Preparing for Birth – for the 6th Time

Few things in life are as emotional charged as childbirth. It is singularly momentous and supremely personal. The hopes and dreams preceding it are as unique as each mama + baby combo, wrapped around and threaded through with fears and faith, with past experience (your own or others’), and of course the vast and unpredictable unknown.

38 weeks finds me standing with my toes to the threshold of this miracle gateway once more, for the 6th time to be precise.

In the days and weeks leading up to this moment, I’ve garnered plenty of questions, particularly from younger mamas or those still hoping for a first glimpse of those two pink lines. Most common among all the wonderings is this: Do you feel prepared? 

The question usually comes rhetorically wrapped, smiling eyes predicting an affirmative response. Of course, I must feel prepared. This is my sixth time! Surely if I didn’t feel prepared, I wouldn’t have chosen to go through it all again.

In some ways, I do feel prepared. We’re planning our third homebirth, so I have all the requisite supplies on hand. Our plastic sheet, Chux pads, and peri bottle are at the ready. Early-onset of nesting means our little lady’s clothes and swaddle blankets have been washed and neatly folded for awhile. I even invested in some new things: postpartum clothing items I wished I’d had last time around, a new nursing pillow, a Moses basket to replace the co-sleeper that doesn’t work with our new mattress. I have the thermometer and nasal aspirator and the birth center on speed dial, but… do I feel prepared?

I’m prepared enough to know that I don’t know what to expect.

Against all odds, my fourth baby was by far my latest (12 days past due) and smallest (7 lbs. 13 oz.) Meanwhile, my fifth labor was my longest and most exhausting, even topping my first, which was a hospital induction. Needless to say, any expectations I have for this birth have been shot to holy heck.

Strangely enough though, I’m not fearful. While I’ve never had a crisis labor, I’ve been through some hard stuff — from stalled progress to cervical lips — and I know I can survive it. I know because I’m hear to tell the story. I know that I trust my midwives implicitly and that, if my care should extend beyond their expertise, they know the best of hands to transfer me to at our local hospital. Most importantly, I know I serve a God who loves me and my soon-to-be-born daughter more than I can imagine, and that gives me all the hope and confidence in the world.

Do I feel prepared?

Yes and no.

I feel ready, I’ll say that. Ready to meet this little girl. Ready to kiss my sleep-spoiling heartburn good-bye. Ready to ride the roller coaster of agony and ecstasy that is childbirth, whatever this one holds. Mostly I’m looking forward to those sweet days of staggered sleep and newborn noises, when our family of 8 (!!) will fumble and fail and forgive each other on the journey to find our new normal.

I am prepared to let go.

I am prepared to trust God.

I am prepared to be amazed.

I am prepared to suffer.

I am prepared to fall in love.

I am prepared to be overcome.

I am prepared to triumph.

Do I feel prepared?

No, not really. But I am prepared for this.

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