11 weeks (1st official appointment with our homebirth midwife):
Peter and I went to our first prenatal visit the other week. I had been excited about it all week. My first official prenatal visit as an actual pregnant woman! The morning of the visit, I woke up full of jitters and as the morning wore on, I just couldn’t wait to get to my appointment. Even though I have taken, oh, 35 pregnancy
s in the past weeks, I really, really wanted to hear the heartbeat.
By the time I actually showed up to the Birth Cottage (www.thebirthcottage.com) — 15 minutes early, of course — I was a nervous wreck, sweating heavily and pacing like an idiot. When Peter finally arrived — 15 minutes late, of course — we were seated in our room with the midwife, Layla. We had tons of paperwork and questions to go over. I impatiently answered the questions, thinking only of the doppler and wondering when the heck she was going to ask me to sit on the table!
Finally it was time. I sat on the table and leaned back; she pulled up my dress and pushed down my panties a bit. She was just about to put the gel on my belly when I hollered “Wait! We need to pray first!!” Layla obliged and stepped outside for a minute so we could pray. I called down Mother Mary, Jesus, and every other saint I could think of that would protect the room and help make sure the doppler was working properly and it was a clear channel to hear our baby. I prayed that baby would move into whatever position she needed to be in so we could hear the heartbeat well. And I prayed, “Please dear God let there be a heartbeat. Please dear God let everything be OK.”
A knock at the door and Layla was ready to come back in. I was ready now. The gel went on cold and then the doppler touched my belly. She warned the baby is only about two inches big with a heart about the size of the tip of your pinky, so it could take a little bit to find it. I am not sure how many seconds passed or how hard I was squeezing Peter’s hand when she found it. I froze. Was that really it? Or was it just my heartbeat she found? I was afraid to look at her face at first; worried it would give me some sort of signal that she was worrying about something. But I peered up and caught her eye, and she nodded and smiled.
Then I unraveled. I sobbed and sobbed. I sobbed so hard she had to remove the doppler because my belly was moving so much from me crying. I kept saying, “Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus.” Then I looked up at Peter. He had just a little tear in his eye and he looked happy. I was surprised to see him look so relieved, too. He has been calm and cool this whole time, always responding to my worries and fears by saying this is our baby; I know it is going to stick but he needed to hear the heartbeat, too.
Once I calmed down and stopped crying, she put the doppler back on to see how fast the heartbeat was. It was 160; apparently that is a girl heartbeat! I had an overwhelming feeling it was a girl before this appointment and that just sealed the deal for me. Poor Peter is still holding out for a boy. I left that appointment on cloud nine. It was the feeling I had been waiting on for the last 8 weeks. I felt euphoric the day I found out I was pregnant and then for the next 8 weeks I worried. Because I worried so much that this baby was going to leave me I did not allow myself to get too excited or be too happy. But not now. Now I am over the moon. I am really pregnant now.
I thought I was done with the throwing up part. I mean, I am in my second trimester now and all the books and online resources say that “most women start to feel better around the 10-12 week.” Usually there is always the pre-cautionary disclaimer of “but some unlucky women feel sick their entire pregnancy.” Awesome.
I am actually feeling a lot better. I no longer feel like I want to die or think that I am about to die. I am still tired but it’s now safe for me to drive without fear of falling asleep at the wheel because I just can’t seem to manage to keep my eyes open. So my throwing up took me by surprise. I honestly think it was mostly due to the awful day I had. Early in the day I found out that a friend of mine that I have known since middle school, who was exactly one week ahead of me in her pregnancy, lost her baby.
It happened last week, when she was 15 weeks, just where I am. Two other of our friends from middle and high school are also pregnant, all of us due within a week of each other. We were so excited to be pregnant together, we had already planned a Fall prego girls weekend, where we would do belly casts together and take lots of pictures.
When I first found out we were all pregnant, the statistic of 1 in 4 women suffering a miscarriage flashed through my mind. I cried to Peter that night, saying one of us is not going to make it if that statistic is true. He went on to try and explain a complicated statistical formula of why it wouldn’t apply to us (he’s an engineer). But I had a bad feeling.
When we all heard heartbeats and got to 12 weeks, we celebrated and I thought all was well. And then we heard from Kelly. Of course I cried, and all day I was upset and finally at the end of the day my body was so stressed from being upset and crying that I threw up.
