As always, I am wildly unprepared for this.
I have a nasty habit of jumping into things with both feet, thrashing about, trying to make the best of a situation that, with some time, and a list, and maybe a breathing exercise or two, could have been much more easily managed.
I guess it’s because I like for things to be messy. I like the stories that come from cleaning them up.
This time, again, I forgot to prepare. Or I chose not to, if I’m being honest. And now, I’m wildly unprepared for the pain of child birth.
I’ve spent the last two (or has it been three?) days floating around in early labor. I realized almost immediately, as the first few contractions wrapped themselves around from my belly, to my back, that I hadn’t finished any of my birthing books. I hadn’t learned any breathing exercises. I never recorded my guided meditation. I hadn’t uploaded my playlist to my phone. The surges began coming every 5 minutes, then 4, then 3, lasting longer, turning my back into forever smoldering embers and my belly inside out.
“I think this is it,” I said, half to the pillow and half to KC after one of the surges caused me to shake. I’m bleeding from the inside, I thought. I can’t get up. I can’t move. I can’t do this. I can’t.
“Are you sure?” He didn’t know whether to touch me, or to leave me alone, so he was sitting on the edge of the bed, one hand half-reaching, frozen between his knee and my back.
“How the fuck should I know? I’ve never done this before.”
We zipped up our bags and got dressed and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what to pull from the closet, so I ended up sliding into the car wearing a flannel that was all buttoned wrong, and the pink pajama pants that I had bought in California when I was first starting to show.
I think I realized that it wasn’t really time while we were driving to the hospital. There was a honey haze hanging about the waning moon, and the weather was cool and wet and changing, finally.
The perfect night - yet not the night.
I should have told KC to turn the car back. But it hurt more than anything I had ever felt before. And I was wildly unprepared. So we drove on.
“4 centimeters dilated and still at 80% thinned, sweetie. That’s good, but not quite enough for you to stay. We’ll check you again in an hour, just to be sure. Is that okay?” The doctor on call was sweet, and it made me sad that I would probably never see her again.
I nodded and picked at the balls of teal lint that were stuck to the blanket. Progress. But not enough.
“Hey, you’ve almost got half of it out of the way,” KC said after she left the room.
He was right. I patted the skin on my belly and waited for it to catch fire again. I felt so far away from her then, even though this sacred womb time is the closest to one another we will ever be.
I don’t know if I can do this, little one. I’m ready to see you. To be your mother. But this is the worst pain I’ve ever felt. Already. And I’m wildly unprepared.
This morning, I woke with a sore belly, no contractions, and two equally present thoughts.
I think I might need some kind of pain management during active labor.
What a coward I’ll be, if I opt for drugs. Any kind of drugs. What will others think? Will they still consider me a mother? Will my baby be disppointed that I couldn’t bring her little, cosmic body earth side without the help of a needle?
A natural, drug-free labor is important to me. Because I want to feel everything. I want to know her skin and her heartbeat and her first cry as it really is, not through a half-awake state of painlessness.
Feeling safe is important to me. Because I want to be present. I want to be calm and loving and fearless. I don’t want my pain to paint a haze over my eyes and spoil the feeling of her skin, the sound of her heartbeat against mine, the sound of her first earthen cry.
And I fear that those two things will not find a proper point to intersect. We’ve cultivated such a sense of smuggery about birth - that mothers who cave and choose pain relief are not quite as honorable as those who did the whole thing ‘naturally.’ I used to believe this, too. Now, not so much.
I don’t know what I’ll do. As always, I’m wildly unprepared. This is messy, and I haven’t got a lot of time left to clean up. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll just allow the whole thing to tip over, to spill, to happen as it must, as it should, and I’ll float with it, and over it, and through it.