“Charlize? I love that name.”
“Elliot. Boy or girl! It’s unisex.”
I can’t tell you how many times James said, “we have __ weeks left, let’s not talk about names right now” and I can’t tell you how much that used to piss me off.
We couldn’t agree on anything. 20 weeks pregnant, (to everyone who hasn’t been pregnant- that’s halfway through the pregnancy or just over 4 months pregnant) was approaching and our little human had started to grow some definitive parts we could see over the ultrasound. Finally an answer was on the way-boy or a girl? I was obsessed.
It was so exciting. James has 7 nieces and he swore we’d be having a girl. I wasn’t so sure. As obnoxious and hands-on as I am, I always had a feeling I would be a boy’s mother.
We went through all the wives tales. Chinese gender calendar said it was a girl. Cravings said it was a boy. Belly bump was low- said it was a boy. James said it was a girl so often I started to believe him a little bit. I wasn’t really hoping for one particular direction or the other. I still could barely believe I was going to have a kid at all.
We were actually so anxious we spur of the moment went to get an early ultrasound at 18 weeks. The monitor searched around our baby’s little body. Which looked much more like a person than the last time we saw. Then I saw it. A little weeny.
“It’s a boy!”
My cheeks got warm as I imagined a little boy with brown skin, a big smile and head of curls. I cupped my mouth and felt my eyes beginning to tear. I looked over at James who undeniably was a little emotional too. A father who was going to have a son- I can imagine that’s a pretty big deal. I was happy. I was happy he was experiencing these crazy new feelings too.
It all sunk in even more. Now I had pictures in my head. Wrestling this little boy on the couch, cuddling him to sleep, watching James show him how to ride a bike, or racing him down the street. I suddenly saw our family.
“Benjamin.” James said as we got in the car from our ultrasound.
“What!! I told you that name in the beginning and you didn’t like it!!”
He swears I only said Benson. No. I remember I said Benson AND Benjamin. But oh well. It just felt right, and I saw it felt right to James too. But guess what his middle name is?
Elliot. Benjamin Elliot.
If I don’t get any other credit- it’s for picking his middle name. It’s perfect and we can credit my brain for it.
Each day was a count down. From that point on, day in and day out I was waiting to meet my son, Benjamin. He loved to kick. And he kicked hard. And late at night. We talked to him all the time. Soon he was big enough that we knew just where his feet were, his little bum, and his head- which was dove down and ready to go.
I always knew when he was moving his head too, because I would get a sharp, hard, electric pinch in my crotch that would make me want to both scream and collapse where I stood. I had to start sleeping with a pillow between my legs. The bones in my pelvis were starting to separate preparing for birth and the pain made it all too obvious.
I started going to the doctor every two weeks instead of every month. I started to feel contractions- Braxton hicks. Those are when your whole belly goes rock hard. It’s a “practice contraction” as your body prepares for the big day. The suspense kicked up as my appointments started to become only one week apart each.
I was due in less than a month and our eyes were peeled for any signs of labor.
Trying to refrain from being one of those women who go to triage 3 different times before they’re actually in labor, I had an impressive rate of only 2 times before I actually was. The first time I thought my water broke but I peed my pants, and the second time I was dehydrated which gave me contractions that actually hurt. So I guess I was justified. I was, however, embarrassed. I did not want to go there again. Not until it was time. I did not have a good reason to know those nurses on a first name basis yet. Problem was- we had no idea when that time would be, or what it’d be like when it was real.
“Real labor is like a train. It just won’t stop.” The doctor said to us.
Enlightened in the obvious, my new plan was to hold out until I couldn’t possibly take it anymore. Then- I’d hope that would be true labor.
I started to strategize. How did I want to do this? I needed more information to create a labor plan.
All I had known about labor was the movies- a woman is in the middle of the grocery store or at a fancy restaurant and her water breaks. She starts screaming and she’s hauled away to the hospital where the screaming eventually climaxes and she has the baby. That’s scary. Didn’t exactly sound like a good day.
Testimony from other women was only helpful to an extent because I started to realize they all told completely different stories; having me realize birth is a different experience for every woman. I realized, hearing about a great birth won’t make mine great, just like hearing about a terrible one won’t make mine terrible. All I could go for was the facts of the process. Hope for the best and just do it.
I asked my midwife and my doula everything I could. (Side note-I had state insurance and it took care of my doula as well! Talk about amazing right?) my midwife suggested birth class. Since James and I just clearly didn’t know what we were in for. I signed us up.
Our birth teacher was wonderful. We spent 4 Sunday evenings practicing labor positions, learning about anything that could go down during labor so we could make our own birth plans, and yes- even watching those graphic birth videos. (They aren’t so bad.)
She got her message across to me. This is a woman’s primal area of expertise. It doesn’t have to be a bad day. This is an empowering and beautiful experience. I’m going to own this. She even debunked all the body shaming we hear about birth. So yes, my precious jewel was going to go right back to size. Because it was made for this. She made me feel like a stretchy resilient queen.
Since she embraced the badass in me-I talked myself into going for this rodeo aunatural. As crazy as it sounds, I really wanted to know what it truly felt like to have a baby. I wanted to feel it all. I knew the pain could be managed by mental discipline itself. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. Because I’m psycho.
40 pounds heavier than I was that day at planned parenthood and 39 weeks pregnant now. That means I was entering the week I was due. Even through due dates are technically only general estimations of when a baby arrives- the fact that I had already went to the hospital twice and sent home, was painfully wobbling around like a penguin, and was otherwise overwhelmingly uncomfortable, I was counting on this freaking due date.
I was doing everything. They say walking, sex, pineapple, spicy food, bouncing on a fitness ball, whatever. Even though my bubble was constantly pried by, “That baby will come when it wants. It doesn’t matter what you do.” I’d smile and say, “I know.” And then I’d go home, I’d walk, have sex, eat pineapple AND spicy food and then bounce away on my damn fitness ball. It helped passed the time, and James was content with his part of it. So hey. You could say our efforts were in full force.
I was done. I was done hearing I was SO big. I was done hearing I was SO small. (I’d hear both in the same hour.) I was done being asked if it was twins. (Mothers in this century get enough ultrasounds to know they’re having one child so your basically pointing out her large size negatively FYI.) (in a time where self esteem is low and her hormones are HIGH, FYI.) I was done with the unwanted and irrelevant advise and comments. I was done obsessing over labor. I was done with the peeing every half hour and the pain of moving around and everything in between. I wanted to meet this baby and call it a day.
June 22nd I bled in the morning. I quickly opened google.