What the heck was that? That was PRACTICE? Are you KIDDING ME? If that was practice, what’s it going to be like at game time?
These are the thoughts that run through my head about twice a day, or whenever my 34 week, baby-growing body decides to spring into motion and have a fake contraction, or what the medical world likes to call “Braxton Hicks” contractions. Apparently, these are mini-contractions that help your body prepare for the more intense pain you will be experiencing in approximately five to six weeks. Hmmm, yeah. I don’t know about these things. First of all, they don’t feel “mini” at all. They feel hard and gut-wrenching and, though they are only 20-30 seconds long, that whole time is spent with a grueling (probably insanely unattractive) cringe on my face. Secondly, why do we need to “practice” these anyway? Can’t it just be one of those pleasant day-of surprises that shocks the hell out of you when you realize how truly agonizing it is? In my opinion, the further in to the dark I can be, the better. I don’t need a preview of this show. Let’s just curtains up when the day arrives, spew out whatever lines I remember, receive my standing ovation, and call it a night.
The worst part about these contractions is knowing that they are really just the squirrels in the roadkill world of deliveries and the real thing will feel more like speeding over a 500-pound moose in a SmartCar without a seatbelt. And, I’ve got to be honest – I don’t like roadkill. Period. So this analogy was not a good one for me.
It happened to me the other morning on my drive in to work. I was bringing Nate downtown and everything clenched up. I tried to remember if this is what period cramps felt like, and as pleasent as it’s been not having to deal with THAT, THIS was worse than I remember THAT ever being! I grabbed Nate’s hand and squeezed until I thought his pinky was going to pop off and eventually it subsided. Granted, I could still drive and talk, but the pain was intense nonetheless. They say when you have a “real” contraction, you are unable to speak through it. I can’t imagine not being able to talk….being in so much pain that it takes your breath away. That’s not an easy feat and I often wonder how strong it’s going to have to be to get me to shut up.
I have found that these “test” contractions are often followed up by a very awake and active baby. He must sense that his home is in danger of flooding out and he is working hard to keep it comfortable and fluidy. He bounces around and kicks and elbows and rubs his head agains my stomach. Either he is building a baby dam or organizing a protest, but whatever it is, it’s done with great fetal fervor and strength.
I wish he knew that this is how it is supposed to happen. This painful preparation is no more fun for me than it is for him, but it’s how it’s supposed to go. Soon, we will both adapt to our new lives – his in the new world of oxygen and humans and mine in the new world of motherhood and endless worry. Everything is going as it was meant to, but it’s just hard to see that when you’re in the moment. When it feels like my bully of a baby is tying knots around the less cool organs on his turf, it is VERY hard to not be IN that particular moment. I want to cry and bite down on something metal, but I have to tell myself that I’m practicing for the collision of these new worlds. And only in this united world can me and baby meet, so I’d have to say it’s worth it. Every fake contraction, every real contraction, every practice, every game, every protest, every tear…it all leads up to that beautiful moment when our eyes meet for the first time and I can say, “Practice makes perfect…painful, as it was.”