I have officially entered my 37th week of pregnancy, which means that I have passed the landmark 36th week, the week after which they say the baby can make a safe appearance at any time. I thought that when I finally got to this point that I would feel calm and peaceful with what is about to happen to me, because many pregnant women in their ninth month seem to radiate an almost superhuman serenity, an impenetrable resolve and acceptance of their fate, like they are walking to the guillotine feeling nothing but happiness at the prospect of meeting their maker.
I do not feel an ounce of this calm. In fact, I am in such a fevered, panicked state that I can’t really blame a total stanger for sending my husband an email last week that said, “Your wife is nutz!” What has forever been an abstract concept, something that would happen later, is going to materialize and become a very real and realistic reality in less than four weeks. I am scared shitless, even more shitless than my usual shitlessness. And when you consider the standard I have already set for shitlessness, this new level of shitlessness is perhaps a level of shitlessness the world has never before seen.
And it’s not that I haven’t read about labor or don’t know what is going to happen to me — I’m very aware of how labor works and what happens after labor and how my nipples will feel like they are going to harden into steel bolts and fall off my chest. I’ve witnessed two live births and watched in slow motion, technicolor wide-angle focus the slicing inhumanity of an episiotomy. I’ve asked strangers at the grocery store how they handled their first labors and endured endless half-hours of baby stories on TLC involving perky, plaid-wearing women who see no problem with having their wheelchair-bound grandmother rolled into the delivery room at the moment their vagina explodes with new, screaming life.
If there are two things I have learned through my extensive study they are 1) labor is by nature a total unknown, and there is no possible way to determine what my personal experience will be like, and 2) if anyone decides to roll in my wheelchair-bound Granny while my naked, sprawling vagina is pushing out a hairy, flat skull, I will personally hunt them down and tear their face off. My husband has been instructed in excruciatingly clear detail that no Grannies in wheelchairs are allowed anywhere near my delivery room. He has also been instructed that the use of sports-related metaphors to get me through contractions, such as We’re rounding third base! or It’s the bottom of the ninth and all bases are loaded!, are grounds for immediate divorce if not DEATH.
I think the reason I am so scared is because the whole thing is so unpredictable, and I have a very hard time being put in situations in which I am not in absolute control. Labor will involve the will of a wholly separate human being inside my body, a human being with the DNA of a Hamilton and an Armstrong, which basically means I’ll be dealing with the most stubborn personality to ever walk the Earth. She’s also got to make it out the birth canal with her shoulders and feet, a combination of Hamilton/Armstrong shoulders and feet, which basically means the average of wide and wider, and huge and huger. I think the only comforting, predictable factor of this labor will be that if she happens to get stuck, someone can just reach up in there, grab hold of her fully grown unibrow and yank her into the light.