I’m officially full term today, by anyone’s standards! 38 weeks!
Those sentences are about as cheery as this post is going to be, so if that’s all you’re here for (you must come here…infrequently) you can quit reading now.
I’ve had two episodes so far of thinking “maybe…could this be…am I imagining this?” Both episodes involved me waking up in the middle of the night to cramping and contractions – and a full blown panic attack. Last night was the most recent one, and it was preceded by a whole day of period like cramps, an evening of irregular and far apart contractions, a teary panic attack, and then the nighttime wake up.
I feel absolutely ridiculous. The nursery is ready. The car seat is installed. I’ve passed off 90% of my work at the office, my out-of-office message is primed and ready. We’ve got tons of food in the freezer. My parents are on stand-by. I am physically uncomfortable and desperately anxious to meet our baby girl. So why the panic? Why the tears?
Well, for one, because it hurts. And I lay there, watching the minutes tick by (3:34….3:35….3:36…) and think to myself, “Ouch. Fuck. That actually kind of hurt. Ugh, I hate period cramps and this totally feels like period cramps. Now I feel like I’m going to barf. Awesome. Wait, THAT feels like my stomach has been put into a vice. FUCK. That HURTS. FUCK THIS SHIT. TAMMY WAKE UP OW OW OW.” etc. And then I remember that, hey, I’m not even really in labor yet. Regardless if it is early labor (unlikely considering I’m not having contractions now, and only super mild cramping) or false labor, things are going to get a whole lot more painful before I’m done. And, to be brutally honest, I’m not sure I can stand it.
Emotionally, I’m a complete and total wreck. I’m cognizant enough to know it all comes from a place of fear. Fear of labor and delivery. Fear of the recovery. Fear of postpartum depression. Fear that I won’t somehow recognize my daughter. Fear that I won’t love her. Fear that Tammy won’t love her. Fear that she won’t love us. Fear that my relationship with Tammy will deteriorate. Fear that all those instincts you hear about just…won’t exist in me – that my trouble getting pregnant was some kind of indicator, some kind of Cassandra warning that I should have heeded.
Fear. Sickening, gut wrenching fear. Somehow, the birth of my daughter only became real in the past week or two. All through the months of fertility treatment and all through this pregnancy I never really allowed myself to imagine holding my child in my arms. And that fear, the fear that my dream would never happen, was awful and soul crushing but it only made me double down and grit my teeth. I was bound and determined that I would have a baby if it was the last thing I ever did. It became an all consuming obsession. Now that I’m faced with the reality of that obsessive, angry, steadfast drive coming to fruition, I find myself staring into the abyss – one of pain and darkness and I am unworthy of this.
Baby girl, please come out and prove me wrong.
Right there with you, and I’ve done this before. (Um, if you want to fell better, maybe don’t read my birth story. Pro tip.) Something that might help, a little: when I was actually in real, going to the hospital labor with my son, despite being in really awful pain (sorry) and now embroiled in something I had been afraid of for my whole life, I found I was not having the “I can’t do this/make it stop” feelings I’d expected. I was actually kind of excited.
Also, I don’t know what your plans are and don’t mean to coerce you or whatever, but epidurals are really great. The only good memories I have of my absolute shit-show of a labor are thanks to that epidural, and my feelings about getting one this time are not mixed in the slightest. (And no, I do not think it in any way contributed to the problems I had in labor, except that turning it off was a disastrous decision. My current OBs all seem to agree.)
All that said, I was a compete fucking mess before my last labor (there’s a post to that effect circa January or February 2011), and now that my aches and pains are starting to feel…..familiar, I am getting pretty damn anxious again. But I survived it once, I will survive it again, and so will you.
Oh, yeah, about the fear of not loving the baby part. I totally had that. And then, when he was born, it seemed almost funny that I’d felt that way. Loving him was automatic, like ving my parents. (I’m not saying I or most people have some kind of epiphany with angels and trumpets and so on. It was a lot quieter than that. But real.)
You will recognize and love this baby girl and she will love you right back. You are completely equipped to be an excellent Mommy. The pain is worse because you’re scared. I know that doesn’t help but if you relax and let it roll through you, it’ll be better. Use the training you got in Lamaze. You can handle much more than you think. When the real thing hits you’ll also have a ton of endorphins to help kill the pain. You got this Momma! I know it in my soul!
All of the feelings that you describe don’t sound at all like proof that you shouldn’t be a mom. Becoming a parent is kind of a big deal, and it would be scary if you didn’t have any concerns about it.
In terms of labor, the most important thing to remember is that it’s temporary. Even if it feels all-consuming and feels like it goes on and on, it really won’t. One of the most helpful things that my partner said after each contraction when I was labor was “that one is over. That’s one more that you’ll never have to do again.” You’ll get through it, and have a beautiful baby on the other side.
For us, birth and the newborn period were intense, and there were intensely hard moments. But also intensely sweet and lovely ones. And I have lots of faith that all 3 of you will come out the other side.
Hang in there!
Because you worry, you will be a great mom! You can do this!
Jeez, each and every one of those fears I also experienced. It is so very natural. Ironically, I imagine even more so for us IVFers. But, after having my sweet boy in this world for 8 days now, I can tell you without question that I never imagined I had the space in my heart to love something as much as I love him. It’s truly magical. Soon – so very soon – you will see.
Im so excited for you.
Awwww, I want to just give you a hug. The three of you will be amazing together, I know it.