My due date was this past Tuesday. And it came and went like every other day. Everything here in my home is prepared to meet the arrival of our little son, Samuel Dominic. But my bag isn't quite ready to be thrown in the van. The car seat is still not put together. The base for the car seat isn't even installed yet. This is my sixth full term pregnancy. Aside from the first baby where I was induced at 39 weeks for pre-eclampsia, this is my fifth pregnancy "post-dates". All of my other children were born between 41 and 42 weeks. I expected the pattern to continue, and considering there is no sign on the horizon (zero contractions, zero uncomfortability, no signs of nesting even) that Samuel will come in the next couple of days, I think I will not be disappointed in my assumption. Another one of my babies "will be late."
I write this today to encourage mothers. Mothers who are waiting to hold in their arms what they've held under their hearts for these last nine months. Especially mothers for whom this may be their first time being "late" to start labor. Peace, my sisters. Your baby, your body, and your God all know exactly when the time is right. It's funny how modern common obstetrical practices look down on anything in this country but an over-medicated, intrusive labor and delivery as witchcraft, that these same "professionals" would be drawn to this tiny little "wheel of fortune" to determine universally our due date, isn't it? Just as we shouldn't trust our fate to an astrological calendar, we shouldn't trust our baby's Birthday to a spinning wheel in the hands of someone who doesn't take the time to consider our baby's growth and development but would see us through the lens of a piece of paper. More importantly the date written up there at the top. You, my sister, are more than a piece of paper, you know that that little life inside of you (which feels bigger and bigger everyday!) is more than a date. I encourage you to find the strength and support you need to allow your body and your baby decide which birth day is the best for the two of you. Too many can crowd and fret their way into this intimate time for you and Baby. Block them out. Find the support you need (luckily for me, I have the best husband in the world to run interference for me from these "Negative Nancies" and a midwife who is willing to let me go the full 42 weeks before talking induction and has been nothing but supportive and encouraging the entire way...) Seek out and cling to a supportive friend, your spouse, a parent, anyone who understands that life never comes in a convenient package, and never goes according to "the plan". We didn't begin our lives according to our own will. We will never be taken out of this world at the moment we plan (unless through the sin of despair) according to our own will. Why should the day of our birth be determined then by anyone other than He who has "numbered our days aright"? Trust, my sister, and rest easy. Your day will come, that beautiful moment in which you see your little child face to face, and it will be a moment worth the wait.
Here are some ways in which I am preparing, or have prepared in the past for the birth of my child. Maybe you can find comfort and suggestions here on what to do to pass the time. Maybe it will spur you to be more bold in voicing your need for support right now, in your decision to wait it out for that precious child. Whatever the reason, here are some more reflections on that final two week wait which seems the longest and hardest part of the entire pregnancy.
I fill my home with love. I am blessed to have a home that is already filled for me by 5 of the most beautiful and loving children I've ever met. I seek out and spend time with each of my children, and try to hold them more, to recognize them more, to have quality one on one time with each one of them. This is hard for me to do, as I'm generally more achy with a lot less energy, and I get touched out easily. But if I can find the time to snuggle with my toddler on the couch while reading her favorite book, its a good day. If I can find the time to listen to my 9 year old son explaining to me the marvels of his latest scientific exploration, its a good day. If I can go for a 10 minute walk with my middle son of 7 to hear his thoughts and ponderings on life while exploring the beauty around us, its a good day. At this point I know that quality replaces quantity time, even for this homeschooling, stay at home Mom. I am welcoming to my closest circle of friends, Moms who have been there with newborns (whether late or not), swinging by to drop me a meal, or bring me a cute layette to clothe my newborn in. I give up worrying about the state of my home when they come, I trust in my friends to understand that my body doesn't allow me to examine and clean the floors as well, and that the toys, the clutter, the chaos is also a sign of the countdown currently underway in our home.
I pray. Insomnia does set in for me at this point in my pregnancy. I lie awake, trusting that I will rest tomorrow, thanks again to my dear husband who works from home and can run "crowd control" as I nap or sleep in. But during these darkest hours, I seek out our Blessed Mother. I pray a Rosary for my upcoming birth. I pray for the grace of patience. I reflect on and fall more in love with the sounds of my slumbering husband. I do not envy his sleep, for I know that he will be strong for me in the morning when I find myself unable to be so. If I feel my little one stirring (which usually in the quiet is easier to feel) I stroke my belly and speak to him. As I feel my body begin to prepare for birth with some effacing contractions (I usually get these for two or three days prior to the start of active labor) I take the time to reflect between each contraction to write a little love letter to my baby whom I know I will soon meet. I have love letters for each one of my children, which will be given to them when they're grown and I'm gone. It's a special time for that heart to heart with my own dear child, as I feel my body begin to prepare to give them everything they need to enter into this world.
I do take walks. In some ways to encourage labor should the time be right. But also to enjoy the movements and the feelings it creates in my body. Bringing that baby down, by gently walking up and down my driveway, seeing all the beauty of nature, and feeling connected to God's great creation helps me to be strong. It helps me to pass the time. It helps me to capture a feeling of relaxation in the midst of a contraction, which I then bring with me into my labor. It's like a mental rehearsal before the big concert.
My husband takes time out of his day and takes me for walks around. We're lucky in this instance to have my Dad and a friend here with us to watch the kids so that my husband and I are pretty much free to come and go as we please. But in labors past, we would drop the kids off at friend's houses, sometimes overnight, and just spend a few hours together in quiet companionship. Either we'd go shopping, or walk around some of the more quaint New England towns in this area, or we'd spend a night in. A last chance for romance, with massages and long soaks in the tub, and whatever else a good marriage calls for. A little red wine at this point can't hurt either. A chance for two adults, two soul mates to come together and remember the very reason this child was conceived. And to rejoice in that union once again.
My sister, I would encourage you, find whatever means will support and encourage you at this time. Nourish yourself, body, mind, and soul and fill yourself with nothing but positive thoughts and love. This time too will pass, focus on the time of advent within yourself. God has a plan for you and for this child, revel in His process. There is nothing wrong with you. You read that too quickly. There is nothing wrong with you. THERE. IS. NOTHING. WRONG. WITH. YOU. You are strong, you are in control, and you call the shots. Your advocacy as Mother begins now, with you deciding what is best for you and for Baby. Even before you begin advocating for him in playgroup or preschool. Even before you begin advocating for him at the Doctor's office or to family members. Even before you begin advocating for him in any other part of his time here on earth, know that its worth the fight to let your body decide when he will make his entrance. I know you're tired. I know you're sore and more than slightly immobile. I know these aches and pains, but I know that in the end they are all worth it. You will too, and it will be beautiful. Trust in the will of God. Trust in your body. Trust in nature to take its course. This is what you were designed to do, what your body was made for. Take this time of waiting and make it into your own intimate journey towards motherhood, towards a new relationship with a precious, unique, individual soul.