Today is my official due date. I would be shocked if I actually did go into labor today, especially since only 5% of women actually give birth on their due date, yet there is something exciting in knowing that today is when she's officially allowed to join us. She's had enough time to develop and get ready to be born, and for that I'm very thankful. Labor is not starting, as far as I can tell. I wish I had done this before, and knew exactly what a contraction felt like and exactly how I will know when I go into labor. I sort of know what contractions feel like now, only because while I was hooked up to machines at the doctor yesterday they told me I was having contractions. But I'm still waiting for a major sign to tell me I'm in labor.
My bet is that I won't actually go into labor. My bet is that I'll have to be induced, which will happen Monday morning. I would love, love, love to go into labor naturally, to be able to have a drug-free birth. But all these complications have made it more likely that I'll need to be induced, and that the baby will be large, which increases the likelihood of a c-section. That leaves me with this great opportunity to relinquish control. I can't choose when and how she decides to make her appearance, as much as I wish I could. Way to go, baby - you're already showing mama who's boss.
It's a bit surreal that Sam and I will soon be parents. Who actually thinks the two of us are mature enough to be responsible for another person? I must admit, we take excellent care of our cats, but people keep telling me that a baby is different from a cat, and I'm inclined to believe them. We have ideas of how we want to parent, but we also recognize that some of those methods may fly out the window once our little girl is actually here.
I've had five non-stress tests in the last two weeks. Basically, I lay on a table with a couple sensors on my belly, and Ellery's heartbeat and movement are measured to make sure she's still doing just fine in there, which she is, thank God. Each test lasts about thirty minutes, so I get to sit and listen to her heartbeat for half an hour. Sometimes it's quieter and steady, like a train moving along the tracks. Other times it gets very loud, and sounds more like the galloping of a horse. There have been a few panicked moments when I no longer hear the heartbeat, but then I realize she's just moved to a different part of the womb, and I move the sensor over a couple inches and hear the rhythm again. It's comforting.
The oddest thing has been when I've realized that I can't slow her heartbeat with any actions of my own. When my own heart beats too fast, I know that a few deep breaths will get my heart rate down to a safe zone. Sometimes Ellery's heart sounds like it's beating too fast, which is silly, because babies have more rapid heart rates than adults. When it accelerates, my first inclination is to take a few deep breaths to try to regulate it once again. But that doesn't work. It just keeps beating along in a rhythm unique to her little body, completely ignoring whatever my body is trying to do. It has been a reminder that though Ellery is inside me and a part of me right now, she is her own person, and will soon be a separate being, linked to me but completely herself.
I'm not sure if I'm okay with this. I think because she's a girl, I'm expecting her to be a miniature version of me. I already told Sam that if she looks nothing like me, I don't want to hear it. (So even if she looks nothing like me, you'd be wise to keep quiet about it.) I imagine what her childhood will be like, and I find myself picturing my own childhood memories. I want her to be able to go to her grandparents house frequently and play with her cousins. I want her to experience hot summers on the lake or at the central California coast. I picture her as the lead in the junior high play, and knowing the inexplicable thrill of being in the Monache band and slowly turning to the click of the snare, while the crowd stands and roars with anticipation. I want her to have all of my favorite childhood memories. And I have to remind myself that she won't. She'll be her own person. She'll have her own likes and dislikes. She may not be interested in musical theater, and she may even (gasp) love gray, rainy Oregon. (I promise I'll still love her if these two things are true, though I will wonder whose child she is.)
The truth is that I want her to be her own person, and it's my job to help her become that person. I can't attempt to relive my life through her, or force her to be who I think she should be. She needs to be the very original person God has created her to be, and I wouldn't be a good parent if I got in the way of that. I know this, but I can also see it being something of a challenge for me. It seems like a great place to start praying for wisdom in parenting, even when she's just a tiny baby.
So Sam and I continue to wait. My mom is coming today, and we are ready for whenever Ellery decides to join the party. She's officially evicted Monday, but we're hoping she gets bored inside and decides to make her debut. I keep telling her how cute Morty and Willow are in the hopes that she'll want to meet them so badly that she comes out. I also told Sam about how lucky Ellery is that she'll be the same size as the cats and can snuggle with them - it would be like me snuggling with a lion! My dream! Sam responded by rolling his eyes and telling me I'm weird and that Ellery will not be snuggling with the cats. I think the cat obsession is one area in which Sam hopes our daughter does not take after her mama.