March 19, 2001
The Peace Has Arrived

Today's Pic
I feel all "smiley" once more. Do I appear intrepid?
One year ago (or thereabouts): He thinks I need a hug. All I need is a nap.
   

On Friday, my day of packing was interrupted by the knock at the door of the FedEx woman, delivering a brief respite along with a package for the Bit and myself. Kymm had sent us a copy of Operating Instructions (really, a great book; I'm already mostly finished reading it) and a box of absolutely divine chocolate truffles. In the space of a few minutes, my entire day was lifted straight out of the mud and into the sunshine.

I was also given explicit instructions that I was not to bring this child into the world until after Easter, as Kymm is currently on a Lenten journal-reading fast. I don't believe that I'll have any difficulty complying with that wish, though the world seems bent on convincing me otherwise; every time I turn around, I'm being inundated with stories and tales of babies that came too soon, or with complicated entrances. Just yesterday we learned that one of the ladies in my birth class gave birth to her son prematurely; she missed the class on pain-relief techniques, which had been her biggest fear. ("I need that class," she had whimpered only the week before. Apparently her baby disagreed, for he came out of her womb unhampered by his mother's uneducated state.) Jenn's premature birth of Hadden, while having gone miraculously well, has still resulted in his extended stay in the hospital and a very sad mother. On television, every other show has been collaborating to produce the idea that birth is a dangerous, violent activity, fraught with peril at every turn. Eric and I have taken to trying to guess the affliction with which each pregnant woman will be struck during labor; last night, during The Practice, Eric called out the blow-by-blow account of Ellenor's birth like a sports announcer: "She's on her back! They're rupturing her amniotic sac...there's cord compression!" Babies don't come happily or easily in Media Land.

And yet...well, even after all that, I'm just not afraid. Sometime surrounding all the ultrasound anxiety, when I was asking everybody I knew for hir or her prayers for peace of mind, I ended up receiving far more than I thought I needed. I feel an absolute state of calm and readiness for this birth. Yes, it's going to hurt; yes it will be difficult. I am unafraid. More than that, I'm excited! I actually find myself looking forward to labor. Is that strange? It feels like the most natural concept in the world.

During birth class, the instructor asked us all to picture the pain of labor visually, then to draw it on paper. As I closed my eyes and imagined, I saw cool colors of purple and blue; I imagined waves of sensation and, yes, pain, enveloping me and squeezing me - not angrily, but purposefully. I'm not anxious about this pain, not in the way that I might be about breaking a bone or cracking my skull. This is positive pain, if that makes any sense. When we opened our eyes and reached for the crayons and chalk, the nearly unanimous mad rush for the red and orange colors astounded me. Eric sat next to me, drawing concentric rings of what he described as "burning red pain" and "nausea green" - his experience from his own gallbladder attack of a few years. All around me were images of sharp corners and fiery rings. I sat alone, in front of what looked like a picture of me wearing a purple and blue inner tube.

My mother's birth experience with me was nearly painless, so much that she and my father played cards almost until the time came to push me out into the world. Until a month ago, I was still laughing and joking that hopefully I would follow in her footsteps. It occurred to me, then, that such wishful thinking was probably not productive and could be potentially harmful. Labor, almost universally, hurts. I'd be a fool to naively think that I would escape the pain, or even that I could "relax it away." If I can't face what's most probably coming my way, then I'm going to be met with a horrible surprise come birthing day.

So I'm facing it, and I find myself not in the least bit scared. The peace that I've sought for this entire pregnancy has finally come over me, in tsunami form. I feel such a presence of protection that I marvel at it myself. Normally, when I feel this level of confidence or security, it is always lined with doubt: "Am I fooling myself? Is this all in my head, and the truth will come back to bite me? It can't be real." Right now I have no doubts. Even if I have to be transported to the hospital, even if I have to have an emergency C-section, everything will be fine. I'm not afraid. There's not even a feeling of a "for now" clause in that feeling.

It feels great.

   

Today I got my first, "Wow, you must be due any day now!" from a stranger. It was hard not to wince at the look of shock that passed over her face when I informed her that the baby wasn't due until June. Still, the idea that this child's arrival isn't so very far away is beginning to dawn on me. Let's see, March is almost over. It's very feasible that this child could come in May, since we're due so close to the beginning of June. In only a week, I'll be able to say that this baby could be here as early as next month. We've already long since dropped into double digits to express the days remaining before my official due date; Eric was quite startled when he heard me state the actual number to a friend over the phone.

The time is drawing nigh! The ladies here at the library have already set the date for when they plan to throw me a baby shower - April 6th. After that, I'll be able to dive into the actual leftover shopping in preparation. We're now in the homestretch, and it feels like only yesterday that I was staring numbly at the positive pregnancy test. Who would have believed that the time would pass so quickly?

   

The big moving day has been set for this Saturday. I ache anticipatively.



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