cafe mama

finding magic every day

free to feel . july 07 . 2007

I still haven't had the baby (though I'm nesting like crazy), and I've been thinking a lot lately about the topic, "is it ok to long for something that isn't directly connected with the health of your child?" This seems a wide and somewhat important-to-motherhood question, one that could win the label of anything from "selfishness" to "emotional well-being."

Part of this stems from a post I wrote on urbanMamas, in a particularly grumpy mood. The grump I expressed was surely superficial, minor, funny even, but it stemmed from a much deeper place that is the worry about this birth, and its aftermath.

It's not that I imagine the child will be anything less than healthy. I've felt rather certain of his or her health ever since the time I first yelped when baby kicked me sharp in the ribs (and every time, since). I've always been lucky in healthy children, and this one's heart rate when on the monitor indicates that my luck, it holds. No, it's all me. And yes, it is selfish.

I want, a lot, to have a non-surgical birth. I know my odds aren't great, and get less great with every day that ticks by, every few ounces the baby gains. So I'm in a hurry. I thought, weeks and weeks ago when I sat in the hospital with pre-term labor, that I was getting my wish, that I'd have the baby early enough for my odds to rebound from less-than-30% to better-than-even. But as the days and weeks and doctor's appointments went by, I had to come to terms with it's not happening as you hoped, and that was hard for me, doubly so when asked by strangers on the street, in the bus, at the coffee shop, "are you ready to pop?", when told, "you'll have the baby any day now!"

It took me a while to come to terms with my impatience, and while I was in the process, I had a few comments that pointed out how lucky I was to not have a premature birth, to have a baby who'd made it to term, and how I should really wish for a 40-weeks-gestated baby. After all: infertility, miscarriages and sad endings to premature births are all around me.

Around this time, I had a heart-to-heart with my doctor, who said (if I read liberally between the lines) that she'd rather I made a decision based on healthy baby and living mama, at least when compared to "it just feels better." Because I'd decided that, even if a c-section was the ultimate fate, I was really emotionally dependent on going through the birth process. On being connected to straps and dials, to watching my baby's heart rate and the rise and fall of my contractions, to feeling that pressure of each contraction, to the eagerness and anticipation and fear of the delivery room, the nurses rushing (or ambling, as the case may be) in and out, of the very sanguine, palpable, sometimes even nauseating energy in a delivery room as a mother -- as I -- prepare to birth a baby. Its very bloodiness and odor and pain seem like the only way, to me, even though I've been through two without managing to avoid the ultimate surgery. Even then, it seems worth it to me, just to get my birth fix.

Dr. Kehoe didn't really think it was worth it, but didn't come out and say that. She talked about the "outcome," and mentioned that anyone else would try to talk me into just giving in to the surgery immediately.

Somehow I imagine that afterward, I would mourn the energy and trying, that it would go beyond baby blues and into some serious weepiness and struggle, that I would be worse off for the loss of the process. Even given the "outcome," the healthy baby, was the same in either case.

After doing some serious self-questioning and wondering if I wasn't just being a whiner, I came to the (selfish?) conclusion that my inner dialogue, my mental experience, it is important to the "outcome." After all, these hormones, they speak to us mamas, and they're present for a reason. They make us weepy and connected-to-process and dependent on the experience because the experience grounds us, prepares us, makes us better mothers. If I spend my early weeks in mourning for its loss? Not so good for the baby's health.

Being selfish is, perhaps, in actuality a selfless act for a mother. Our ability to connect, to bond, to give to our children is dependent on our emotional well-being, our happiness with ourselves. So we should be free to feel, to embrace the grumpiness, to explore the dissatisfaction, to immerse ourselves in examining our sense of loss. Because in this may be the truth that will, ultimately, give us the strength to love so much.

At the very least, that's what the hormones say in the wee hours of this so-close-to-birth morning.

paying the bills

read my previous post . prayers for births . june 26 . 2007