Immediately after I found out about Kelly, I called the Birth Cottage and asked if they could fit me in to hear my baby’s heartbeat. I wanted reassurance that my baby was ok and I could not wait until my next week’s appointment. When I heard my baby’s heartbeat it made me cry again.
Diana, the other midwife I see at the Birth Cottage, said the heartbeat was perfect and strong. When I finally got the courage to call Kelly and send my love, she was doing fine. She and her husband have a strong faith and know that everything happens on God’s timing.
A beautiful, little girl.
We got our ultrasound done a few days ago at the Prenatal Experience. My friend Sabrina owns the place and we had such a great time. She has a huge leather sectional couch that my entourage was able to lounge on, get comfortable, and watch our baby on the big projection screen.
Peter and I have no family in town, but we brought some friends. My best friend Molly, my god daughter Ella, her sister Ava, their cousin Mackensie, and Ava and Ella’s mom, Christina, all came with us to find out the sex. Ella is 2 ½ and Ava and Mackensie are 3 and ½; it was so fun having them there and seeing their reactions.
Sabrina had me lie on the table and pull my shirt up. She told me that she confirms the sex to herself three times before announcing it to the room. Finally, the picture of our baby came up on the screen! It was such an awesome moment.
Peter told me later that he teared up when she first appeared. He also said, “Thankfully nobody noticed.” Such a guy!
I watched with a half dazed smile; it was so neat to be able to look at my baby and see what she is doing inside. After just a few minutes, Sabrina was able to announce that it was in fact a she! Everyone clapped and Peter gave me a big kiss. I was so happy; I really wanted a girl first! Peter had mentally prepared himself for a boy, so it took him a moment to wrap his head around being a father to a little girl, and he is very excited now. You know, once he realized that little girls can fish too.
We continued to watch her for several more minutes and it was just so cool. She was sucking her thumb, playing with her umbilical cord, kicking and stretching all over the place. I kept saying “Look how cute she is!” It was such a relief to know that I am having a girl and to see her sweet face. And now I can finally start planning and decorating!
So, Peter comes up to me the other morning while I am getting ready for work, pats my butt, and says, “Man, your butt is getting big!” I then give him the mother of all death glares and he says, “What?? I like it!” I went on to say, “I don’t give a crap if you love it, do not say anything else like that for the next year. Do you understand? I do NOT want your running commentary on how big my boobs, butt and belly are getting.”
Previously, he had called my new went-up-two-cup-sizes boobs “perfect porn star boobs”. Awesome. Not only do I feel like crap, Peter thinks I look like a porn star.
Me and my porn star boobs finally got around to going bra shopping a couple of days ago and what fun that was. I previously thought the bra alphabet stopped at the letter D; boy was I wrong. I ended up going home with the lovely letter E.
Before I was pregnant, I dreamed of the big boobs and eating whatever I wanted and how great it would all be. I thought how nice it will be to not care about my weight for once in my life! I have also always thought that every single pregnant woman I have ever seen looks stunningly beautiful. I never used to look at pregnant women and say, “Gee, her butt is huge!” So why do I think these things about myself now? Why can’t I see what Peter sees and instead I just feel like a whale? Whatever the reason, I better get over it soon, because I have 24 weeks to go and I have already gained 18 pounds!!
Last week was the second week in a row that I actually managed to go to a yoga class. It’s only the third time I have gone this pregnancy. Before you get all up in arms about the yoga teacher not going to yoga class, please know that I have been practicing, but it’s just not in a class.
The first trimester was so awful, there was no way I could muster the energy to get dressed, drive to a studio, and do yoga for more than an hour. So I simply did yoga every chance I have at home, when I felt ok, and in small increments.
I went to a regular yoga class, not a prenatal one, because since I closed the studio, no one has started another prenatal yoga class. Journeys in Yoga is where I go and they have classes for all levels and several gentle yoga classes that are perfect for a pregnant mom trying yoga for the first time. Hopefully she will have an 8 week prenatal class this summer – I will keep you posted on that.
Anyway, so last week was my first full hour class in several months. It was very interesting. Although, I had been practicing at home, I was doing lots of easy stuff, and when I got to class, I realized that my belly had actually become inhibiting. Even though deep twists are not good to do when you’re pregnant, I could not do one even if I wanted to!
