This morning, I commenced my maternity leave from work with red raspberry leaf tea and meditation. As I felt the hot liquid trickle down my throat and warm my core, I induced my thoughts to settle like the sand in a cup of water that was recently stirred but is now still. It was then I realized what had been hovering over my head the past week: Expectation. Despite repeated caveats that every birth and every body is different, I had formed expectations.
I had been expecting labor to begin anytime since Thursday, December 29th, when I found out my cervix was 1 centimeter dilated and 60% effaced. I had been expecting to have the same experience as my mom, who was 1 centimeter dilated with me for 10 days before she went into labor (which would have been yesterday for me). I had been expecting that my baby, like me, would be one of the 5% born on their due date (it seemed fateful that the due date would fall on my mom’s birthday, January 11th). And now, two days away from the due date, with my cervix still at 1 centimeter dilated, but 80% effaced, and only mild cramps pointing to signs of labor, I am faced with the realization that it is very possible that the average delivery date for first-time moms being a week and a day past the due date will apply to me.
Most of all, I had been expecting that labor would go a certain way: free of medical intervention, sensual and otherworldly, and–like my pregnancy–relatively easy. But, as I was reminded this morning when I read a text from a friend who had recently given birth by an unexpected c-section, you can never predict how labor will go. If I find myself entering a new week next Monday still pregnant, so be it. If I find myself at 42 weeks pregnant with a 10-pounder chilling in my womb, so be it. If I find myself needing to be transferred to a hospital from my birthing center, so be it. If nothing goes the way I expected, so be it.
Sipping the last of my tea, I repeated an affirmation: My birth will happen exactly the way it should.