Swimming to labor and delivery
I imagine that labor is a little like running a marathon. In my experience, there is nothing that totally prepares you for a marathon. No matter how many miles you put in beforehand, the experience ends up being singularly challenging. You can’t predict what is going to happen mentally or physically in the 26.2 mile journey of a marathon, but you can set your mind to finish, and hope to finish well.
You can train for a marathon in a very tangible way. And you can practice beforehand. But labor? It seems like a total mystery. Soon enough, J and I will be taking our Bradley method course to prepare for some of what lies ahead during the grueling hours of labor. It’s just that there is no way to really practice your response to the pain. And what do you do physically to be ready? Besides pain management, is being in shape helpful? Some say yes, others say it doesn’t matter.
Regardless, I know that I want to be in decent shape, both mentally and physically, when I enter that hospital. I want to know that I’ve done what I can to be prepared for the inevitable pain. When my friends who have had children tell me that they pushed for 2 hours, I think about how sore they must be for days after. Back, stomach, and of course the nether regions, must be completely exhausted. Please correct me if I’m wrong, and tell me what you think it takes to be in shape for those final moments.
I was running religiously until week 10 of my pregnancy, when I completed a half marathon. Then I started mellowing out on my training. I was swimming two or three times a week until week 15. But then we moved, and the pool I had gotten to know and love was 15 miles away, and I was busy moving into the new house. We got a puppy and I started walking and doing a weight lifting routine. There was a nagging feeling inside of me, though. The pool has been calling me back to itself. Not only do I need to be in shape, but I need to have a place to work out the turmoil of emotions that comes with having a baby.
This last weekend, as J and I began the footwork to get registered and figure out what we want and need for Baby Blueberry, I felt simultaneously excited and stressed. The decisions about what’s worth buying, what’s not, what to borrow, and what to get on craigslist.org, plus making decisions between this car seat and that one can be daunting to say the least. I have been avoiding buying clothes for Blueberry because I knew once I set foot in that direction, I would be a basketcase.
While I tested out gliders, J wandered to where, I did not know. When I got up from the final glider test, I searched for my hubby and spotted him across the store in the clothing area. My heart sank in fear of the emotional onslaught to come. He walked up to me with two tiny girl outfits in hand and asked which one I liked better. I pointed to the purple t-shirt with a purple and blue tie dye skirt and then burst out in tears. In that moment, it became more real than ever. I am having a baby. She will be here sooner than I can imagine. And she will fit into that little purple outfit. Fear of the labor process and all that comes after it, happiness and joy in being married to such a wonderful guy, and uncertainty about all of the unknowns poured out in those tears. When J joined in with his own tears, we both laughed. It took a while to recover from that.
I need swimming. I need it to feel ready to have my baby and to deal with the mix of emotions. Though I won’t be literally swimming to labor and delivery, I will be taking my experiences in the pool with me.