This is me, how I look today, right now. I’m a day shy of 32 weeks pregnant. I’ve gained 30 lbs. (that I know of) and TEN of that was in the last month. Yesterday I felt like the biggest boat in the stream, but it goes off and on.
I wasn’t sure I was ever going to post again, but I spent a good long time reading and looking and blog posts this morning (My new favorite: “Like Mother Like Daughter”) and felt nostalgic. Also, I’ve finally finished the baby’s room and have almost everything I need (cloth diapers are en route) so I can finally sit back and focus on something other than baby. Well, between the times his little feet are sliding across the inside of my belly – it’s endlessly fascinating.
I was remembering how last year at this time I was painting and cleaning this apartment while listening to “The Vampire Lestat” and stealing smoke breaks out our bedroom window from the “birthday pack.” Both the weather and the story were perfect for an indulgence in the existential melancholy which always visits me in the Fall. It’s usually at its peak on days like we’ve had this week when the weather is balmy, but the trees are almost bare and the position and weakness of the sun say winter is on its way. It’s like a perpetual twilight. It makes me think of being in Lothlorien in the winter.
Anyway…these pictures aren’t that great. Add that to the list of things I don’t really care about anymore. It’s amazing how long that list has gotten in the last 6 months or so. I thought I cared about so many things. This nursery being one of them. True, I have spent SOME time getting it ready. Some of that was pure vanity, I’ll admit. Some of it was thriftiness: even my mediocre sewing skills will suffice in lieu of buying pre-made curtains. Free hutch from the side of the road? Yes please. Some of it, like the Hold Fast poster (inspired by Master and Commander/a sermon of Fr. Stewart’s), were just to celebrate our new life as a threesome. And for me to look at while I am breathing through contractions in this very room.
For some reason, that simple phrase – which was repeated through the movie and tattoed on one character’s knuckles, and is also in the Bible verse about a man leaving his family and clinging to his wife – has stayed with me and become a mantra for me. I thought this time while I am preparing to become a mother would be this blissful little romp of finding cute baby clothes and decorating a nursery. I thought I’d have endless fodder for a blog and that I’d take pictures of every little project I had in the works. I thought that just choosing the right “venue” for me for the birth would take care of all the fears I had and that I would just come to the day and be ready to have a baby. I also thought, somehow, that being pregnant would wrap me in this little cocoon of safety where none of the stresses of life could bother me. I thought the happiness of my impending heart’s desire (I’ve wanted a baby for as long as I can remember) would make everything else unhappy just go away and that it would be me and Henry and the baby forever.
Do I even need to say it? I know the moms who are reading this are with me right now.
What all has happened since I got pregnant? Hmm…well, I decided to go off Lexapro a bit into my second trimester. At first things were okay. I then thought, why not try starting a network marketing business on top of my jewelry business and the babysitting I’m doing for my best friend’s son? Around the second week of September, when I was with Henry on his Ohio college fair tour and purposely took a break from the businesses, I realized how miserable I had made my daily existence and how constantly anxious I really was from the lack of anxiety that week. It still took a lot to admit I’d made a bad choice. I went back to my therapist whom I hadn’t seen in months and cried about how I’m so disappointed in myself. Not my life, not my circumstances, but the fact that I just keep blundering at life. I keep taking on this stuff I think I can do and then I get overwhelmed and I all I want to do is lie in bed all day and then I have to quit things. She said, very calmly, that it didn’t sound like I wasn’t a hard worker but that maybe I just didn’t have a lot of discrimination when it comes to making choices for my personality and level of social anxiety. So I quit the business, for all intents and purposes.
And I said to God:” now what? Remember all that stuff about me being a bird and not a spider?” What does that mean? I don’t think it means what I thought it meant. I went back on Lexapro, had some huge crying jags, and then started to contemplate with Henry what calling really means. He is doing a job search for real all this time. In the last week he has ruled out or been ruled out of his two top choices and is back to square one. That on top of taking care of me while I had the stomach flu (a first for our relationship and he was AMAZING) has made this week a low one. We’ve gone in the last month or two from seriously considering moving to either Madison or somewhere in the Southwestern border region of the country to saying yet again, “now what?”
You might not think it, but preparing for motherhood can be really hard work. For one, all these months I’ve realized increasingly how needy I am. Not in a bad way…not like a college boyfriend leveling judgments at you kind of way, but a way which brooks no opposition. I just need. I need from my husband, my mother, my sister, my friends…and I had a long (it felt long) journey of learning how to ask and learning (hopefully) that ultimately I have nowhere else to go but to Jesus. I have NOT felt cocooned by pregnancy – if there is anyone out there who does, enjoy it – I have felt so much more raw and vulnerable than I ever thought possible. And the opinions! I have learned that my safe places are my safe places but that these do NOT include public forums like Facebook. And that people you haven’t said hi to in 15 years want to give helpful advice about child-rearing. I never knew you could feel like a bad mother before you are even finished gestating. I have had many many nights where I am convinced that I have ALREADY ruined my son’s life.
As I write this, I think the big message is maybe that I will have to lay things down over and over and over again. I don’t know that there’s an area of life or self that hasn’t been touched on and brought into sharper focus through pregnancy during this time. Each one of them has been something I’ve had to relinquish an illusion of control over. My body, my sanity, my community, my freedom, my sense of self, my sense of security, my family life…the list goes on and on. So…I guess that’s why I say I don’t care that much anymore about my photography skills.
Oh! My jewelry is this moment being featured in a boutique in Naperville “Wayfarer Candle.” I’ll be there all month and possibly longer. It was a lovely little unexpected gift.
Just some cute baby clothes to brighten the day.