As I drifted along in the half-waking, half-sleeping state of mind that occurs when you know you have to get up again in fifteen minutes, my brain decided that the pregnancy/birth/parenting process was very similar to waiting in line, then riding on a roller coaster you had never been on before.
You're walking around the amusement park; you see the sign; it looks like fun and so you get in line. Committed. Pregnancy begins. Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by people who are also at the same stage of life you are. They're waiting right along beside you. These people are either riding for the first time or have ridden this ride before but either way there's plenty to talk about - plenty to analyze, plenty to compare, plenty to share, plenty to research. You think it looks so scary! You wonder what you're in for, if you're ready. The experienced riders tell you it's really not that bad and it's actually somewhat fun (after you get over the first few loops) and, of course, it will change your life forever.
More waiting. Signs along the way estimate how much longer the wait will be from that point in line. Weekly emails arrive in your inbox telling you how pregnant you are and what the baby is developing that week. Excitement builds as you anticipate your feelings surrounding the event.
Finally you climb the stairs and turn the corner and the loading platform is in view. The friends that have been with you the whole way climb onto the coaster and slowly click away from you, returning a while later as joyful parents of a beautiful infant. "It's so great!" they shout from the unloading platform and then disappear to find their next ride.
Now it's time to choose which car you want to ride in. You and your husband pick the hospital where you'll deliver and then continue waiting in a shorter line. Anxiety builds. What will this be like? Will you like it? What will you miss if you shut your eyes at the last second? Are you really really ready?
An empty roller coaster slides into position and it's time to climb aboard. Labor has started. There's no turning back now! The ride attendants walk down the line, checking seat belts and securing shoulder bars. They've helped hundreds, if not thousands, through this same scenario. Doctors and nurses are reassuring, competent in their jobs and comfortable with the process. The first jerk of the roller coaster sets the train in motion and you labor up the long, slow climb to the top of the first hill.
You wonder if you'll ever make it to the top. You can't wait. Impatience and frustration build. You're excited for the climb to be over and for the ride to start at last.
You made it! You're at the top! You gave birth to a tiny little baby who depends completely on you for everything it needs in life! Whooooosh, you're weightless as gravity pulls the train down the first dip. The first exhilarating rush of finally holding your own child in your arms. You're high on emotions and the excitement of sharing your baby with your family. The track curves and loops and snakes and daily life as you used to know it is completely and permanently altered.
You have ups and downs and good days and bad days but through it all you're loving the ride and wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
Something like that.