As I got to the end of my first pregnancy, I was so ready to meet my baby.
I’m not quite sure that I was ready to be in labor – that sounded hard – but I really, really wanted to find out what he or she looked like. Technically we didn’t know the sex, but I had three dreams where a little curly-headed blonde girl in a white dress came to me. I knew she was a girl.
I felt as prepared as I could be.
Read lots of childbirth books? Check.
Take a childbirth class? Check.
Hire a doula? Check.
One thing was missing though.
Ugh, why wasn’t I in labor yet?
I had convinced myself that I would go into labor early.
My due date was November 13 and I thought for sure this baby would want to make her entrance a week early. In my work as a doula, I’ve seen a very similar thought pattern in many first-time moms, like I was then.
I’d stopped working a few days before her due date. With nothing to do except wait for labor to begin, I was bored. I walked around a new outlet mall and bought a too expensive handbag. I fussed about the nursery, washing and rewashing and folding and refolding clothes and cloth diapers.
Sunday morning, I woke up to a really strange sensation… it must be a contraction!
My husband and I were so excited that we jumped right into action. I had our birth center bag ready. Into the car it went. I made breakfast. I folded those clothes some more. We tackled more laundry. I cleaned the house again. Labor started picking up, but the contractions never developed a regular pattern. We went for a lot of walks.
Ugh, why wasn’t I in MORE labor?
For a variety of reasons, some women have slow to start labor.
We don’t know why this happens to some women and not to others. In The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, she describes the reasons as sometimes being from a long, thick or posterior cervix, a cervix scarred by previous surgery or injury, a uterus contracting in an uncoordinated fashion, or because the baby’s head is still high in the pelvis or in an occiput posterior position (when baby’s head is down, but it is facing the mother’s front instead of her back. It is a little harder for the baby to get through the pelvis in this position, but still totally safe.) Almost all of these situations correct themselves with time and rest.
When you spend almost a year – or more – anticipating the birth of your first child, it’s totally normal to be in a hurry to get things going. It’s normal to want labor to progress quickly once it has begun. Ultimately, scientists don’t know exactly what triggers labor. There are theories, of course. We don’t know why some women have fast labors and why some women have slower labors.
So much is unknown that it seems as if the Universe is giving us a message.
And surrender the need to know.