I am experimenting with putting my usual post-script at the top so you see it. Is this tacky? Sound off in the comments. Jk but I do enjoy reading comments and replies to these emails.
Like NPR, this newsletter is free but donations help. You can leave me a cash tip here or become a patron through Patreon. My lowest patron tier is $3 which is cheaper than a movie, a pack of cigarettes, or many ATM fees!
Do you subscribe to Burnt Toast? I was so excited to talk to Virginia Sole-Smith a few weeks back about feeding kids and Instagram kid food accounts and my ~journey raising a selective eater. All I know is that once I unfollowed Kids Eat in Color, I enjoyed a mental lightness!!!
Twitter / Instagram if you must
Last week, I was attempting to work from home, both kids underfoot with a RSV (it’s raging this year), and I started to feel a non-descript crumminess that worried me. I felt lethargic, had no appetite, and every ten minutes or so I’d feel pressure in my pelvis. There is a whole fetus in there, who is likely starting to resent the tight swaddle of muscle it is swiftly outgrowing, but I couldn’t remember if this is what an early contraction felt like. There was a non-descript crumminess that kicked off my labor with Desi, but did it feel like this? I can’t remember anything, especially not things that happened six years ago. Do you think if I remembered what labor felt like that I would do it again on purpose?
People have asked if this pregnancy has gone faster than the others and the answer is yes, absolutely. I went to nearly 41 weeks with my eldest, in August in an apartment without air conditioning. I came home from work and instead of punching my card for my mom shift, I just….idk ate little pinches of cold, pre-shredded cheese over the sink until I had an idea about dinner?? Or maybe Nick and I walked somewhere and got dinner out, why wouldn’t we? Cutie pie child-free urban dwellers that we were. I was not busy then, which was by choice. Now my days evaporate before I can even grab hold of them, make sense of them, like trying to catch a soap bubble.
My brother’s pet hamster, Spookums, prepared for his own death by digging himself a shallow grave in the cedar shavings in his cave, hiding himself from view. If you looked closely, you could differentiate the orange and white fur pressed against the glass from the strata of rank, amber-colored cedar above and below him like a dessert trifle. His death was not a surprise to any of us kids; he had exceeded the typical hamster lifespan by years and looked like Nicodemus from the Secret of NIMH. But I wondered how he knew it was happening. Or if he knew at all.
I am anticipating giving birth and the end of pregnancy and the way you know it is going to end is that….a doctor tells you when it will happen, within a few weeks, based on average human gestation. It still feels impossible to reckon with, that it will really happen, even when you have worried holes in your brain thinking about it for months. I don’t know why in my brain stem it feels more likely that I am going to die rather than continue to live but also have a new, high-needs roommate.
But I still feel like I am preparing for a death. People die in childbirth, maternal mortality is shamefully high in this country, but I do not think I am likely to die in childbirth. Yet I’m still moving my nudes to different folder in my phone than my camera roll. Looking around my filthy minivan and seeing it as it would appear to a family member who has come to help Nick deal with the aftermath of my passing. Double-checking that Nick is named as the beneficiary on my work life insurance policy. Texting something warm and loving to anyone I’m close with so that their last message from me isn’t some bitchy snipe about someone we used to know.
I feel myself burrowing into the piss-acrid cedar shavings, wanting to be removed from public sight until it’s over and I can be the person who will care for all three of my children and live out the rest of my days, which I am hoping will be many. Is it nesting what I’m doing here?
It wasn’t labor last week; probably I was just tired and dehydrated. The fear that it was labor gave me the panicked motivation to see some freelance projects through to the next step and bother to create a memo re: my absence for my day job. Nick installed the infant seat in the car and I sent a manic info dump email to the friends who have agreed to care for our kids while we’re at the hospital. Maybe this sense of near-accomplishment will communicate to my cervix that it’s safe to unclench. I went into labor with Jane hours after Nick emailed the final post-defense edits to his dissertation.
I’ve thought about this baby for a long time; for the first time after my son was born and I knew I could never do it again, then again when my daughter was born and I felt grief that she was the last baby, then the neurotic years I spent fixated on whether more babies would ruin my life, then when I let go of the idea of having more because it was imprudent, chaotic, and because my husband and I didn’t agree on it anyway, and why have more when the two you have are so delicious. And finally the nights after the surprise positive pregnancy test when I lay awake speculating how badly had we fucked up here, exactly. And now, every day as I attempt to accept that what will become one of my main obsessions of life is yet unknown to me, unnamed, waiting to join the nest, any day now…