Thursday, November 25, 2010


... That there is a holiday dedicated to being thankful.  In a country as rich as ours, it's good to remember to stop and count our blessings.

... For the time I spent standing outside the other day, waiting for my son and his sitter to come downstairs from putting his friend down for nap and answer the door.  The view from the house on the hill where he stays each day is amazing.  I could see layers of fog hovering over the earth in the distant sky.  Rain fell light like mist around me while I hovered under the covered porch.  The world seemed full of mystery and ultimately unknowable.

... For the fire my husband built in the fireplace last night.  The room was warm and the couch piled with more blankets than we could put to use.  The world seemed cozy, safe, and familiar.

... For every morning that we hear the crows call Caw Caw while we ready ourselves for the day.  My son said to me last week:  Mommy, the little birds say tweet-tweet, but the crows say CAW-CAW!  We like to listen to the sound of the crows.

... For the little birds too, who dip and weave through the sky like a symphony is playing, that only they can hear.  Two flocks rose together and danced in front of my car window while I drove to the doctor yesterday morning, and it was like art rising up from the highway, a ballet in black against the grey white of the sky.

... For this morning, when I inexplicably woke at 5am, finally rising from my bed at 6, and still, walking through my house, my thoughts weren't grumpy or bitter.  Instead, I thought:  I love this house.  I'm so happy it's ours.

... For my husband and son, who bring laughter and delight to my world every day.

... For my daughter, dancing in my womb and preparing for her grand entrance into the world.  And for all the work we got done yesterday, preparing to welcome her: the attic is semi-organized (a feat unto itself), and furniture is moved and rearranged, paint is purchased and ready to go on the walls, and we are closer to welcoming her every day.

... For the basics: a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, medical care when we're sick, and then for magic: laughter and delight are magical, and I am most thankful for how much magic I find in the daily details of this ordinary life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

One More Month

I feel substantially better yesterday and today than I have in a while.  Last Monday I was afraid I might go into labor at any moment.  I would find myself bent over a countertop swaying and moaning, and wonder: what am I doing?  I'm not supposed to be in labor!  I fluctuated between hot flashes and bouts of cold shivering, and I had to race to the bathroom multiple times during the day to empty my body out, fearing it would empty itself if I didn't run waddle at top speed.  My face took on that soft, almost swollen glow that I recognize from seeing other women in late pregnancy, and the baby dropped noticeably lower in my abdomen.  My chiropractor and coworkers both noticed and remarked that I looked like I could go anytime.  I started to believe that I wouldn't make it to my due date, and a VBAC seemed more possible by the minute, since she'd likely be substantially smaller than normal coming so early.

But then Tuesday I felt better than Monday, and Wednesday better still, and now at the end of the week I feel almost like a regular person again.  It feels wonderful to sit, stand and walk without significant pain, and even these small abilities make me feel so much more powerful and capable!  Still, I decided against traveling for Thanksgiving weekend, which will be 37 weeks, and I'm doing my best to wrap things up at work and leave my colleagues with enough direction to make their lives as easy as I can while they cover for me for three months.  I'm scheduled to work right up to the Friday before my due date, but we'll just be playing it by ear at the end.

For quite some time I didn't believe there was any chance my daughter would come early.  I know this is a direct reaction to what happened with my son.  I was so huge with him that people commented all the time that they wondered if I'd make it to my due date.  I was so uncomfortable being so huge, and so hot in July that I chose to believe the man-on-the-street report and thoroughly convinced myself that I was going to go into labor early.  I stopped working at 39 weeks, and then spent the next two and a half weeks sitting in the one small room in our apartment with a window unit air conditioner, reading and waiting.  After that experience, I just had no faith whatsoever that any baby of mine would ever come early.

But I went to the doctor today, and the news was a lot more positive than my last visit.  She's measuring exactly average, and at this point there are no contraindications to trying for a VBAC.  That will change if she suddenly balloons into a little fatso, but for the time being, things look good.  Also, I've been having contractions all week, and my cervix is beginning to thin out, in addition to the ridiculous amount of relaxin I've been producing for months.  All of these are signs that my body is preparing for labor, and I had none of these signs last time with my boy, especially this early.

The doctors are still hoping she comes early, and in the meantime we wait and continue to check on her growth.  I'm making my peace with the wait-and-see approach.  In fact, I'd rather the universe decided this for me: either she'll come early, and be small enough, or she won't come on time, and I'll have to have a repeat section.  I feel better leaving it in the hands of fate than having to make the decision myself.  Practice for all the moments in parenthood that are more fate and chance than choice!  So my due date, like the title of this post, is a month from today.  My daughter's birthday, on the other hand, well ... we'll leave that up to the whims of the gods.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Normally, I like paperwork and hate housework.  My job requires a rather ridiculously large amount of paperwork.  I get a certain satisfaction out of organizing all this paperwork into systems I think work best for our staff.  I want the paperwork to reflect the work we do on the ground; I want it to paint a picture of the magic we create with families.  I usually believe I'm the best person to do this job, and the endless reading and printing and editing and piling and filing are part of this job, parts I do willingly, and with great satisfaction when I do it well.

