Ten years ago this month, I packed a borrowed backpack, bought a one-way ticket on standby, left Lulu in the care of friends, and boarded an Icelandair plane to Europe. I had no idea where I would go or when I would return. Four months, three continents and not a single reservation later, I returned home to Bmore. The trip changed my life.
There’s nothing so simultaneously nerve racking and freeing as riding alone among strangers on a train to a city you’ve only just decided to visit, not knowing when nor in what sort of neighborhood you’ll arrive and with no idea where you’ll lay your head that night. Time loses all meaning when the only alarms to which your respond are hunger and train whistles. You are completely self-determined, but only because you relinquish all control. Eventually and perhaps not consciously, you live in the moment.
I’ve forgotten a lot about letting go in the past decade. This morning, I decided to board that plane again. This time I have companions.
I have been increasingly nutty and anxious over the last two weeks as our due date approached, arrived and passed. Our own first-timer anticipation combined with induction inquiries from grocery store checkout clerks and endless questions from nervous grandparents-to-be brought my stress level to a head. I could only expend so much energy reassuring everyone that we were no less healthy and in fact closer to delivery four days after our due date than we were four days before our due date and I know that because our midwives examined me and said so and I trust them and no there are no tests planned for this week and no I would not like to see a study about increasing complications with gestational age.
I exploded at my father Saturday afternoon. I began to fear that I had entered a cycle of tension that was preventing me from relaxing and labor from starting. And looming in my mind was our upcoming 42 week cut-off date for delivering in the birth center.
I had to change my mindset. I had to let go of the notion that I have any control over the situation. No matter how many long walks we take, how many squats I do, how much evening primrose oil we insert into my poonanny, how many times the midwife sweeps my membranes, how much sex we have, how much I talk to the baby or how often I try to channel my dead grandmother, labor will only happen when my body and the baby are ready.
We had thought the gender would be a big surprise. But the possibilities there end at two. Labor is a much bigger surprise. And waiting for it has been the biggest challenge of my pregnancy. Today, my cervix is 2.5 cm dilated and 60-70% effaced and the baby’s at -2 station. I could’ve gone into labor yesterday. I could go into labor tomorrow. I simply don’t know.
So this morning I realized that I have to board that plane again. I have to relinquish all control. Or rather, I have to relinquish the idea that I have any control. And I have to ignore the incentive that if I quickly let go then I might get there sooner. I have to take the Zen challenge. I have to forget the if-only past and dismiss the what-if future. We’re living in this moment. Right now. In which I am pregnant. And Mat’s making dinner for the two of us. And I’m typing a post on OM.
So I packed my bags. We’re getting on the plane. There’s no point in thinking about when we’ll get there because there are headwinds and time zones and who cares anyway because we’re not flying the plane and we can’t get off until we arrive. There’s nothing to do but sit back, relax and order the kosher meal.