Since the birth of my second child five weeks ago, I’ve struggled to find a meaningful way to describe the experience for you. Our world is a revolving door with people coming and going at an astonishing rate. Nearly 50, 000 babies are born every day. So why should you care about mine?
Though my new little person and the proud big brother are the light of my world, there is no reason for me to expect my readers to feel the same rush of excitement I do about my experience. Every baby is a miracle, but that victory is God’s, not mine. The fact that He chose to bless my family with a perfect new member is awe-inspiring, especially considering everything that had to go right for that to occur. He did the hard work. My body and I just fell into line.
As I paced our bedroom in the throes of labor, my husband suggested we go to the hospital for the fourth time that week. “No!” I insisted. “They’re only going to send us back home again.” I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would carry this child forever. A little less than twelve hours later, he arrived.
When we got to the hospital, after my husband’s insisted, I promised myself that once I settled down I was going to take in every little detail. I wanted to remember more this time around.
Labor was long but relatively easy with my first son. The agony again was in the wait. I wanted to see my baby ‘s face and learn whether I’d be buying pink or blue clothing. Most of all, I wanted to experience what my sister-in-law described as “the best feeling in the world” – that moment when they first place your baby on your chest. When that moment arrived at last, and my firstborn child’s skin made contact with mine, every frustration I faced bringing him into the world melted away.
Almost three years has passed since that day, and no matter how hard I try to replay that moment in my head, I can never bring back that same feeling. During the worst moments of my second pregnancy, I kept reminding myself that I would have that sublime experience again soon. But, this time, I would find a way to prolong that moment as long as I could – forever, if possible.
For about five minutes after I discovered I was the mother of two boys, I held my younger son so close to my heart, it felt like he had never left my body. I gazed at his tiny features – nearly identical to his big brother’s and inhaled his soft, sweet pink skin. I traced his bare back with my finger tips, as I sent a prayer of gratitude to the One who gave me this sacred gift. Still, even as I try to recreate this moment on the page, as I allow my mind to drift back to that not-so-distant moment, it’s flat.
So, why does it matter to you that I experienced something so personal, and yet so powerful? Fifty thousand mothers around the world share this indescribable moment with their newborns every day. Every birth is a window to heaven. Every baby is God’s reminder that He’s never far.
July 02, 2012 02:43
By Robyn Barberry
At 37 weeks, a baby is considered full term. At 37 weeks, that baby’s mother is usually done with being pregnant. I took a survey of my friends on Facebook and determined that most women agree that the last few weeks of pregnancy are agonizing. The question I posed was this: “Not sure what’s more perplexing - the first 16 weeks of pregnancy or the last three or four. Let’s take a poll, moms: Reply “A” if first trimester’s sworn secrecy, despite ever-present nausea frustrated you more or “B” if the uncomfortable waiting game of the final stretch (including the marks of the same name) was tougher to take.” Of the twenty-two women who responded, fourteen voted “B.” Two of the women who chose “A” had premature babies, who thank God, are now happy and healthy at home, just like the children of the other women.
So, what is it that makes those last few weeks so difficult?
First, it’s the physical discomfort. At 37 weeks, I looked, felt, and moved like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. Ever expanding and fluffier than a banana cream pie, I found it taking longer and longer each day to waddle from my classroom to the bathroom during the five minute break between our one hour classes. My feet had disappeared, which meant I could splurge on a pedicure and, like a Greek goddess, received daily assistance fastening my sandals. The baby’s feet had settled into my ribcage, the head into the lower part of my spine, as the elbows danced across my belly. I consumed strange combinations (Papa John’s breadsticks, Sprite, and Swedish Fish) and quantities (an entire large order of Five Guy’s fries) of food, knowing full well my gluttony would only lead to indigestion. I was averaging an hour of sleep each night.
The sleep loss had little to do with the acrobatics occurring in my womb or heartburn. It was worry. What if something is wrong with the baby? What if I don’t make it to the hospital on time? What if my water breaks in front of my classroom? What if I never have this baby, and I’m pregnant FOREVER? Despite this being my second child, I spent a tremendous amount of time in the hospital and doctor’s office in the three weeks before I had the baby.
The baby’s movements had slowed, so we had to ensure there was enough amniotic fluid.
My first baby was nearly 10pounds, so we needed to check the size of this one with a sonogram.
Braxton Hicks contractions made me think I was in labor – I wasn’t.
I thought my water broke – it didn’t.
The more I agonized over the wait, the longer it seemed to take.
When a mother is waiting to have her baby, though, she isn’t the only one who is anxious. If she’s lucky like me, the father of the child is ready to drop everything when the baby decides to arrive, even if it’s just another false alarm. Grandparents, family and friends also can’t wait to meet the new little one. “Baby yet?” text messages and emails crowd inboxes. Upon arrival at work, co-workers exclaim, “You still haven’t had that baby!” as though you were unaware. As a teacher, my students offered their own commentary, such as, “You look like a hippo.” Total strangers dispense labor-inducing tips or say, “You must be due any day now. You look like you’re about to pop!” Worst of all are the horrific play-by-plays of other people’s birth experiences or unsolicited parenting advice from people who would not ordinarily speak to you if it weren’t for your giant belly. Most people mean well when they express their musings about the impending birth, but for many pregnant women, comments about their appearance or the fact that they are still pregnant only add to their frustration. When I see a woman who appears to be nearing the end of her pregnancy, I smile at her and I tell her with my eyes, “Everything will be okay.”
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of late pregnancy is not knowing when your child will arrive. As hard as it is to accept, babies will arrive when they need to arrive, be it early, late, or when a mother and doctor mutually decide that medical intervention is best to ensure a safe delivery. Some women schedule C-sections or inductions, but even those situations don’t always work out as planned. I was induced the first time, since the baby was overdue, and was scheduled to be induced the second time since another big baby was anticipated. Instead, my second child decided to show up a few days before the scheduled induction. As you can imagine, that was fine with me.
Like everything good and bad in life, the anxiety of the last few weeks of pregnancy are part of God’s plan. Some women love being pregnant. For the most part, I did. But, it’s an experience that must end, even when it feels like it never will. The discomfort we feel in those last few weeks cues our bodies and minds to detach ourselves from being pregnant and prepare for birth and motherhood. Mothers become so desperate to see their unborn children that they will suffer anything to arrive at that point of first contact and will continue to make sacrifices for their children throughout their lives. It’s God’s way of allowing us to transition from caring for a life within us to caring for a life outside of us.
Do I miss being pregnant? A little. Most women do miss having that big, round belly and the feeling that a life is growing inside of them. The smiles from strangers and ability to cut to the front of just about any bathroom line were nice perks, too. But, when I think back to those agonizing last few weeks of anticipation and look at the beautiful baby in my arms, I’m in a much happier place.
June 08, 2012 10:57
By Robyn Barberry