Emily: So, let’s start off by me explaining that we totally just DID a short-winded version of this chat through texting, but I decided we had to do it again because I’m long-winded and need access to a full keyboard.
So, bless you, our entire pregnancies, for putting up with my OCD and perfectionist needs.
Shadea: I am not inconvenienced in the least!
Good – I swear, this will be a theme both through our pregnancies and especially this chat — I think in a lot of ways, you have a more go with the flow vibe going on, and I have more of a fixated focused vibe. They’re both good in their own ways, and I like exploring how we meet in the middle.
So, remind the lovely people how far along you are…
I am exactly 38 weeks and 5 days today, 10 days from my due date. Which I’m trying – again, go with the flow – not to fixate on.
Because it really it a bit arbitrary and because I have a few things to wrap up at work next week!
And I’ll be 37 weeks tomorrow.
So we are both at that point of — it COULD be any time now…or it could be several more weeks.
We’re both straddling the possibilities of NOW! and WAITING.
Yeah, it’s a strange place to be in. One of the things you and I were texting about is trying to find that middle ground between being TOO aware we’re ticking time bombs, and also not emotionally prepared for the very real reality that we could go into labor at any time.
Do you have a lot of people commenting/asking/speculating at you all the time?
My coworkers have a running joke when they see me come in in the morning – “Ah! You’re still here!”
It actually makes me feel good that they are so lighthearted about it.
Yeah, that’s a positive way, I think — acknowledges your position, and that it’s incredible you’re there, and is light-hearted without imposing a time limit or pressure on you.
I take it as a kind way of saying, “We are pleasantly surprised you are still not in labor.”
Yes, like, wow, you’re here, that’s awesome.
And – bonus – it makes me laugh. Which I think is a good thing overall. All that oxytocin!
Apparently, everyone around me is convinced I’m going into labor immediately. People at both my work and especially Shaun’s work — they’re constantly trying to convince me I’m going into labor in July (my due date is first week of August), that I’ve dropped, that I’m not going to make it however many more weeks.
It can be frustrating — it feels like they’re not allowing for my intuition or even my knowledge of my own body. (I’m not dropped, she is IN my rib cage half the day, I feel it very much.)
See, I actually have dropped a little, and although there are a few people who are like – “You’re gonna be having it on my birthday!” — there’s not this fortune-teller certainty /know-it-all attitude to deal with.
Yeah. I try and remind myself these people are coming from a place of love and excitement to meet our child. It’s not mean-spirited or meant to feel condescending.
And as for dropping, as my doula Emi says – he/she may drop early or he/she may not drop until hours/minutes before they’re born. There’s no way of knowing.
I imagine it is frustrating to be TOLD.
Yeah. And I think it also can be frustrating because it’s not like you and I don’t KNOW that we could go into labor anytime.
I think we deal with it in different ways — you take some space from it, I focus on it — but people commenting can make it seem like you’re oblivious to your own condition that you are feeling very heavily.
So, how DO you deal/not deal with the waiting? Can you elaborate on your head space/coping techniques?
We are most certainly approaching this from different angles.
I think, “This is happening when it happens, and I trust myself to know that it is happening, so I’m going to go about my business and take care of things.”
Which is to say, I’m not fixating on the date, on my “condition,” on this labor, and trying to trust that I’ll be mentally prepared enough to manage – because I feel like if I fixate on it, I’ll psych myself out.
Sounds like you are also really trying to enjoy your last few days as a technically non-parent.
Oh yeah – definitely trying to embrace my independence a little too. I had quite a lady day yesterday, with the realization that brunch and pool time would be much more complicated in the next couple of weeks, if possible at all.
But I kind of compare this to an athletic event? Or some competition that you’ve prepared for? You have to trust that you’re ready and know that you are going to just do your best.
Ha, see, this must be the dancer in me — because we’ll be off stage, rehearsing and practicing, up until the minute we step on stage! Anyway, continue…
Because becoming overly worried, to me, about the process and what happens in the play-by-play is enough to make me flustered and anxious.
Whereas I think you take a lot of comfort in planning and thinking the process through.
Yes! I was going to say, this is so, so fascinating to me — because I think you and I have the same worry, and the same potential freak-out in mind…but since our brains/personalities are, of course, different, we need to handle them in completely opposite ways.
