Annika’s birthday is tomorrow. Every year around this time, I have very specific
memories of the week leading up to her birth.
It was quiet week of reflection, worry, and in hindsight, pretty self-centered. Not overly selfish, but the self centered-ness of a person who is not in charge of another human being. It’s something I miss sometimes and allow myself the yearly indulgence of pondering those moments. It’s a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever get back, because even when she’s not with me, I still feel her. I am never really alone anymore.
But that week I was. Only, I didn’t realize it.
Even though it was early May, the heat was already flattening down the air and being so large, all I wanted to do was sit in air conditioning or lounge in the pool.
My biggest worry during the week was not impending motherhood. Strangely, that still seemed a long way away as my only concern was my upcoming labor.
With mildly high blood pressure my doctor recommended that we induce a week early. I was terrified of pitocin and my pro-natural-birth doctor promised we’d do everything we could to avoid it. (She broke my waters and that was all it took.)
It was the final moments before my life was going to be completely upturned. I had no idea. I had no clue! All I worried about going into labor. I was right there in the midst of my final moments of pure, unadulterated freedom and I completely missed it.
I was completely free. I was done with work. I could sleep as late as I wanted. Eat when and what I wanted. Do whatever.
So what did I do?
I practiced hypnobirthing and every day listened to my meditation CD while envisioning the ripening of my cervix. Along with this I was downing as much raspberry leaf as I could muster.
Oddly, my most vivid memory is going to Taco Bueno every single day for lunch and piling jalapenos from the nacho bar onto my food, hoping that if I ate enough peppers, I would induce labor. While I ate, I read a book. God, when was the last time I ever actually sat in a restaurant and just ate without fussing over a child? Admittedly, eating out has gotten much easier, but still.
That week my daily spice was the main thing I looked forward to every day. Otherwise, I was so groggy every morning, from being large and tired and hot, that I could barely roll my huge body out of bed to dress myself and take the dog for a walk.
I went to the doctor to have my membranes stripped.
I walked, even though I hated ever moment of it as my feet had swollen to the size of footballs. I am not kidding folks, it was the second most hideous thing about my body during pregnancy.
That week, as I look back on it. I can taste the freedom that I had and never even knew it.
It might seem selfish, but every year around this time, I think back on that week and I wonder what/if I would have done anything differently if I had known just how all-consuming motherhood would be.
There are many moments in my life that stand out. But that time is not so much of a moment, but a state of mind that I’ve missed somewhat in the last four years. It’s the tiny bit of selfishness that I hoard and hold in my brain, wondering if I will ever truly feel that freedom again and I wonder if next time I will taste it, savor it and delight in it more than I did before.