On transitions and planning ahead

I found my niche in the wedding blogging world by focusing on the marriage after the wedding, often to the exclusion of wedding-related stuff (ahem, cake plates?). Getting married, in my eyes, was a moment in time intended to mark the transition from a single self to part of a team, a rite as much about family as about the couple. I paid attention to the wedding as an important ritual, but spent most of my time worried about what came next: being married.

Now that I’m pregnant, I expected to handle this transition in much the same way. What kind of parents will we be? How will we organize our household so we can survive the first rocky months? What discussions do we need to have now so we won’t have to struggle through them later? Cribs? Who cares about cribs?

Apparently I do. After buying a good quality but inexpensive crib — and compromising on the finish — it arrived and I hated it. So, we’re painting it. (Me: let’s take it back. Husband: I will do almost anything to not have to take it back. Me: Paint it? All those spindles? Him: YES.) And I’m obsessed with which color and whether we should repaint the nursery and whether the closet should be painted. Yes, the closet.

This is my monogrammed napkins moment.

I’ve been surprised to find how little I’m willing to think too far ahead, though. If a wedding is the moment in which you step from past to future, then giving birth should be analogous. One should plan for the birth ritual with as much focus and detail as a wedding, no?

But… no.

I remarked to a friend that planning for a baby feels like packing to go into the wild. You research and buy all this stuff for “after” as though the ability to purchase something will go away once the journey begins. Do I need a bouncer? What if I don’t get a swing? How badly do I need to begin to care about types of bottles? WHAT IF I DON’T FIGURE THIS OUT IN TIME?

But stores will still exist, stuff will still ship overnight, and the intense need for a solution will eliminate my typical ambivalence. Our new world may feel like uncharted territory, but it’s not. And our territory has been well-charted. Well, mine: I plan and research and pack, then spend the experience thinking about how I should have done the preparation differently. I’m a rear-view mirror.

Meanwhile, I’ve resolutely put off all thoughts related to childbirth. I’m not particularly comfortable with my body-as-vessel. I’m not terribly at peace with myself-as-mother. And I’m not the kind of person who enjoys pushing my body to it’s limit to know that I can.

So that’s next. I have two months to ruminate and wallow and ultimately settle into this new me. Heck, it only took me six months to stop freaking out about being pregnant, right? (Uh, oh.) Step one: finish reading the breastfeeding book I’ve carried in my bag for a month. Step two: stop avoiding the thinking. Revel in the fear and anxiety and discomfort it all brings, until it doesn’t.

As for the kind of parents we’ll be, I’m surprisingly relaxed about that. We’ll figure it out; no amount of verbal preparation will avoid the clashes we’ll undoubtedly have. In our marriage, deep breaths and lots of breaks are far more effective than preventative talking, and though I’ve tried for years to change that, it is what it is. We’ll be learning on the job but at least there’ll be no question we both care.

Now, as to who cares more…. (Just kidding.)


2 thoughts on “On transitions and planning ahead

  1. I, too, put off all thoughts of the actual birth until I woke up in labor on a Tuesday morning in October… and that was the best decision/non-decision of my life. While in labor, I didn’t have time to think, I just did what my body told me to do. And? My labor was fantastic (all 14 hours, 4 hours of pushing, and an emergency c-section later). I’d do it again, exactly the same, in a heartbeat. It’s that whole unknown factor – no planning means no disappointment over something you can’t control anyway, you know? And for the record, I saw midwives my whole pregnancy, had only my midwife and my husband with me while I was in labor/pushing, and I ended up with a c-section because my daughter was sunnyside up but a little off center… and her head was just too big to fit. I’m thankful I didn’t really have “a plan” (other than deliver a healthy baby, sans epi if possible) because I can assure you that a c-section would NOT have been in my plan. But it was wonderful, and recovery was a piece of cake. I realize there are lots of women who have rough c-section recoveries, but thankfully mine was quick and pretty painless.

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