Today I am 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. It’s such a physical reality that it’s hard to believe it’ll soon be a distant memory. The midwife stripped my membranes yesterday and I’ve had some action since: discomfort, pressure, contractions. I’m at work today, so nothing that has slowed me down completely, but I am wondering. I’m waddling down the hallways, going to meetings, sipping my coffee, listening to the trains going by on the waterfront, writing copy and all the while some part of me is thinking: “what if my water breaks right now? Is that a contraction? My feet are so swollen. I want a snack.”
I’m struck by how much this process belongs to forces beyond me. “Surrender” seems to a big theme in birth literature and I can see why. Only Starling knows when he’s coming. I suppose that’s been true all along, even/especially while trying to conceive, though at the time it was harder to let go of the illusion of control.
Whether or not he comes this weekend, I’m not coming back to work on Monday. It was supposed to be my last week, but the rest of my life is more important. I really want more time with Jaybird, too. He woke up three times last night and finally ended up in our bed around 5:30. I heard the door open, cracked an eye and saw his grinning face: “Mama! It’s morning time!” I pulled him up into bed with a mumbled, “it’s snuggle time.” He wrapped his arms around me and immediately went back to sleep. He just needs that, needs us, needs the affection and the attention. I’ve been worrying about how Starling’s arrival will affect our relationship. I know that I’ll be wrapped up in the haze of newborn-land, nursing nonstop and sleeping when I can get it, while Jaybird will be his usual high-octane self. Uno’s parents are coming to spend the week with us/him after Starling comes, which I’m grateful for, though some wee part of me is jealous. I’m also jealous of his bond with Uno’s brother, who lives with us, because they have such wild fun together. “Uncle __ is my BEST FRIEND,” he announced recently. I used to be the “fun mama” but pregnancy and full-time work has sucked some of that away.
I’ve heard from a lot of couples that once baby #2 arrives, the non-birthing parent spends a lot more time with the oldest kiddo. It makes sense, of course. I just have to trust that my bond with my son is so tight, it doesn’t matter if we have less time together for a while. Trust, trust, trust. For our last birth class we wrote these affirmations and my top one was: “I trust myself and my body.” A friend of ours has passed along a related piece of wisdom I often return to: “Trust your future self.”
So, yeah. We’re on the cusp of a huge transition. Our family dynamics will shift, inevitably. I am along for the ride but I’m not driving. Uno and I like to talk about being “on the chicken bus,” from our days traveling in Central America. You’d be crammed into an old American school bus packed well beyond capacity, hurtling down a green mountain road with no guardrails, and there was nothing you could do but hold on, watch the view and wait.