Labor Day- Take One
Traditionally, Labor Day is meant to be a day of rest and celebration for the "working man"- probably a holiday derived to celebrate union or blue collar workers. Clearly, corporate executives don’t need a day of rest from their labors. For most of us, the holiday marks the second of the 3-day weekends that bookend the summer. Labor day means that kids head back to school, offices start to fill up with employees that squeezed a last trip to the lake or the shore or wherever into their vacation calendars. Thoughts turn to fall activities like skiing or snowshoeing or cuddling in front of the fireplace.
Just yesterday, I thought I could detect a hint of Fall in the air- a nearly imperceptible change that says cooler weather and turning leaves are coming. After all, it is September. Our wedding anniversary is also approaching- a labor of love! 8 years that have been the best in my life- each one more precious than the last. This one in particular far surpasses the others for its beauty and depth and fire. I really want the girls to make it past our wedding anniversary and with just 8 days to go, I think we are going to make it.
When I was first put on bedrest I did a quick calculation and realized I would miss the entire summer- and here is the curtain, coming down on the fabulous play that is a Northwest summer. It takes a few weeks to really close, which also corresponds to the few weeks I have left. I feel as if I’ve nearly made it. The anticipation of the girls arrival is starting to build ever so slightly. A couple of nights ago, I felt the first wave of real anticipation strike me. It didn’t hit me like a big wave you could body surf, but more like a gentle wave that washes around your calves and makes you dig your toes into the sand for the sheer pleasure of it. These waves have now been hitting me in long intervals- taking their time to build, savoring each break on the beach as the tide comes in. I feel like the girls are telegraphing them out. As if the part of their brains that gets them ready for the big dance is maturing- and I am feeling the subtle signals as they start to broadcast.
Labor Day- The Other kind of Labor
So, inevitably, for someone with a belly that not only obscures your toes, but makes it impossible to lean over the sink or even see your belly button, Labor Day makes one think of actual baby producing labor. I am sad to think I will likely not be able to experience labor. The babies are both in a breech position (head’s up) and the presenting baby (the first one that would deliver first) actually has at least one foot down on top of my cervix. This makes things a little higher risk, so the doctors will likely schedule me for a c-section. We haven’t discussed the timing of that, but I would estimate a date around 36 weeks. Things could change before that if my body starts to do "labor-ish" things like stronger or closer contractions, or if my water breaks.
Labor is painful and overwhelming and thus many women feel like avoiding it is a good thing, but I think that labor is such a fascinating elemental part of the female human experience (and the mammalian, for that matter) that I want to see what it’s like. What has nature created for us through hundreds of thousands of years of evolution? Labor is something that every direct matralineal relative of mine has expereinced all the way back through the point where human history vanishes into a primordial fog. I love the thought of being part of that chain and feeling connected to all those relatives by something that I know we all shared. It is also a transition point- your body knows that the baby has moved on and out and that needs to start producing milk and returning to a more practical shape. Thousands of women get c-sections, so I know your body recognizes that as a transition point too, but somehow I feel like your body gets the signal louder and clearer through the ordeal of labor. There is certainly nothing subtle about the largest and strongest muscle in your body pushing a small watermelon (or two) out a hole that looks like it would be hard pressed to allow an orange passage.
Tony and I don’t know what the future holds in terms of children, but there is no way to get around the fact that this has been a (forgive the pun) a labor intensive process. Ultimately, I will have been out of work for 3 1/2 or 4 months by the time the babies arrive, I will have undergone numerous medical procedures, including two outpatient surgeries, one inpatient surgery, literally several hundred hormone shots, a weight fluctuation of 50+ pounds, dozens of doctor appointments, and an end to end process that is nearly 2 years in the making. Will we do it again? I don’t know the answer to that. Would it be as difficult the second time? I don’t know that we can predict the answer to that either. I know that as we see them grow, we will look back on previous stages with a nostalgia that only parental love can provide and say things like, "Remember when they were so tiny- it went so fast." Our hearts and bodies are programmed to make us feel this way- so we’ll just have to see how things go over time.
As a footnote, I will be 33 weeks along on Thursday which means there are approximately 3 weeks left in this phase of the process. I am not enjoying hospital bedrest per se, but I am feeling some visceral recognition that this period of waiting is winding down. One of the moments I am looking forward to most, in the way you look forward to that first big drop on a roller coaster, is the moment Tony and I come home with the girls and are actually alone with them. I think there will be this dip and jump in our stomachs that no roller coaster can match when we look at each other- perhaps gazing over their tiny bodies cradled in between us and realize that this is it- All the above mentioned challenges and hurdles and we have made it. We will have finally boarded the train that so many others hop aboard without even needing to think about. The ride will be like nothing we’ve ever experienced and we’ll be hanging of for the pure thrill and love of it.
And with that, I’ll wish everyone a happy and restful labor day!