Housework ... well, I guess I'd rather just skip to the end result.  My son's too-small clothes are semi-organized.  Meaning: that one time when my sister came to town and organized the 0-12 month clothes?  Those ones are still organized.  The 12 month to 2T can be found in an assortment of bags, both paper and plastic, and piles, most of which are found in the general vicinity of the attic, with no organizing principle whatsoever, except get-this-out-of-my-face.  I don't necessarily believe that I'm the best person for this job.  My sister showed me that in one weekend visit.  In fact, I'm pretty sure she's the best person for the job!  But the fact that she'll be birthing a baby any day now makes it substantially less likely that she'll show up and do it anytime soon.

And lately I've made a switch, as complete and dramatic as a florescent overhead light in a pitch black room.  My disorganized attic calls out to me.  It haunts me while I hobble to and fro on the first floor of my living quarters, trying to tidy things as best I can.  I daydream sitting cross-legged (I can't sit cross-legged; are you freakin' kidding me?  I can hardly sit at all.) behind the walls, in the uninsulated eves where we store all the belongings with no defined place, all the too-small baby clothes, boxes of Christmas decor, and bins of books awaiting the future purchase of bookshelves big enough to contain them, all our homeless, forlorn belongings.  They whisper my name while I'm sleepless in bed, and I imagine myself creating order from that chaos, moving like a whirling dervish (yeah, highly unlikely) through stacks of stuff we've chosen to keep, but left neglected while trying to manage our everyday lives outside the attic eves, the parts of our lives the world sees.

And paperwork?  Bah humbug!  My dad recently retired from teaching, and has long enjoyed the cynical teacher's past time of scoffing at any new development designed to improve the learning of students, but seemingly more likely to create a new set of hoops for teachers to hop through on their way to wherever they were already headed.  Usually I'm more optimistic.  I readily adopt, and adapt whatever is sent to us, and attempt to use it to show how amazing what we do really is.  I look at the endless forms, reading between formulaic lines for hidden poetry to unearth ideas for how we can be better.  But now?  Ugh.  My desk?  UNcomfortable!  Forms?  A PAIN in my ass!  Paperwork?  WHATever!  I think I'm ready to be done with work.

My chiropractor recommended I not teach my last yoga class, scheduled for this Thursday evening after I told her I don't mind the stretching, but the students, my God!  What are they doing there?  What do they want from me?  They need to chill.  She told me about her last day of popping backs before her maternity leave a few years ago.  She knew it was time to go when clients told her about their back problems and all she could think was:  You think YOUR back hurts?  I'm eight months pregnant here, buddy!

I want to retire to the cave-like clutter of my attic eves.  My husband and son can come with me, and we can unearth treasures like children in a junkyard of discarded toys.  I want to leave my office abandoned, let the spiders weave their webs between binders on my bookshelf, and my paperwork  pile up to the ceiling, sniffling in sudden neglect.

I want to come home.  I want to prepare my nest.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Bits and Bame-ing

My brain is skitter-scattered, and I hop from one train of thought to another.  It's hard to finish anything.  I have five weeks left at work, and I need them to prepare for my three months out.  My doctor said yesterday that we should hope I go into labor naturally at 37 weeks for my best chance at a successful VBAC.  That would mean two weeks left at work.  If I could focus for those two, I might complete five weeks worth of planning and preparation.  The aching in my knees gets in the way of my focus.  So do thoughts of my attic.  And daydreams of Christmas trees.  I have little desire to focus, or finish, even though things are lining up, piling up, begging to be done.  I finish novels and naps, and books with my boy.  I finish bathtime and bedtime, but we are often running late.  And then again in the morning: running late.

If my daughter runs late, they want to open me up and fetch her from my womb.  I try to balance all the medical information, but I'm easily distracted, and I've read it all before, and there are no real answers there.  I find myself wondering: is that rude?  To slice right in and fetch her just because she's running a little late?  I wouldn't appreciate it.  Then again, I didn't appreciate it when my son decided to burrow in and remain in my belly for nine extra days.  I didn't hold it against him because --being unborn-- he hadn't yet learned about overstaying one's welcome, but clearly it's a lesson we'll need to review at an age appropriate time.

I had a dream I had a baby boy.  As soon as he was born he knew how to run, throw and bang.  He had my long hair, which made him look like a tiny rock star.  He threw toys everywhere: at me, in the fireplace, on the floor.  He was a little bit scary, actually.  A newborn with toddler capabilities and desires.  I woke up relieved I'm having a girl.  Not that she'll refrain from running, throwing and banging, but she won't be the dream baby, that destructive rock star, and for that I'm relieved.