I was moving very slowly too, inching my way into each pose. Instead of my normal seamless breath in between each pose, there was lots of heaving and sighing. I can no longer do headstands and arm balances, which is difficult for me, since those poses were favorites of my practice. And poses that were once very pretty — three legged dog, half moon, and dancers pose — all look, well, tired.
It was a great lesson for me to be in the moment. To know that it is ok to take a brief moment to mourn the woman I used to be and then totally accept the present moment. And for me the present moment also included lots of gas. Farting has sort of become like breathing for me. Thankfully I am in an office by myself at work and I can just let them rip. At home its no holds barred too, much to Peter’s dismay. But in a quiet yoga class, with people VERY close to you, gas becomes a problem. The poor lady didn’t know what she had coming laying her mat next to mine!
I would really like to know why Heidi Klum’s ankles do not swell. In her pictures in magazines like US Weekly, she is wearing 5 inch stilettos and her ankles look as tiny as ever. Why are mine as wide as my head??
Peter and I just got back from a vacation in California (where we got engaged!) and the airport, airplane ride, and driving up the coast did not get along well with my ankles. By the time we got home on Monday, I was horrified by how large my feet and ankles were! They have since gone down for the most part, but today when I put on my cute ballet flats, they were tight.
And don’t even get me started about the heat. In California, it was between 65 and 75 degrees and sunny. It was absolutely perfect weather. I get off the plane in Tallahassee and I am swallowed whole by the heat and humidity. It’s going to be a loooonnnggg summer.
Can I get a hallejuah?! It’s been 6 weeks since we found out that we are having a girl. Ever since that joyous occasion we have been wracking our brains for the perfect name. It was driving me absolutely mad that we didn’t have one picked out. If had to say “baby girl” one more time I was going to scream. I am a planner by nature, so not having this major detail finalized was going to push me over the edge. And Peter, of course, was saying things like, “What’s the rush?” and, “We haven’t even met her yet, so how can we name her?” Somebody kill me now, if he thinks I am going to wait until I meet our baby to give her a name.
Most people mistakenly think I am super laid back because I practice yoga. No, yoga keeps me sane, keeps me from being even more uptight than I normally am. Or people think maybe because we are having a home birth, I would wait until I meet her to pick her name. I may be having a home birth, but I am type A all the way in other regards. I have got things to do! I need to register. I need to monogram stuff. And I just needed to know.
We had narrowed it down to 6 names about a month ago and were very slowly crossing off names. On our trip to California, I tried a new tactic. Every time I would bring up baby girl, I would insert one of the proposed names in the sentence instead of saying baby girl. It worked beautifully, he immediately said, “Yuck, not that one,” for the first name I threw in. This tactic got us down to two names.
So then I decided to pull out the big guns. I was going to annoy the crap out of Peter until he made a decision. I would call him at work 4 times a day and ask if he picked a name yet. After just two days of this, he gave up and said, “Ok, we will have a name picked by the time my mom gets here!” Yes! Just what I wanted to hear. If he commits to a deadline, he is in trouble because there is nothing that will make me let him slide if he makes me a promise.
So as we are driving to the airport — he is a last minute kind of guy — he says, “Let’s name her Penelope.”
Thank you, Jesus!! He picked a name! The name I wanted!
Baby girl has a name. And I couldn’t be happier.
I love, love, love feeling my baby move around. She is kicking me as I type and it is just the coolest feeling in the world. In the last two weeks, the movements have gotten much stronger and I can even see my belly move sometimes when she kicks.
The first time I saw my belly move, it was a surreal moment. It was what I had been waiting for this whole time; concrete evidence other than hearing the heartbeat or getting an ultrasound that she is actually in there and doing good. I love the daily reassurance that she is happy and ok.
Peter got to see my belly move the other day too. Which was great because I had been frustrated that I could feel her on the inside for weeks and weeks, but he wasn’t able to be a part of the experience yet. Feeling her move has made it much easier for me to talk to her and even sing to her. Before I kind of felt stupid having a one way interaction while rubbing my belly or talking to her. But now I really feel like I can communicate with her and that we are bonding.
