41 Weeks: The Answer is No. And Yes.
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
No, I haven’t had the baby.
No, I’m not going to ask to be induced.
No, the baby doesn’t seem to be huge. Just average-sized.
Yes, the baby is healthy. So am I.
Yes, I’m positive they calculated my due date correctly.
Yes, I’ve tried that. And that. And that.
Yes, I’m losing my mind.
Yes, this is eating into my maternity leave now.
Yes, I’ve had some signs that I’m getting ready.
No real, regular contractions.
This last week has been an interesting combination of nice and awful.
Nice, because my mom is here, helping with our daughter, running errands, and just helping the hours pass. With Scrabble and Penny Press word puzzles.
Nice, because I haven’t had to work. My daily responsibility is to get my daughter to daycare. And take walks.
But it has also been awful.
Starting with the fact that this last week was the first week of Trump’s presidency. What a week… Can anyone process all the garbage that’s coming out of the White House right now? I feel like every day this week, there has been something else that threatens fundamental American principles, values, and norms. (Please tell me I’m not the only one.)
And then there’s the thought that my mind returns to about every other minute of the day: I’m still pregnant.
My mind spins on and on.
Why in the hell is this baby still in there? Am I not walking enough? Am I not eating enough? Is it because I’m drinking decaf coffee? Is it because I have some undiagnosed hormonal imbalance? Is it because I’m 35?
Oh, you’ll go into labor earlier with your second one, they all assured me. The second time is much easier. Your body still has the muscle memory from the last birth. It will happen a lot sooner and faster this time.
Maybe I should have had my membranes swept at 39 weeks to speed the process along. Maybe that’s the reason I went into labor earlier with my first child. My doctor swept my membranes–without my consent, might I add–at 38 weeks. It still took me until 40 weeks and 4 days to go into labor though, and another day to actually give birth.
So I ask myself, What is so different about this time?
I keep comparing this whole experience to what happened to me with my first baby. I can’t help it. I’m looking for patterns and signs, aligning them with last time, and then making estimates.
I’ve lost six pounds of water weight. Should be another two days.
The baby has moved down further. Probably just another week.
Then I blow past my estimates. Over and over again, I’m disappointed.
Every morning I wake up, and I tell myself to start fresh. I go for a walk in the darkness of the morning. Enya sings to me and I feel understood.
Winter has come too late
Too close beside me.
How can I chase away
All these fears deep inside?
I’ll wait the signs to come.
I’ll find a way
I will wait the time to come.
I’ll find a way home.
I tell myself that today is a new day. Today might be the day. I tell myself that tomorrow, maybe, we’ll be through this birth.
I tell myself to imagine my future self, reaching back through time, shaking me by the shoulders, telling me to not wish away these last moments of pregnancy.
I tell myself that once this birth is over, I will likely mourn its passing.
I tell myself to enjoy this time with my mom.
I tell myself that all I have right now is this moment.
I tell myself that even though my mind craves the certainty of falling back onto my previous experiences, in my heart I know this birth will be nothing like last time.
I tell myself, Just one more afternoon.
Then, Just one more night.
Then, Just one more morning.
Today could be the day.