Just spent a luxurious half an hour washing and blow-drying my hair–the last time I imagine I’ll be doing that with such care for the foreseeable future. 39 weeks and counting. I felt like a buddha the other day as I sat on my worn beige yoga mat and hit the play button for my prenatal yoga DVD, my belly extending from the floor right up to my chest. I scarcely recognize myself when I see my reflection in a window. Just last night I had a hauntingly realistic dream that I gave birth to twin boys, even though I’m still banking on a baby girl, just one.
The end of pregnancy is strange and beautiful (to borrow from a well-loved Aqualung album) . Big and round, at once powerful and yet completely at nature’s whim, I feel like a rock on the very edge of a cliff, waiting for something–a change of wind, he pull of the moon, some other invisible force–to send me hurling over the edge into the foggy mystery of birth that awaits. A precarious place to be for sure, and especially so this time around, as we have been displaced from our home since Thanksgiving due to broken pipes and are only just now beginning the long process of moving back in, when baby could be here any day now. Yet I’m feeling a tentative, expectant, welcome peace welling up from a place deep inside. Maybe resolve is a better word. A resolve to bring a new life into our imperfect situation and imperfect world.
This peace comes after several weeks spent grappling with the stress of being without our home during what should be a nesting fury, and with my greatest birth foe: fear. As sure as I feel about unmedicated childbirth (barring of course certain extenuating circumstances), it’s hard not to be a little afraid, even second time around. In fact, I’m not sure which is scarier–the unknown pain or the pain that I’ve experienced that is knocking on my door again.
The only thing larger than the fear is the sense of awe I feel at the immensity of the journey. Travis confided to me that during Cadel’s birth, there was a point when he simply didn’t see how it was possible for the baby to come out…and then Cadel
did. (Thank God. Fortunately Travis had the good sense to wait a number of months after the birth to tell me this). I remember with the foggy memory of a birthing mother a similar sentiment at one point during labor, feeling I couldn’t bear any more…and then I did. Neither of us is the same person we were before the birth. It is such a definitive moment, I think many parents, like me, forevermore recall their lives in two distinct pieces: life before baby was born and everything since. I recently came across this birth story in which the mother captures the mystery so beautifully:
“I complained. I wanted the miserable laboring to end. In the midst of it all, however, I knew…something else was opening as well…Swept through this opening as if by a tidal bore, my senses were overwhelmed by a rushing, roaring momentum driving me to the margins of not only what I could bear but what I could comprehend…”
Birth challenges our perceptions of what our bodies and minds are capable of, pushes us beyond what we thought possible. It’s frightening, it’s amazing, it’s humbling, it’s empowering. Taking this precious time to write now, baby wriggling away seemingly just beneath the surface of my taut belly, looking and feeling as though she* may break right through the skin, I’m thankful to be right here right now in this strange and beautiful advent, my mind clearing away the fog and my body poised for a giant leap.