As D-day draws near, Jen is thinking about all she has to remember, do and consider before the baby's arrival.

Something that I have not done very well during this pregnancy is communicating some of what I have been feeling to those around me. You might laugh if you have been reading my journal entries since May, but there are some very deep feelings and fears that I have been keeping hidden. That has been intentional, but not necessarily healthy. This pregnancy has been very different from my first. From the contractions that started at about 15 weeks to the spotting just this last weekend, it has not been at all what I expected, or hoped.

Only in the last several weeks have I been able to articulate to myself some of the uneasiness that I have been feeling. Almost from the moment the pregnancy test turned positive, there has been a nagging "something" deep inside me. I haven't even wanted to articulate it, much less verbalize it, for fear of jinxing the whole pregnancy process. I so want this baby to be born healthy and at the right time.

What triggered the feelings, and words about the feelings, finally coming to the surface was my almost compulsive list-making and planning. My uncertainty about what my body was doing was manifesting itself in the need to be utterly prepared as far in advance as I could without being ridiculed. Then some ridicule and dismay did slip through in the people who are closest to me. I was hurt, but slowly realized they didn't understand because I needed to tell them. They are not mind-readers, just people. I also needed to admit the depth of these feelings to myself.

I made some lists a couple of weeks ago of things that needed to be done for the baby and around the baby. There was one for me and one for my husband. One of the things on my husband's lists was to get some clear labels that we can print up in advance for the announcement envelopes. The other day he went to run some errands and stopped by an office store. When he came home, I asked if he had purchased labels. I figured it was something he might do while he was there anyway (after all, it was the way I might have handled it, and one of the items on my list, printing labels, depended on his list). His response - "We have two months! Well, six weeks." - sent me into a hormonal tailspin. Two months, I thought! Where has he been? That's at the absolute outside! It's closer to six weeks and that should not be an afterthought! If we even make it another six weeks! Where has he been the last seven and a half months? The last two weeks when contractions have been happening more frequently? The next hour or so was unpleasant, but we did come to an agreement about handling things on the lists and in what priority order and I was able to communicate some of my persistent fears.

Mostly, these fears consist of the basic bring this baby safely into the world. Not having something awful go wrong, especially this far into the pregnancy. Maybe I know too much about what can happen. And even though I know those are the minority of situations, I still think about them. I know what it is to be a mom now, and I've become more than a little attached to this new child. How could I ever endure a loss?

I know my husband didn't realize how scared I have been when the contractions or some of the other issues have hit. As a member of the medical establishment, he's sees far worse everyday. It's easy for him to dismiss the less dramatic, and he's been programmed not to trust a person's gut instinct. As a male, pregnancy is something he will never fully understand, and can only experience through me. He'll never really know the uncertainty of parts of the process. Nor will he ever know the joy.

It was only after this difficult afternoon, and another conversation with another person, that I realized that my preparations were my way to deal with the fear. Even if something did happen early, we would have things in place. As out of control I am of some of what is happening in my body, these preparations were my last bit of control concerning the situation.

Leaving the doctor's office this afternoon, after yet another unexpected visit, my husband helped remind me that as far as this baby is concerned, he arrives when he arrives. We have done the best we can taking care of him in utero, and now his actual entry into this world is mostly beyond us. We'll be extra careful the next few weeks, as instructed by the doctor, but we can and will deal with whatever situation results, and will love this child unconditionally regardless of the path he takes into this world. Right now every day is one more day for his lungs to get stronger, to get a little more meat on his bones - but if he were to arrive today or tomorrow, he'd most likely be just fine in the long run. That's reassuring. Everyday the fear subsides just a little bit more.

Still, I expect these next few weeks will be more of the roller-coaster I have been riding on since February. I just hope that the ups and downs might get a little less dramatic as we get closer and closer to those magic "full-term" weeks - and to having this child safely in our arms. At least now that I have admitted this fear, we can find the best ways to deal with it, with and without


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