Waiting for a baby
I am waiting for a baby.
I saw the baby’s mum last week, and she asked me when I thought the baby was going to come. I worked on the information I had to make a few educated guesses. I said I thought Thursday night was a possibility (wrong, as it’s now late Saturday evening), and that Sunday night might also be a strong chance. She was delighted when I said I thought it was probable she would have the baby within the week.
That week’s half way through now, and no baby yet. My diary is totally clear until Thursday morning now, but after that things get a little complicated again. I know that my level of twitchiness will be increasing on a daily basis now until this baby shows up – and let’s be honest, my dates were nothing more than an educated guess, and quite honestly it could easily be another fortnight yet.
We human beings have a difficult relationship with uncertainty, and as life experiences go, waiting for a baby to arrive is a pretty uncertain one. We are always trying to second-guess, to predict when the baby might arrive, how the labour might go – and even though this is my job, I’m sometimes no better than anyone else. I’m not wanting to put a date and time in the diary, but a rough idea of when it’s going to happen wouldn’t go amiss!
It would be easy to go all hippy and wistful for some distant past, when we had a more profound understanding of nature and newfangled technology extended to nothing more than a flint arrowhead. It would be easy to suggest that these ancestors of ours accepted uncertainty, and doubt – but actually I would suggest that the very fact that they built walls to protect themselves from the weather, and learned how to move on from hunting and gathering, to farming, implies that uncertainty has been our enemy since the beginning of humanity.
So how then, when waiting for a baby, do we turn uncertainty from enemy to friend?
I think there are a few things we’d do well to consider in those last days of pregnancy (and that could be up to 30 days, let’s face it): here are some ideas:
- Remember that no-one has ever been pregnant forever. There is one certainty here: the baby will come out sooner or later.
- Revel in the uncertainty: schedule fun things to do, knowing that the reward for missing these fun things is the reward of having a very small person snuggling up in your arms instead.
- Aim to see it as a practice for labour. What I mean by that, is practice acceptance. Nature has her plan, and it will unfold somehow or other. By standing back from that – basing the next few weeks on the ‘serenity prayer’: (grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference) you will be helping yourself in labour too.
Instead we try over and over again to second-guess how events will unfold, and even to change the things we cannot change – like the date on which our baby will arrive. (And before you say that the obstetricians CAN change that – they do do a good job, but Nature still resists a fair bit of the time!)
So it’s my job now to live in the moment. If I’m not called by my client, to enjoy the time with my family, or alone… to be utterly prepared to dash off at a moment’s notice, but to know that until I have that notice, I am right here, right now. And to remember what a great lesson that is for birth itself, whether for doula, or for birthing mother.