How to prepare when birth is imminent. On waiting…
My dearest friend Anadi was due this past week. Baby has other ideas, as they often do. Very opinionated little creatures. My husband always said that they are ‘almost human.’
My Amish mamas would respond when anyone asked their due date, “Well, time will tell.”
No drama. No stress. Time and baby know. Carry on. Rest, eat, clean the bedroom again. Check the freezer and count the meals, again. Scrub the kitchen, again. Nesting takes time. I once shingled a whole outhouse with cedar shakes five days after my ‘guess date.’ Hannah arrived–they always do–just as I hung the homemade curtains in the biffy (like a house on fire! 40 minute warning was all I got and I was holding her. Actually, David was holding her, having caught her because the midwife wasn’t there yet.)
Before my babies I used imagery. Every night before I would doze off to sleep, before another trip to the outhouse, I would envision the birth: the soft lights, in our case candles and kerosene lanterns; the other kids all sleeping in the loft, the wood stove humming and popping as sap and fire met. Me shaking out clean sheets on the downstairs couch, while sipping tea. Then I would picture transition and pushing: wordless, timeless, soundless space where the cosmos stand still for the night of my baby’s birth. I didn’t picture music or talking or much else. Not even thinking. Just watching my body do what it was created to do. It had grown this baby without much knowledge or input from me, it must know how to get it out when the time comes. “Thinking so much” if I can paraphrase Dr. Michael Odent, “will not help the next generations of Western women, who will loose the capacity to birth naturally,” he predicted. Even the abundant use of Pitocin might be sending a message to our collective anatomy as a species that we don’t need or seem to use our natural hormones and as a result they may be eliminated from evolution in the future.
When my twins were due, and it was about five days to their ‘guess date’, I couldn’t eat anymore. I couldn’t even poop. There was no room left for anything but babies. Isaac turned out to weigh 7# 15 oz. and Ruth 7# 7 oz. I couldn’t do this anymore. So I got on a bike and pedaled for an hour around the dirt roads at The Farm. Ina May had given me the OK to get things rolling. They were no longer considered premature and they were sure the babies would be over 5 pounds, which they obviously were. (This was in 1982 before the advent of sophisticated sonograms.) Biking did nothing. It wasn’t time yet. I had to wait another week. My water broke as I bent over the tub to get my toddler, Avi out one evening. Now we were in business. I was ecstatic! The twin placenta weighed 5 pounds, by the way. Of course there wasn’t room anymore.
Above: Anadi at about 17 weeks
Perhaps by the time I post this blog, Anadi will be pacing the hallowed halls of the birth center, breathing slowly, trying not to burst with excitement, wondering if she has a girl or a boy, shivering with the thought that she could be holding her first baby in her arms very soon. There is a quote, by Laura Stavoe Harm that reads, “There is a secret in our culture and it is not that birth is painful, but that women are strong.”