Final Prep Steps

Happy New Year! It’s New Year’s Eve day here in China (at least, the Western version thereof) and I hope that your NYE celebrations are wonderful and that you can all welcome 2012 in with a smile!! Today, that is my challenge. I am pushing myself to rejoice in a new year rather than grumble about this continued pregnancy!

But first, just a little grumbling to get it out of the way, okay? ha!

It’ll be no news to you when I say that I’m tired of being pregnant. The baby is due tomorrow, so at least that feels like a milestone. I didn’t get my early delivery, but it’s got to be soon, right?! They say it’s common to go over the due date with the first pregnancy (the hospital supports an extra two weeks only!) but the thought of feeling this way for another two weeks makes me want to cry right here and now. I’m feeling more and more like a pathetic, beached, double-chinned whale of a woman who just wants her body back.

Last Wednesday, I had two real distinct pains in my belly that then went away. I fell asleep and slept through the night (minus the bathroom breaks, of course, which have become my new normal) and woke up on Thursday morning feeling physically the same as I had for the past week (see whale reference above).

Today, I woke with another sharp pain, but then have had a day of aching not unlike menstrual cramps. They’ve been dull and consistent, but not especially painful. They’ve come in subtle waves, as well, but distant and indistinct ones, sort of the way the ocean sounds when you live two blocks away from the beach. So, this feeling has just become the background score to my day.  But, since this isn’t the first time I’ve felt twinges, not only am I getting used to the physical discomfort, but now there are the added layers of emotional disappointment to contend with–disappointment that Little Spark isn’t here yet.

There’s some good news, though!

First of all, last night I finally had a conversation with my mother-in-law about the placenta.

You see, I have been researching the incredible benefits of keeping one’s placenta after birth. (Here’s one of many articles about it!) In fact, in traditional Chinese medicine, this was something that was always done. The placenta was dried, ground into a powder, and then was made into Chinese medicine that was then fed back to the mother, postpartum. It’s been proven to help with PPD as well as the overall recovery times for one’s energy and physical healing. I’ve also heard of people chopping it up like meat and frying it in a stirfry. This, of course, makes this vegetarian want to hurl and so I couldn’t imagine going that route. I’m open to taking a tasteless capsule a day, however, especially if it will help my body (and spirit) recover.

My doctor agreed to let us have and take the placenta, but swept aside the research that it was good for you. It’s funny how Chinese medical professionals are so quick to follow in the footsteps of the West sometimes and disregard the traditional wisdom that came from this very land! I see that attitude related to Western vs. Chinese medicine here by many Chinese people of all walks of life. It seems many have simply have lost faith in the old ways and place more value on the scientific Western studies. In any case, at least she didn’t fight me on this request.

The problem is, though, that I hadn’t yet sought out a Chinese doctor to whom I could take the placenta. I imagined I needed a professional who would be responsible for drying it and then putting it in capsules for me. Guo Jian wasn’t that interested in helping with this research mission, either, and it’s getting a bit late in the game! I figured I might need to keep it in the freezer for ages before actually dealing with it.

Then, I asked my mother-in-law and she interrupted my slow Chinese to tell me that I should consider letting her dry it and grind it into a tasteless powder so that she could then make it into a Chinese medicinal tablet/capsule for me!

I looked at her, dumbfounded. This is a woman who truly straddles modern and ancient, and she often surprises me with her lack of faith in traditional Chinese ways. But, here she was, advocating for exactly what I wanted!! She said she didn’t think I’d be interested in doing this so hadn’t mentioned it before but I interrupted her saying, “No, Mom, that’s exactly what I was going to ask you to help me do! But, I had no idea you knew how to do it yourself!” At this, she beamed that proud light of having one’s abilities praised and said, “Of course I know how! So, it’s settled then. I’ll get started on that right after the baby is born then!”

And so, I’ll be among the ranks of centuries of women who will experience the healing affects of this herbal remedy. Yeah! Insert huge applause for my mother-in-law here!

