I always say that we can only hope for the best on the day of labour - that the baby is the wonderful and unpredictable 'wildcard.' So, we must trust our body and our baby to give us strong clues about what needs to happen, then make the best choices on that particular day, with the support of those around us...
Here’s George, introduced by his mother:
“George was born Feb 16th - I had the induced labour that didn’t progress well and a cesarean - and he turned out to be 11 pounds! Remember us? These women who labour in the park, cooking turkey dinners...well, humbug. Not at all how mine went, although it was totally great in its own way.”
Here’s my memory:
Okay, what I remember was a mum, close to 2 weeks overdue, whose contractions were like a jackhammer in concrete. They never let up! When I arrived at her home, she was leaning over the bathroom sink, dealing with one contraction after another. Though she was coping, these contractions were a strong message from her body, saying, “There’s something really big in here that I’m working hard to get out!” She needed help fast. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurse measured her tummy, and looked up at me with one eyebrow raised. This was one big baby! The contractions weren’t slowing down, and there’d been hardly any progress. It seemed to take forever, but the staff grabbed an epidural out of the toolbox (finally!), after which mum said, “I haven’t felt this comfortable in months!” When the option of a cesarean was presented after many hours of labour with no progress, and the baby’s head up high in the pelvis (another sign from the body), everyone came to the conclusion that a cesarean was the pragmatic option of the day. Rather than seeing this as a negative option, I saw this as a way to honour the body, and the baby’s personality - powerful, strong, spirited...
Back to George’s mum:
“Spirited is one word for it, original source of entropy in the universe is another. It is a great way to be, in life, I could use more of it myself...
So, George is 8 months old now. I think it has been fairly smooth sailing. He nursed well from the beginning. He never did get colicky, and has been very good natured all along, but it took us 6 months to get a daily routine with naps and feedings, and more than 2 hours between nursing, so I was feeling a little stir crazy for a couple of months there.
Anyway here we are. He’s still good natured most of the time, but not placid, really active. He's been crawling since 7.5 months, now pulling up to stand on anything taller than his knees. He is never, ever still - won't sit in your lap.
He used to enjoy diaper changes, because he used to love lying on his back and kicking and waving, and at 3 months he'd kick and wave for up to 20 minutes at a time! Now, though, he's the boy who's never still. He practically flies through the air. I often have to actually pin him to the floor with my feet on his shoulders to change a diaper, and it's really frustrating.
He's removed two doorstops (I had to remove the rest), the cap from the toilet bolts, and the cap from a childproof bottle of vitamins. He's working really hard on climbing the stairs and opening the closets. No trips to Emergency yet, but I think it is in our future.
We don't want to totally childproof the living area (there is a totally childproof area upstairs) - we'd rather have him learn that some things are out of bounds. But I get tired of redirecting him away from the lamp cords over and over again. He doesn't get that he shouldn't be chewing them, and I don't think he's developmentally capable of restraining his impulses. Any ideas?
Today he finally figured out how to use a straw, slurping up big mouthfuls of my club soda and letting most of it pour right out his mouth again. He generally finds that a fun trick. He'll take a cup, slosh in a big mouthful and spit most of it out through a big grin. I don't give him juice or we'd be really sticky.
He and the cat never quite worked out their relationship. George loved Lily, but Lily didn't love George. I had always assumed that a cat would just avoid the baby. Well, not Lily. If anything she would taunt him, coming up to the other side of the baby gate, just within reach, then swatting him if he reached out to her. Once he started crawling, she would stand her ground and swat at him when he grabbed for her, so I was having to supervise them both, keeping two mobile organisms away from each other. Finally, she went to live in a cabin in the woods somewhere in Squamish. Apparently Lily is having a fabulous time with no babies, and a big wild world.
So, in some ways it's easier than I ever thought, because I had quite an easy baby, especially for a newborn. In other ways, it's harder; I thought there would be some pattern to the days that would emerge, or that I could try to impose, much earlier than it turned out. I thought naps would be longer, and I'd be able to get more done. Next time, if I should be so lucky, I will be better prepared! I will have a postpartum doula, and a big stash of Clif bars, and I'll be good to go.
Now, I'd better get some sleep!”
Thanks to George's mum for being so wonderful and open and honest about the realities of labour and motherhood. If we laugh at any of the descriptions, it is only because we see a little bit of ourselves or our children in the images. The details are unique, but the struggles are universal!
Jacquie Munro, founder of the "Slow Birth" movement, is an experienced doula and childbirth educator and is well-known for her individualized, intuitive approach to supporting families in the childbearing year and beyond. Since 1987, she has provided support at over one thousand births, at home and in hospital, and taught thousands of expectant parents. At home, Jacquie lives only a bike ride away from four generations of her family. You can usually find her at the park or beach, playing beside her twin grandsons who call her "Deecy".