For someone who never thought she’d ever even be able to get pregnant, I’m pretty darn pregnant. It’s a blessing that comes with swollen ankles and lumbering steps as I walk down the hall. In the mornings, I curse my fatigue and the interrupted sleep of the night before. In the quiet moments, I feel Gibson move inside me and know how lucky I am. And now, I’m finally 30 weeks.
Nothing really significant happens in the 30th week. Baby doesn’t really hit any milestones. He just keeps gaining weight, a significant step, but nothing those “What to Expect” books really highlight. However, for me, it’s kind of a big deal. Because for the rest of my pregnancy, I’m in a countdown mode. And all the numbers in the countdown are single digits. Nine weeks left, Eight weeks left, etc.
The whole first trimester, I worried about miscarriage. The second trimester, I worried about getting enough exercise and eating right (when I could eat.) And now, now I’m terrified of labor and delivery. The pain of labor looms large in my mind. It’s not preventable. It’s inevitable. And folks say if something is inevitable, there’s no use worrying about it. And yet, I can’t let it go.
It doesn’t help when I watch the British version of “One Born Every Minute.” I know I should probably limit my viewing of these shows, but I subscribe to the theory that forewarned is forearmed. At least with the British version, there’s no narrator explaining all the danger the mother and baby is supposedly in. And they emphasize trying to get through labor without pain relief and minimal interventions, something I want to try myself.
I shiver and shake as I watch these poor women struggle and strain with the labor. The way each one handles it is different. I wonder which type of woman I’ll be in the delivery room. Will I scream and moan while I dilate? Will I be able to channel my fear and energy into some sort of quiet zen force? Will I cry for medication the moment the pain becomes real? I don’t know and no one can tell me. But after everything I’ve read, listened to and watched, all I know for sure is that there is no right or wrong way to have a baby. And babies definitely don’t take into account what their mothers want. They come on their own terms.
The common theme from all these shows and from all the information I can lay hands on is this: it’s worth it. It’s all worth it. The look that comes over a laboring woman’s face when the baby is placed on her chest; it’s priceless. Even in the midst of pushing with a glaze of pain in her eyes, the nurse will encourage the mother to touch the top of the baby’s crowning head, and her expression completely changes. Maybe it’s the knowledge that pushing is almost over. Maybe it’s knowing that the baby is about to take his or her first breath and join this world. I don’t know. But you can just see that for a moment, the pain doesn’t matter at all. And that everything that had led up to that moment was worth it.
Even though I’m still weeks away (I hope!) from labor myself, I know it’s worth it. And in the end, maybe that’s all I need to know. Never mind the breathing and visualization techniques. Maybe all I need to know is that pain is temporary and the end result is worth it. Gibson is worth it. The baby I thought would never be is totally worth it.