The Mystery That Begins The Labor
I had an interesting interaction with my doctor today. Since last week, I now see her every week until I pop. I’ve had lots of practice contractions, both Braxton-Hicks and false labor, some that hurt and some that don’t, and I’m wading in all sorts of birth and labor jargon. My family is excited–they put me in their prayers every chance they get, mom’s crocheting around cloth I picked out months ago and contemplating what stuff to buy me, and my siblings are just excited to get a few unknown days off of school to come visit us.
Other people are excited, too. I had a surprise baby shower on Saturday, and I have a planned one this Saturday. We had one shower on a Saturday before my birthday, and we’ll have another one when the baby is born for another side of the family. Lots of parties for lots of people who are all sorts of excited–it must be their bundle of joy as well, of course.
It’s kind of alarming to read that no one knows what exactly starts labor. We know some activities that can encourage it (sperm, castor oil and spicy foods) and what doesn’t (jarring or jumping or walking), but no scientific individual has found any conclusions on the chemical/hormonal/state of being that actually triggers that process. Have they? Does the baby instigate it by flipping some sort of switch? Is the mother’s body responsible for a specific state of being, like a perfect stew in a cauldron?
But we’re talking about my doctor, who is an interesting mix of scientific fact, medicinal knowledge, a really good listening ear, and a satisfying soother of petty patient concerns. She tells me during my appointment today, “You’re getting big for such a little person.” With a smile, of course.
She also tells me that last week, I was effaced 30 percent, this week, I’m effaced 50 percent, but I should get used to the idea that I might be delivering after my due date. She ends our visit by telling me, “See you next week, if you’ve still got that baby in you.” All these mixed messages should probably have me worried or concerned with the state of our medical system, but instead, they just reaffirm that uncertainty I was expressing two paragraphs ago.
There is an air of mystery to this whole birth process. Every pregnancy is different, every baby is different, and every girl involved is different. I could efface fully in the next day and start labor, or I could still be “oof”ing and “phew”ing after October 22. I could give birth like Mary, my grandma, whose five births were all so quick that her husband asked, in earnest, at one point, “Do I have time to get a haircut?” Or I could labor for twelve hours before going to the hospital like many first-time moms do.
So for now, I’ll just keep staring at my empty crib with its gorgeous bedding, working through contractions that aren’t regular, and sifting through the stuff I get from baby showers. And eventually, you’ll get a final belly shot and a post from the hospital with a name and pictures.