Wow – it’s been a while since I last posted an entry. I’ve been flying across the country, have had in-laws visiting, and am frantically trying to finish writing a geology journal article on my current PhD research before Baby Donahue arrives. Thus, my thoughts have largely stayed in the realms of “When does our plane leave? Do I have matching shoes?” and, in another realm, geo-nerding-geo-geeking questions related to geologic and geomorphic history of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. However, finally, I am taking a moment to collect and share my thoughts.
Flying across the country to watch track and field so far along in pregnancy, you might ask? Oh yeah. My family has planned to attend the 2012 US Track and Field Olympic Trials for quite a while, and although original thoughts included my potential competition in the Trials, for obvious reasons, we attended as spectators. I admit to being a bit heartsick at not being able to compete, but I was also very happy to be a spectator (just think about squeezing an 8-month pregnant body into buns and a crop-top racing uniform…). And, while many people thought the cool weather and drizzles were annoying, the chance to flee from the record-breaking, 100+ degree heat wave in Albuquerque was pure heaven to this overheated pregnant woman! The cool temps, world-class athletics, and a tour down memory lane for my husband and me all made the trip worth the long, foot-swelling flights worthwhile.
I am now “full term” with my pregnancy: 37 weeks along, or, 3 weeks to go. Definitely in the home stretch. As the past few weeks have progressed, I’ve noticed a change in my emotions. While I previously viewed the thought of giving birth with a eye-rolling, open-mouth, nervous sidewise glance, the tide has turned, and I find myself having more of a feeling of pent-up excitement and eagerness. Somehow, the baby inside of me has suddenly become more human, more real, and I really, really want to hold the baby girl who has been kicking the heck out of my ribcage for the past few months!
Seeing as how I was just at the T&F Trials, I find the major race build up a good analogy for how my anticipation for birth has grown. Athletes who work for months training their minds and bodies reach the point where they taper for their big event; I feel that while I’ve been working hard and building up my body and mind (not to mention nursery) for the coming of my baby, I’m now entering into my own personal “birthing taper,” where my body, mind and emotions are primed for a top-notch experience! How the labor itself will progress is unknown, much like any race, but I am getting the pre-labor nervous excitement to take on this challenge.
Following in the footsteps of many parents, my husband and I signed up to take birthing classes at the hospital we’re planning on having the baby. The very enthusiastic labor nurse who teaches the birthing class we attend refers to the day(s) we preggos labor and give birth as “Labor Day,” and her analogy for Labor Day is a mountain we climb.
In order to tackle the physical and mental aspects of Labor Day, she expounds on the toolbox each pregnant woman (and partner) have to help us stay calm, in control and fully aware throughout the birth experience: breathing and relaxation techniques, comfort and confidence measures, and focus and visualization methods.
After a few weeks of classes, I had the light-bulb moment that these are exactly the same techniques I use for hard workouts and races. While the focus of these Labor Day techniques is a different cry from the visualization techniques I use in race preparation, and the arena and unknown of labor is – to me – far greater than any race, the realization that I have practiced focusing through and beyond pain, visualizing certain scenes, and using mantras to help guide mental and physical exertion in racing has boosted my confidence immensely. Perhaps it was simply finding the link between something I was familiar with (road/track racing) and the upcoming unfamiliar (my personal Labor Day) that has made me feel more at ease, or the fact that I’ve had several friends who recently gave birth to very healthy babies with positive birth experiences, but I feel I am ready and excited to dive into whatever the birth process may bring me. Plus, as delicious as the post-workout lemonade is, a post-labor baby has got to be even more exciting, right?
…and, if you enjoyed the Bill Cosby link in the paragraph above, here’s part 2 of the Bill Cosby childbirth experience!