Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Dark night


Winter solstice. We are on a train pulling out of St. Louis, on our way to Arkansas and what I suppose is now just my father’s house. Last time we came this way, my face went rigid with crying: the bridge into the city meant my mother was now dead west of the Mississippi, too. Tonight, I wondered in a disconnected way whether the side supports of the bridge would catch us if our train began to roll over towards the water.

I still cry every day, but not all of the time anymore. (The Bean has gotten too good for his age at knowing that he needs to stop and come hug me when it starts.) I’m better when I’ve had enough sleep, when it is light out, when I have had a few days without a great deal of leaving the house and interacting with the world. There is magical thinking, sometimes of the if only I had/of only I can variety (if I am just the most perfect mother, the most gracious child), sometimes of the darker, if only I hadn’t sort (why didn’t I see what hubris it was,  thinking I could have another child and still keep my mother?).  The world feels too permeable.

Sugar’s grandmother (who lived with her parents, with whom we lived when were first, secretly together) died not quite two weeks ago. I think. Dates are one of the things I am bad at now.

You are all advised that the remainder of our friends and family are under a strict “no dying” order. The Bean asks me if his Mommy is going to die, too.

In other news, my body carries on being pregnant. Which beats the alternative, even I can see.

I am as big now at 32 – sorry, 33 – weeks as I was at 38 with the Bean.  No one at the ob’s has said boo about that, possibly because they are glad I’m eating.

I finally did the week of blood sugar monitoring (as a substitute for the glucola test that so wrecked me last time, and I am very grateful I didn’t agree to try again, as it would have been the day – THE day, if you follow me – and those phone calls were horrible enough without being in a state of total neurological collapse). It was fine, and so were the numbers. Good thing, since an electron microscope could not detect something as small as my interest in making “lifestyle changes” at this juncture. Just survival. That seems hard enough. (In truth, I don’t think my body is doing such a bang-up job of handling sugar at the moment, but I have already adjusted my diet by not eating things that make me feel bad.)

The u/s people day everything is fine with Jackalope, who is purported to be in the 85th percentile for weight. I sincerely hope this is one of those times when the famous margin of error of u/s estimates is in play; a small baby was hard enough for me to get out.

I remain in deep denial about this birth business. Sometimes I think it doesn’t matter, since I’ll probably die in the process. I know this sounds like pure depression, but it feels more like being too aware of that permeability I mentioned above.  Births feel like that; I certainly remember marveling at how thin the barrier seemed when The Bean was born, not because I was thinking about death but because it seemed so unfathomable that a new person had crossed the other way, into our world.

I did break up with the therapist. I’m sure that seems crazy, but the only time I saw her After, she managed to make me feel worse. I have no energy right now for excess exposure to the world. Even the extra subway ride those appointments entailed was draining. I did sign up for some kind of phone counseling program for depressed pregnant people my insurance company suggested. Also for the postpartum version.

I am very worried about the prospect of postpartum depression. I’m not sure whether I had it last time, because I had so many physical problems that contributed to feeling awful, plus that whole birth trauma thing. I was determined to fix all that this time, but it seems the universe has pulled the rug out from under my feet. I am trying to build a list of ideas beyond SSRIs and eating my placenta, neither of which appeals to me.

In better birth news, I am now very glad we decided to hire College Friend to be our doula, rather than someone unknown with more experience. Not having to meet a new person right now is priceless. (CF now has been to several births, also, so she has at least some experience.) I seem to have some kind of profound social exhaustion, to the point of not even managing responses to emails and so on from kind friends. I hope they understand.

It does seem increasingly likely that this baby really will be born. After a week of suddenly increased discomfort and difficulty walking, I remembered about how they drop into the pelvis towards the end. I think that’s happened. The u/s pictures have gotten that squashed quality they do at the end, when there isn’t space anymore for floating.

So here is one from last month, instead, of Jackalope apparently laughing at us, shortly after sticking out its tongue. I hope this is a jolly baby. For its sake as well as ours.


12 thoughts on “Dark night

  1. All my love. West and East of the Mississsippi. North and South of the Mason Dixon.

  2. I’m so sorry. This sounds mostly awful. I’m glad that Jackalope is giving you a reason for smiles though.
    Wish I could give you a hug, and Sugar an extra one for her grandmother. Thinking of you.

  3. Oh, I am so sorry for all this. You’re in my thoughts. And heart. Hugs from the internet.

  4. I’m so glad you wrote. I know this sounds ridiculous, considering, but you are really handling this magnificently. You really only have three jobs: feel your feelings, love your family, and try to remember to eat, and you are doing all of those things. Wishing you fortitude and the ability to stay in the moment through the holidays. So much love from our family to yours.

  5. Hugs. So many hugs. I know it must be the last thing you want to do right now, but I am so so so glad you wrote. I think about you all the time. I hope you can survive the holidays, and bless that darling Bean.

  6. I think of you often–glad you are doing better, even if not great. There’s no good way to not think those thoughts about birth–I am so hopeful that this is an easy birth, and one that heals you in some ways, or at least is unexciting and doesn’t add to what you’re going through. And I hope that is a jolly baby, too, and one who brings you all joy.

  7. I add to the wishes that you should have an extremely boring birth (like with Tatoe : … and then a few hours later he was born, red and shrieking, the end.)

    On the subject of The Land of Depression – I’m so sorry. I hope that things slowly change for the better. And, if eventually not, there are some good drugs now (as I’m sure you know) that are *not* SSRIs and that have less-irritating side effects (in general).

  8. 😦 I am so very sad for you. I am, however, full of hope for you for a great birth and a gorgeous, giggling baby. I think the universe will be kind to you and send you one who sleeps and laughs lots. And if his/her cuteness and intelligence mirrors the Bean’s then you should do fine. I hope that you continue to work your way through the darkness. I think the return of the sunshine will help. Do you have a SAD light? We have two and couldn’t survive winter without them. Email me your mailing address (mama and mummy at gmail) and I’ll ship a small one to you post haste. I know you’re short on space like we are. It fits on our kitchen table and is used daily by all three of us. (Please don’t hesitate– I’d really love to do it. Though it does mean sending an email. 🙂 Much love and sunshine to you. xo.

  9. Hugs, Bionic and Sugar. This has been a long dark winter for you already. I’m hoping for an early and magnificent spring.

  10. Hey lady. I’m grateful you’re getting in some breaks from the crying. I think I’ve entered the anger phase of my watching you grieve, because it seems so incredibly fucking BULLSHIT right now that this is happening. It’s NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS. I wish it were otherwise, so deeply.

    In case you don’t die during childbirth, here’s a suggestion that may sound cavalier, but is absolutely not meant to: Assume you WILL get hit with PPD rather than worrying about whether. Rather than messing about with a hospital bag, put together your PPD survival plan. Who will step in so you can take time for yourself, some time with just Sugar, some time with just the Bean, where you will go to create some pathetic facsimile of SUNLIGHT (nearest conservatory!, friend with SAD lamp!), car service so you can be ferried about like a princess, whatever, obviously I am making shit up here, and asking you to think of things that would make you “happy”, when that’s like asking someone with hypothermia to imagine being warm, and a lot of this assumes you have endless financial resources… I guess I’m just thinking that if you can set up as much as possible beforehand operating under the assumption that you will need it, well, that’s better than not having it if you do. Did I make you cry again because my suggestion is so totally shitty? I’m sorry, it was made with love.

  11. Given the circumstances, wishing you a traditional happy new year seems inappropriate, but nonetheless I DO hope that the new year brings you more happiness than grief.

  12. I’m so behind. But I’m just hugging you. For everything. All of the hugs are for you.

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