The Overwhelming Vulnerability of Waiting for Baby
I’ve entered the final weeks of my 2nd pregnancy, and I want to do something a little different this go around. I want to be open, sharing publicly how it feels to be in this vulnerable in-between period of time.
I’ve realized, as a professional, that keeping the truth about this transitional time a secret is dangerous for families. It’s when moms feel this way (and don’t know it’s normal) that non-evidence based care providers can use their fear to sway them to choose interventions they might regret later (such as membrane sweeps & inductions).
So often, we retreat and hide as the due date approaches. This is understandable and normal. An instinctual need for seclusion and preparation. You might find that your pregnant friends are a little harder to reach, less likely to venture far from home or start to pass on your offers to visit around 38 weeks. They know that the time for delivery will soon be here. It’s the same behavior that leaves us vulnerable to unscrupulous practices.
Instead of trying to speak for everyone, I’m going to speak for myself. I'm going to embrace the vulnerability of it all, so I can tell you what it feels like in this place of waiting.
I know that any day my baby could come. I also know that it could be weeks. Although I am term, I am still almost 5 weeks from the point of gestation when my first child decided to enter the world. That in itself causes some anxiety. For me, it’s the fact that I still have things I want done before my baby arrives. I tell myself, “it’s ok, you have weeks to get it done” but then go to bed every night nervous it was my last day without a newborn. This time around, add in that I have a preschooler, and I wonder every day, “was this the last day she was my only baby?”.
The part about my daughter; that’s the hardest part. I cry daily thinking about how I’m spending each of our last days alone together. Should I be at the park? A play? Cuddled up reading books? Should I be cleaning and preparing my home and business for the transition about to occur? So many 'what if's'...and so much not knowing.
Then there are the hormones, brain fog and anxiety. I have the sex hormones of a pubescent teen and the high emotions to go with it. I feel on the verge of tears most days, and I can be very sensitive to everyone’s words and actions. These things make me want to stay home to avoid any embarrassment on my part.
I have a very difficult time answering the question, “how much longer?” which I get regularly. I find myself rambling on about due periods, not knowing and postdate babies to the point I assume I’ve made everyone uncomfortable. I am then questioning my ability to socialize.
I am scared my current Lamaze students aren’t getting the same enthusiastic experience as all my past students. I worry my brain fog is affecting my ability to keep class on track and focused. I become self conscious, when simply talking gets me out of breath.
Then the elephant in the room. My first birth was traumatic. It's no secret, and you can read my birth story here (if you are in this place of waiting too I ask that you wait and read after your baby has arrived). I have included practices throughout my pregnancy in mindfulness, relaxation and meditation to help me focus on the positive birth ahead of me and not live in the pain of the birth behind me. I KNOW this can be a better experience. However, I am still a victim of obstetric violence and I do have post traumatic stress disorder because of my experience. When survivors of violence, loss, abuse, etc...give birth, there are more layers and more possibilities to consider. I know because I am a survivor, and I am a professional who supports these families. I’ve held the faces of women who flashback to their abuse, and I’ve reminded women “THIS baby is ok” and “THIS baby is safe” and “Nobody here will hurt you”.
I can choose Joy. I can choose to focus on the moments after these women have birthed when all the relief and healing floods the room. I can choose to think about the times I’ve cried with families after they realize their strength.
There are the good days, when all the fog clears and I see everything I have to be thankful for. My home is well prepared, my family is excited, my friends are supportive, I have access to midwifery care, my baby is healthy, I am healthy and I’ve done everything I can to facilitate a positive birth experience.
The reason I’m writing this isn’t to say how bad I have it and to have a pity party, but to embrace the truth so that I may focus on choosing joy; not fear. So that I may inspire other parents who may be struggling with the same fear, worry and anxiety. To say to them, this too is normal.
The truth is, everything is not easy. I’m not just breezing through these weeks, but instead working very diligently to fight the isolating, negative thoughts that could consume me during this time and choosing to focus on the positive. It’s not easy and I’m not always successful. Yesterday, for instance, I sobbed uncontrollably when I randomly lost the battle and my 4-year-old wrapped her arms around me saying, “it’s ok. The baby will come out and then Dad and I can hold it for a while”. Then I sobbed some more because she is the most precious life I’ve ever known and her whole world is about to change. Will she still be so understanding?
Credit: Photos in white shirts by Samantha Steen Birth Stories + Film.
Leave a Comment
My hope is this can start a conversation about how it really feels when we are waiting for baby. If you wish to share in the comments how it felt when you were pregnant, or how it feels for you during your current pregnancy, I’d love to hear from you and share in this space with you. If you don’t want to share publicly, I hope it helps to know, others feel the same overwhelming feelings.