It’s hard to believe that I am over half way done with my pregnancy. I swear it seems like just yesterday I saw two pink lines and was puking my brains out. I felt like I wanted to die. Now I feel great.
I have that second trimester burst of energy that everyone talks about. My belly is actually larger than my butt and boobs, and I look pregnant and that makes me feel good about my body. My skin has seemed to calm down from the hormones from the first trimester and most importantly, I am healthy and my baby is healthy. I am a low-risk pregnancy and all is on track for my home birth in November and that makes me incredibly happy.
This halfway point has me feeling reflective. I took some time to look back at where I have been this pregnancy and where I am about to go. So many milestones have already passed; seeing a positive
, morning sickness, hearing the heartbeat for the first time, getting through the first trimester, finding out it’s a girl, taking our childbirth class in California, feeling her kick for the first time, Peter feeling her kick and seeing my belly move. Every time some moment passes me by, I close my eyes and tell my brain to freeze frame it and to remember it for the rest of my life. These moments happen so quickly and we never, ever get them back.
I am trying so hard to empty things on my plate, so that I can focus on these moments and not let them slip by unnoticed. I can feel myself starting to dig deeper within myself, beginning to not care what is going on around me, and wanting to go inward and hibernate.
At the same time I have a to-do list three pages long. Things I want to accomplish before she gets here, not to mention I am getting married in less than three weeks and I have a long to-do list just for that life moment. I am trying not to get stressed out about how much I have or have not accomplished so far. I am trying to remember that it really does not matter if I am able to get all the curtains dry cleaned and the carpets cleaned before she gets here. Not every inch of my life needs to be re-organized and put in its place for me to be a good mother. If people get their Christmas cards late it is not the end of the world.
I know crazy pregnancy dreams are normal, but it’s still a little disconcerting when you dream of pushing out a puppy. I have been having very vivid and weird dreams this entire pregnancy, but this was my first full blown birthing dream.
In my dream, I awoke from a very restful night’s sleep to a strange sensation in between my legs. In my dream, I thought to myself, “Hmm, that is odd to have that feeling of pressure when I haven’t felt any contractions.” I wondered to myself, in my dream, what would happen if I pushed a little bit. So I bear down ever so slightly, and low and behold baby girl’s head is crowning!
At this point, Peter is up and getting ready for work, so I calmly mention to him that baby’s head is crowning and that maybe he should stop getting ready for work and come over here. He then starts freaking out and pacing back and forth. I don’t wait for him to calm down or come over and I give another little push and out slides baby girl!
I scoop her up in my hands and bring her to my chest. I immediately put her to my breast and only then do I notice that her tongue is super long and she is having a hard time latching on. I think to myself, “That’s weird, why is she having trouble latching on?” Then things come into focus and I realize she is having trouble latching on because she is a PUPPY. I am shocked for a moment and then turn to my dog (not Peter) and say “Look, we have a puppy, aren’t you excited!?!”
You know how feelings and emotions of your dreams can linger as you are slowly waking up and putting together the pieces of the dream? Well, as I was fully waking up and recounting the dream to myself, what stood out to me was the feeling of total ecstasy when I pushed her out and caught her with my own two hands. Just experiencing the emotions through a dream made me super excited for the real experience. The second thing that stood out was, again, not that I actually birthed a PUPPY, but that I was stressed that it happened too fast and Peter and I had no time together in labor before pushing her out.
Yesterday I had my 30 week appointment at the Birth Cottage.
I can’t believe I am 30 weeks already! She’ll will be here soon!
Everything is progressing good. Baby girl is head down and ready to rock roll. Heartbeat is good and she is very active. Layla, one the midwives at the Birth Cottage, showed me exactly how she is curled up in my womb. I could feel her little chin and head, her spine and butt and then her feet. It was super cool to be able to pinpoint her tiny features.
Today when rubbing my belly, I could make out the outline of her feet. Feeling her little foot makes me antsy! I want to feel her foot in my hand and feel her fingers wrap around mine.
I can’t wait to scoop her up and smell her. I want to meet her so bad, but I am glad I have several weeks still to go; there is still SO much to do. At this appointment I got lots of paperwork and homework. Who knew I had to apply to get a social security number for her now? I have to get all our home birth supplies ready for the house. Most of it is simple things that I already have, I just need to gather them up; like a deep bowl for the placenta, but some of it I need to go out and get, like maxi pads for post partum.
