Do you know about April the Pregnant Giraffe? Between my doula life and my mom life, I’m so embedded in the world of birth and babies that I don’t have a good sense of how many people out there are actually watching and waiting on April. From where I’m standing, it seems like *everyone* is watching and waiting on April.
They’re watching her through the magic of social media. Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY has set up a live stream via YouTube and it is blowing. up. Millions of people have tuned in to check on April and the numbers are increasing daily.
If you don’t know much about April, let me catch you up to speed: April is a 15 year old giraffe mama who is expecting her 4th calf any day now. April has been pregnant for 15 months. Wait, let that sink in. April has been pregnant for 15 MONTHS. Her baby is expected to weigh about 150 lbs. Giraffes give birth in an upright position (not a bad idea, #amiright) which means baby giraffes fall several feet to the ground when they’re born. In spite of this, they’re usually up and walking within an hour! It’s easy to see why so many people are watching and waiting on April.
As fascinating as giraffe childbirth is, I thought this might be the perfect time to deliver a message about watching and waiting on birth. I’m so glad April the Pregnant Giraffe doesn’t have wi-fi because – let me tell you – I don’t think she’d be happy to know that millions of people are anxiously waiting for her labour to begin.
The onset of labour is bit of a mystery. A typical human pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks or 9 months but really, babies are often born anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks gestation. Because of this wide range of normal, most expectant parents are familiar with what happens at the end of pregnancy: the dreaded check-ins.
“Are you in labour?”
“Any signs of baby?”
“Has she given birth yet?
“Is that baby going to stay in there forever?”
“Have you begun to dilate?” (NO MOM, PLEASE STOP CALLING ME AT WORK)
Does this sound familiar? Soooo familiar, I hear you saying. It’s only natural, it comes from a place of love and excitement, I know, I know. Still…friends, family: women who are *very* pregnant know you’re waiting on them to give birth. They know everyone’s excited. They feel it, they feel the watching and the waiting. They’re the most excited person in the entire universe about their nearly-here baby (often with a bit of impending childbirth and parenthood anxiety thrown in the mix). It’s hard.
The watching and waiting, for most women, is not helpful. It’s the opposite of helpful. If April the Pregnant Giraffe logged into Facebook right now, she’d know her uterus has gone viral and I’m guessing she’d be a bit perturbed.
Of course, in the case of human childbirth we *usually* don’t have the opportunity to watch a global live feed. And…because they’re brilliant natural survivors, giraffes usually hide signs of active labour so we won’t know April is about to give birth until the calf’s hooves emerge (human babies usually present first with the crown of their head, while giraffe babies are born hooves-first). For these reasons, it makes sense that so many of us are glued to our screens. I too am watching and waiting on April the Pregnant Giraffe.
I will not, however, text my pregnant friends requesting labour updates…and neither should you.