Monday, 21 March 2016

Durban Doula's Pregnancy Diary - Week 38

So yes, we did it, we fetched the birth pool...And no, we haven't had the opportunity to make use of it yet!

After last week's crazy times, things have definitely improved. For starters I went for a full body pregnancy massage with Alison Strauss here in Westville, Durban. It was so good to be able to lie on my belly and just be pampered for a bit! I loved that it felt like she was truly working tension out of my muscles, but didn't hurt me at all. Heavenly!

Birth pool in my car today...
We may struggle to fit three car chairs in,
but we can fit the birth pool with ease!
I know she also does fertility massage, inducement and postpartum massage too... I'm trusting I won't need the inducement version, but a postpartum massage sounds like it fits right in with my postpartum plans!

I think what got to me this last week was being confronted by all my 'deepnesses' - my innermost fears and weaknesses. I remember reading a book once where the author suggested that many women struggle simultaneously with being both 'too much' and 'not enough':

I know I’m not alone in the nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it - something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. - Stasi Eldredge

My younger daughter's contribution.
With a little (requested) help from mom.
For me the 'not enough's would be: not energetic enough, not consistent enough and not strong enough, among others, and my 'too much's would be: too passionate, too emotional, too deep, too sensitive, too intense, and for a touch of paradox, too strong...
(As you can see I struggle more with the 'too much's.)

It has been especially difficult to find that my 'too much's and 'not enough's have caused pain to those I love.

Something in me wants to say I don't need affirmation from anyone, that I'll decide which of my lacks and excesses to embrace or accept or change, but as much as I believe in autonomy and independence, I am also passionate (there's that passion again!) about interdependence and empathy.

I'm grateful for a wonderful husband who gives me space to feel all my feels - the highs and the lows, the poignant and the glorious - accepting that every emotion is valid as an expression of my experience, and when I am able to express them without judgement, I am also freed from having to defend them and hold onto them to prove how justified I am in feeling them.

Once all my turmoil is acknowledged and accepted, then I can start to see through the mist and perceive more accurately what is going on - which are my genuine lacks and excesses and which are merely a matter of perspective?

My eldest daughter's contribution
to my birth affirmation wall.
Something that also helped me this last week a mental image I had of myself in our swimming pool, holding onto the edge with both hands, as if about to start swimming backstroke. It was tiring and not fun at all, and I just pictured myself pushing off from the wall to float out into the middle of the pool - to surrender to the support of the water. I've never been able to float in 'real life' but my daughter explained to me that you 'make your light parts heavy, and your heavy parts light'. Sounds like good advice for life too.

The baby station - changing mat,
clothes, nappies and blankets
with socks, hats and little bits
in the hanging thingie.
Birth supplies, hospital bag
(just in case) and
baby bag on the floor.

The impending birth of a baby seems to bring out all these deepnesses quite relentlessly. Even my husband has been struggling this week with a sense of something prodding right at the heart of his own perceived and real weaknesses. We've been able to recognise it for what it is, and I've been able to hold space for him to feel and express, just as he has held that space for me. After all of this, I do feel somewhat more ready for this birth. About time too!

I'm officially on maternity leave now which is wonderful, although I do have one or two work things to finish up next week. I really loved having my mom here to help gather some last supplies and finish a few projects,  Previously when my mom-in-law was here we managed to make some king size linen - we hadn't been able to afford enough initially - and with my mom here we managed to make a ring sling and a 'donut' - a padded floor cushion for baby.

The quilt so far - just needs three more strips.
BonBon approves!
I also got some more shirts from the thrift shop to cut up for my bedroom rug, and got my sewing machine fixed so I can finish the quilt. I've made peace with the possibility that the quilt won't be done in time - but you can see the pic to see how far I've managed to get! I just need three more strips like those you can see and then I'll have enough.

Yup, that's me
with the hobbity
looking feet :-)
I also saw Arlen again this last week - when I went to go fetch the birth pool. It is always so good to see her and talk through options and ideas. That is one thing I love about midwifery care - appointments are long enough to build a relationship of sorts. She can become familiar with my priorities and strengths and weaknesses, which means that the care I receive depends as much on who I am as it does on numbers and the measurements related to this pregnancy and birth, rather than being predominantly 'numbers' based as I found with my first baby.

With a belly this size, everyone wants to know when I'm due - I just say I've a few more weeks to go. I keep it vague because people usually don't remember the exact date anyway, and I also want to maintain my own headspace of letting things happen as they happen.

Me and my girls...
I had a chance to meet with some ladies to chat about our upcoming births - including things we had struggled with previously, as well as our expectations and fears for the births and babies we are currently awaiting. It was great to meet with like minded ladies to share encouragement and be encouraged!

So the question on everyone's minds is, 'When will this baby come?' It would be nice if we knew, but it's also refreshing that this is one of those times where you just have to wait. At my last checkup baby hadn't engaged yet - perfectly normal and expected for subsequent pregnancies - but my belly has dropped a bit since, and I get the oddest 'burrowing' sensations in my pelvis, so in that sense things are moving on.

I'm also getting some reasonably strong Braxton-Hicks contractions through the day, and some that wake me in the night, but again, nothing concrete.

My second baby arrived at 38 weeks on the dot, after a week of prodromal labour, but my first came at just past 40 weeks, so really, who knows!

So yeah, we just have to wait and embrace the process!

Finally finished this one!
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