Most of this pregnancy has been smooth sailing. And I’m not talking about the fun physical changes to me or the little life inside either. I’m talking about the emotional hormonal pregnant woman rollercoaster.
Calm. Happy. Going with the flow. Not particularly worried about anything, really. Just like Bob with a well-lit spliff hanging off his lip.
Until I hit 30 weeks.
And then HELLLOOOO anxiety! Where have you been? You almost missed the party! Only 10 weeks to drive this woman and her poor husband truly crazy before Little Miss arrives and all hell really breaks loose.
It started with antenatal classes. I decided a while back that it was worth doing them because:
a) NIH needs to have the ‘full’ experience and it’s only fair he has some warning of what’s coming; and,
b) it’s been a while and I thought a little refresher course for me couldn’t hurt.
And it was all fine … right up until the end of the first class, when the leader (lecturer? labour whisperer? ) said two little sentences:
“Partners, listen to your wives’ breathing during labour. When she goes from pushing sighing breaths out like this “whewwwwwww” at the end of a contraction, to a deep guttural “wherrrrrrRRRRRRRRR”, that’s a good sign she’s going into second stage and wanting to push.”
When she made that noise, crystal clear memories of that EXACT feeling that hits when you’re getting to the business end of childbirth came rushing in and I barely managed not to exclaim “Holy FUCK!” out loud and scare all those poor sods who don’t know what’s coming.
But I remember now. I know what’s coming. As I explained to NIH later, just because I’ve done it three times before doesn’t mean I like it. I cried at home afterwards.
And since that little meltdown, it’s like I’ve opened the worry flood gates and everything is getting to me. I spent a good two days sitting at my desk at work with headphones on – not listening to music; not making or taking a phone call – just to stop people from talking to me. I was mortally afraid I’d cry if they asked me a question I couldn’t answer … like “How are you?”.
I am exhausted but only sleep about 4-5 hours a night, waking up at 4am to worry about anything and everything.
I worry about work. I’m currently recruiting for my job and feeling the pressure. What if I can’t find anyone? What if the person I pick is shit? Or – even worse – way better than me? Will there be enough time to train this person or is my co-worker going to be left carrying the load? If I’m going to be completely truthful, the biggest fear I have at the moment for work is losing my shit and crying in front of someone.
I worry about money. We are so very fortunate that I qualify for maternity leave here in NZ and get 18 weeks paid plus enough unpaid leave to have a year with Little Miss before heading back to work. But we still have a house back in Oz that we haven’t been able to sell. Luckily, we’ve been able to rent it out for almost a year but it only covers half the mortgage, so we’re picking up the slack on top of the rent we pay here. That’s fine when you have two incomes … but things will be very tight after July.
Of course, I worry about labour. The clock is ticking down to the moment where I will be required to push something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon. Last time – in fact, the last two times – I had a hot bath to soak in for most of labour and it worked absolute wonders in taking the pain away and making those hours leading up to the main event much easier to deal with.
We don’t have a bath in our flat. That scares me. The bath was my go-to. I knew it worked. How will I cope with the pain this time?
Of course, there’s the classic – Will she be ok? Is everything going to go smoothly? Will there be complications? And I can’t even bear to think about worst-case scenarios. My mind just completely does a 360 degree turn.
And then there’s the afterwards. I have 18 years of care ahead, starting with nappy changes, breastfeeding, colic and a few years of no sleep. I’m not in my twenties anymore.
What about my other kids? Sure, they’re grown up and all but how’s this going to affect my relationship with them? Will they like her? Will she understand who they are? When am I ever going to have the money or the time to fly home to see them again?
Around and around and around in my poor shrinking brain cell head.
Funnily enough, now that I’ve written it all down and am reading it back … things really aren’t so bad. I mean, sure, labour is hard and painful but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. I can choose a water birth in the pool at the birthing centre or just go in when things start getting interesting and sit in the normal bath to ease the pain.
Nine times out of ten, childbirth goes well. And if it doesn’t, we are very close to the largest teaching hospital on the North Island, with all the medical facilities to cope with emergencies.
My kids are grown ups now, and lovely warm-hearted human beings to boot. They’ll be fine and the addition of Little Miss will only add to our shared relationship. Besides, they have their own lives to lead and don’t rely on me anymore.
I’ll cope with breastfeeding and nappies. I have infinitely more patience than I did 20 years ago and after dealing with three kids under five years old, one tiny baby seems much easier to handle.
The house will re-rent for more money or sell. And if all else fails, I’ve crunched the numbers and know that we will cope. We won’t be living the life of Riley but to be honest, we will be more interested in sleep than anything else for a while – and that’s free.
Whoever takes over at work will be fine. My co-worker is an awesome teacher and so easy-going. He’ll take care of the newbie. At the end of the day, work will go on without me and I’ll be missed about as much as the proverbial hole in the bucket of water.
In the end, perhaps Bob Marley was onto something … even without the toke on a giant spliff.