Bionic Mamas

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

Without A Floor


I used to have these dreams that Sugar had rented us some apartment she thought was The Greatest Thing, only when I would finally see it, too late to object, it would have some obvious, horrible flaw.  (Sugar, for the record, is offended by the very existence of these dreams, and I’m sure would want me to note here that she has never made such unilateral decisions in our relationship, which is true.  SO FAR.)  The apartment I remember best from this series was in Chicago, in our beloved old neighborhood of Rogers Park.  It was a few blocks north of where we actually lived, comparably close to the lake, but, she assured me, so much bigger and better than our real apartment.  For one thing, it was on the fifth or sixth floor of a strange, faux-Tudor former hotel, which meant it had a real lake view, not just the stripe we could make out from our back porch in the winter, when the trees in the park had no leaves.  And that was true; it was a hell of a view.  Of course, what made the view truly striking was that the apartment in question lacked a front wall.

In my dream, Sugar thought my objections to the apartment were pretty unreasonable.  Okay, okay, so there’s no wall.  Fine, that’s a drawback.  But everything else is perfect!  Why focus on that one problem?

Missing a front wall, I tried to tell her, is a pretty big problem, first of all.  But it also isn’t one problem.  The loss of a wall is really the loss of countless other things.  The ability to walk around naked, for one thing, particularly during the winter.  The ability to stumble to the bathroom in the dark.  To maintain the stacks of papers that constitute much of my interior decorating sense.  Clumsy pets aren’t likely to last long, and forget about getting a roomba.
These days, I feel like I live in that apartment.  Except maybe instead of a wall, it’s missing a floor.  You can get around in some of the rooms by inching along the baseboards, but it’s not like having a real floor.  And no floor means no to a whole host of little things, some of which you knew you liked (slippers, train sets, furniture) and some you didn’t think about so consciously.

This slightly tortured metaphor is brought to you by my realization that I no longer have someone to call about all the little things.  Or the big things, like how fucking awful Christmas was.  There might be a (passworded) post about the latter eventually, but right now I am choosing to cope with several key aspects of the awful by just ignoring the living daylights out of them.  Meanwhile, in service of not being That Girl on FB, here is some pregnancy minutia.  (Really enjoying this pregnancy would require a floor, but not marking it at all makes me sad, too.  Spoiler: a lot of things make me sad these days.)

(I started this post a week ago, at 35 weeks and change, but even though I am done with paid work for a while, the Bean keeps me busy.  That, and the sadness.  I knew yesterday I should post this, because I was so lonely and you are good company, but  yesterday was one of those can’t stop crying days.  So here it is, 36 weeks and change.)

This is what I look like now (and this is what the Bean’s room looked like, in surprisingly little time yesterday morning):


36 w

I like how I look — it’s a little pathetic that I can really only say that when I am pregnant — but I do feel rather huge.  I wish I’d taken measurements last time, so I could know whether my impression that I am larger now than ever is true.  Not pictured: enormous, extremely dark nipples, huge roadmaps of blue veins, creeping all the way to my shoulders.  No linea nigra this time, and if I have new stretch marks, they are kindly hidden from view on the lower hemisphere of my personal globe.  My navel remains steadfastly an innie, as it did for the duration last time, too.  My leg hair has become oddly sparse, as if pregnancy is turning me into an old man.

I certainly do weigh more than ever, though the OBs continue to say nothing on that front.  Wise, that.  I gained a great deal over Christmas, including enough fluid that only my snow boots really fit well, but it was only after our appointment that I put together that said weight gain was why the OB asked to see my swollen ankles for herself and then remarked, upon ascertaining that I didn’t have pitting edema, that my blood pressure is fine.  Smooth, Dr. Braces.  I like you a lot more than I thought I would.

There are six OBs in this practice, and we have now met all but one.  We meet her tomorrow.  I have in mind to write you a post worth of character sketches, so for now I’ll just say that none has elicited a red flag from Sugar, whose opinion on these things I trust over my own.  I will be glad to be done giving the “are you an incompetent sociopath” speech after this next one, though, I tell you what.

By all major measures, Jackalope and I seem to be healthy.  I’ll go in for the last growth scan at the fancy u/s center today and, thanks to a recent birthday of mine, start having weekly biophysical profiles at the OBs’ next week.  So far, so good, they all say.