For me — my fear of freaking out over childbirth comes more from the desire to not arrive at the moment — whenever it comes — and wish at that second that I had spent more time preparing. Because in that moment, I’ve got to go with whatever tools I have my arsenal, and they may be limited or they may be dull, and I guess I feel more confident if I feel like, even though I will not be able to control when or how or what exactly happens when, I have made sure that I am as emotionally and physically prepared as possible.
And reflecting afterwards – I think part of that is because I’ve had such this sense of shock and doubt at actually becoming pregnant – I think part of me, maybe even a LARGE part of me, is still going to be shocked that I get an actual baby at the end of this. I rationally understand she’s real, but until she’s in my arms, I’m going to be slightly doubtful – so focusing on preparation is my way of trying to ground myself in reality.
Honestly, though, I think seeing the contrast with you is helpful. Because I’m like – yeah, maybe I should walk through the process a little, not wait until the last moment to pack a bag.
Yes, I just thought something similar a minute ago — it’s good for us to talk to each other, because I think we’re both fairly extreme in our coping mechanism, and it will do BOTH of us good to be drawn towards the middle ground.
And I think, there’s no way I’m ever going to be completely prepared for everything that is about to happen, so I will have to rely on the adaptability skills in my toolkit.
Yeah, and that’s wise too. I try and leave space for Not in Control in my visualizations/planning.
For all I have a lot prepared, I don’t really have specifics of birthing day and birthing plan — I have preferences, but I fully expect to not be able to control day or night, the traffic, the staff, the birth pool. I guess it’s like packing for a trip — I’m an overpacker. I want to have an outfit and a spare for every weather possibility. So in birth, I’m making sure I feel adaptable because I’ve at least considered so many situations, and changes of plans.
Yeaaaah! At the end of the day, I try to just whittle it down to – “This is temporary, physical pain.”
I mean, overall though you’re feeling confident and sound? Soundly prepared?
I do, really, yes. I don’t feel so anxious, and that’s because I am trying to spend time doing the thing that makes my frantic squirrel brain feel better — reading/listening to birth stories, nesting, doing stretches, listening to Hypnobirthing. And most importantly, I’ve just adopted this very firm confidence — it started more as fake until you make it, but I guess I’ve made it, or gotten as close as I can right now.
I aggressively think – I CAN do this. I WILL do this. Things will go smoothly. It will be harder than I can understand right now, but I will just DO IT.
Because, yes, your body will do it.
Like you said — at some point, it’s just physical pain. That sucks, and it will be HARD to cope with at times — but it’s also only 1-2 days (hopefully, ha!) of this experience, and then…the rest of our lives.
As my mom will remind me, no one has stayed pregnant forever.
Your body has been doing it – growing a baby – without your brain’s help this whole time
So why not trust it to get you through the last bit too?
Yes! So many of the birth stories I’ve heard lately — and this is another reason they’re helpful, the mental lessons women share — is just trust your body. Your body knows what to do. And that’s so comforting. My squirrel brain needs to shut down and let body take over.
SPEAKING OF BODY…let’s talk physical side of things. Sounds like we are both amping up emotional coping in whatever way works for us…how are you FEELING?
Overall, I’m good. I feel guilty to have had little complications – not too much pain, no intestinal issues, still sleeping relatively well. I’ve been having what I think are Braxton Hicks contractions in my back periodically, but they aren’t too intense and if I get up and stretch and walk around, I feel fine in about 5-10 minutes. It’s like a dull soreness more than a sharp pain. Which, in some ways makes me nervous because the pain and the discomfort are like boot camp for baby
It’s interesting to me that walking helps them end for you — more walking/movement/even a full bladder give me more. I’m getting a ton, all day, every day, since about 30 weeks.
Yeah, I have to stand up at least, bend at the waist, and try to stretch it out.
I usually try to just make myself stop, if that’s possible, and focus on my breathing techniques, those deep, deep breaths – like you said, it’s boot camp. Even if mine don’t hurt, per se, it’s a good practice to stop and actively relax.
I think I was really spoiled this pregnancy too — in the grand scheme of things, I had a really easy first and second trimester. I didn’t have nausea or heartburn, and like you, I’ve been super lucky not to have any complications or issues.
I think part of me thought that third trimester would continue the same way. I didn’t take the idea of BH, CONSTANT(!!!!) need to pee, constant thirst, rib pain, hip pain, the ungainly clumsiness — none of it seriously. I thought I’d skip past all that like I did everything else. WRONG.
