The Labor Waiting Game

The end of pregnancy is so fun as it is with the overgrown belly, the heartburn, the hip aches, and not being able to bend down to pick up the doughnut you dropped. But, then nature adds in the labor game for extra good fun.

And by fun, I mean the opposite. Not fun. Torture even. Pure, physical and emotional torture.

Those last weeks of pregnancy where you monitor every twinge and tightness with hope that labor is beginning can do a number on your mood. While trying to remain positive that one day your baby will indeed come out, you also have to keep yourself guarded that these contractions coming every 10 minutes will probably just fizzle out.

It almost feels like it simply is a luck of the draw in the labor game. Some mommas get their lucky “Labor” card on the first draw before everyone else and other mommas have to keep trying and re-drawing as the time goes by. Waiting and waiting.

I’m usually on that end of the spectrum– the waiting side. Having had many babies nuzzling close to the 42 week line for their birthdays, I’m used to being the tail end of the pack– the under dog who feels they never will win. Especially with all the teaser “Prodromal Labor” cards thrown in the deck, where contractions will start to be regular but will stop within a few hours. Practically every night I would lie in bed riding waves within my belly between dozes of sleep. By now, six births later, I know it’s just practice and to ignore them until I can’t ignore them anymore. But oh, how frustrating it can be to get your hopes up over and over that maybe this might be the start of labor even with your poker face on trying to ignore them.

What’s worse is when you get the “Trial Run” card. You know the one, where everything seems promising that labor is here. Contractions are coming every few minutes, the intensity is mounting, you feel excited this is it, or might even be feeling fearful because you wonder if this could really be happening? And then, of course, when you arrive at the hospital or your birth team arrives to your door for your planned home birth– it all stops. It’s an emotional turmoil to will contractions and pain to start, yet your body doesn’t listen and everyone goes home. It’s enough to make a hormonal pregnant momma cry in disrepair. Will it ever really be my turn? What’s the hold up? Can my body really go into labor on its own?

I’ve learned by now that it is a matter of surrendering to the game. Surrendering to the labor progress and to the hand you’ve been given. After all, we cannot control it. We can walk a mile every day, eat pineapple core while bouncing on our yoga ball as we play our game trying to encourage the cards to be in our favor, but ultimately it is not for us to decide. It’s taken me a long time and many game plays to let go of trying to control it and simply enjoy the game for what it is– the preparation each “Prodromal Labor” card brings to my body and the release of emotions that every “Trial Rub” surfaces. It’s an emotional game, but in the end it teaches us things about ourselves in the wait.

Each pregnancy and each game can look so differently even for the same person, but especially compared to each pregnant player. We can’t compare our hand to others, it only leads to disappointment for someone. The good news is eventually it’s a game us pregnant ladies all win. Eventually we all draw the “Have a Baby” card, whether that means a spontaneous labor, an induction, or c-section. And our prize? A squishy new baby in our arms that make it all worth it.