Oooo weeee that’s a big baby! Those were the words of the doctor as he walked into the room and looked at the ultrasound screen. My sweet daughter is a big girl! I am 31 weeks and she is 4 pounds and 4 ounces! I am actually excited she is so big. It makes me feel better about being so huge myself. Call me crazy, but I would be thrilled to be able to say I pushed out a 9 or 10 pound baby at home with no drugs!
The best part of the ultrasound was finding out that she is healthy. They looked at her heart and checked for any defects and her spine for things like Spina bifida and she is absolutely perfect. I feel so blessed and relieved to know that she is healthy.
We got to watch her for a bit and she was playing with her toes and sticking out her tongue and moving around like crazy. I learned that my placenta is anterior, and in that position, it acts as pillow or buffer to lots of her movements. Apparently, I would feel her movements more if it was posterior. I thought that was pretty interesting. My placenta is also on my left side of my uterus and explains why she is always curled up on the right side. Sometimes I look so lopsided with her butt sticking way out on my right side!
At one point Peter said something during the ultrasound, and our daughter opened her eyes, and turned her head as if to look directly at him; it was amazing! And we saw hair! This would explain the heartburn I have had since week 7!
I got a massage on Sunday afternoon and it was pure heaven. I have been getting regular massage ever since I became a massage therapist myself (almost 10 years ago!) and I look forward to my massage all month. I haven’t given a massage in several months, but I will start taking appointments again in January.
We budget my massages in, as if they were a car or mortgage payment! Since I have been pregnant, I have been getting a massage every 3 or 4 weeks instead of every 4 or 5 weeks and without them I know I would be in much more physical pain and way more stressed out. I feel good knowing that even though I am stressed and exhausted from work, I can balance those feelings out with massage.
The last few weeks I have been getting very uncomfortable. It hurts to sit in a chair for more than 15 minutes and my feet hurt if I am standing for more than 5 minutes. My shoulders hurt from sleeping on my side. My calves cramp up. At night I can’t get comfortable and have a hard time going to sleep. But massage makes everything better!
I could go on and on about the benefits of massage! Thinking about this post, I remembered an article I wrote several years ago about the benefits of massage. It ran in Family Forum Magazine and Natural Awakenings Magazine. Here it is:
The time during your pregnancy should be spent relaxing and emotionally and physically preparing for the birth of your child. Instead, most women are frazzled, stressed and just plain exhausted from working, taking care of other children and getting everything “done” before baby arrives. Along with the joys of pregnancy comes also some discomfort that makes getting everything done a little harder! Pregnancy massage is a fantastic way to reduce any discomfort from your pregnancy and creates a precious moment all to yourself to relax and give your baby all the positive benefits that result from you being relaxed. When you are relaxed, you and your baby are healthy. Getting a massage may seem like an outrageous luxury, but medical research shows that getting a massage is a very important part of your prenatal care. A pregnancy massage makes a great baby shower gift or can win big points for hubby!
Last Wednesday, Peter and I took our Breastfeeding class at Best Beginnings. It’s a two hour class that helps new parents get ready for breastfeeding a newborn. It is a TON of information to go over in two hours and it can be overwhelming, but I highly recommend the class. We learned about different positions to hold and nurse baby and to get baby to latch on correctly. The class was especially helpful for moms who are going back to work and need help picking out the right pump and other things they need to know about storing breast milk, etc.
After class, a funny thing happened. Peter officially became scared of my boobs. After class it actually sunk in to him that I will use my breasts to feed our child and that they are no longer purely for his entertainment. Even though I haven’t even starting leaking colostrum yet or feeding a newborn, he is steering clear of them!
Breastfeeding is one of my worries. The birth and handling the pain doesn’t bother me so much, it’s the after the baby gets here part that I am worried about. Even though I have tons of experience taking care of babies as a nanny, I have never had to breastfeed before or had to take care of a baby 24 hours a day. At 5 o’clock I was done and could have a relaxing evening to myself. There is no end to the baby care shift now!
On a side note, my posts are getting more and more spread out as I get closer to my due date. It’s like I am being sucked into a cocoon. My brain does not want to do anything but nest and day dream about my baby. To actually type and verbalize what I am thinking and feeling is way too much effort and takes me out of my dreamy state – the state I need to be in to get ready for birth. Every ounce of brain power I have left is reserved for my job!