I honestly felt great all through second trimester, and really into third trimester…up until these last 3 weeks or so, and then it’s been a really marked difference. Suddenly, things became a lot more physically difficult.
Aw, man. Again, like the last time we talked, I’ll take this trimester over the second any day.
I will say — I DO enjoy this stage more. The discomfort and frustration are real — but I feel way more validated and justified, and like we talked last time, I said that the reality of my baby coming is more real and tangible, so I’m willing to endure this more.
It’s also kind of hard to extract what’s just happening around you at the time as what is really causing the stress or the discomfort. For me, at least. It’s hard to say – was I more irritated because work was more stressful, or because my pregnancy was making this more difficult to deal? Who knows.
But yeah – the physical reality of this big belly and the cumbersomeness of it are hard to ignore. Again – 10 DAYS OUT.
I know we are both fairly active people — and so, for me, having always done at least SOME dance and yoga, I’ve been used to being at least some degree of dexterous and flexible. It’s been a rude awakening, struggling to get out of bed at night, or bumping into everything. That’s one of the things I didn’t expect to be as in-my-face with its intensity, and at times it’s discouraging.
My midwife Jackie at some point in the middle of my pregnancy – and in the middle of one of my second trimester crying/therapy sessions (“I just don’t feeeel like myself!”) – recommended that I just take control of one thing that made me feel good. And I just took that to heart and make it a point to swim laps on Thursdays.
Feeling in control of my body, in the pool, stretching and actually exercising is like the best liberation and I say that to mean – it’s a nice counterweight to the rude awakening part. The part on dry land. It helps be feel in control of my body again.
I think that’s really sage advice — in a situation where you cannot control so many things — find one concrete, possibly even seemingly inconsequential thing that you CAN control. Just to balance the scales.
Another thing that helps, of course, is support from our spouses/baby daddies — and I’m just almost amused by both our situations, or — rather, our husbands’ situations lately.
Because, of course, these final weeks are the times we want those daddies in PEAK CONDITION — because we need a bit of extra help, because we want them to be ready to go and support us when we go into labor, because we want them to be able to enjoy the first few minutes/hours/days of meeting their children.
Yes, and I think they want that as well. They want to be the best support they can.
Aaaand you and I have both had — I don’t know if SCARES is the right word, but we’ve had um, less than ideal husband situations recently.
Share a bit about Davis?
Basically, Davis contracted a bad case of poison ivy this weekend. And – seriously, poor guy! – it is making him suffer. It’s in the worst places – his face, eyelids. He’s gotten it before and it is super uncomfortable, makes him understandably irritable, and on top of that, he’s worried I’ll go into labor before it clears up. Which, ahem, less than ideal. Hahahahahaha. He just feels worried he won’t be able to be his best self.
Yeah, that’s SO miserable at any time, but especially now!
How did that make you feel?
In an interesting way, it’s a nice to have him to focus on and not the actual pregnancy. And I didn’t even think “Aw, shit, he’s gonna be awful during labor if it happens before this clears up!” until he brought that to my attention.
Yeah, that’s sweet that HE worried about that first.
It was – but now I’m considering it and was like, “OK. Please just go to the doctor and get the good stuff.” and am looking up remedies that I fully intend on forcing him to try one after another until he is kind of sick of me, because this shit has got to clear, STAT.
Yeah. There are times when you soldier on and deal with life’s hard knocks, but this is not one of them
For BOTH your sakes’.
I also worry that he’s not going to be able to fully enjoy the birth process, or be present for it at least, and that he’s going to feel hesitant about touching the baby. I mean – he has it on his lips and I am going to need those little kisses!
I also just have to trust that I’ll actually be late – yay! statistics! – and that this will all be a funny footnote.
Yes! And most likely you will, and like I said — Shaun is also super allergic to the faintest whiff of poison ivy, and anytime he gets the steroid shots, it clears it up SO quickly. Dried in a day, fading in two. So hopefully Davis will be right as rain here soon.
So, we had a bit of an issue a week or two ago — Shaun really hurt a muscle in his back while doing yard work. Just yanked when he knew he should have paused and gone to get the clippers. He was like Davis, immediately, he was so worried, he kept saying, “I’m so sorry, I know this is the worst time.” And it was heartbreaking, because of course, like you said, I didn’t want him to be in pain OR feel guilty.
It’s the worst thing to have something bad happen and then to also feel guilty about it.
“Habibi! Don’t compound the shittiness with guilt!”
