As of today I’m 30 weeks pregnant. I can’t believe it’s flown by so fast and I’m not nearly as prepared as I’d hoped for! But I’ve been informed that quite a bit of the stuff I want to do can actually be done after Munchkin arrives, so I’m not panicking… much.
Last weekend we went to the clinic where we’ll be welcoming Munchkin into the world to do our maternity class. It was 2 hours, with only DM, myself, the midwife and a video.
Oh good gravy. The video.
On the one hand, it was a marvellously calm experience. The ladies in the film have now probably celebrated their offsprings graduations from university, it wasn’t the most modern film. But they gave birth without the hysterics that seem to be prevalent in movies. It certainly looked painful, but you didn’t see any of the wives screaming obscenities at their husbands etc.
On the other hand, I think both DM and I are permanently scarred. Somehow we seemed to have been able to remain oblivious to the mechanics of the actual event until we were sitting in front of a video with a full frontal view of the process. I think we both started to practice circular breathing. I know I certainly crossed my legs and started to wonder what the hell I’d gotten in to, as well as trying to devise exit strategies (there appear to be none, it’s much too late to hire a surrogate).
You’d think that, depending on which school of though you follow, God would have designed us a bit better/ we’d have evolved to allow for a little more wiggle room in the process!
However the clinic is perfect and just what we wanted. It’s completely equipped as a hospital but doesn’t have a ‘hospital smell’. The midwives are amazing and they do things just the way we hoped for. They aim for the best (a natural birth, no complications, breastfeeding coaching etc) but are also prepared for the worst (with a fully equipped surgical theatre and an anaesthetist on call etc). We left feeling very secure in our decision; a little apprehensive about the actual process, but knowing we’re in very good hands.
On the same day, we went to have a 3D ultrasound of Munchkin and now know that she has chubby cheeks, a cute button nose and is perfectly formed. There are no extra fingers or toes and she doesn’t have a second head (thank God/ flying spaghetti monster for that! I now know there is just no room). We also know that just like her parents, she’s stubborn. She was determined to hide behind her hands when we wanted to see her for photos/ video and then to do what felt like very energetic interpretive dance as soon as we left the scanning center. She did give us proof she can stick out her tongue already. Cute little brat. I can’t wait to meet her properly.
I also feel like I’ve survived what a good friend of mine describes as the ‘pregnancy hazing’.
It’s Murphy’s sodding law that right at the time you’re at your sickest, your most emotionally unstable (&^%$#ing hormones), and panicking because you’ve realised that your entire life is about to do ‘a snow-globe’; that the hazing commences and is at it’s worst. The snow-globe is when everything in your life bubble starts flying about with reckless abandon, you’ve no idea where any of it is headed or where it’s going to land, and like the Eifel tower/ Santa figure glued down to the base, all you can do is hold tight to your other half and reassure each-other that no matter where it all lands, you both can work it out and you’ll survive.
But holy crackers, the pregnancy hazing! Consisting of the worst case scenarios (eg. the 357 hour births without pain killers, the 28 month morning sickness etc). The questioning of some friends, a few family and complete strangers of every child/ pregnancy decision you’ve made or are in the process of making. What your doctor says will be wrong. The place you’re giving birth will be a poor choice (whether it’s in a private clinic, the local hospital or in a paddling pool in your lounge; at some point you will be repeatedly advised that you’re making the wrong decision). What you eat or don’t eat will be wrong. The level of exercise you do will either be too much or not enough. You’ll either be gaining too much weight or not enough. The choices you’ve made about baby equipment will be wrong. The clothes you’ve bought will be the wrong colour and you’ll have spent too much money on them or not enough. You’ll either be a hypochondriac who is only sick because you don’t have a real job therefore not enough to occupy your mind, or you’ll be pushing yourself too hard and doing too much. The worst part of it all is that you’re already doubting yourself and questioning whether you should even be allowed to procreate, let alone be responsible for the healthy upbringing of a small child. So all of these slings and arrows can seem twice as hard to cope with.
It’s enough to send an ill, emotional, hormonal, terrified woman past the point of no return. Your doctor will be telling you that you need to keep calm and relaxed to help your baby. But how on earth are you supposed to do that when everything you do or don’t do is wrong!?
Your husband, staring at the woman he loves, starts wondering where the secure, happy woman he married went (or at least where she left her sanity) and how on earth he gets her back. And this is where it all started to turn around for me.
A couple of ‘cards on the table’ chats with DM ensued. And I realised that pregnancy and raising kids is like having a religion/ philosophy. Most everyone believes what they’re doing is right and that those doing it differently are wrong. We all tend to gravitate towards those with the same beliefs or philosophies. Some people are much more rigid in their beliefs and have a lot more rules than others. It’s not that any of them are right or wrong (unless they’re abusive of course), it’s just we’re all different. Only, whilst openly questioning someone’s religion, belief or philosophy and categorically stating they have it wrong is something of a social faux pas, when it comes to childbirth or child rearing, it seems it’s open season. And as I have a wide social network with friends, family and acquaintances from a wide range of cultures, religious beliefs, philosophies and sexual preferences (it’s one of the things I adore about being an expat), this is going to result in a very wide range of opinions and beliefs.
I’ve now a semblance of my sanity restored (the hormones still seem to occasionally take it on holidays). And I now give the comments and discussions the same level of interest and attention as I give all opinions and beliefs. I love hearing them and discussing them (as long as they don’t turn into personal attacks or ‘attempted conversion’), as I enjoy continually expanding my knowledge, challenging my preconceived notions and learning, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to follow them or ‘convert’. DM and I discuss, research and make our decisions together. And we’ll happily live with the repercussions of those decisions, good or bad.
I know there are a lot of mums and soon to be mums reading reading my blog. I’d love to hear how you survived the pregnancy hazing!
But, oh goodness, Munchkin has commenced interpretive dance routine number four for the day on my bladder… got to run.