I’ve cried three times in the past twenty-four hours. Just seeing the tiny knit hat on the side table – and picking it up to smell the sweet baby detergent scent – does me in.
My baby girl is, according to an early ultrasound, now 16 days past my “due” date.
My body has been warming up – and feeling as if it’s on the brink of labor – for the past month. But the last few days, especially, have been filled with starts and stops, hopes and letdowns.
Right now, she is moving around as if she’s got all the time – and room – in the world.
As of yesterday, I’ve wanted to hide from the outside world. All of the well meaning questions and inquiries and incredulous looks only make me feel as if, somehow, I’m failing to deliver her on time, as I should be doing.
We live in a culture of fear around birth and due dates and advanced maternal age.
And it’s impossible to shelter myself from it. Even if my husband and I have done our homework and are well informed about the actual statistics, risks, studies and choices that are available to us.
Forty-two weeks, even if due dates are best guesses, is considered the cut off – the expiration date – of pregnancies in the US.
Never mind the risks of interventions, it’s the stories we’ve all heard, or witnessed – or, worse, experienced – that we often cling to. All it takes is one story to shape our perspective – to formulate our belief – to plant the seed of doubt or fear in our minds.
And birth, even when it’s “on time” and progressing as we’d hoped, is an incredibly vulnerable experience anyway.
To be here now and to choose to give her a bit more time – even with the attentive care that I’m receiving (like two midwives driving over to my house late tonight on Thanksgiving Eve to check on us) – is hard.
It’s recognizing that control is only an illusion. It’s braving my fears as I consider alternatives that I’d hoped to avoid. It’s valuing the experience and knowledge of my midwives and yet owning the choice – my choice – of how I want to proceed today.
Because all I have right now is today.
And let me be clear: I do not believe there is anything wrong with choosing induction or a C-section. I believe every woman should be well informed of her choices, knowledgeable about the risks, cared for and supported by competent and responsible practitioners, and, ultimately, supported in making the best choice for her baby and herself.
Whatever that might be.
There is no right or wrong. There is no guaranteed path to success or risk-free plan of action. There are only choices. And differing recommendations, suggestions, and opinions that must be weighed and considered.
But in the end, it comes down to summoning the courage to keep choosing my next step, based on where I am today.
And waiting – without knowing the how and when – is the hardest part.
It’s requires that I trust myself deeply; That I believe in my ability to filter the information I receive through good judgment; That I listen to my body and my own wisdom; That I take care of myself emotionally as I wait.
And I am still learning how to do all of that.
In the meantime, more tears may come.
No one said that this would be easy. I only know that I must choose to be brave. And, literally, carry on…
(Photo credit to my 8 year old daughter, Amelia. Update: Baby Maeve arrived this past weekend at 42.5 weeks.)