I didn’t remember what to pack in my hospital bag so I ‘googled’ it. Candles, incense, family photos, playlists, snacks…all too much for me. I opted for the basics; toiletries, clothes to wear home for me and the baby, my cord blood kit, PJs that I know I won’t wear and the cutest disposable labor and delivery gown that is completely over the top.
But I realized I’ve also packed a few other intangible items that have no business being in my bag. Fear, anxiety, worry and doubt. Oops. I have to shake those loose, I know, but it’s a lot easier said then actually accomplished.
Where did these tag-along items come from? This is my third time around.
But I think that is precisely the point. It’s my third time around. They call it, “the miracle of childbirth” for a reason. Everything has to go just right in order for a fertilized egg to grow and deliver a healthy baby. EVERTHING. Sometimes I feel like I got lucky the first two times. Sometimes I feel like I might be playing a friendly game of Russian Roulette. Sometimes I feel like I may have rolled the dice one too many times.
I try to shake it off. I tend to look (stare) at other people who have three, four and five plus kids. They all seem to be doing just fine. The mom looks happy, dad is happy, the kids are happy. It’s just perfect. Then I see the mom who is struggling with her kids – one healthy one and the other in a wheelchair. For whatever reason, it sends me right down river. Women know we are capable of handling anything that comes our way, but that doesn’t mean you welcome all challenges.
That’s when the fear sets in.
What type of child will this be? Healthy, strong, precocious, beautiful, anxious, enviable, sickly, handicapped in some way, normal…? Will I have to make special arrangements for my genius child or mentally challenged child? Will they have a weight problem or an identity crisis at 13? What are we in for?
Then I start to worry.
“There was one night that I ran out of the Aqua Nate prenatal so I took a couple of the regular prenatal pills. Is that ok?”
“I know probiotics is safe but I’ve been taking a mega-probiotic for the last few days. Is that ok?”
“I had my belly waxed?”
“I ate a slice of cheese in Hawaii and I didn’t know what kind it was?”
I ask Hughan all the random questions completely after the fact. We all know he laughs and nods, “Calm down. It’s fine.”
“Did I follow the prenatal plan correctly?”
Now that I’m getting close, I’ve started to replay L & D moments from over the years in my head. Regardless of the fact that I have had two beautiful birth stories, I know that horrible ones exist. I hear them in the middle of the night when Hughan has to rush to the hospital, or during our morning tea time, or when our vacation plans are being sidelined because a mom is sick. I see the look on Hughan’s face when he is running through a procedure in his head and trying to figure the best course of action to save the mom and baby. As confident as I am in our medical team, I still don’t want to on the other end of that moment. Here we go again.
“Did I make the right decision?”
The other day I saw a lady fussing with her kids in the car. They were fighting over a toy instead of getting their seat belts on which meant they wouldn’t get to school on time which then means she won’t get to her appointment on time, etc…How do I know so much about their lives? Because that lady was me. When it was all said and done, I realized we all safely got to where we needed to be – sure I was a few minutes late but the earth didn’t stop revolving. I saw myself as ‘that’ crazy lady that I vowed I would never be. So I doubt my parenting skills; if I stress over two kids what will happen with three?
“Did I make a smart decision?”
Then we start from the top. Fear, worry, anxiety and doubt.
I used to go run in order to shake my demons. Today I can feel my thighs rubbing together. Running might start a fire.
I’ve taken to solving smaller issues. I get a weekly massage with Tara to work out the physical kinks. In the office, we all discuss possible laboring hairstyles that will accommodate my natural hair choice. I wonder, what color should I wear on my toe nails to match the labor gown I ordered? All little items but sufficient in refocusing my restless thoughts.
In the end, I’ve been to this Olympic race before. The race is the same distance but all the variables are new. You realize this time is different. So you get nervous all over again. I just have to remember how to use that nervous energy to my advantage.