On a day-to-day, in-my-body level, I don’t feel so great.  Part of why I am getting lonely is that I feel quite trapped, not just in my apartment but more or less on the couch.  Every time I make the slightest exertion, it seems, I am rewarded with strange, very long contractions.  (Plus shortness of breath and general crampiness.)  For example, doing the dishes requires three sessions with rest breaks, and I’m generally still pretty uncomfortable by evening, to the point where going to bed is trying.  These are not, I don’t think, technically Braxton-Hicks.  They aren’t much like real contractions at all, because each one lasts so very, very long.  My belly stays rock-hard to the touch for twenty minutes at a time, then does it again.  It can take hours to stop, at which point Jackalope goes bananas for a while.  Like the Bean, this one seems possessed of an inordinate delight in stabbing my cervix (though I am grateful to have uninjured ribs this time).

I mentioned this phenomenon to both sets of doctors when it first started happening, months ago.  Dr. Southern, my beloved high-risk guy at the fancy u/s place, said the only real difference between real contractions and BH ones was whether the cervix changed length, and mine hadn’t.  The OB at the regular practice said contractions don’t last twenty minutes.  As it had only happened once at that point, I let it go, but I suppose I will mention it again this week.  I suspect the response will be something to the effect of I’ve made it this far, the baby would be fine if born now, drink even more water.

Meanwhile, I am starting to have the kinds of back and leg pain that remind me far, far too much of labor.  (Of course, the reason it took me so long to realize I was in labor last time is that I had had pains like that for weeks.)  I’m totally ending up with back labor again, aren’t I?  Shit.  Well, one of my jobs for this week is to write a formal birth plan for tomorrow’s OB appointment; the version I write for me, Sugar, and the doula (meaning, the version that includes more out-of-hospital stuff) is definitely going to include going to the hospital really early this time, even if it means being sent to walk around the atrium.  I would really, really like to avoid a repeat of the cab ride from hell.  It also includes getting an epidural as soon as possible, because fuck that noise.  I dilated faster with the epidural than without last time.  Meanwhile, the last two OBs have said they think the epidural should not be turned down for pushing this time, so that’s reassuring.

Dr. Braces (who I will make a nicer name for, I promise — but the advent of her braces is part of what has endeared her to me) also says, however, that I should more or less plan on getting PPD.  Which I agree is sensible.  At a minimum, she’s asked that I have at the ready the name of a psychiatrist who takes my insurance and will take me as a new patient.  (I have solicited advice on that front from the neighborhood parenting listserv — the big one, Brooklyn folks — and got three names, several names who don’t take insurance, a reminder that paying money I don’t have for someone who doesn’t take insurance is somehow an “investment” in myself/my family, and a suggestion that I eat my placenta.  Mixed bag.)  Meanwhile, I have completed the intake for a telephone CBT counseling thing my insurance pays for.  We’ll see, but at least I don’t have to leave the house or find childcare beyond Netflix for that.

In other preparation news, we are in the our-apartment-is-ransacked stage of reorganizing to attempt to cram another person in here.  Poor Sugar has to do all the real work, because, well, see above on me and bending down, let alone lifting anything.  We made the pilgrimage to IKEA, which is an interesting thing to do in my delicate condition.  Even with a long break in the restaurant, walking the sales floor left me physically miserable and rather self-pitying.  By the time we began gathering furniture from the actual warehouse shelves, the Bean was screeching about how only Sugar could push the cart he was riding in, leaving me the choice of wrestling with the heavy furniture cart or being rejected at high volume — and let me just say what a perk it is of a two-mom family that being rejected for not being “Mommy” means you garner all the “who is that woman” stares from people who naturally never imagine you  might be “Mama,” as opposed to a stranger who did not, say, carry, birth, and breastfeed this child.  And yes, I felt pretty woe-is-gravid-me-in-particular.  And then I looked around.  Easily a third of the adults in that part of the store were also visibly pregnant.  Oh.  Guess I’m not the only special snowflake, after all.  (Which is not to say every non-pregnant person in IKEA is having a terrifically easy time getting around, just for the record.  But even among my own class of the temporarily hobbled, I mean to say, I was not all that special in this instance.)

At any rate, the good news is that the Bean is extremely pleased with his new bed, even though circumstances conspired to make it impossible for us to take the universal advice that you change the beds so far in advance of the interloper’s arrival that the older child, assumed here to be a bit dull, doesn’t make the connection.  That is, he seems pleased to us.  You decide:

project big bed

New bed

As for said advent, well, the calendar says I have a few weeks, but I have my doubts.  The Bean came at 38 weeks, you’ll recall.  I’m really hoping this one will hold out a bit longer, as I do think we would have had an easier time with breastfeeding with a slightly more cooked newborn, and because the weekend of 38 weeks is the weakest link in our childcare plans for the Bean.  Who has already had one major crying incident over the prospect of Mommy leaving him to be with me, leading me to secretly have one of my own on the complementary topic.

