When I was pregnant, lots of people were always sharing their parenting and birthing tips. I even had one person send me a pages-long message about the benefits of giving birth au naturel in the countryside. Deadset. Completely unsolicited and to be honest, weird (if you like that sort of thing I apologise, but given I hadn’t asked for any advice on anything, particularly birthing in the wilderness, I found it errrr…..odd!).
This is something I wrote the week before I gave birth to our son Harry.
I haven’t had a good night sleep in months. Not because I’ve been up all hours with a baby – he’s not here yet, four days and counting! But because of the worry that has plagued both my fiancée and I this last 9 months while our little bub has been growing inside me.
I’ll preface this by saying I’m a huge worrywart. Even when there’s nothing to worry about, I’ll find something. So, firstly there was the stress over whether my body would hang onto that little seed long enough to reach the 12 week mark and thus markedly lower my chances of a miscarriage. Then there’s getting to the 20 week mark where you get to see your fully formed baby for the first time as you undergo your morphology scan – which checks whether the baby is developing normally. Any abnormalities are usually discovered here. For me, that check point was also about the horrible morning sickness that I’d had for the first 4 months finally starting to subside.
Then, we were longing to get to the 24 week mark where a baby is said to be able to survive outside the womb, should complications arise and early labour come on. With an anterior placenta (one that sits at the front of my belly and cushions some of the baby’s movements), over the last 16 weeks we’ve been in a constant state of ‘counting the kicks’ to check his movements are regular and that he’s thriving. We’ve had more urgent hospital trips from reduced foetal movement than I can remember. Oh and he’s huge – destined to be a Wallabies player, so says my fiancée – so there’s also regular scans to check his size. Now, in this last week, I’m constantly checking for a ‘show’, checking if my pants are wet, or on constant high alert for one of the other signs of labour.
Some (read = most) would say we worry too much, and my fiancée and I would be the first to admit that we’ve both well and truly got the worrywart trait. Don’t get me wrong, we’re super excited and stoked that our little guy is going to be with us soon, and for the rest of our lives, couldn’t be happier. Feeling him grow inside of me has been beyond amazing and I’m forever astounded by what my body is doing. But who had any idea pregnancy was so involved and stressful? Not one of my friends who have had babies ever went through the ins and outs of pregnancy with me – did they not feel the same? Are we just stress-heads? To be honest, I probably never asked them because I a) was too scared to know and b) had my head so far buried up my own as* in my singledom that I just had no idea. But in any case, noone ever tells you how hard and long this 9 months can be.
What I’m learning more and more is that every woman is different and each pregnancy is different. Some women sail through their pregnancy without a care in the world. Others have a horror pregnancy with complications and hospitalisation throughout. We fall somewhere in the middle.
With four days until I get induced, a midwife recently told us we’re ‘home and hosed’. But that constant worry is still there. The closer our little man gets to making his way into this world, the worse it gets. The 4am wakeups are, I’m sure, preparing me for what’s to come but without a baby to attend to at this point they’re characterised by staring out the window as the sun comes up thinking about what will happen if he doesn’t come out safe, how we’ll all cope with labour, how on earth to breastfeed, what if he doesn’t sleep, what if he won’t stop crying…
I know all of this is normal first time parent anxiety. I know that women have been giving birth for billions of years and our bodies are equipped to handle it. And I know that the chances of something going wrong now are very very slim. And I also know that this worry is only the start of a lifetime of worry that, as a mum, will always be a feature of my life from now on.
So when a worry comes in what I’m trying to do is learn to acknowledge it, embrace it, then move it on out of my mind as much as possible. After all, we need to take this time to enjoy the journey, smell the roses and revel in our happiness, otherwise our little guy’s babyhood will be gone before we know it. Rather than lying here painstakingly counting his kicks, I’m going to head for a walk (read = slow waddle) down the road, get some fresh air, sit on a bench and feel my baby move, enjoying the last few days of him being inside of me and not here with us squawking up a storm ;)