So I walked all day, the other day. Laundry, up and down stairs to the laundry room. Hauling baskets. Up and down stairs from our lanai to the driveway to check on the kids scootering in the cul de sac. Squats and lunges till my body literally gave out and I fell to the floor in pain. Bouncing on the exercise ball next to my bed.
I was exhausted by the end of the day. But hopeful. Bouncing around in the pool with Little Green. Singing and happy.
This HAD to have done something to "open up the pelvis like a blossoming flower" etc etc etc
Around 6pm the contractions started.
Fifteen then 10 minutes apart.
I was too distracted to even watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix, huddled in my bed while dada managed kids.
Five minutes apart.
Around 10pm they were three minutes apart.
This lasted until midnight. Dada came to bed. I said, Just maybe this is it.
He fell asleep.
I kept timing.
Then I fell asleep.
I woke up around 3am. More contractions. Then again at 5am (when Little Green came to our bed only to puke everywhere). More contractions.
Then it was 7am.
My muscles were all sore. I had a dehydration headache from all the exertion the day before.
All day long that next day, limping in pain, my butt even sore from all the lunges and squats, I found myself condemning my body.
Damn old lazy uterus.
My body must have forgotten how to go into labor.
Oh God, what are we going to do?
I felt betrayed.
I have known this feeling before, not only in pregnancy but in struggling with several autoimmune disorders and health issues.
I am 21 years old. I should not be drinking Ensure, in need of a bowel resection!
I am 33 years old. I should not need a pill because my freaking thyroid shut down.
I am 35 years old. I should not have the kind of skin cancer only seen in the elderly.
And now today. Hips giving way under the strain of 30 pounds of baby and fluids. A pelvis that is apparently just crooked and thereby holds my uterus up in a crooked way. Joints that are too loose to support so much weight without buckling. An irritable uterus that contracts because of a litany of normal bodily functions like hunger, dehydration, stress, needing to pee, etc etc etc.
I have turned to anger, so many times, because of this betrayal. Anger and self-pity.
With Little Man's pregnancy I was almost mockingly sent home from the hospital several times. No one believing the intensity of the contractions I was feeling. I paced the floors of our house, wringing my hands, crying, after being told I probably would need help to go into "real" labor. Not knowing what to think, what was "real" labor anyway?
Little Miss laboring wasn't as dramatic, in my memory, but with Little Green I was, as Anne Shirley put it, in the depths of despair, for the last several weeks. Her brother and sister were "a week early," she was "three days late" (oh how I disdain women being given a "day" to give birth! Like we are freaking turkeys in the oven waiting for the little button to pop up declaring gestation over!)
What was wrong with me? I thought. I lounged around the house, moping, crying, loathing the very body that was giving me these amazing kids, loathing everything about it, fat arms, bloated face, stupid freaking uterus that kept me up all night with no baby to show for it.
So much anger.
All dissolved away, of course, when that little blue-tinted face squawked up at me for the first time.
You were worth it. All of it. I thought as I held her.
But not the hating part. Oh, and I did. And I understand, so much, the bitter cancer patient, the frustrated and desolate person with chronic illness. No baby to show for your effort, as my experiences in pregnancy. Only a body, that is not doing what it is supposed to do. Give life. Give joy. Carry us through the world, strong and trustworthy.
But here is the thing. You are worth it. Even me now, with this baby, the waiting, and all the pain. I am worth it because my body is worth the love and concern and care. Because I am. Not just for the sake of the baby who will, I suppose, EVENTUALLY, come out.
But for me.
And you are too. You are worth it all.
It is easier sometimes, as I have written here before, to think of your own self as a little sister who needs special attention. So here is what I say to myself now. As I type, holding back tears.
Oh. Poor sweet Sara. I know it hurts. Sit down. Stop lunging and walking and squatting and crying out. Be at peace. Love the body that has given you so much joy. Not just the babies it has produced, but the adventures it has taken you on. The shorelines you have walked together, in mist and sun. The countries you have visited, so far from home. The wind you have felt riding horses as a teen across golden Californian fields. The hand that first squeezed the hand that you fell in love with. The mornings lying in bed, listening to birds, sun streaming in the window across your face. Perfection.
All of this. So precious. Because of this body.
And I have to say, thank you. You have not betrayed me. You have given, so much.
And I hope any of you struggling in this can find this place, though its a struggle to stay there I know (talk to me tonight at 11pm when the contractions start up again) I hope you can find the gratitude that we all seek together, despite the pain, and the self care, even when you only want to feel loathing the body you have been given to inhabit.
I'm thinking of you now, especially the few of you who I know read this space who are struggling with health issues that quite frankly just suck.
We are in this together. And we are worth it.