My son's personality continues to change before my eyes.  He's developing the kind of characteristics that make people look at him and say: that one's all boy.  Throwing and banging are currently high on his priority list, and I'm trying to entice him to pound on my back and shoulders, although he hasn't entirely bought into this plan yet.  He plays with verbs and verb tense all the time too.  I tumbled.  I dumbled.  I dumbaded.  I dommed down.  I dommded down on the floor.  I banged.  I bammed.  I boomed.  I bamed.  I bameded.  I bameded Mommy!

Ouch!  No more bame-ing, I say.  I don't know precisely what bame-ing is, but I don't want any more of it on my head.  No bame-ing Mommy in the head.  That hurts.  You can bame and pound on my back if you want.  But you need to be gentle with my head.

The doctors seem less and less VBAC happy with each appointment.  They don't want me to go past my due date.  And did they mention my slim chances of success?  And oh!  Look at the increased risks to our lives and well-being if I try and fail.  There are numbers, and the numbers look worse every time.  But there are other numbers they aren't reciting, and those numbers tell a different story.  And then the fact that all the numbers in the world can't tell one woman's story. 

What do I do?  What do I decide?  I told you, my brain is skittery, and my thoughts are slippery.  They don't stay in my head.  Also, my knees ache, especially the left one.  Is there anything you can do about that?  No?  Then how can I be expected to juggle all these numbers and come to a conclusion?  My knee aches something awful, and my attic is a mess.  It needs to be organized.  Doctor, can you offer me something for attic organization?  No?  Would you like to hear about my Christmas tree?  It's going to be beautiful!  The numbers will have to wait.  Why are you always bame-ing me in the head with these numbers?

In another dream I drove a monster truck and had a pet bear.  We cut through someone's house, and my monster truck got stuck in their hallway and I had to abandon it and travel by foot.  But they had a pet gorilla who began to chase me.  My bear hightailed it out of there, and I was so pregnant, racing through the city streets with the gorilla hot on my tail.  I woke up breathless.

Birth seems like the perfect time to let go of the illusion of control.  I have a voice in my head that says: you create your own reality with your thoughts.  You need to BELIEVE you can do this, and WILL it into being!  Another voice responds:  That's both silly and arrogant.  Sit down and be quiet.  Give it to God.  Let go.

And the numbers float in and out of my daydreams, hanging on my Christmas tree, gathering in the boxes in my attic, poking me in the knees with their perpetual ache.  And in my dreams I have rock star babies with personalities too big to manage, and monster trucks and pet bears and gorillas out to get me.  How can a woman possibly juggle numbers, or complete lists of tasks on a teacher checklist, or make a life and death decision about one's daughter with all these distractions?  I wonder if they'll understand if I just explain how the distractions are constantly bame-ing me.

I'm sorry doctor/ supervisor/ State Department of Education.  I was not able to complete the tasks you entrusted me with.  You see, I've been bamed in the head with all manner of distractions.  What's bamed, you ask.  Well, I think that's a perfect example of the type of distraction I'm talking about.  Let's talk about the word bame.  What does it mean to you?  If you're not the type to define your own words, then perhaps you'd like to hear about my pet bear instead.  He rides beside me in my monster truck.  I think it's clear I'm going to need an indefinite extension on those responsibilities.  Might I recommend a pile of novels while you wait?  A lovely afternoon nap?  A life and death decision to ponder while you rest?  Just relax right here, and try not to bame each other in the head.  Be gentle, authority figures.  Just be gentle while you wait.  All this bame-ing me in the head isn't helping anyone at all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Strange Fruit

There is a story here.  It's a story about death, and birth, and the swelling of fruit and bellies, and the decay of flesh, of everything that lives and dies and settles back into the earth for another round.  It's the story of the day last week when my last remaining grandparent --my father's mother-- died, and both my parents became orphans.  It's the story of three sisters at a funeral with babies growing in their bellies, one of whom is still a whisper yet to be spoken aloud.  It's the story of an apple tree bearing fruit right outside a wake where the rosary is recited, a two year old boy who buries himself in leaves while the woman inside waits for her own burial, flesh painted like a poor rendition of a song that will never measure up to the original.  It's a story about family, about the things that divide us and bring us together.  A story about hope and regret, and the passage of time and distance, minutes that become hours, and days that become years, steps that become miles and seemingly small spaces that become insurmountable.  There is a story here.  I'm just not sure how it goes yet.  Perhaps if I had tasted the apple instead of taking a photograph ... perhaps I would know the words by now.  Or maybe I'd be banished.  Maybe I'm still in Eden.  Perhaps I'll never know the words.  Perhaps that's for the best.