Lately, I try to meditate every day. I am in a constant search for “zen” to quiet my anxiety. I attempt to put myself in a state of calm and acceptance. The guided meditations focus on positive energy and dispelling the negative thoughts that creep their way into my consciousness. Focusing on my breathing, I imagine the exhale running through my body, out the top of my head or down through my toes. I envision my perineum expanding, blossoming like a flower, stretching open. I see myself in a safe, loving environment, specifically designed to bring new life into the world. My meditations serve one purpose: to prepare myself for giving birth because I’m super fucking nervous.
All the preparation in the world gives me zero control over how my baby’s delivery will unfold. As someone who needs to plan, I don’t “go with the flow” easily. This makes the uncertainty of birth a bit overwhelming. Actually, a lot overwhelming as my pregnancy verges on 40 weeks. I obsessively listen to my body for any change of rhythm, any signal the big day is upon us. Paying too much attention helps me feel proactive because I don’t have the option of setting an alarm or scheduling contractions. Luckily, I’ve survived a low-risk, healthy pregnancy. Therefore, I’ve no reason to think my experience will be anything other than normal. However, for me, that begs the question, “what is normal when we talk about birth?”
My normal is based on our birth plan. After weeks of research to educate myself on all things pregnancy, labor, and pushing that baby out, we decided the best plan for our family is an unmedicated, out of hospital birth, assisted by a midwifery team.
I’ll spend early labor at home with my husband and our doula. I will probably do laundry, even though I hate laundry. Early labor is all about distraction, and busy work is the best way for me to pretend outside forces are not affecting me. Or rather, inside forces in this case. I’ll listen to a lot of “This American Life” because I love Ira Glass’s voice. We’ll go for walks; I’ll pack and repack the baby bag; I’ll stay hydrated. Any and all things to keep me feeling somewhat, as much as possible, in control of my environment. Finally, upon reaching active labor, we’ll page the midwives to meet us at the birth center.
Early labor leads to active labor; Active labor leads to transitioning; transitioning leads to pushing; pushing leads to a baby. It all sounds easy-peasy on paper, doesn’t it? Every birth is unique, its all in the details. No matter the number of stories I read or am told, no birth has any necessary bearing on another. After billions of unique births in our collective human history, I am not special. What a simultaneously comforting and terrifying thought.
So, I attempt to mentally prepare myself. I’ll do everything in my power to breathe, in and out, disciplined. I will moan in a cadence to keep me focused and grounded. I’ll picture fields of flowers, the waves of the ocean, or any other image that conjures serenity. My team will remind me to stay present and use my pain. If I’m really honest, I’ll yell and cuss, and my husband will do everything he’s prepared to keep me from panicking. I have zero prophetic knowledge about the details of those twelve, or thirty-six, or please-God-no, forty-eight hours. I know the end game, but that doesn’t stop me from being super fucking nervous for the marathon before the finish line.