Recently, I was given a baby shower by two dear friends of mine, Janice and Christina (who is the Godmother) and I had such a wonderful time. I had been looking forward to my shower since my first trimester. It was at Janice’s house and her house is absolutely gorgeous. It was decorated to the nines with fall décor. Fall is my favorite time of year and I love fall decorations, so it’s very fitting that our daughter is arriving this fall! It was a small group but it was so nice, I got to spend quality time with everyone there and I knew that everyone that was there truly loved us.
After we ate some yummy food, they did a mother blessing for me. Everyone gathered, standing in a circle. My friend Missy had a ball of yarn, and started the ceremony. She told everyone that when the ball of yarn comes to you, say a piece of advice or a loving blessing and then to pass the ball of yarn across the circle to another person. In the end, we created a web with the yarn, a web of support. Then Missy cut pieces of the yarn and had everyone tie a piece around their wrist or ankle to wear until baby arrives. When they look at their piece of yarn they are reminded to continually send love and support our way. It was such a simple act, only took about 15 minutes, but it will be something I remember for the rest of my life.
Mother Blessings or Blessingways are simply the name of a ceremony. According to Anna Stewart, author of Mother Blessings-Honoring Women becoming Mothers, cultures across the world mark special events- menses, marriage, childbirth, war, journeys, death – with ceremonies and rituals. They provide a formal way to understand the changes a person is in the midst of. They bring us together to celebrate, honor, and support our loved ones.
Through creating an intentional ceremony, rich with personal significance, family and friends offer their heartfelt blessings as they create a physical symbol of their wishes. Mother blessings focus on giving emotional support, commitment to being in community with the new family, and a deeper appreciation for the life change that follows a baby’s arrival. We need ceremonies to remind us of these transitions.
In Grandmothers of the Light, Paula Gunn Allen talks about birth being the most important event in a woman’s life. It is her ticket into the adult women’s world. Allen writes, “Having traversed the borderland between life and death in childbirth, she is welcomed and instructed in the woman’s way, she learns the discipline of sacrifice- her body, time, nutrients, psyche, knowledge, skills, social life, relationships, spiritual knowledge and values are called into the service of her children. This passage pushes her to reach beyond whatever limits she thought she labored within, making her stronger and wiser.”
Becoming a mother is absolutely one the biggest event of our lives and we deserve more than a few congrats and baby gifts. We deserve (at least as much as we need) to be honored for this incredible journey. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends that have honored my journey towards motherhood.
Getting a bikini wax, for the first time in my life, while pregnant, is not one of my more brilliant moments, I’ll admit, but it was done out of necessity. As I write this, I am ending my 23rd week of pregnancy, and my belly is officially in the way. I can’t really bend over from the waist anymore, and I certainly can’t see my bush to trim it. I tried holding my breath and attempted to lift and move my belly out of the way,but it doesn’t work, so don’t even bother trying.
Now, I know some women just give up and let things get very hairy down there. I know this first hand as someone who has witnessed birth as a Doula and seen what no shaving for four months can look like. I plan on having a professional photographer at the birth and baby crowning pictures are scary enough without the added hairy mess. So my options were: to ask Peter to take care of it or to just give up and not care if I look like a 70’s jungle woman. Just for clarification here, before I get angry emails (like I did when this first posted), I appreciate all women who go jungle while pregnant and for their births. I think every baby’s head crowning is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, no matter what the hair situation is down south.
Both were not an option so I made my appointment with Lisa, a.k.a. “The Ripper.” The local sorority girls have dubbed her that name, I later found out, after she handed me a stuffed teddy bear and told me I could use it to hold onto for dear life. The bear was appropriately named Jack. She was super sweet on the phone, and when I told her I was pregnant, she told me it was going to hurt much more because I am pregnant.
I thought back to my last dentist appointment and how painful it was because I was pregnant and a shudder went down my spine. She continued and said if I could handle this, I could handle natural childbirth no problem. She said she would coach me through some breathing techniques that would help with the pain. I thought, well at least this may be educational. Maybe she has some cool pain coping techniques I have yet to hear of that I can use when I give birth!
