Nobody prepares you for the waiting in labour.
Yes, you’ve just grown your human for ten months. That means you’ve created perfect razor-sharp fingernails and silky lashes. You’ve got the dimple perfected on the left cheek, and the heart-shaped birthmark on your baby’s back.
She or he is ready. And so are you.
Because you, first time mama, have truly worked miracles. You deserve to have that baby in your arms.
You’re finished work and you’re nesting and there’s not much left to do, and so you feel like you’ve gotten this waiting thing over with.
You’re done with waiting.
And so, when your estimated due date comes and goes, the one day your entire being has fixated on for the entire past year, you begin feeling frustrated. And your feelings alone are enough to deal with, but on top of that you’re feeling so very much more anxious because your mother is hounding you, your co-workers, and your doctor, too.
So what the actual fuck, baby, you begin thinking. What more could it possibly want from you? Each day and night passes and your life is a thick fog of texts, phone calls, naps and bewilderment. And a whole lot of nothing.
Then, when the inevitable does happen and you finally start to feel something that wakes you from your slumber in the middle of the night, ten days post-date, you’re ecstatic. THRILLED, even- because you deserve this day! You spring from your bed with joy, and scan the room for your packed suitcase for the birth. Thanks to gravity, you nearly don’t make it to the bathroom in time, yet again, due to the surge of emotion and anxiety and endorphins.
You smile so wide your lips hurt.
And then you move your bag to the door, screaming at your partner that today is the day, at this, 3am.
But herein lies the problem first time mama; early labour, for you, is usually* a bitch. A long, crotchety, ordeal- a day long affair. And you don’t deserve that, but that’s the card you’ll likely* be dealt.
Early labour gets no publicity which is why you won’t be expecting it. It doesn’t make for good TV ratings, what with all its angsty boredom. It doesn’t get loud or boisterous or powerful or dramatic- it is just another period of waiting. And though the contractions come, some ten, then eight, then 12 minutes apart, they’re manageable and boring and unpredictable and boring. You are bored- And the feeling of boredom in labour is not what you were expecting. Nobody told you about this part.
And you whine to your partner who’s already taken the day off work, and he whines back at you because he’s missed a day for “nothing” and you’re mad and sore and grumpy and disillusioned. And that’s when the doubt can start creeping in. Where the worry and lack of self-confidence can take control, stalling the labour more, or stopping it completely.
So I’m here giving early labour some time in the limelight to give you first time mamas the heads up. You can and will progress through this largely long and arduous stage. You will get to the physical portion of the game- you will. But the process tests your mental strength first, and that’s what we forget to talk about.
Remember that bit where they say every part of you will be tested? Yeah, it’s true.
So when the evil early labour bitch arrives to preclude your babe’s birthday, try to recognize it as part of your process. And remember as you’ve witnessed through ten months of waiting, true magic takes time. It’s normal, you’re normal, and you’re doing it perfectly.
As you embrace the quiet calm that bridges your family between the life that was and will be, rest, eat, play and repeat, taking this stage as one last kick at the can as a family of two.
This stage, if you allow it, is your gift. So try to enjoy you. Your body will soon change. Your household will soon change, your partner will soon change and your reason for being, too. The change will definitely come, but you’ll never get this time back.
So embrace the quiet.
Stop timing nothing.
And as you wait, remember what it is you’re waiting for and fixate on that and how worthwhile that is, rather than the fact you’d give your left toe to move things along.
Because this, a first labour, only happens once. This, the opportunity to love yourself, by yourself, with your support system, only happens once.
Embrace the quiet. The noise will come.
And when it does, give me another call.
*Usually, but not always 😉