Many people say preparing for birth is like preparing for a big endurance event. Like running a marathon or climbing a mountain. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought this analogy made perfect sense. But as “race day” inches closer (it could be today!), I’m struggling to see similarities beyond the two obvious: that, like any endurance event, giving birth will be a mental and physical challenge. As I sit here typing with swollen-sausage-fingers, I couldn’t feel further from a well-prepared athlete about to start the race of her lifetime. No. Instead, I feel like a giant puffer fish!
If I was preparing to run a marathon, I would:
- Stick to a rigid training schedule
- Know the exact date of the race
- Have some idea of how long the event will take
- Feel fit, healthy, strong – and in control
Preparing for birth, on the other hand, is a little different:
- I have no idea when the event will start
- I have no idea how long the event will last
- If there is a training regime for “pushing a baby out”, I haven’t discovered it yet (it’s not really the sort of thing you can practice!)
- I have no idea how the event will unfold (my birth plan literally reads: “see how it goes”)
That said, I can visualise the finish line – holding our baby in my arms for the first time. The rest is a bit fuzzy, no matter how much I try to self-educate by binge-watching Call The Midwife.
I dutifully attended seven weeks of antenatal classes. I learned hypnobirthing. I’ve read snippets of The New Zealand Pregnancy Book (which should really come with a sealed section, I’ve seen photos I cannot unsee). I understand the fundamentals of bringing a baby into this world – and I know that women are giving birth right this second – and yet I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of a great unknown. Giving birth may be commonplace, but I’ve never done anything like it before.
I’m currently occupying the space between – this weird, murky, exhilarating space between what was and what will be. I feel both calm and chaotic. Excited and apprehensive. Prepared and unprepared. Emotional and numb.
Mostly, I feel impatient to get started, so I can shift gears from anticipation to action.
All of the mothers in my life have offered advice, support, encouragement, and reassurance. “It’ll be a bit crazy – but you’ll be great”. I appreciate every kind word, but I also get the strong sense that this is an event where words can only skim the surface – where language only offers a tiny glimpse into what lies ahead. And that what is true for one woman will sound like a foreign story to the next.
At least one thing is certain – sometime in the next 10 or so days, I'll find out what this experience will be like for me.
See you on the other side!
P.S. Currently accepting ideas for keeping myself occupied as I wait... suggestions welcome :)