So on the big day, a friend who has already been initiated into the bikini wax club, calls me and says, “What are you thinking!? Don’t you know it hurts much worse when you are pregnant!?” Yes, I got that memo, thanks for rubbing it in. Kind of like how initiated women who have already given birth think it’s a great idea to share their personal birth horror stories. In our culture, they have no other means to share their birth stories in a significant way, and they are reduced to just sharing tidbits anytime anyone will listen—and they think the only person who will listen is another pregnant woman.
I had managed to not be nervous all day by being very busy and not thinking about what lay ahead, but as I walked inside the salon and saw Lisa, my internal “oh, sh*t” light started going off as it became clear there was no turning back. Very similar to how women feel at certain points in their labor when they realize their baby IS COMING and there is no going back now. For some women it’s the first contraction or their water breaking or something totally random and unrelated to the actual birth. What is the same is the momentary wave of panic that sets in.
Lisa is as sweet in person as she was on the phone. She was very motherly and seemed like she would be a very good waxing Doula and would get me through this life experience in one piece. She showed me where I would be laying and showed me my towel that I would use for coverage. It was no towel. It was a washcloth. When I saw the washcloth my mental mantra of “I can do this, I can do this” started. She told me to get undressed and put my washcloth over my parts and that she would be back in a minute. The room was super peaceful, painted blue with waves and the relaxing music in the background. If I was going to birth a baby outside my home..err, I mean get a bikini wax, this was definitely the place where I would want to be. Being in a cold, sterile, medical type room would have made it scarier and more painful, I am sure.
She came back in chattering away as she prepped the hot wax. She explained her breathing technique—she was going to count to three. On three she was going to rip and I was supposed to exhale. Uh, OK, got it.
We did a practice run and I totally screwed up. I normally take long, deep breaths — short and timed breaths are not my thing. Next time, she did it for real. And it HURT. But I had mentally prepared for worse and thought to myself, I can do this! Then the next one came. At this point I still haven’t figured out her specific breathing technique and I am getting frustrated — anyone who has taken the old school Lamaze classes and found out while in labor that a specific type of breathing technique does not work for them, knows what I am talking about.
The pain is slowly increasing as she makes her way inward from my thigh to my actual “area.” Then the next one came and it was a MILLION times worse the first couple. I thought to myself, where is my slow transition?! What happened to my gradual increase of pain, so I that I could mentally prepare and keep on top of the pain?
I thought back to women in labor who have been given pitocin. One minute they are coping just great with the normal pain associated with labor and then the next minute the pitocin has hit the blood stream and they feel like they have been hit by a truck. At that point in my bikini wax I said, screw her technique! I am doing my own thing to get through this. Kind of like how I teach parents in my Birthing From Within childbirth classes to do whatever they need to do to get through the pain. Whether it is slow breathing, a mantra of curse words, or tapping your finger on the table. Whatever.
So I am sort of grunting as she rips and letting my body react by reflexibly jumping. Instead of trying to keep my body still, I just let my legs move and flop around. Lisa was very supportive. She told me nobody was in the room next door and I could be as loud as I wanted or say whatever I wanted. She said jumping was fine too, that other women did it and not to worry. She was a very good waxing Doula. She put me as ease and made me not feel self conscious about my pain coping methods. In birth it’s so nice to have someone there that will let you be as you are. Someone that can hold the space for you to do what you need to do, to birth your baby.
As the ripping went on and the pain level increased, doubt filled my head. I thought to myself, “I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can continue.” I made myself keep going, saying just one more strip, “See if you can get through just one more.” It totally reminded me of times at birth when a woman feels like she just can’t go on, the pain is too much to bear. And she either asks for the epidural at that point or begin saying out loud that she can’t do this, she can’t go on. My usual response as a Doula is to say just get through this next contraction, just one more.
I am able to get through a couple of more, but then I ask Lisa if I am even and if we can stop. I had had enough. I didn’t make through a full Brazilian but I made it much further than I thought possible and I was feeling very proud of myself. The rest of the day I looked like I had a really bad sun burn and was super swollen. The next day, it just felt bruised like someone had punched me. But I survived and I am now initiated into the bikini waxing club! Being initiated into the motherhood club will be just as painful, but at least I will have more to show for it than just a bikini wax.