The Return of the Dark Rider

I am probably as worried about the baby dying as I am about her surviving. Which is maybe why it’s easier to fantasize about her death. This morning, as I clicked on an article about someone else’s baby dying I thought to myself, you shouldn’t do this. This is what depressed people do when they are depressed and want to sink down into their hole. They read about depression. I know I certainly did. The Noonday Demon is a title that sticks out in my mind.

Have you heard this one: Bad things happen to people all the time, but they are not going to happen to you. It’s a useful statement when you happen to be catastrophizing about the possible death of your baby at 36 weeks. But then I think of friends to whom it did happen. One, just an acquaintance, who had a miscarriage at five months and then left her long term partner shortly after. It was probably the way it was supposed to be, she said, and it made me wonder up until at least 6 months into my pregnancy whether it was supposed to be that way for me too. Or my childhood best friend turned FB friend, who had a baby that died just a few days after her birth. It happened to her and since we used to pretend blowjobs on bananas in her basement some thirty years ago, it just as well might be something that could happen to me.

As I write about this it is sunny as fuck outside. And the forecast predicts much of the same for the next week. One sun, no clouds, 79-81 degrees. The kind of perfection most people move here for. How we ended up in Los Angeles is more of a surprise to me than how we ended up pregnant, although they both contained some logistical things that I was more or less responsible for taking care of.

Please discuss any fears regarding labor, birth, postpartum and / or parenthood, said our intake form from the doula we hired to support us during the birth. Um, do you have a notebook? I condensed.

“I’m pretty afraid of the hospital so I’d like to get there as late as possible. I’m afraid of tearing during birth because I don’t want to be in a lot of recovery pain at the same time as caring for a newborn. I’m afraid of losing my whole self to the baby and not being able to take time to do my own creative work and about whether or not I’ll always feel like I should put her before me. I’m nervous about whether or not we will be good parents and show her love all the time, even when things get difficult for us. I’m nervous about being the adult in the household.”

All of that, except for the tearing being a problem after the birth as far as pain goes, are legit, it turns out. Which doesn’t surprise me. I’ve been in therapy for almost ten years so I’m not in the habit of disengaging with my feelings anymore. They are there for a reason and in this case it’s because this is the cultural narrative of motherhood. For this generation of women. For this cohort around me of women who want or wanted to be creative or thought they had a right to something other than kids and a whatever job – [we do, right?, right?] this is the way it goes. These fears are real and they come true and there’s not much you can do about them but wait it out.

Oh and the love thing. You are always going to love her but you might sometimes get angry, said Andrey, as she reviewed the form in front of my boyfriend and I. Him sitting nervously at the edge of a chair. That’s one emotion I haven’t learned to deal with very well. Anger. I tend to want it to go away and then it returns with a vengeance. Maybe in the form of a dead baby at 36 weeks or just after birth. There was another one, a FB post about a woman who lost her baby to SIDS a few weeks after birth and then her husband to a heart attack a few months after. That should be illegal in the universal law, that amount of loss.

When Andrey leaves we don’t feel happy and bonded. We fight about the table in the baby room. Whether it needs to stay or go and who gets to decide. I end up in the bathtub in tears imagining calling Andrey after the baby is born. Andrey help. Come over. I am drowning. This after telling her that my depression has long since shown it’s face. 5, maybe 6 years, it’s been I think. And then all of it, the reminder of its svelt dark shape shifting with elegance, returns. I can get up out of the tub. Being in there to begin with is self care, I remind myself. I shut the bedroom door and turn on a horoscope video and fall asleep. May will be a month of retrograde so I will be able to except nothing of myself for the first month of her life. Just to chill and reflect and be with her quietly. For now I’m OK with that.

Story for Dave

Here’s something I didn’t tell you. When I was getting tea at bittersweet the other day there was this guy at the counter and he was saying to his friend: what should I do? So I said: about life? And he said, well I was asking my friend but if you have any ideas. Like for a job.

Well, I said and I looked at his glasses and thought maybe he’s a writer and then I closed my eyes. Something in a quiet space, I said. And something to do with paper. And something where you have some interaction with people but not too much. Maybe like, in a gallery, although I think I meant a studio. And then he said huh. Cause I’m a sculpture and I make work out of paper.

See you already knew! I said. Well it looked like you were seeing things, he said. Only what you were telling me, I said. I could have gone on. About how I had moved out of New York and how that had given me a whole life that I have only now started to appreciate.   Instead I said thanks for letting my practice my intuitive skills and walked out feeling delighted with my success.

Swimming

Yesterday I went to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center for a prenatal swim class. We used these floaty devices strapped onto our bellies to keep our heavy bodies buoyant. Instead of swimming we did the equivalent of running in water which meant that we used our cupped hands to move ourselves across the pool.

As soon as I entered the pool I felt great right away. The sun was shining and the pool was just the right temperature and it felt so good to be immediately relieved of all the weight of motherhood that I wasn’t exactly ready to feel. Some of that is in my body: the belly, the expanding hips, the thighs that now touch, and some of that is in my mind: the books I haven’t written, the ones I haven’t read, the lives I haven’t lived, all much heavier than the two pounds that is my newly growing girl.

We gabbed in the pool, the other first time moms and me, mostly about sweets. How many brownies should we eat per day, if any, and how on earth are we to drink the amount of water that we need to drink to stay hydrated? The chores of feeding ourselves somewhat relieved by a husband who made a salad or a boyfriend who looked the other way as another ice cream cone went down the shoot.