Monday, March 13, 2017

Preparing for the Race of Undetermined Distance on an Unknown Date

Imagine trying to get ready for a race you don’t know the date of. There’s a roughly four-week window that it’s most likely to happen, but it could also come before then. How would you prepare? Maybe you’d be totally 100% ready at the beginning of that window, ready to hit the starting line. And then you’d wait… get a little antsy (You’re packed and ready! You’re tapered and eager!)… and wait some more. Or maybe you’d tell yourself it’s unlikely to be right on that first day, so you’d dilly dally and focus on other things… “There’s no way it will be before the last possible moment”… and then you’d find yourself scarfing down a gel as you rush out the door because HOLY CRAP, the race is starting.

As an added twist, you also don’t know the race’s distance. It could be anywhere from a marathon or two to some crazy-a$$ ultra that is 48 hours of wandering around in the woods for two days losing all your toe nails and your sanity. (And oh yea, all you get for sustenance are some ice chips.)

Right, obviously not a race anyone would be eager to sign up for. But such is the end of pregnancy. I’m 39 weeks, so the baby could come at any moment… or not for many more moments. The likelihood that a baby arrives on its due date is just 5%; really it’s perfectly normal that the baby arrives anytime between 38 weeks and 42 weeks. (A friend’s doctor referred to it more accurately as a “due month” rather than a due date.)

Am I ready for this race of undetermined length that could start at any moment? Yes and no. I don’t think it’s possible to be fully prepared for childbirth (let alone BEING A PARENT), but ostensibly, we have the supplies, our bags are packed, and we’re beyond eager to meet our little one.

It's no longer an empty room,
lthough it is still missing one major element... 
In that way it feels a little like the days before a marathon, fluctuating between feeling eager and ready and feeling scared and ill prepared. You can’t wait to just get out there and finally do what you’ve been preparing for months to do, but simultaneously wish there was just a little more time to nail a few more workouts and boost your speed/endurance/confidence. I can go from “OMG, get this baby out of me!” to “OMG, this baby is going to come out of me?!” in ten seconds flat.

And like a pre-race taper, things are calming down. I’ve handed in my major work assignments, am attempting to rest up, and am repeatedly trying to assure myself I can do this crazy thing I told myself I could do. Even Husband is feeling his usual mix of emotions before one of my marathons: nervous, excited, and also sure that in a few days everything will be okay.

But also it’s not at all like a marathon, because of that not so minor detail of not knowing when the heck it’s coming. Without a time frame, it’s hard to be fully prepared. You can’t just sit around twiddling your thumbs for four weeks. (Well, I suppose you could, but ugh.) But anything else you do could be interrupted by baby’s arrival. And importantly, how do you know when to start carbo-loading for your ice-chips only ultra?? (Oh right… 9 months ago.)

When I told Husband that I didn’t totally agree it feels like the lead up to a marathon, he said he could tell because I’m not as nervous. That’s a bit shocking, because I’m actually a lot more anxious about labor since I have no experience with it and no idea what to expect or when to expect it. (I have a feeling that as soon as labor does start, I’ll have a surge of panic, and Husband’s experience in calming down my pre-race panic attacks will come in handy.) So far my defense mechanism has been to try not to overthink it.

And also to refuse to believe it’s going to happen. After a mad dash trying to get all the essential things done, in the last few days I’ve gone into denial she’ll arrive anytime soon. I’ve been thinking about this for so long (since the Trials ended/since high school health class where they try to scare you from ever reproducing/since childhood days of carrying around a baby doll) and the fact that the moment is almost here is hard to wrap my head around.

It’s unbelievable to think, but she could even come before I get around to posting this blog…

...but she didn’t. So we’ll have to keep waiting for the starter’s gun to fire. 

Dream big,