In other good news…

Two check-ups ago, I had a long meeting with the doctor who went through every point on my birth plan in minute detail. We were with her for over an hour and she even said that she was grateful to the birth plan as it brought several things to her attention that she hadn’t considered before. Most of the plan is going to be honoured, as well, which is a great relief.

She also said, after reading my birth plan, that she was going to try her best to be the one who “catches” the baby! I couldn’t have been more thrilled!

(If I can figure out how to post it as a downloadable document, I’ll do so… at this point, the birth plan is too long for a blog post!)

This past Tuesday’s check-up also included a secondary meeting with the head midwife in the hospital and two of her attendants. In the event that my doctor can’t be there, this is the woman who will fill her shoes.

At that meeting, we went through the details of the birth plan once again, but this time in summary form with Guo Jian as the spokesperson as he was the one who took notes in the previous week’s meeting. I feel fairly confident that most of my requests are going to be respected by this team, as well. They most certainly seemed eager to please us and to listen. No matter what, though, I have a sense of their personalities and that’s good to have before I’m far off in “Labourland.”

Of course, you never know how these things will go and I’m prepping myself in advance for the unexpected, but at least I feel like the hard work that I put into my birth plan (like all the research and translation and copying from others who have been in my position and were gracious enough to post theirs online!) has really resulted in clear lines of communication with the hospital staff. I really and truly feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders, as a result. Even with the baby pushing against my lungs like s/he is, I can breathe more clearly now.

In the “Birthing From Within” tradition, this is an example of a tiger (read: fear) that has been put behind bars, out of reach. (Not that I advocate caging wild animals, but I do advocate caging fear!)

Bad kitty!! This is NOT your bed!

Also, speaking of cages (tee hee), the “baby nook” is pretty much ready now. There’s a crib already set up and the baby clothes have been washed and folded and put away. The baby won’t have his or her own room yet, but that’s because of the layout of our apartment. Eventually, when Little Spark can sleep through the night, we’ll move him or her downstairs, but for now, keeping the crib on the same level as our own bedroom makes the most sense. Our upstairs is fairly open concept and so Little Spark will have this “nook” that’s all ready to be occupied (and looking really cute, if you want my honest, biased opinion!).

Finishing that area was followed up by the packing of my bags for the three-day stay in the hospital following Little Spark’s birth. I’m about 80% through with that task, as well, and feeling able to pick up and go at anytime.

And am I ever hoping it IS anytime. There’s almost nothing left for me to do except wait, and it’s so annoying!

My friend laughed and said, “This is the beginning of living your life on someone else’s schedule: your child’s!” I know she’s right, but I can’t help but feel all the more asphyxiated by this reality check. Right. Okay. Yeah, that’s what I signed up for here. Got it. Now I’ll make an attempt at another deep breath while Little Spark is squashing my lungs…

And honestly, I can’t stand being seen anymore. The Christmas party was enough. There were so many people here and I was in good spirits that night, but the truth is that I am just so physically enormous that I’m OVER IT. The photos that I saw (after I tried so hard to look good by doing my hair and make-up like old times) just make me look like a pregnant Miss Piggy in that red “Pregger Elf” suit. My face is enormous—I swear that even my nose has gained weight and width—and as soon as I saw evidence of the pictures online, I de-tagged myself immediately. There’s just no amount of pregnant pride left in me right now. As a result, I generally don’t like to emerge from my house before nightfall and I have no interest in wandering out of my neighbourhood.

I realize this is normal. I realize this is a private and personal journey that has to do with previously unacknowledged, internalized sizeism as well as latent low self-esteem. I realize that I’m pregnant and not just plain fat. I realize that pregnancy is beautiful…

[…on others.]

But c’mon already! Come out already!

Please come soon, Little Spark. I need relief! Your exit from my body will be my re-entry into the world of the living and lively and life affirming!  I have complete faith that I will bounce back, especially psychologically. But the longer this lasts, the less I can find myself in here!! Give your Mommy a New Year’s gift, will ya?

Please?

In other words: YOUR LEASE IS UP!

Happy 2012! (Said with a smile!)

Birth Story
Pregger Elf
   

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