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I'm writing this on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. My feet are up after a long day. For some reason--nesting? because Sylvia is aware of things this year for the first time? a last entertaining hurrah before the baby arrives?--I decided that not only would I go to services at the synagogue last night and this morning, but we should also host a dinner party, made up of similarly not-very-observant-Jews and one "token" non-Jewish couple, just because I thought they'd like the food and the company. I'm happy to report that it went really well. It's been a long time since we've had a gathering of this size, since our house has gone through a major transformation, as did my body / hormonal state in the form of this pregnancy.
But wow, standing all day for a couple of days cooking? Taking its toll. I just came downstairs from putting Sylvia to bed, and it was like my back finally relaxed long enough to register that I've perhaps overdone it. But I don't want to admit that it was too much for this stage of my pregnancy, because I had too much fun, the food turned out too well, and services were too enriching to have skipped any of it. I'm tired now, and my feet are up, and Aron's doing all of the clean-up. (He also helped a lot with set-up, including, upon my request, scrubbing clean a table that's been outside for a year, then bringing it inside, only for me to decide that it took up too much room and he had to take it back outside again, but not before I gesticulated and harangued about the fact that in the process of cleaning it, he and Sylvia were both half-soaked messes, about five minutes before people were due to arrive. As he just said, "I was looking forward to people coming over, just so you'd have to stop freaking out." It's true. I'm much better behaved around company.)
But what are the limits here? I know I should listen to my body, but times like this, I get confused about what exactly that means.
Last, lingering fears
I've been feeling pretty enthused about the labor and birth ahead. I mean, maybe enthused is a little strong. Undaunted? But then we just saw some friends who live far enough away that we won't see them again until after the baby is born. "Wow!" they said when they were leaving. "Wow!" we said back, realizing all that will happen between now and then. And my editor at FitPregnancy wrote me an email saying, "In case I don't talk to you sooner, good luck with the birth!" And then my doula said, "Next time I see you, it will be The Day."
There isn't anything wrong with any of these well wishes. If anything, it's been useful and focusing for me. I was feeling so undaunted, that I was unaware that I was also still a little freaked. When my doula had asked, earlier in our meeting, if I had any lingering fears, I sort of shrugged. "Not really," I said. But later, after she left, I was reading a book she lent me ("Ina May's Guide to Childbirth") while on my knees, leaning over the couch--a position she recommended to get the baby to bring the shoulders in further--and after the section on orgasmic birth (not a typo), Ina May discusses how opening your mouth during labor can help relax the nether regions. I'd read this before, and have to say it makes some sense to me. Ina May recommends singing, laughing, and moaning. I moaned a lot in labor with Sylvia, and it reminded me that my voice was one of the things that had to recover the day after.
It was good preparation, in other words. But it also brought me back to how hard labor was. How long. You know, that I was moaning, and I'm afraid it was not in pleasure. And that no matter what--no matter how fast it is, or relatively easy it is--it's still going to be hard. And that was all it took to put me in a bit of a funk. But you know what? I remember having dinner with our friends--the same ones that we won't see until after this baby's birth--when they were close to having a baby. It was when Sylvia was over a year old. And our friend seemed nervous about the labor she had ahead of her. And I both totally empathized, and thought, "She'll be fine." And she was. So I guess what I'm saying is that I know I'll be fine. I just have to make sure to have the energy to dive in to labor head-first, so to speak, to embrace the challenge of it so I can get through it even sooner. With my mouth open, of course.
In with the new
It's always seemed fitting that the Jewish New Year falls in autumn--back-to-school, leaves on the cusp of changing color. It feels more like a time to reflect on the year past and the year ahead than December 31, more in line with the rhythm of seasonal change in my life, anyway. And for me, it feels doubly aligned. The baby's imminent arrival feels like a blessing, and like a way to mark time. In a matter of weeks, we'll be able to talk about things Before the Baby and After the Baby. The traditional blessing for this holiday is to wish your loved ones a "sweet New Year," and while I don't want to jinx anything by writing this, that sweetness feels very possible.
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.