The space between

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! 

Jess x

P.S. Currently accepting ideas for keeping myself occupied as I wait... suggestions welcome :)