battle of instincts

April 17, 2012

i finally admitted to myself that i’ve been sick with a cold for the last week. i’ve been brushing it off as allergies or somehow due to lack of sleep as i sneeze and cough all over people and now i’m feeling remorseful for such actions and, well, bad enough to just stay home. but frankly it’s quite hard to do, bustling as i am with all this crazy nesting instincts. turns out that is not a myth of pregnancy (nor is “pregnancy brain” but that’s a whole other story. my sympathies for my clients are multiplying daily, that’s for sure). after a packed weekend, yesterday was supposed to be a day of rest for me to recuperate my strength. however, “rest” interpreted by me at this stage of pregnancy is re-potting all my seedlings, power walking around the neighborhood, running errands, writing thank you cards, making homemade baby wipes, and hand quilting late into the evening. mark tried to lead by example by doing crossword puzzles on the couch all afternoon but i was too busy to notice. today before he left for work i confessed to him all the secret plans i had for the day to ensure that i would not do them.

i think i’ve learned my lesson. a little bit.

i’ve at least managed to stay in bed all day, by filling the bed with snacks, books, and cough drops and watching trashy reality television to numb me into oblivion. i got real ambitious a few hours ago and tried to take a bath but a huge centipede suddenly appeared by the faucet and wouldn’t go away, thereby intimidating me back to bed again.

the Lord works in mysterious ways.

at any rate, all this running around and manic preparation has me ready to relocate this child of mine outside the womb. i know i’ve probably got a much longer wait ahead of me than i’m anticipating but whatever residual anxiety i’ve had about childbirth/parenting is slowly dissolving into genuine hope and excitement.

i attended what should be my last few births this week and was entirely blessed by the gift of witnessing a natural, intervention-free birth. in the specific population that i work with, this is an incredible rarity (i think the ratio is 2 out of the 20 i’ve attended) and so i consider it a special grace from God. it reinforced a confidence that i have struggled to maintain throughout my own pregnancy – that our bodies really are designed for the work of labor, that we as women are stronger than we think, that the little ones that emerge from us join us in the birthing endeavor.

so many women begin doula work after their own labor experiences. i’m obviously coming at it from a very different angle. i think that is why pregnancy has felt so foreign to me at times – it’s been hard at times to really embrace and possess my gestational experience. i have been more comfortable talking to others about their babies, their uteruses, their births, their breasts than i have about my own. for the first half of my pregnancy, i had regular internal dialogues between “doula lauren” and “pregnant lauren” (pregnant lauren, for the record, always thought doula lauren was full of shit) until i finally learned to just give up the distinction. simple as it sounds, i had to come to terms with being a pregnant doula who needed as much care, reassurance, and attention as my own clients did. i still struggle with this, ie. at births where i operate as i did pre-pregnancy until my own fetus wiggles or a random wave of nausea hits me as a reminder that things are different now. my body is not my own. hell, my mind is not my own, nor my soul – every part of me is entwined with this little life that grows within. no matter how immersed i find myself in any other activity, there is always something calling me back.

in some ways, i’m glad that i will have a brief interlude from births before my own happens; in other ways, i’m disappointed that i’ll be missing the births of some of my clients who i already have such great affection for. either way, i think this space is necessary to allow myself to just breathe, prepare, focus on the impending entrance of my own critter into this crazy world of ours. i read an article today by a doula also preparing for the birth of her first child, written as a meditation of sorts. she says:

“my body itself becomes the doorway for this life which has grown inside of me. a life i love beyond words. no matter how this birth ultimately manifests, this love is the bedrock. . . .

as a doula, i become a mother, and both identities merge in love.”