Gestational week nineteen, from BabyCenter:
2007.02.27. tired of writing headlines
I've been writing headlines all day, it seems. How fortunate (she writes with full realization of the attendant irony) that the market plunged today, today, when I am in D.C. and in the center of it all (it all being a rather well-designed cubicle farm full of finance media geeks underneath the takeoff strip for Washington Dulles airport). My writers, they wrote their little hearts out, and we have the traffic to prove it. And February will end with a bang.
How fortunate that I am not in my third trimester. Amey, my pregnant companion for the trip and supervisor, spent one of our meetings squirming and rubbing and silently (I could see) groaning. Not only is her baby boy kicking and turning; not only is she getting painful Braxton Hicks contractions; but she had a cough that turned on her ribs (which, in your third trimester, begin spreading out, as your tendons loosen, to allow room for the uterus to expand). She's been Googling, and discovered that even a relatively minor cough can lead to the pain she's feeling, as if her ribs were breaking. I well know that feeling as I once had a terrific cough that led me to believe I'd broken a few ribs. I wasn't, however, 33 weeks pregnant at the time. I can only imagine. In fact, I can imagine too well; I've been getting dull (and not severe) aches in the sides of my belly all evening that are either (a) sympathy pains or (b) my intestines complaining because I've stuffed them oh-so-full today.
How fortunate that I'm here, in the quiet and order of my hotel room. Despite my adoration of a little alone time, whenever I lie still for an instant I miss Everett and Truman madly. And Jonathan, of course, but the children -- I think the combination of the baby in my belly and the few thousand miles' separation magnifies my longing to be with them. When I climb into bed, it yawns open, and I am angry that the bed is so huge and I am so small. I pile up pillows around myself in an effort to recreate the cramped space at home. But I'll be with them, tomorrow night. I promise to myself that I'll treasure this time with Truman; only four-some more months of Truman the baby brother, Everett the big brother. Only four-some more months when we'll go into a coffee shop and Everett will walk up to a stranger and tell him that this, this is his little brother Truman.
How fortunate that I didn't start writing poems about motherhood when I was new at it all. Or something. This morning I read excerpts from a book of poetry written by Deborah Garrison, whose first volume (A Working Girl Can't Win) I loved. Her new volume, The Second Child, was something I expected to love. Obviously. As I flipped through the pages I learned she had three, Three! children. Just like me. I would love these poems, cry at each and every treatment of motherhood.
You can read my review of A Second Child at Amazon, but I'll say this to you here: I wanted the movement between dark and light, the treatment of the ambivalence of motherhood, of pregnancy, of birth. But instead I have loving poetic renditions of the cute stories we tell about our kids; instead of saying to our friends, "isn't it weird how, when you breastfeed your child, it's like, you're connected, but you're feeding him so he can wean, and, you know, be disconnected?" she writes a poem about it. She is certainly a loving, sweet, earnest mom. It's just not good for a poem. It doesn't (as Publishers Weekly's blurb says) provide me with that "shock of recognition." I recognize only the tiniest bit of me here, the me when seen through rose-colored glasses, the me who has never felt unsure about how connected she was to her pregnancy or clutched her child after he kicked her in the nose, on purpose, with tears running down her face and wondering why she loved him so much even though she wanted to throttle him. No, that mom is not here in this poetry, at all. She thrills over her daughter's drawing, the freedom of having three children (because she doesn't have to agonize over which one to tend to -- just grab the baby!), her oldest child's sweet words. Lovely. But not what I was looking for.
How fortunate that I still have The Gold CellSharon Olds, whose poetry is so good that just reading a review of it makes me shiver.
2007.03.01. not even ready to write about it
Over the past 24 hours, I have been struggling to get home. And I finally did, and am so exhausted -- no more than five hours sleep a night for the past four days -- that I can't really put it to words yet. There were waterworks at Dulles' Gate C4, there was a two-hour wait in line at United's Customer Service Center, there was a buffalo chicken salad eaten while sitting on the cold concrete of Curb 2H waiting for a hotel shuttle, there was an outrageously expensive dinner of good salmon and vastly inferior tiramisu, there was a breakfast of bagel, cream cheese, raspberry danish, and hot dog in Chicago, there was a flight attendant who disapproved of me because I had my shoes off in the filthy back of the aircraft (I made a mental note not to lick my feet). But while it was, in many ways, miserable, I also found it lovely, as it seems that my belly has expanded in the past few days until it is absolutely unmistakeable in almost every outfit I own: I am pregnant. It's so nice to have people know it rather than wondering, or not seeing at all -- which was the case only Tuesday.
So when I ate that breakfast of bagel, cream cheese, raspberry danish, and a hot dog with onions, relish and mustard, I didn't feel the slightest bit concerned that someone might look at me and think me weird. And that's something.
2007.03.02. absolutely. no. patience.
I have no. patience. left.. I arrived home from an incredibly long trip and Jonathan was so sweet to me, unpacking my bag, letting me sleep while he cleaned house, keeping the kids from jumping on me last night. At some point he put me in bed (clean sheets, folded back just for me) and put cartoons on for the boys. It was lovely.
And then morning came, and he was still asleep (long night in one of his frantic must-do-everything moods) and I was thrust from lonesomeness into caring for a household full of children, messes, and one overstaid-his-welcome basement dweller (the two week stay began in mid-December). At 2, Jonathan was off to his last day at the bar -- he'd be heading to Ft. Riley on Monday morning -- and suddenly I was stuck. And I couldn't deal.
