Week 28

I’m becoming nocturnal again. I first remember it from when I was twelve and thirteen; my bed with my lamp in my room while the whole city quieted. When I turned off the lamp the night felt the same as hot baths do to me now.

This is not insomnia. Insomnia is fatigue and being denied the rest to relieve it. I don’t even want to think about the grating restlessness of insomnia. I’ve had enough nights of it and right now I have my lamps and my energy and this tapping of the keyboard.

I just finished reading this piece from a recent New Yorker called “Lottery Tickets: Grieving for a Husband” by Elizabeth Alexander. I loved it. I sped through it and now have it turned to the front page because I have to read it again. The husband dies, as the title tells, and I recognize in her words how I would have to mourn B. if forced to it, but the other part is the children…their two sons and how the four of them lived together. I can’t bear to linger on the basic truth that was also in the piece, that in fact I could lose B. at any time, but I can take in the feeling of the house she described and how they were in love and raising children together and it makes me see how B. and I are beginning something like that, and it made all of this feel romantic. All of this meaning being pregnant, making a baby, birthing a baby, raising it even–what an act of love this all is.

I know enough to know that this massive change is much more than just an ending.

Last night was session one of birthing class. I felt like I was in eighth grade health again, watching a video with my eyes bugging out of my head and laughing really loudly at inappropriate times. Yes, that happened last night. I was the only one to laugh even though it was hilarious. Whatever it was. I can’t remember. At one point I almost lost it the way I did sitting in the back row of a Bar Mitzvah with A. because the cantor’s lip curled up like Elvis’s. Last night also like the eighth grade in that I immediately began trying to figure out who was cool, who was not, who I wanted to align myself with, and how much snack was the right amount to eat.

We ended class with a movie. I cannot get away from the image of the baby’s head shining and dark between the lips of this woman’s vagina. It popped out and then just stayed there; the shoulders still inside of her and she’s breathing and moaning and they tell her to touch the head and she does and then a few seconds later she pushes and in a slippery rush there is a baby born and she says, “It doesn’t look like a baby,” which I thought was really endearing actually, and made me like this woman from the 1980’s birthing class video. But yeah, first there was the head, black hair plastered to its scalp, and it was just there between her splayed legs, round and impossible, an impossible shape and size, impossible that her body grew that, and pushed it from within her uterus through her cervix through her pelvic bone through her vagina and out. Completely impossible and yet one hundred percent real and finally the disconnect of the last two weeks lifted. I get it, or for now I do. I am going to do that. This is actually going to happen, an actual head of an actual baby is going to emerge from my own body.

My midwife uses the image of a hot air balloon a lot. It’s the shape of my uterus and as the baby is growing the air has been blowing into it, lifting it and inflating it. This also the reason why the pressure on my lower back eased as I got more pregnant–the balloon rose as it inflated up and away from my sacrum. So after class last night, the image shifted and instead of my uterus alone being the hot air balloon, now I myself am it, fully inflated and tied down to the grass with ropes. And seeing that, I saw next a giant pair of scissors come and cut one of the ropes. The one severed is the one that holds me to my work, to the kids and their thoughts and their plans, to our school.

Last night I saw that head in the video and the image made no sense to me; vaginas don’t look like that, nor should baby’s heads come from there, and yet it did, they do, and mine will.

That’s the work I have to begin to attend to now.

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