Sunday, February 17, 2008

Waiting Room

In the final weeks of my last pregnancy I was struggling to face the loss of my so-called family balance. I had visions of having my baby (NB: this was not a planned pregnancy) a little before my due date. My expectation was that we would go to hell in a handbasket pretty much right away.

I had blogged about it and go some really great advice, particularly to point out that my so-called family balance with one child was, in fact, a crock. Thanks, L! Plus on est de fous, plus on rit!

Still, I had problems moving towards birth. My antidote was to get on my birther cleats and focus, plan, strategize. My son had other ideas, in so far as a fetus has ideas. He was late. He was 'overdue'. Tho' of course he was not. We were just ill informed from the ultrasound that was looking for a baby 7-8 lbs when he was 10+. We waited. We thought we were overdue.

As I careened toward, my perceived Waterloo of parental control, I wanted one last gasp. I wanted to feel birth's imminence. I wanted to charge ahead with at least the comfort that though I knew nothing about raising siblings into people I knew how to give birth. I had done it before. It is powerful and, thus, I would be powerful at least for that while.

I had my predictions of early birth. Wrong.
I had my wait for the sweeps to do the trick. Wrong.
I had days and days of 'early labour'?? Is that it? Yeah, there. What about this???

Then I gave up. One Sunday afternoon when all the beds were changed, the cookies made, my feet had walked the block and the hills too many times in earnest... My doctors urging me to relax and complimenting my fecundity as a boon... My husband was ordered back to work the next day and I resigned myself to inducements on Thurs. Failure.

Wrong, again.

That night I must have laboured some while asleep. At four am I woke with a drip and a dribble and smile. Filip the cat my only companion and advisor. I woke papa-man first.

The labour with my daughter had been the lesson and I wanted this labour to be my thesis. I could do it, we could do it. We did, for the most part, just me and papa-man. But to this day there is something... something wrong. I will tell you here that foolish or not, sometimes I worry I almost damaged or even killed my child with the birth plan. I was so fixated on time. I thought about the due date (though I told nearly no one as much; a regular Joan Plowright of dismissiveness.) I tried to construct the birth in my mind every phase every urge as if it was an intellectual process. AS IF? I mean I know better, myself and my true confidantes (you know who you are) we know giving birth is pure surrender to the physicality of life, perpetually; only abstractly intellectual. hmmmmmm

When my son was born my husband lived the terror in those few moments as they called 'breathe, baby, breathe.' As I lay in a stupor of adrenaline and oxytocin I did not feel it. As I pushed and planned and managed, ok give birth by 11:30, no? Ok by noon at least; do the job this is your second labour -- it is supposed to be fast... I wonder if I rushed. I don't wonder this alone, but rather a month or so later had the lump in my throat when my best doctor asked if my son was stuck or if the team was just not patient enough. I knew in some manner it was the latter. I had a rabble of unassigned docs and apprentice nurses, they did rush a bit. But there will always be part of me that feels it was me. I wasn't patient. I rushed it. It might have been a danger for him.

Hubris. The evil of this mammoth giving of flesh and blood to bear them yet we cannot for one moment want it. We cannot urge it or make it so -- even as we make it entirely. As if we are possessed.

I am ashamed of that urge to manage. Disappointed in my loss of the moment for it. I look now to this closing performance I had as a birther with a bliss that you could call a drop diluted. But that is not my cause to document this. I am ponderous this sunny Sunday afternoon of the risk of giving birth. A risk which I hitherto did not fully appreciate as extending from the moment of conception to the window of our own last breaths. The risk of creating lives and the complete vulnerability to loss or damage.

This week as I am reading of the waters that are ready
to break
(or dribble, or be pierced, or what-have-you) I think of my case a bit. It is from my galloping blog-fuelled sycophantic mettle that I opt to write this up. In a disjointed sidebar it is to those near, dear here who are without their little babies that I write this up.

There is no control. We cannot make it so. Randomness the limitless and blood.

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Blogger kittenpie said...

This is exactly why I don't understand when women feel bad about what happened during their birth. Don't we want it to be safe as can be for mother and child? If it means not going as you planned, well, I surrendered to that happily in exchange for a healthy baby free of brain damage from her squashed cord.

11:30 a.m.  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

Re "There is no control. We cannot make it so."

A failure to grasp this at a deep level is the cause of much of the pain I have inflicted on myself. It is a fantastic piece of advice for labor, and for life.

11:55 a.m.  
Blogger Mad said...

And that is what I tell myself every day. If only I had the same insight 10 years ago, things may now be different.

4:59 p.m.  
Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

Just talked about the EXACT same thing with the ante neonatal (or whatever he is) guy today.

How hindsight really doesn't help...and what a crapshoot a healthy 'normal' pregnancy and birth really is.

5:17 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that we all mourn the loss of our ideal labour. Or am I the only one who thought this the first night I slept in my hospital bed listening to some other woman laboured (like a champ. Bitch) in the room next to me?

8:34 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh so true and beautiful, your words.

I had very low/vague expectations of labour (no birth plan here, either) and so was delighted with how things went. The first months post-partum, however...that's where my expectations were really challenged.

12:31 p.m.  

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