Before he left I was in a mood, one of those pregnant moods, where everything's possible. I was planning a long evening of projects long-delayed (making a lovely under-belly replacement for the belly panels on my many pairs of maternity pants, for one), bedrooms and offices cleaned. I was going to be so efficient.
I started in on my belly panel, taking photos as I progressed and mentally making a checklist of things to do in my office. I'd start by cleaning up the toys left all over my floor, and then move on to papers, and finally fabric and photos. (kick) Those crayons need to be picked up, again. (grrr) Those blankets and sweaters need to be taken downstairs. (ick) I really need to vacuum.
And then, everything started falling apart. I went downstairs to get something and came back up to see Truman pulling the last few neatly stacked rolls of fabric from my top cabinet shelf. I yelled. 10 minutes later he was trying to climb on my lap at the sewing machine, and took a drink of my coffee -- then put it down crooked, spilling it on my sewing project, the table, the floor. I yelled louder, asking him why he couldn't just play with his toys instead of playing with my THINGS?!?
I sent him downstairs, and then went to the bathroom. Only to smell the most awfully strong and far-too-musky smell of men's aftershave. It filled my house, making me sneeze and sending me hunting the place where Truman had surely knocked over a whole bottle of something. I found nothing, but realized that my basement dweller had probably doused himself but strong, in the basement bathroom. The pipes and vents carry smells and sounds like a custom-made device from basement to second floor. I could barely breathe. And all I could think was, it's not fair!.
And this would be a really whiny story if that was all. A couple of hours later, as I continued to struggle with my really-cute-but-not-quite-perfect maternity jeans makeover, Everett asked me to help him find a game on the computer (where I let him play, some nights, to assist in gaining sanity. I sat down on the chair next to him, and in a flash, Truman had climbed on my lap, standing so he could attempt to climb on the desk and poke at my lovely, expensive monitor. "No!" said Everett. And I attempted to grab Truman back. He resisted, but hard, and sent me off-balance, and suddenly we were falling backwards. Into my red NXT chair. My favorite chair. The only piece of furniture I've ever bought brand-new and at a price that truly floored me. The only really nice, modern piece I own, in fact, one of the only items in the house that's been chosen more for its looks than its ridiculously thrifty price, or presence on the side of the road with a 'free' sign.
There was a sickening sound, of plywood splitting. My chair broke, right at the bend in the chair that made a connection between seat and leg. I just sat on the floor and started crying. Not only was I not getting anything accomplished. Not only was my room getting messier by the instant. Not only was I making my children stand with their faces in hands, crying. Everything I tried to do to make it better, made it worse. The very creatures I strove so hard to create, the ones I celebrated, were destroying everything I loved (except, I guess, for themselves).
It's times like these when I question my quest to bear children, when I don't understand how or why I fail so awfully at that which my foremothers excelled (namely, having patience), when I wonder if I'm just not cut out for this mama stuff. I wonder if I should take anger management classes. I wonder if my hormones are truly off the charts. I wonder if it's possible that I need professional, clinical help.
I cried for a while, and shut myself downstairs alone, watching The Bourne Supremacy for a while in whimper-mode. And then, I sighed, and tried again at this mother stuff. Maybe it won't always be so hard.
Maybe one day I'll actually birth this baby and the hormones will be a bit more manageable... thank God I'm not an elephant.
2007.03.04. biscuits and hiccups
Today I also have no patience. Last night, as we were in the throes of multiple emotional outbursts caused by one thing or another, I looked up into the sky at a luminous, yellowish orb. The full moon. That explains it!
So I'm trying. And some things prolong my spells of calm, keep me from going over the edge. Homemade buttermilk biscuits, mixed and kneaded and patted with the help of a not-quite-two-year-old sous chef. A brand-new lensbaby, thanks to Jonathan's last day at the bar. And, sometime after breakfast was done, unmistakeable teeny baby hiccups.
Even though hiccups drive the kids to distraction, when they're inside your belly, produced by a baby the size of a large banana, they're somehow enormously calming, like the reliable tick-tock of a metronome, assuring me that the baby is healthy, thriving, growing and maturing. Somehow. Through it all.
2007.03.05. supermama, achieved
Today, I was undubitably supermama. I saw Jonathan off to the airport (well, I saw him get in his uncle's car, waving bye-bye with Truman) and then we were off to the races. I worked, I actually cooked a reasonably healthy lunch for the boys (nitrate-free hot dogs are healthy, yes? and corn! there was corn!), and around 2 I took the boys outside for playtime, dragging my computer, a bottle of water, and various other props and handy helpers along with. I cleaned up trash in the yard in between adding new rows to my spreadsheet. I pinged people and I ran after Truman (again, and again, and again). And when that was all done?
It was off to the bank and grocery store on the bus, where I bought pork chops and swiss chard for dinner. I cooked healthy food (ok, so Truman had fallen asleep on the way home, and Everett only at a couple of bites of the pork, and none of the pasta, because it looked like little ears), I finished my work after dinner, I cleaned the kitchen and brought in the recycling bins and oh my god! I'm such a great mama!
Ok, so we *did* let Everett play Polly Pocket games on the computer while I watched trashy TV for an hour, and he *did* stay up late eating Peeps. But I made sure he brushed his teeth, twice, and soon we were all slumbering together, all three of us, in the bed. And did I tell you that yesterday, after dinner, I cleaned Everett's room until it was all done?
I wonder how long this energy will last?