Thursday, September 10, 2009

A truth floats away

I was very pregnant with Shelby. Counting down the days. I was terrified. I had done this before, but still did not feel ready to face what I knew was the inevitable end to my current predicament. I had committed to a drug free childbirth, and I was no stranger to the gore that would shortly ensue.

So, there I was, a ticking time bomb. People would call me, come up to me, email me..."Is that baby here yet?!" And I would reply "Nooo, can you believe it?" like I was completely exasperated as well. When in reality, I was relieved. No matter how bad the sleep was, how uncomfortable the walking got, how many million times I had to pee each day, I could bear it. It was the giving birth that I wondered if I truly could bear this time around.

And so, her due date passed. And then the next day, and the next. And people started to make me feel like every day that I awoke with a baby still in my stomach, I was doing something wrong. Dalton had been born right on his due date and I didn't know what I was doing differently this time around...just that this kid was obviously not ready to come. It had been a stressful pregnancy. The baby had been put through the ringer. I had been bleeding since the beginning of the pregnancy. "Placental tears" is what they called it...or "subchorionic hematoma", to be precise. So, I was OK to let this kid bake a little longer...for the baby's sake as well as my own.

After what seemed like years to others, and was even starting to get a little long for me as well, I decided that I needed to face facts. We were going to have a baby. There was no way around that. This kid was going to come out of me one way or another. So I may as well climb on board, and get prepared. I whipped out my Natural Childbirth book and had Gavin read it cover to cover (after I had a mental breakdown or two). Then I spent an evening in the tub, reading away. After finishing the book, I breathed in a deep breath, and felt like I was finally ready. I was prepared to do what I needed to do. This baby could feel safe coming in to this world. When I emerged, I felt a contraction. We were both ready.

And so, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl with no medication. I did it. I survived it. And it was amazing. And so, after she had arrived, and we were back at home, I got to tell my story. Cause of course, everyone wants to hear about that; How long I was in the hospital room had overdue I was, etc...

And so, I would tell people the details, starting off with, "I was two weeks overdue." And that would elicit gasps. "How did you do it?" "I would have gotten induced!" "That must have been so miserable!" were some of the responses that I would get. And I would hold my two-week overcooked budah with pride, having endured what everyone knew was a great feat by any standards. And so, the stories were told, and retold, and then filed away as truth. And every once in a while they'd come out. And would be even more fun to tell than they had been back in Boston, back in my days at The Rose Garden Park, on the park bench with Eunju and Priya and Ann and Paula.

And then one day...years down the road...I thought of something. I don't know how it came in to my mind. I am not sure what triggered it. But I suddenly remembered that Shelby had been due on October 5th. And I knew this because it is Gavin's dad's birthday, and my brother's birthday. I remember thinking, when I was pregnant with her, "Wow, that's going to be a busy day!" So, obviously she didn't arrive on that day...but her birthday is October 11th. And so, eleven minus five is not fourteen...but six. She wasn't two weeks overdue...not even one week. She was six days overdue. And she was born at 12:01 AM, so really that sixth day was just a minute!

What the?! So here I am for the last five years, thinking that I had carried Shelby for two weeks longer than necessary, when it was five days and some change. How'd that happen? Had I needed the extra praise? That morbid story of laboring like a dog, in a blow up tub at the hospital, moaning in pain with no drugs, wasn't good enough? No, I really don't think so.

In my mind it felt like it had been two weeks. Hell, it felt like it had been two years. And because that was MY reality, I projected it as THE reality. And so, after a million times of me repeating it, it had become reality...really. I mean, who was going to dispute it? The lady says she's two weeks overdue...she should trust her. And so this "truth" that I had believed all these years suddenly floated away like a feather on the wind. It wasn't that I was sad to let that belief go. It was just interesting how quickly my truth vanished in to thin air once I examined it. And the new truth was just fine too. I mean, five days overdue still makes for a good story. And obviously the main goal of having a healthy baby was still met.

So, why even share this story?

I wonder what other "truths" we cling to, that may not be facts. What other stories we've heard so many times, that we just begin to accept them, because it's not worth disputing for the hundredth time. What folklore has been passed down. And what that does to us. Certainly it's not going to rock Shelby's world to find out that she was only five days overdue, rather than fourteen. But what other "truths" do I spout as rock-solid" fact? It's worth taking a second look at. But for now, I am content to have let this feather float away.


Jared and Delia said...

That is pretty deep there missy.

I am sure that is why all of Jared's siblings remember the same memory differently. Sometimes SO differently that they are opposites in perspective. It is amazing. Who's right? Is anyone right?

Sara said...

Oh good, I was getting guilty about telling people I was 2 weeks over due, when it was really 12 days and 1 hour. ;)

annie said...

Ashley you were my inspiration for wanting to go natural and my first attempt failed due to a Dr. who freaked me out. Then Abbey came and I was determined because I didn't want the drugs the episiotomy, and the catheter so I did it and I applaude you and any other mother who has a child w/out drugs (who needs drugs during child birth, sometimes you just need them during your childs life) but I digress, I felt like a champion and felt like one until the Dr. tells me that my placenta won't come out and then I need drugs, catheter and when I awoke from the procedure he tells me my babys head is smaller than his hand and therefore ripped me where I didn't want to be ripped.

Off to the other subject you presented I thought it was very thought provoking I'm sure we all exaggerate the details, remember that game you play when one person whispers in your ear and you go around a room of ten people and the first person says tree and by the tenth person they think you said pee. So I feel we do need to be thinkers and not just "believe" what people say but find out for ourselves. That's what this life is about.

By the way we moved, and in a couple of posts ago you mentioned about us getting together and I would love that so let me know what your schedule looks like.