Forty weeks sound much faster than nine months.
I took a stroll today underneath blooming Linden trees, underneath unobtrusively dripping rain, thinking about the past few months in which my preparations to become a mother took place. Despite stereotypical expectations of constant discomfort, mood swings and morning nausea, my only complaint was (so far) the necessity to stay away from blue cheese, sushi and deli meats. Perhaps the absence of those typical issues that define the majority of pregnancies allowed me productive months of work, preparation of the nursery, and a harmonious mind state of acceptance and tender anticipation of my new role. I do not try to say that finding out about pregnancy was shockingly unexpected. Not in the least. However, one must agree that a remarkable measure of responsibility, dedication and affection towards that little developing baby requires some time of preparation. Also, I had to recognize, and deal with, the constantly emerging feeling that the peace of a heart, from the moment the boy would be born, would become immensely difficult to find. That heart of mine will divide between dealing with matters that are still valuable to me and any danger, experience, issue my child will face. Thus, I found that mental preparation involved more endeavour than choosing a stroller or not drinking coffee.
Now, gradually connecting my conviction in the importance of finding the equilibrium of mind and body during pregnancy to the root of it, I have learned that it lies deep in my heritage, deep in the surroundings I grew up with. Do you know those young ladies who dream of becoming mothers, those girls who readily babysit whenever they get a chance? Well, I was never one of those. More than that, my connection with babies usually ends as soon as they start crying, and there is a white blank in my head about possible ways to comfort them. Saying that, I do not wish to assume that my idea of marriage and life was to be childless. I knew that holding my baby would be different from the traumatic experience of crying children of others. I knew that I would not be able to withdraw my glance from him or her when the time would be right.
Growing up in Russia, however, I have developed an idea that at a certain age one merely gets a baby. It never was a topic of debate, concern or denial. It appeared to me that only under certain circumstances a couple does not have children. While such an idea is common in many cultures, growing up (and that is the reason I had never revealed dreams of becoming a mother) I noticed one disadvantage in it. As a woman, you were expected of certain actions. And, while a lady in her thirties is still considered young enough to have healthy babies in Canada, the same age in Russia is considered far-passed-her-due-time, thus she must be under precise doctors’ attention in case her pregnancy fails. Women who live with those prejudices find it almost a necessity, a demand even, to become pregnant by the time they turn twenty-five. Now, time obviously changes, and I notice it in Russian mentality as well. Yet, that was not the situation when I was a teenager. Hence, inevitably I allowed myself an opposite mindset in which nobody would expect me to become pregnant as soon as the wedding bells would stop ringing. I had that confident assurance that a decision to become a parent cannot be made in haste; cannot be a tribute of respect to social demands. Besides that, when having a child becomes the fulfillment of a somewhat obligation but a desire of a heart, it is much harder to find enjoyment in such a fascinating and even curious stage of a woman’s life. Right now, observing myself as a woman content with her relationship with anything from herself to hobbies, marriage, career and dreams, I am counting delicate baby kicks expecting for something grand and overwhelming to come into my husband’s and my life.
As my due date is approaching closer, as meeting that tiny face and kissing little fingers can come any day now, I work on continuing to establish that equilibrium, on preparing myself and, in fact acknowledging fears that are involved. They say to talk about fears, to set opposing affirmations, to breath deep and slow during painful attacks. The biggest fear I have about coming into labour is the obscurity of the whole process. My body had never done this before; it never knew a degree of pain that is a few days away only. The obscurity of it all, the ambiguity of it all, leave me somewhat disturbed. Will it be a walk through the valley of shadows where at the end striking light of joy would exchange everything I was so feared of? (My husband’s sister suggests switching from frightening thoughts of pain to images of holding a baby in my arms.) I am aware of the fact that I am not the first and the last woman on Earth to give birth. Yet, as the act of labour approaches closer, I find the whole process, mentally and physically, solely intimate. Thus, despite all knowledge about the process I pursued during the last few months, all I can do when the moment comes is hold my husband’s hand and pray.