I’ll admit, just because of the nature of the injury — you never know with back pain, it could lay someone up for weeks, and we don’t HAVE weeks — I immediately went into Nurse Mode.
NURSE MODE ACTIVATED.
Both out of concern for his well-fare, of course, and because I knew he’ll tough out anything, and insist on going to work and doing his normal tasks — and I wanted him to baby himself for a day or two to promote healing sooner rather than later. Didn’t want this to be a three-week thing when it could be a three-day thing.
I encouraged him to take a day off — which, we counted, and the last time he took a sick day from work was literally years ago — and got him heating pads and medicine and rubbed his back with my carpal tunnel hands.
The good news is that after 3-4 sore days, he was feeling so much better.
That is such a relief!
So there’s a really interesting dynamic there — I am glad we are both strong, smart women who realize our men need just as much care and to be in just as good of shape as we do — because both baby and us will need them.
I think in part it’s about trying to just create a loving environment for everyone to function in.
Yes! You need to be able to depend on each other — this goes for any relationship, and marriage at any time, not just baby time — everyone needs to lean on the other, we take turns.
It honestly feels good to have an excuse to worry about him, to take the emphasis off of myself and the baby, and to have the opportunity to remind him how crucial he is in this process.
Yeah, remind him he is just as important.
That’s one of the things Shaun and I talk about for AFTER. We’ve been warned by our parent friends how difficult the baby’s dependence on Mom at the beginning can be. Can make Mom feel overwhelmed, and Dad feel left out. Shaun and I talk about small things he can do to bond with her and establish his own relationship (burping, reading to her as he does now, changing diapers, just small responsibilities) — and NOW is just as good a time as any to establish that the fathers are a part of it too.
Davis has lamented before that there’s not really a lot of resources for him to rely on that are specific to the dude’s emotional experience. The “expecting father” books are about adapting to the pregnant wife and preparing for baby – which DUH IMPORTANT – but less so about the emotional, life changes.
Because – how do you put it? – the transformation of maiden to mother is well established, but what’s the equivalent for the dude?
Yes! Travis (Emi’s husband) keeps joking he wants to have man doula time with Shaun — but it’s a legit need. Moms ARE the focus, and for good reason, BUT…dads are important too.
Do you follow @dontforgetdads on IG?
I don’t! I’ll have to though.
It’s run by the same people who do Birth Without Fear — and very simple, just — don’t forget dads. Don’t forget that they’re just as much parents as moms are (“I don’t babysit, I parent.”) and also honoring their contributions, their sweet moments, their bonding.
Love it. ❤
Well, other than those three big things – the END IS NIGH, OMG OUR BODIES, and PARTNERS IN PEAK CONDITION – I’m not sure I have any sending off thoughts – other than – woohoo, babies!
My only thoughts are this — and it sounds like you might already be better at this than me — my mom said something, a week or two ago, that really gave me pause, and it’s become my new focus lately. I wonder if you are feeling the same way…
As we discussed, I AM very focused on preparation and needs and being responsible, and that, combined with the physical discomfort, definitely can make me a bit robotic at times.
And my mom really reminded me that this time is fleeting, and I’ll miss it when it’s gone. You hear people say “YOU’RE PERFORMING A MIRACLE” and it doesn’t always strike the right chord. But the way she phrased it did.
I totally have been so focused on being prepared, both with baby stuff as well as birth preparations, or else wallowing in bodily changes — and when she said that, I had this moment of realizing — I’ll never be pregnant with my first child again. It will never be this completely NEW experience for you or me again.
So, in these final weeks, I’m definitely taking more time to slow down. To not just acknowledge the kicks, but really be thankful for them. To really notice how this feels, and take stock of my emotions, and be grateful and present with this experience, my feelings as it stands right NOW.
What an excellent end note, how precious all the time is.
Yes. So I really hope these last 10(??) days are very peaceful and lovely and soft for you.
And I hope that you are embracing the chaos and that you are relaxed and confident through your final weeks.
All right, dear — as always, thanks for indulging with me, and for your insights. I feel like — I’m totally gonna be available for emotional support via text, etc. as you prepare for labor and presumably experience it first — but in terms of rehashing birth and how it went for you — we may have to wait until I’ve experienced it too.
Just because, for once, we’re not going to be mostly on the same page, you’re most likely to go through that transformation first. So like I’ve said before — I’ll meet you here on the blog at the end of August, so we can both go HOLY COW WTF JUST HAPPENED TO US.
To be continued…