A Labor List

I’m signing off on this here pregnancy blog to go on maternity leave, rest a bit, and have this hiccuping, kicking (we like to say “kickuping”) baby. I’m anxious and afraid of course—large head, small exit; impending motherhood; etc.—but there are some things anchoring me to peace and calm. I know I’ll need to tap that chill zone while this baby meets the world, especially if I have the unmedicated birth I’d like.

Things/Skillz/Etc. I’m Bringing to Labor to Help Birth Be As Smooth and Peaceful As Possible

1)   A Doula. I feel so grateful to have someone who will be with me start to finish who’s done this LOTS of times. Who can read the signals, and support me with positions, reminders, massage, running interference with, well, interferences, and more.

2)   My Spirit Animal. Er, yes, really. I had two cool Skype sessions with a birth coach, and as homework she had me draw a picture of my most empowered birth scenario. I drew a crayon lion/woman who looked strong and fierce and potent and loving and kind. I plan to call on her lionessy power when things get rough.

3)   Frozen Grapes. I’ve heard these are awesome snacks for early labor. And it looks like I’ll need more grapes because they also prove to be great pre-pre-early labor snacks. Oops.

4)   My Husband. He’s not un-freaked out, but I know he’ll be an un-squeamish trouper and I’m so glad/excited/relieved to have someone so willing and present and loving to go through this tunnel to parenthood with me. I also know he won’t let anyone mess with me, should issues arise, and that’s a beautiful thing too.

5)   Labor Beads. I asked everyone attending my baby shower to bring a bead for me to string on a sacred labor necklace. The idea is that each bead has meaning and a story that will accompany me and give me power and strength and remind me that I am a part of a woman-community that loves and supports me and my family.

6)   A Birthing Tub. We switched hospitals last week to a place with a birthing center and a birthing tub. Crazy for 36 weeks, I know, but the problems were mounting and I am so, so grateful to be able to labor in warm water.

7)   20 Years of Yoga. I’ve been doing yoga poses and yoga breathing and yoga thinking for 20 years now. That practice got me through breakups, 9/11, cancer, the loss of a prior pregnancy, and more. I’m pretty sure it will help anchor me now—tapping into the witness within, the one who lives beyond moods and thoughts and all the fluctuations of being human. Plus, those breathing techniques really do calm the nervous system and balance brain chemistry. Om shanti om.

8)   Music. My labor mixes are almost done. I was going to go all om-y, chant-y, plus Enya, but then a friend told me she actually wanted something more intense and groovy, so I’ve got a bunch of playlists prepped, from Groove to Chill to Om to Brainwaves (some musicians claim to write stuff that sends your brain into deep chill mode). Also, because I’m me, of course I have Salt n’ Pepa’s “Push It” and Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” in there, because, hi, they’re the ultimate birth anthems.

9)   A Sense of Humor. Thankfully I have a joke-cracking husband and a tendency to turn into a stand-up comic myself when things get crazy-intense. This ensures that often in the midst of pain and freak-outs that I can laugh my tush off as needed.

10)  A Connection to the Divine. I’m not traditionally religious, but I do feel deeply connected to the spiritual realm. I also feel linked to Mother Mary. She is the sweet source of blessings I go to when things are the darkest and tightest and she always delivers with blessings and light and a tenderness that softens everything. To invoke her, I’ll bring my rose spray (roses are her scent and flower), and a memory of her unconditional love and support.

I’m hoping/praying all this will be enough. I’m also remembering that women have been doing this for millennia and that, as a friend reminded me yesterday, my body knows how to do this—it’s just a matter of getting out of the way to let it unfold. So, off to the mystery I go, wishing you blessings and cool stuff for your journey too, wherever it leads.