Meanwhile, it’s nearly time for the “quiet time” timer to ring and for me to limp off to Manhattan with this unnapped toddler.  I haven’t had time to look over this, so here’s hoping it’s somewhat coherent.  I can tell in my fingers that it’s cheerier than I feel, but at least it’s not quite as much of a lie facade as I feel my other online personae have become.  Another post for another time: on the fast pace of social media and its poor fit with grief.  Or why cover pictures should have a black bunting option.

12 thoughts on “Without A Floor

  1. No advice or anything. Just thinking about you.

    And you look fantastic. But so very sad. I want to reach through the computer and give you a hug.

  2. Gwinne is right, you do look fantastic. As for Bean, that is pure joy distilled in a tiny body. 🙂
    You’re sailing troubled waters, it seems. You have two anchors to help you not get drowned or washed over. Soon there will be three. Get that trained help to well, help you not lose sight of that. And stay afloat. No one can tell you that everything will be alright, no one can, but there are high chances that you make it on the other side intact, and this should be a goal in itself. Don’t lose yourself. But you can lose your heart again, for a third time. That is perfectly allowed. 🙂

  3. Oh Bionic, I am so glad to hear from you, and so sad to see you look so sad (although so beautiful at the same time). And the Bean. Bless the Bean. What outpourings of joy.

    I can’t believe Jackalope will be here so soon. I hope you can do whatever is needed to look after yourself and the little one. You will get through this- I really believe that.

  4. So good to hear from you and your post here and your comment there have me all reconsidering my decision now. I do so love to write, read, and comment on good, smart, reflective, narrative writing.

    Ditto to the above. Physically you look awesome. Emotionally you look like hell. I also wish I could drop by Brooklyn for an in-person hug. I can’t imagine the weight of all that you are carrying, both physically and emotionally, right now. I agree that identifying the right doc now, should you need meds post-delivery, is a good idea because once One is down at the bottom of the well, one of the hardest parts can be even locating the right Help and so if you do that work now, it will be all that much easier later. If necessary. Your postpartum fate is not preordained. Perhaps a more positive birth experience (and easier nursing relationship) will be healing? I can hope for all that…seems the universe owes you at least that much of a karmic break.

    Take care of yourself and that magnificently adorable boy. (Who, I’ll admit, I was selfishly relieved to see is still in a diaper. I imagine we will be done with diapers sometime in the next 1-15 years 🙂

  5. Dear sweet Bionic, it is good to hear from you. You look beautiful, even in your sadness. I wish that I could help somehow. I’m glad that your doctors seem non-sociopathic, that you are looking for a good brain doctor, just in case, and that the Bean continues to be adorable. My heart breaks for everything that you are going through right now. Take care of yourself.

  6. how did i not know you were *this* pregnant. jean, you are gorgeous, glorious, radiant. xxx

  7. Oh bionic, how do you manage to stay so funny, despite everything that is going on! I am sending a cozy hug from another family beginning to cope with parental loss with the arrival of a new one. It’s hard , hard hard. And the winter darkness and cold-cooped-up-ness makes it more so! Sending love!

  8. I can’t imagine winter, pregnant, and grieving all together at once. I’m so sorry you’re having to live it–though glad the pregnancy part will be over soon and you’ll get a shot at least towards feeling better physically. We have also not yet followed the advice on toddler beds, though if E looks anything like the Bean when she gets hers, I will have wished that we did it sooner, for sure.

  9. As the others said, you’re so beautiful and so sad.
    I’m glad to hear the “external” news is mostly good. And that the bean is such a bundle of joy – well, by now he must be something bigger than a bundle. Anyway. Thinking of you much.

  10. Zowie. The floorless metaphor gave me a pit-and-pendulum-esque thrill of horror, so it makes me very sad to imagine you living it, day after day. There’s a lot in this post…certainly the Bean’s pure joy is quite a contrast to your graveness. I’m so sorry about all things, little and big. It’s clear that Shit Be Hard, physically and spiritually, with not much end in sight, so I’ll just continue to hope that you are surrounded by enough love and good care that you can get by.

  11. I put my arms all the way round you and hug.

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