5 Things I (Should) Have Learned By The Fourth Time Around

You would think that doing anything four times would at least make you a little better at it. That I would somehow be more relaxed, calm, organised, hopeful… I’m really not.

Somehow each of the previous birth experiences have managed to fall within the school holidays. A coincidence of timing that has worked very well for the process, particularly these last few weeks in which I seem to wildly swing between bouts of anguished impatience and moments of resigned clarity that I really do have absolutely no control over this process. Of course, this cocktail tends to drive Dave just a little crazy as he tries valiantly to rise to the occasion – hauling the kids out of the house for enforced resting time for me or organising outings where I can remain horizontal on comfortable couches.

Have I mentioned that I like control? Nowhere is this more keenly highlighted than during the last few weeks of pregnancy. I watch my body like a hawk, unwilling to be caught off-guard. Each pain or new symptom like a trumpet, heralding an announcement that it could be any minute now. It hasn’t been. I look at other mothers who seem to handle the unknown with grace and serenity…. who wave away thoughts of being overdue with Zen-like perspective. Where is the secret elixir that I can consume to convert me into one of these strange and wonderful beings?

Nevertheless, perhaps there are some things that have managed to stick – despite the turmoil seeming to repeat itself each time. Here are the meagre lessons I have managed to learn despite having done this phase four times now…

1. Google is a fickle mistress

If you want to start thinking that whatever weird new symptom you have is a sign of labour, just google it. You will exit your search being utterly convinced that your persistent coughing, leg cramps or nausea are guaranteed to either bring on labour or be a sign that it has already begun. Forums are littered with weird and trivial symptoms, and answers that bring vague hope of Something about to happen. I’ve banned myself from googling anything pregnancy related this time. Which just means I only google my symptoms once a day instead of ten.

2. There are no ‘tried and true’ natural induction methods

Trust me on this one. When I was in the harrowing stage of being nine days overdue with Hudson, I tried everything. And I do mean everything. If you really think that eating a whole pineapple, only eating curry, drinking copious amounts of raspberry leaf tea, having loads of sex and going on arduous walks will get you in the zone, I’m sorry to tell you that it just doesn’t work like that. Of course, it doesn’t stop me from continuing to consult and repeat the actions listed. Because I’m consistent like that.

3. You will never be fully prepared

As much as the urges to clean the walls, organise the art supplies drawer, scrub the oven door and vacuum under all the couch cushions are undeniable, unfortunately they never seem to coincide with a completely clean, completely ready house. Life keeps marching on – washing keeps appearing, new smudges appear on just-wiped doors, dinners still need to be cooked so that they can sit on coloured plastic plates scorned and uneaten.

4. The thought of labour is still as harrowing

Perhaps it is because of my record of hellishly long labours that never quite kick into gear until everyone is almost comatose with exhaustion and pain, or maybe it is just the stark reality that I can’t control the almost mystical process that my body will have to undergo – whatever it is, I still find myself having flashbacks of the agony, the indignity and the utter exhaustion that the previous three experiences presented. Birthing a baby isn’t meant to be easy, and I guess the closer you get to D-day, the more you seem to remember that…

5. It is all worth it in the end

The one thing keeping me just on the edge of sanity is the knowledge that soon I will be holding a quivering, warm, completely unique human in my arms. A bundle of hopes, wishes, tendencies and fears that has never before graced the universe with his presence. I cannot wait to discover the beauty and life that a newborn brings, and find with delight the little idiosyncrasies that he exhibits.

So, I guess I will just keep putting one tired foot in front of the other, driving Dave absolutely crazy, and doing strange things that have the slightest chance to bring on labour. After all, if there is ever a time in life when you are allowed to be a little eccentric – it has to be now, right?

How did you get through this crazy last stage of pregnancy? Am I the only one who finds it this frustrating?

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