As people in the USA get ready for Thankgiving (this Thursday) I’m waiting on my own little bird to come out of the oven. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, as I’ve reported in past posts, and so it’s ironic or perhaps special that our second baby chose Thanksgiving as her intended b’day. Since we all know that due dates on babies coming to the world are just estimates, the likelihood of her making her appearance on the actual holiday is pretty low. For that I have been thankful, hoping she might make an early debut, as I have had enough of being an incubator/kangaroo and I am ready. The thing is, now all I can do is wait. And try not to think to much… while I try to mentally prepare at the same time. No. Small. Feat.
This waiting period reminds me of a conversation I once had with a mixed martial artist. He was describing the mental control it took to walk into a space where you know that you are choosing to be physically assaulted. It doesn’t come as a surprise to a boxer or trained fighter when they are hit in the face or attacked. They have strategically prepared for that moment. But their intense training doesn’t take away the challenge, the danger, the fear of actually walking into the fire. They still have to take that step. I thought his description was interesting and realized at that time (probably 10 years ago) that while I considered myself a brave person, I certainly didn’t pursue activities that required that brand of bravery or self-control.
Fast forward 10 years. Enter motherhood. Now I know personally what he meant.
Basically as soon as you find out you are pregnant you start training for your new hobby/career as a mixed martial artist. The only difference is that the ‘fights’ or ‘battles’ don’t have a starting time and they don’t typically have a decided end point. Like a fighter you don’t know exactly what will happen in the ring but unlike a fighter you never know when the assault will begin or how long it will last.
Maybe you will be a person who doesn’t get morning (all day) sickness, but maybe you will. And maybe it will end after the first three months but maybe it will last the whole time. Maybe you will be a person who doesn’t get food aversions, but maybe you will. Maybe you’ll get this terrible thing that causes you to itch incessantly till the baby comes out. Maybe you’ll get lucky enough to get varicose veins (did you know that you can get varicose veins in your private zone? No? Oh, well you can…) Anyway, as it turns out, all of this is just your training period.
Then the end nears.
One of the things I’m most thankful for is the total discomfort that comes in the 40th week of pregnancy. This adds to your ability to be brave– 100%. It becomes so uncomfortable to keep this bird in the oven that you will do just about anything to get it out even if it means walking into the ring of fire for a fight that could last 30 minutes or four days. In this fight you don’t know whether the pain will come from behind you or in front. As you get exhausted the onslaught will pummel you with increased speed, waves coming closer and closer together. You will not escape without undergoing very serious pain and while some people get the gift of a baby at the end it could become complicated and you might leave the fight without your parting gift. And yet you walk in, chin up, brave face and you do it.
You mommies, you are all mixed martial artists—winners, champions. If you are reading this blog and there are kids that are connected to you in anyway–you won this fight. Whether still born, adopted, miscarried, born by C-section, or brought to the world in the usual way, you had to walk through some kind of fire to get where you are. You know overcoming fear as well as any trained fighter. And this is just the beginning because parenthood, as it turns out, is a different kind of battle, all its own.
I’m ready for ya Turkey Day, come and get me.