So, babies come on their own schedule and this baby seems to have a plan completely different than his/her brother did. You see, this baby has already been in an entire week longer than my son was. Also, this time, my body seems to have learned its lesson on having no pre-labor and just trying to do everything at once and, this time, seems content to do lots of prodromal or pre-labor. (As a matter of fact, for the last three days, my body has decided to work on labor for about an hour or two every night at about the same time and then just decides "that's enough for the night" and quits.) I know that this baby already has a birth date in mind for him/herself, and that it is very important for the health of the baby and the success of my VBAC to allow this baby to come to fruition in his/her own time, but, in the meantime, I'm left with a lot of waiting that I didn't have to do with my first child and I have to come up with ways to spend it that won't (A) overtax me because I could go into labor any day now, (B) won't cause ongoing stress if I were to go into labor any day now (so no "big projects" that would have to lay around messing up the house for months while I have a newborn and no time to finish them), and (C) still allow me to do the things I need to do to keep the house stocked and ready for that moment when the baby does come. All this is in addition to ignoring the well meaning prods from people I know about why I can't just have that baby already and trying to keep my sense of humor intact as the baby grows ever larger, my body grows ever more tired, and I become ever more uncomfortable and feel less and less like doing anything. If you are in this same boat with me, I present this list of things to do while you wait in the final weeks with both sincerity and humor. Just keep reminding yourself that all babies come out . . . eventually!
1. Indulge in Your Favorite Hobbies.
Whether this is your first baby or not, it's sometimes hard to fathom the amount of "me" time that you will no longer have once you are caring for a newborn. An avid reader, pre-first child, I could not fathom that there would be days when the only time I would have available to me to read might be the two minutes in which I brushed my teeth at night while my husband held our son. There are days when a five minute shower is a luxury that must be fought for and must serve as your "alone" time for the entire day. I imagine this must be doubly true when it is not your first child you bring home, but your second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.). So, spend these unexpected days of waiting indulging yourself a little. I've been embroidering and sewing a lot because it took me nearly a year after the birth of my first baby before I was able to embroider anything again. This time it may take longer. Might as well tackle the little projects that would ordinarily get put off!
2. Let Yourself Be a Little Lazy
This is one I'm really struggling with because I really want to have the house in good shape when the baby comes so that when I have to let it slide, it won't have as far to slide backwards. However, that said, I've been earnestly trying to let myself spend the day sitting if I feel way too tired or I've been trying to limit the amound of crazy cleaning/shopping/etc. I do on days that I have lots of pre-labor going on because I know that I have the marathon of labor in front of me and I want to be in top physical shape for it. So, when I feel I need to sleep/nap/rest I figure that I should because labor will wear me out and the more energy and strength I can bring into it, the better shape I will be in on the other side of it.
3.Eat Your Favorite Foods
I have terrible pregnancy reflux right now and am eating dairy free, so I can only do this within reason, but I've learned to look at every meal as if it is my last. I don't necessarily indulge myself by letting myself always have the fatty, sugary treats I might want, but I do make for myself my favorite protein rich, nutrient rich meals like spinach and sundried tomato omelets or homemade dairy free chicken pot pie, or even let myself eat out once in awhile. Those first few months after I have the baby, I know that we will mostly be eating the meals I have pre-frozen for us, but for now I look at each meal as my possible last meal before I go into labor. Why skimp and eat crap if I know that I could need whatever energy I get from that meal to carry me through who knows how many hours or even days of labor? My last labor I found that after the first ten hours or so, I just found it impossible to make myself eat anything, so in case that happens again, I'm trying to be very kind to myself right now. Besides, if this baby likes to nurse like my last one did (at every meal time), these may be the last warm meals I have for the next year or so!
4.Amuse Yourself by Considering Giving Honest Answers when People Ask "How are you doing?"
Okay, so maybe this is just my private hobby, but I sometimes get some good giggles by considering actually answering the cashier who notices the strange look on my face as I get a strong contraction as I'm checking out at the grocery store with an honest answer. "Ow, my uterus!" or "I'm okay. Just my cervix hurting as it ripens a little at a time." or "Everything's okay. I was just determining if I was really going into labor or not and trying to see if my water was breaking." The internal monologue of a very pregnant, "due" woman is not something that most of the world is ready to hear about, but it makes me laugh to think of telling them anyway just to see their reaction.
5.Read a Book/Watch a Movie About Climbing a Mountain or Some Other Inspiring Feat
Currently, I am reading a book about George Mallory (the climber who attempted to climb Mt. Everest three times between 1915 and 1924 and whose body was found on Mt. Everest in 1999 who may or may not have been the first to reach the peak, but there's no evidence as to whether or not he actually made it on his last attempt). Why I like doing this right before I know I'm going into labor is two-fold. One, it's entertaining and it reminds me that there is a world outside of whether or not I am going into labor today and two, I get a kick out of thinking about the challenges people put in front of themselves to conquer and the passion and the lengths they will go to in order to reach their goal. (I consider my VBAC my own, personal Everest.) This is especially true for men, in particular. I really wonder if Mallory would have been so intent to climb all those mountains if he had just been born a woman and could realize the challenge and satisfaction to be had in giving birth! Maybe he still would have needed mountains to climb, but maybe not!
6. Spend a Little Extra Time Enjoying Your Life
A new baby is a new beginning for your entire family, but it is also an ending. Something I wasn't really prepared for when I had my first baby was the way I would miss and mourn my former life. As much as I was ready to be a mother and desperately wanted that chapter of our lives to begin, life with my son irrevocably changed our life as a couple. There were growing pains on both sides and sometimes it was quite a struggle to see where "we" had gone. I am better prepared this time to understand that whatever amazingly good that may happen in the next few hours/days/weeks, I will also have to say good-bye to the life I love that consists of just my husband, my son, and me. So, I'm trying to soak up the bittersweet hours where it's easy to find time to wrap both arms around my (currently) only child and spend a little extra time looking at and talking with my husband before there are two little voices to drown him out (temporarily, but still!). I'm trying to enjoy outings that are much simpler without all the paraphenalia a newborn entails and with only one nap a day to plan around. I know that having another child is abosolutely the right thing for us and is everything we want to have happen any day now, but I also want (this time) to recognize, enjoy, and savor the final joyful days of being a family of three. I know that these days will seem like simpler times when our fourth arrives. It's a little like enjoying the last days of summer before moving on to the next grade of school. Sure, you are excited about what the next year will bring and you want to see the challenges you know that you are ready for, but it does feel good to sleep in those final days (or sleep at all in the case of impending newborn motherhood!).
Thanks for Reading!