Baby girl is hanging tight. My little Cosi is quite cozy in there, haha!
I actually thought this past Saturday, the 27th, was going to be "it." I'd actually had Oct 27th in mind this whole time and couldn't get it out of my head, and then I had such a great day. Slept a ton the night before, had a very relaxing morning and afternoon with my mother, had a pedicure that set of REAL contractions that went on for about 6+ hours. I'm talking nausea, back pain, whole abdominal pain, starting off unevenly but not stopping during sitting/standing/walking/laying down/eating/drinking/shower/talking etc. By about 4:30pm they were timeable, 60-90 seconds, with a peak in the middle where I could not talk or think clearly. Had everyone on stand by. And they stopped. Again.
So this? Is prodromal labor.
And it's been way harder than it should be to find information on it!
Seriously, this isn't covered in my birth books. In there, Braxton Hicks are BH contractions, and labor is labor. What I felt was not BH, nothing like my BH contractions, but there's no mention of this in my birth books. There are a lot of things to find online, though. People who went through this for weeks or months, usually starting before 37 weeks. It's been hard to find info on the outcomes, since people will post questions and their situations to forums but then there's no mention of when they actually had their baby and how the delivery went. So despite all the prep work I've done, with all the info I could wrap my mind around, it kind of feels like I'm navigating relatively uncharted (but common) waters. I guess this is the "false labor" or "false starts" I hear about. I have to admit, it's making me nervous! I'm partially worried that my body will suddenly kick into high gear and it will go FAST, like straight to pushing stage while I'm home alone. I mean, if my mother could get to 10 cm with labor and transition, it should be entirely possible for me right?
On the other hand, I'm still battling the worry that my body is somehow defective and that it's not doing what it's supposed to be doing. I mean, everyone around me is utterly shocked that I haven't delivered yet, it kind of makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong. I get that they're just concerned for me (and don't want to be in the situation of being 40 weeks pregnant with no end in sight!) but I'm a tad emotional right now so I guess I'm internalizing it in a way it's not intended :-P
I've been trying to tell myself affirmations, and for the most part it's helping. Things like, my body is doing what it's supposed to do, this will all make sense later on, my daughter's birth story won't be boring and she'll enjoy laughing at it with me, for someone so worried about miscarriage I've made it to 40 weeks and that's amazing, she's just not quite ready yet and I'm being good giving her the time she needs to finish getting ready for the outside world, etc.
I've also been deconstructing more mental blocks, just sitting down and talking with people about them, anyone really! Nik has been wonderful, but so have many others. Really, just verbalizing and having these thoughts acknowledged has helped tremendously.
The big two that have been on my mind has been the fear that I'm letting people down, and a sort of PTSD left over from the adoption wait.
I don't like to let people I care about down, and as dumb as it sounds I feel bad when people are excited for something that I need to produce and I can't, you know, produce it. I feel bad that people are telling me "you'll have the baby before/by X day!" and then it doesn't happen. I feel like I've failed in a task I've been given, and when people are constantly coming up to me and saying, "you haven't had the baby yet???" or "still no baby?" I'm feeling like I've let them down. And it's dumb, really it is. Especially when I think that I've probably made the same comment a number of times to other full term and beyond moms. It just never occurred to me how painful it could be to hear that. As an outsider, I thought I was offering support and opening a dialogue to let the exhausted mom to be vent her frustrations. As the person on the other side, I feel guilty and upset at myself. People are expecting me to do this and I haven't been able to do it.
On top of that, I have a lot of people ready to support us who are on call, people who have jobs and lives and houses and families. I feel so, so bad alerting my doula or my mother that I'm having what appears to be labor contractions only to have them stop. I feel horrible that I've had Nik take off work so much lately because I've been ill with "flu like symptoms." I'm the sort of person who doesn't complain if I'm sick and goes about my business unless I absolutely can't. I hate asking things of people, I feel awful asking someone to put me above their normal life, and it's been hard emotionally to feel like such a burden all the time. I feel like if I could just have this baby already then things could be better, then I'd be justified in all the bothering. So far no baby has come out of me and I feel like the girl who cried wolf.
I'm working on this, and talking to people about it. I think I'll have to start baking cookies or something because honestly it will just make me feel better if I can provide something for all the hassle, even if objectively I know that it's not nearly the big deal that I think it is.
The other issue, the adoption related PTSD thing.... yeah, we're trying to counter that one with just different terminology.
See, this one hadn't occurred to me until the past few days, but whenever I start to think "this might be it!" and then it isn't... well, let's just say the emotions flowing inside me, and my reaction, is pretty much the same as it was whenever we had some sort of setback with either of the adoptions.
A lot of hope. A lot of disbelief. A lot of keeping myself from truly attaching to the child that may or may not be ours.
While our adoptions were both successful and, by today's standards, very easy and straightforward, there were certainly painful moments.
