Monthly Archives: August 2009

What the heck?

This afternoon I was talking with the wife of a colleague. We’re both new here, and they happen to have a son a week older than Baby Man. They also happen to be pregnant with another baby, due in the winter.

So we’re talking about our kids and pregnancy, and I forget how, but it comes up that Baby Man was a big baby. And it comes up that a friend of theirs had an even bigger baby. And that that friend managed to have the baby without drugs. I joke that I thought I’d do that, but oh well. She says, “I wanted to too, but had to have a c-section. Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned, I suppose.” I say, “Yeah,” and she looks kind of sad and touches her belly.

Have I told you how unbelievably strange it is to live somewhere where no one else knows about Natan?

Yet that certainly didn’t seem like the right moment to share.

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Another one

Mother fracker. That’s the kind of thing you might hear come out of my mouth lately as I try not to corrupt my young son. The other day he dropped a toy on the ground and said, “Oh shit.” Not that I am particularly vulgar in front of him, but the morning before that, in the midst of unpacking some books in the basement, I did drop a huge load of them on my foot (causing a huge bruise and bump) and say, “shit” out loud and then all kinds of other things under my breath. He was a floor away, but …

So that’s what I said when I got another email announcing a pregnancy, “Mother Fracker.” This one a friend of mine who had a baby a month after Baby Man was born. Ergh. Their choices have nothing to do with us. But I feel so…behind. Ridiculous, I know, because Baby Man is enough. He’s fun and energetic, and I think to myself, “If I were pregnant now, I could not spend the day at the zoo with him!”And I never want to give that up.

But damn it, other mothers can. I see plenty of pregnant women marching around the zoo with multiple young ones circling around them.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get over having hated pregnancy.

Mother fracker.

Trying

My own post and Julia’s from yesterday about pregnancy have me thinking. Or not thinking, as the case may be these days, and just feeling, the cold chest-hardening sensation of “I can’t deal with it.” Pregnancy is still so fraught with pain and fear and jealousy for me. I suppose some people, like those who dare to criticize the women at Glow In the Woods, would attack me for that.

Here I am! With a gorgeous living boy! And I had a relatively easy birth experience with him. In a hospital yes, with some drugs so a bit of a failure(*kidding*). I am so lucky. You know, if I could just focus on the positive that whole nasty “dead baby” thing would stay in the past where it belongs.

Well guess what jackasses who might agree? I have never truly begrudged a woman a happy and healthy and easy birth. Pangs of jealousy are inevitable though. Seriously, I call b/s if you tell me you’re never envious of anything or anyone, or don’t feel pain if you’re faced with something precious you lost. 

I do not call feeling choked up when you’re reminded, under any circumstances, of the baby or babies missing in your life shameful. It’s just a real emotion. I have never, ever discussed my experiences with another woman except in answer to a direct question. Or in situations where if I didn’t mention Natan’s birth and death, I would be dishonest or forced to obfuscate.

Goodness knows in any other circumstances I wouldn’t want another person to lie or hide an experience or a loss. Nor would I want them to gloss over the pain for my sake, or for any other reason than their own needs or desires.

Although I do so in many other situations, in this one I’m not setting different standards for myself than I do for others. Natan’s birth and death happened. It hurt more than anything I could have imagined. I am shocked still when I remember myself waking up in my bed at home the morning after and melting down, completely, unable to comprehend how life would go on. I don’t force strangers to confront that woman. But there’s no reason to pretend others need sheltering from the simple facts of his existence and death, and the aftermath. No reason other than some ridiculous idea that his death and birth themselves are shameful.

We are not holding up billboards or spamming inboxes or doing guerilla theater in birthing or lamaze centers of our experiences. Death and pain are part of birth. Jealousy and questions about “why me” are part of human experience and emotions.  They need to be dealt with somewhere. If you step into the realm of birth and pregnancy, you might confront death and pain.

It’s a dark and unpleasant reality, and one that I’ve needed a break from for the past year or more. But more so because of the people who think they’re immune, or who would presume to judge our reactions, than from the simple reality that babies die. That I can’t hide from.

Most certainly not

It’s that time. Lots of families with children Baby Man’s age are pregnant again, and some people are beginning to feel comfortable asking me if we’re considering having another one soon.

No.

No.

No.

Awhile back, I thought now might be a good time. But awhile back I didn’t know the bottom would fall out of our field, and that I’d be the provider for the family for the next year at least. I didn’t know that I’d end up grateful for a position that’s only 1 or 2 years instead of choosing between prime tenure-track jobs (ha, so naive.) I thought, perhaps, that JJ might have the t-t position and I could stay at home and pursue more creative work. As it stands now, I will have more than enough to do without adding first trimester exhaustion, navigating a new insurance plan and hospital system, and the rest of the special joy pregnancy brings to me to the mix.

More than that though, I didn’t realize how reluctant I would be to give up my brain again for a minimum of a year and a half. A minimum of a year because 18 months presumes I could get pregnant again immediately and have another baby on the first try. And I know very well that pregnancy makes me an anxious stupid mess. Add to that breastfeeding again. I honestly could barely get any work done at all before Baby Man began replacing breast milk feedings with solid food. He was an easy baby, but honestly I only recently began to feel like a fully-functioning adult and scholar again.

Add to that Baby Man himself. I love spending time with him so much, and I am anxious to think about what will happen to him and our relationship if I have a hard pregnancy and then another baby in the house. I know most families cope with the latter, and many the former. And, in good time, we may too. Just not now. There’s too much else going on.

Of course I don’t need to justify and the above is a much longer answer than most of the nosy questioners need.

Classes begin here in my new place in just a few weeks. Thankfully my syllabi are done but between now and then I want to get some lectures planned so I can manage better. We are all moved in to our new place, and except for the fact that the first floor toilet is leaking and I just discovered that neither of our doors open from the outside anymore (don’t worry, called about that immediately), it’s great. We have 4 bedrooms for less than we paid for our 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments in the old city. When it’s really ready, I’ll post pictures of my very first very own office. I love it right down to the hideous pink and blue flower wallpaper.