Well, we’re nearing the end of this incredible journey. T will be full term at the end of the week, and the days are flying by so quickly that it truly feels like we are running out of time. Good thing we have just about everything ready–just about, anyway. Now is as good of time as any to write about the third trimester and some of my anxieties about the upcoming birth of our son.
First, I’m not sure I have the “blues” exactly, but there are some things sort of dragging me down, so I’ll discuss them briefly.
1. I’m tired, and I can’t seem to shake it. Obviously with T as far along as she is, I don’t expect and won’t allow her to do much, which makes it incumbent upon me to lift, carry, clean, cook, shop, etc. Lately, especially, I seem to spend my days doing things that wear me out: putting together the nursery, shampooing the carpets, getting the car repaired, etc. We’ve always had a very egalitarian relationship, so taking over all the duties has taken its toll on me. I’m not a youngster anymore! I don’t have an endless resevoir of energy. Of course, every time I start to feel even the teensiest bit sorry for myself, I look over at T and see her huge belly and consider just how hard it is for her to get around, and then I slap myself for getting pooped in the first place.
2. I want to live in a cocoon. The past couple of months have been really busy in regards to obligations, traveling, etc.: two baby showers, one wedding, several overnight visitors, birth class, appointments, hospital tours. I just want to turn off the spigot of outside disturbances and focus on us! T and I love to host; we are very good at it. That said, I don’t want to be responsible for anything or anyone right now except for T. Even the cats seem a burden right now. In the mornings, I just feed them and put them out. But it seems as soon as I sit down for a brief respite, one of the beasts is screeching to be let in–or out. Put simply: go away and leave me alone! (disclaimer: this does not apply to my neighbor who may be reading)
3. I feel more exposed than ever. T wrote about the “Daddy’s Night” issue. It’s a tough one. I’ve been selectively “out” for fifteen years; that’s what’s comfortable for me. I get to know someone, and then when it feels natural, I may mention my partner, and that’s it. Being thrust into the heterosexual world of birth, I’ve been exposed in a whole new and unexpected way. Now, most people have been great. Our midwives and OB seem to like it, actually. They’re very inclusive, so I never feel different. It’s the straight couples that are having a hard time with us. Not all, but some. Here’s what I mean. In birth class, I get stared at all the time by two of the husbands. I don’t know why, and I can’t figure out whether I’m just a novelty or there is true hostility coming from them. The last hospital tour we went on, the nurse kept using the word “fathers” to describe the labor coach. I tried like hell to let it roll off, but T was visibly upset. The nurse seemed to catch on and changed her vernacular afterward. So, yeah, I feel different than everyone, and everyone knows it. I just want to blend in and be a part of the experience without having to be some diversity example.
4. I have my own set of birth anxieties different than those of expectant mothers and fathers. Early in our birth class, the educator had us break up into groups of mothers and fathers to discuss our fears about birth. I stayed with the moms and acted as a note taker. We went around in a circle, and all the mothers discussed their greatest fears about giving birth. T’s was easy: C-section. The other women, who are considerably younger, had totally different fears. They worried about side issues like tearing during labor or pooping while pushing. They didn’t fear unnecessary interventions as T and I did; I suppose this is because they have a lot of trust in medical professionals and feel in safe hands. Me, not so much. I absolutely do not trust medical professionals. There’s a very good reason for this. I did battle with them when my dad was sick. He died, in my opinion, due to their policies. Some call it “Death by Kaiser,” which sounds about right to me. So I distrust them and their pitocin, epidurals, etc. I do not believe they have the best interest of the mothers in mind; in my mind, they want to get the baby out at all costs and will do unnecessary C-sections out of convenience with little regard to our wishes. This is my anxiety and what I shared that day in birth class, that my greatest fear is having a “combatant medical staff.” I feel like I’m bracing myself to do battle with these people, that I have to protect T from all their interventions and callousness. Maybe I watched one too many episodes of the “Baby Story,” wherein the story is always the same: interventions, interventions, interventions. Then epidural, directed pushing, or, all too often, C-section. T and I took to calling it “The C-section Story.”
The thing is, I don’t want to go in there with a defensive or crouched posture. I don’t want to distrust these people or their intentions. I want a loving and supportive atmosphere for T. I feel like if I go in there thinking I have to do battle with these people in order to protect her, that I will inevitably create the very thing I’m trying to prevent. I don’t want her stressed out. Stress slows labor, which can lead to interventions. At the same time, I am, and always have been, fiercly protective of her. I’m working to prepare my mind and spirit to welcome a positive experience, but it doesn’t help that our OB has already suggested induction. We’re working on a birth plan, which we are trying to make braod enough so that we don’t back ourselves into a corner. We’re also talking about ways we can avoid interventions and the like, so T is definitely aware of my fears, even sharing some of them, but in this final stretch, I don’t want to be dealing with fears. I want to be opening up, welcoming our baby into the world and preparing the best possible environment for him. I’m trying, ladies, I really am.