Being told we'd have to wait longer for a referral from Ethiopia. Being told wait times were increasing. Expecting a referral in July and spending every day on pins and needles and every weekend recovering until August 10th when we finally got the call. Finding out we likely wouldn't be with our child on his 2nd birthday (we were, thank God!). That horrible, horrible Friday afternoon when I made contact with a wonderful family who offered to bring P his bday gifts and I rushed around buying what might be appropriate to send, wiping tears off his birthday card, dealing with 3 very angry clerks at the post office as I fumbled and messed up a million times just trying to mail my new son a card, a tshirt, and a few brightly colored toy cars in hopes that he'd know his mommy and daddy loved him even if we couldn't be with him. Finally being with him and finding that our embassy date had to be postponed, then having nannies sweep in and grab him from me every time he cried, scolding me for not being able to instantly sooth him. I tried to smile through all of it, and cry only in private, but my God I just wanted to take my child home and be his mom and there were just so many people involved and so many steps and it was so hard...
Then with Ambrose, contacting agencies about situations and not hearing back, having to start over with a new agency after a couple false leads, and then waiting and waiting as I pumped to produce food for the infant child we were in no way guaranteed. I pumped several times a day, every day, for over six months. I woke up at 4am every day to keep making milk for this child who may never be. I tried to make the best of it and pushed all negative emotions aside. I will never forget the day I was pumping one afternoon when I got notice that another family had been chosen for a baby already born. I had been trying so hard not to get my hopes up, but I had to put down the pump and walk away. I just wanted to hug Paxton, my son, living proof that dreams do come true, the one who inspired all my hope for the future. I only made it halfway down the hall when I had to grab the wall with both hands and force myself to breath, force myself not to keel over sobbing. I had wanted that baby, I was making milk that could help that baby, and not only was I not going to have that baby but there was still no baby in sight for me. And it was killing me. But I bottled it up, played with my kid and kept going. With Ambrose's situation we had to wait even longer for a response than with others, but it was a glorious day when it arrived! I wasn't even all that antsy, not until he was born. Not until I spoke with his first mother on the phone after his birth. And we both cried because we both hated the waiting period before I could take custody and we both just wanted him in his home. For nine days my child was within driving distance. But I could not get to him. I could not see his picture. I could not talk to his care giver on the phone. I couldn't even know if he was going to a doctor and how he was doing. And he was promised to me and his first mother wanted him with me and it was one of the most painful times of my life.
So here I am now. Both adoptions DID go through quite smoothly in fact. Both boys are here and doing incredibly well. I was with Paxton on his birthday. Ambrose nursed right out and was a champion nurser until he weaned at 29 months, meaning all that pumping wasn't wasted at all. Because of the happy outcomes of every negative situation we faced, I've just written it all off. Yeah, it hurt at the time, but it happened for a reason that makes sense in hindsight.
Imagine my confusion when the ending of contractions suddenly brings back memories of holding myself up in the hallway to keep from just dying of sorrow then and there. Or when the looks on faces of people asking about why I haven't had the baby yet reminds me so much of the looks of the postal workers who had to deal with me when I was trying to send P his birthday present. Things that I know are normal happen, and they frustrate me, but suddenly it feels like I'm drowning and need air and I'm not seeing an outlet and oh my word I just want my baby! It feels... exactly like it did then. It feels like my child is being kept from me.
The difference, of course, is NO ONE IS KEEPING THIS CHILD FROM ME!!!
She's here! She's IN me! Bonking her big head in my bladder and cervix, nuzzling in to get cozy, wiggling her toes on my organs. I feel her, all throughout the day and night. She is not on the other side of the world. She is not in a hospital in another city. She's not at an undisclosed location. I am not waiting with bated breath to see if someone will sign the appropriate paperwork so that she can go from being a potential match to being my child. She IS already my child, no questions asked.
And I am so not used to this!
I've been pushing these silly thoughts out of my head the whole time because, well, they're silly. They make no sense. When I started to feel like my baby was already born and out there and all I had to do was get through this process (labor and delivery) and then someone would come in from another room and hand me my baby... well, that's a dumb thought, so of course I wouldn't pay it any mind.
But that's where I've been subconsciously. Despite the happy outcomes with the boys, the frustration over labor seemingly stalling is the same as the frustration over yet another adoption hurdle. The wait with no definitive end date seems the same, despite the fact that I'm only waiting on her to change locations, not to be placed in my custody. I mean, really, could she BE more in my custody than she is right now?
I think sitting down, talking it out, acknowledging this, and then trying to actually respect my own fears and emotions has helped tremendously. It's like a huge weight has been taken off of me!
Nik and I are working on terminology here. "She's coming soon" has become "she's already here, and we'll be able to hold her soon." "We're having a baby" has become "we have a baby, she's just stubborn and wants to stay in mommy!" We're doing this with the kids, but it's helping us too.
Okay, so that was a small novel of delving into my psyche :-P Time to get ready to pick P up from school and have a normal afternoon. I'm *hoping* next time I post it will be a birth story, but eh, we'll see :)
Lily in a loafing barn
2 days ago