Posted by: emjb | October 10, 2005

Downtime

In 4 days (since I have Columbus Day off) I stop working at my office and start working from home, in preparation for Imminent Birth Oh My God I Could Go Into Labor Any Minute.

I say working, but it’s more “working” since my child had the excellent sense to be due in the slowest time of the year for me. No new projects, just some dribbles and drabbles from old ones. My last four days will be spent deleting old files and reading over book proofs; once I’m home, I’ll have nothing but the occasional book proof to do, or perhaps answering the occasional question about the finer points of semicolons or em-dashes.

Which means that unless the kid decides to come early, I’ll have a lot of time for thinking and being in the house too much, and I’m a little worried about that. There’s not a whole lot left for me to do baby-wise, and without being in the office 8 hours a day, I’m afraid I’ll go stir-crazy. There’s not many options for amusement in the neighborhood, yet I’m scared to take the train anywhere, because I have this fear of giving birth on a subway seat and having to name the kid “F Train” or “Atlantic Avenue.”

I’m also so freakin’ huge right now that my pregnancy clothes are straining a bit, and yet I’m too close to birthing to want to buy more. Which means my old reliables get recycled quite a lot, despite the fact that I nearly flashed an entire Hasidic family this afternoon when the waistband of my stretched-out shorts tried to make a break for my knees. I barely caught them in time. I’m going to have to start safety-pinning myself together before I leave the house, just to prevent accidents. Or start wearing suspenders.

I am finally getting the occasional, Braxton-Hicks-ish cramp, especially when I’m tired, and I take that as a good sign, though still, it could technically be another month. Though God help me, I don’t know how I can get much bigger without rupturing my abdomen. I’m 48.5″ at my widest point right now. That’s like nearly two skinny people’s worth. Normally I think of myself as kind of stocky, but in the mirror, the non-pregnant parts of me are almost svelte in comparison to the giant gut-ball I’m carrying.

The baby turns and squirms and, I imagine, complains in his own way when I sit upright too long (it cramps him) or toss and turn in bed, requiring him to readjust himself yet again. Ideally, I think he would prefer I was either walking or lying on my right side, where he likes to settle, at all times. And eating, of course.

I’m intimidated, I’ll admit it, by the birth itself, and afterwards. I read lots of birth stories online, as I’ve mentioned, and more than a few tell me that there is indeed pain beyond anything you’ve felt before. Which makes you wonder, why the hell are you considering natural childbirth, you crazy bitch?

I really think it boils down to my disillusionment with drugs (legal ones, can’t speak for the other kind). I am that person who always has the weird side effect, or on whom the drug does the opposite of what it’s supposed to, or actually makes the pain worse. Mild pain-killers like acetaminophin are usually ok, but anything stronger is always approached with trepidation, because I don’t know for sure how I’ll react. Non-drowsy drugs knock me out on a regular basis, and half doses act just as strongly on me as whole ones. The lightest dose of hormones will throw everything out of whack for me. And the few times I’ve gotten really drunk, my hangover started before I even got to bed, and lasted for three days.

So the idea of whipping out the Stadol or Demerol, or epidural cocktails that include god-knows-what and are injected into my spine, gives me nightmares of being both loopy and high, and still in pain. And of having the damn things either knock me out too far or wear off too soon. Which happens fairly often to a lot of women.

I don’t want forceps, or a Cesarean, because I am very attached to my body and don’t want anyone damaging it without a damn good reason. Saving the baby’s life or mine is a good reason; having to fish the baby out because I’m too drugged to push properly, not so much.

It’s a devil’s choice, really. I do get the natural high that comes from natural birth, and the feeling of accomplishment, and even the spiritual transcendence that being completely aware allows you to have after surviving something so difficult. At the same time, those aren’t my primary reasons for going natural. If there were a perfectly painless yet side-effect free way to give birth, I’d hop on that bandwagon without a regret. There isn’t. So I’m going for the one that allows me the most freedom and control of the situation, since I won’t really have control over my body.

Hmm. That was kind of a tangent, I suppose. But at 2am on a night 3 weeks before my due date, they seem like the normal sorts of thoughts to have.

But I think I’ll try to sleep now, all the same.

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