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It is June 8. I am officially due.
Specifically, it is 3:21 AM on June 8. Yep, that whole pregnancy-insomnia thing is still going strong. Fun stuff, I tell you.
I had forgotten until recently what a uniquely horrible experience the last few weeks of pregnancy are. Not physically, so much – I mean, yes, but I’m inured to that by now. It’s the mental thing.
I mean, basically, late pregnancy is all about getting you to the point that you’re so miserable you’ll welcome labour. WELCOME LABOUR. As in, genuinely look forward to it. As in, wake up frustrated and annoyed in the morning because didn’t go into labour in the night.
Can you even conceive of what a weird headspace that is? I hate labour. I’m not one of those “I love my powerful pressure waves” people, despite repeated attempts at self-indoctrination with Hypnobabies. Wanting to be in labour is like waking up every morning angry that you’re not having a muscle cramp in your leg, or a bout of food poisoning, or a recently-broken collarbone. Sane people do not wish for these conditions.
The sensible wisdom on pregnancy forums is to keep oneself busy, planning fun and quirky things to do on and around your due date with the knowledge that if you have to cancel them, so much the better. Get a pedicure! Go to the zoo! Have lunch with friends! Make a belly cast!
Unfortunately a) most of those suggestions cost money, b) the only valid reason to make a belly cast is so one can leave it behind in a cupboard at one’s rental house to squick out the next tenants, and our cupboards are full; and c) the whole premise assumes one is still mentally capable of organising things, rather than wandering around the house in a constant state of nervous limbo thinking “Is it worth starting a batch of bread dough if I might go into labour at any time?” (Oddly, I feel this way upon finding out I’m pregnant too – I go into this strange ‘being pregnant is a fulltime occupation which requires my total attention despite the fact that nothing of note is happening’ zone and don’t emerge for several weeks. Highly annoying and unproductive.)
So instead of sipping chai lattes with my girlfriends at the mall, I’m whiling away the days by repeatedly googling ‘natural labour induction methods’. For the record, I *know* all the natural labour induction methods. This is my third baby. I can tell you how many pineapples one has to consume in order to receive a sufficient dosage of labour-triggering enzymes to have an impact. (Too many, especially for someone with heartburn.) And yet I keep delving further and further through pages of Google results in the hopes that someone, somewhere will mention an obscure but amazingly effective technique I haven’t heard of before.
Actually I did find one new one – balloons. Apparently someone’s grandmother once told her that blowing up balloons can trigger labour by increasing intra-abdominal pressure. It is a measure of my current state of sanity that I actually bought a packet and tried.
Now, lest you be tempted to give me The Talk about how 40 weeks is far too early to worry, that babies come when they’re ready, that only 4% of babies are born on their due dates, and so forth: I know. I KNOW. Heck, Miles was eight days late (the pig was induced at 39+4, so doesn’t count for pattern-establishing purposes), so it’s not like I have any good reason to expect a prompt 40-week birth.
Thing is, though, Miles was eight days late. And as a result he was born on my birthday. When’s my birthday? June 17. What’s today? June 8. Call me a diva, but I do not want to have two sons sharing my birthday.
And perhaps more legitimately, I don’t want to go crazy and drive off a bridge. See, when I take Prozac the baby gets Prozac, and if he were to be born with a brainful of the stuff, he might get seratonin syndrome, which is basically antidepressant withdrawal – grumpiness, difficulty sleeping and the like, plus (for some reason) respiratory distress. So the doctors in their infinite wisdom got me to taper off the Prozac a few weeks ago, and now I’m not allowed to take anything until the baby’s born, at which point I can immediately start another antidepressant with a lower breastmilk transfer rate. (Actual quote from the doctor, in a bored voice: “Yeah, so you could be off the drugs for a while, depending when the baby’s born… I’ll give you our crisis number.”)
Which I do feel is a valid reason for wanting to get on with labour. Though not necessarily a valid reason for obsessively overanalysing every kick, Braxton-Hick and twinge I experience in the wee small hours of the morning. (But then, Prozac helps with anxiety and I went off it. What did I expect?)
The hardest part is not being able to summon labour by mere force of will. Believe me, if you could I would. I’ve spent whole evenings watching One Born Every Minute while chugging raspberry leaf tea, downing evening primrose oil like popcorn and doing step exercises on a stool like a less than usually elegant performing walrus. I’ve thought Open Thoughts and listened to birthing affirmations and told myself once a day “Right, now I’ve finished sewing this onesie/making this baby present for a friend/stocking up the freezer with homemade bread/choosing my labour music; I can let go all of my Subconscious Tightness and welcome labour!” And labour’s like “Ha! Nope.”
Meanwhile the pig, upon coming across me crawling around on my hands and knees or acupressuring my ankles (I know, I know), naturally enquires as to what I am doing. And when I say “Trying to induce labour” her eyes light up and she gasps “Are you going to have the baby TODAY?” It was endearing a week ago… (Miles, conversely, reacts by climbing onto my back for a horsie-ride and trying to eat the citrus-scented massage bar.)
At this point, I’m thinking my best option is to get stuck in a lift with an action-movie protagonist. In the meantime, back to bed, where I can lie down gargling on my own stomach juices because I’ve had my heartburn-meds quota for the night and they wore off an hour ago. Perhaps if I randomly twitch my right leg until Helpdesk Man kicks me in sleepy rage I’ll trigger labour; I mean, it hasn’t worked for the last ten nights, but it’s better than doing nothing like some sort of chump, innit?