birth this time around.
An easier birth, yes. That is really all I can hope for. I know it would be hard to top by birth experience from last time so I am fairly assured nearly anything short of that would be perceived as ‘easier’. Is it hard to not think of my past experience? Hard to not fear a similar situation happening again? Hard to fear the length and pain and disappointment I went through? Honestly, No. I think I have come to grips with the realization that generally speaking, dissatisfaction with birth outcomes due to lack of preparation and information prior to, and during, birth play a huge part in birth outcomes. Our female pregnancy and birth subculture is so obsessed with hanging on to the worst case scenario’s and one-upping one another on who has the worst birth story. Must we all be martyrs? I refuse any more to participate in these discussions, even though I know I usually have the whopper of the stories. I refuse to perpetuate preconceptions about birth in other pregnant women’s minds that will effect the overall outlook on labor and delivery. Despite the wealth of information out there, women are still giving birth disillusioned and unsure of what happens and why. Our entire perception of birth is based on an illusion of stories we have heard and a complete disassociation of reality as we seek doctors and technology and other people’s opinions to save us from ourselves- no wonder there is no such thing as normal birth. I know I come at this from a slightly different mindset, and therefore my perspective is slightly different to that of most other people, but because of that I also feel for the lack of real information which is given to women, irrespective of how they plan to birth. And because of that, I see how unprepared we, as intelligent women, really are when we go into the labor. This is the thing I fear the most from last time.
So here I am, 39 weeks and 6 days. The photo above is a snapshot into this time- a time of waiting. It truly is this odd paradox- at any given moment, the vortex of inevitability will swallow us up in a frantic hustle of this child making it’s miraculous entrance into this world. I am looking forward to that tipping point where we are hit with the realization this is the real thing. It feel the first domino is teetering, we are anxiously awaiting it’s fall.
On a side note, I also didn’t realize the controversy of showing stretch marks until someone I don’t know posted a comment on one of my pictures on Flickr. In photographing myself as a record of this place I find myself in, I would rather capture truth. It’s not about hiding your flaws; it’s not about flaunting your belly. I didn’t get a single stretch mark with Ariaya. This time they have encircled my belly button as large deep purple markings of how this pregnancy has harshly altered my ballooning belly. I was really mad when they popped up in a matter of days. The disappointment and frustration was more the realization of my desire for my body image and lack of control over what happens as this pregnancy distorts my physical self. Some call them Badges of Honor, others are grossly appalled at even the thought. I guess I have come to a point where I am not really concerned about them. I know they, like the emotional markings of this pregnancy, will fade and become less noticeable. They will remain, however, as marks of history- adding to the layers of our body’s past as visual reminders to the experiences we have been through. More practically, there is nothing I can really do about them at this point, the damage is done, this is the me I am stuck with.
More pics of my stretch marks over at Flickr.