I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon among mothers, myself included. It seems that as soon as they have finished labor, they completely forget it. I ask my other mom friends for advice, and their eyes glaze over, they tilt their heads. ‘Hmmm, did I have an epidural? I can’t remember if my water broke.’ The same often goes for developmental stages. I look for sympathy among women my mother’s age and it seems they don’t recall the specific struggles of a toddler, or the pains of pregnancy. I can remember trying to recall my labor pains directly afterwards and them slipping from my memory like so much water in my hands.
Speaking of water, the other evening I had quite a scare. I still have five more weeks until my due date, but I was convinced in the middle of the night that my water was leaking. It was the strangest feeling and I called my husband down from his office upstairs so that we could freak out together on the bathroom floor, frantically googling until I had scared myself enough not to sleep a wink. There’s so much emotion with childbirth. I didn’t have as many crying fits during this pregnancy, but that night I was laughing and sobbing all at the same time again. I don’t think it was leaking, nothing more came out and I had no contractions. The whole experience scared me enough that I went into extreme nesting mode. We spent the weekend at Ikea and I washed miniature baby clothes. It reminded me that there are many different ways to deliver a baby, no less valid than another. I had stupidly assumed, being a second time mother, that my labor would be the same. Charley came one day early, I had felt prepared and ready. But there’s no guarantee this one will come the same way. He could be early, he could be small, he could even be a C-section, and I have to be okay with that.
I had fallen into the trap of thinking everything would go just like with my first, both the good and the bad. That in many ways this kid would just be Charley 2.0, and I have to remind myself that might not be the case. Every kid is different, sometimes especially siblings. I used to look forward to the differences. ‘I can’t wait till I have a smaller baby that isn’t so active’, I would tout. Or ‘Maybe the next one will color with me?’ But instead, the closer I get to labor, the more fearful I become of things being different. It feels like the great unknown all over again, stumbling into the great void of parenthood. Just when you think you know something, you realize you have no idea.