The Elephant Gestator

Posted in Monthly at 5:34 am by Pasha

By Pasha Krise

Elephants gestate for a whopping 22 month. So while my piddly gestation period that is rounding the corner on 11 months pales in comparison, in the human world, I am nothing short of an Elephant Gestator: a woman who carries her babies in utero for a horrifically long period of time.

Being an Elephant Gestator who is currently 18 days “overdue” with baby number three, I get looks and comments that would leave a typical 10.5 month pregnant mom in shock. The grocery store clerk takes one look and exclaims, “Are you having twins … due last week!” But I am used to it. My first guy was 17 days over, my second 15, and this one, not to be beat by his brothers, may even take it to a full three weeks!

Here are some truths about longer than typical gestation and being an Elephant Gestator.

I am indeed still uncomfortably large and pregnant. However, this little being has dropped so much that I actually feel better today than I did all of month nine! I can eat spicy foods again because the heartburn is gone. I am sleeping sound through the night (maybe he moved off my bladder?) I am nowhere near as tired as month one to three or eight to 10. At this point I am feeling pretty darn good.

He is getting checked on regularly and is still healthy and thriving. One of the most common misconceptions is that after the exact two week mark, a baby’s health in utero nose dives. Not true. Like all pregnancies, babies and births, there isn’t a whole lot of exactness to the science of it. Scientists have yet to even discover what actually triggers labor (some say it is lung development, others correlate it to hormones exchanged between mom and baby.) It is just another birth mystery!

When you are this far along, and longing for answers and control (both of which are so illusive in natural childbirth), there is nothing better than the ramped up midwife visits. Hearing your little’s heartbeat respond and accelerate, which means that the placenta is healthy and baby is under no distress, puts you at ease and calms the worry that he might be in there unable to find his way out. If a mama’s blood pressure is good, fluid and vitamin levels are right on, then the baby just needs to cook a little bit longer.

Combine all those checks with progression of cervix loss and dilation and you have a perfectly safe space and time in which to carry your baby into the next week. That’s how you continue being an Elephant Gestator without fearing your infant is going to die and you will indeed be the worst mother/decision maker on earth (this worry is obviously there without care and monitoring. I blame the internet.)

Truth number three about being pregnant this long; Yes, Friends! I am “Over it” and “Ready to meet the baby!” I can’t believe anyone asks that. I am over it, I am ready, DUH! But I have kind of also enjoyed these last couple of weeks. Because I feel a lot better, I have been able to get tons done and crossed off my to-do list. I thought that I might have a baby and I would have a hard time back-to-school shopping, cleaning the kids room, organizing the closets or spending time with my sisters while they are visiting. On the converse, I have had ample time for all that. I even got to spend the day at the beach on Friday. So sure, I’m ready but I am definitely not going to sit around and wait!

How about this one; “Is he here YET!” I assure everyone, I will post a picture of this guy on Instagram, call or text my closest family and friends when he makes his arrival. As soon as we know, you will know. This isn’t the stone ages; my Birth Announcement won’t come via horse drawn carriage. Social media will bring you the news, if not my feed, then surely an excited grandmother or father.

Everyone has their own recommendation for natural induction; spicy food, sex, squats, the ocean, pineapple, castor oil, etc, etc. I have tried the ones that are reasonable. With my first kid, I tried them all (except castor oil) and then some! As we get closer to three weeks, we will start herb treatments and maybe even the feared Castor Cocktail. But realistically, with the exception of the few that closely mimic progesterone and Oxycontin, they might all just be a placebo effect and a baby comes when he or she is simply ready.

People wonder why I don’t just go to the hospital and get induced. Friends, that is simply not my style. My inner control freak loses all semblance of control once that Pitocin drip is administered. It would mean having the baby in an unknown environment with people I have never met. It would mean contractions that are hard and fierce on me and my body. It would mean broken water and deadlines to deliver a baby. It would mean rush and panic. It would mean bringing the baby earth-side in every way that I don’t want to. Pitocin induction is my last option, and only in the case of deteriorating baby or mama health.

So while it’s definitely not the norm to be an Elephant Gestator, I am accepting my role as one more with each child I give birth to. Nordic cultures gestate an average of two weeks longer (baby needs to store fat to survive!) and who knows, my conception dates could be off a few days.

This little guy could come today, or tomorrow, or next week. As long as he is safe and healthy, he can stay as long as he needs.