Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stirring Up the Muck

At different points in my life, the loss of my mom feels glaringly obvious.  It’s like major moments in my life—high school graduation, shows in college, college graduation, moving to Chicago, getting married, going to Israel—seem to stir up the muck on the bottom of my heart.  Because in these moments, I can’t share them with my mom.  If you've lost someone you love that much, or someone who's had such a big part in making you who you are, you can understand. This pregnancy is another one of those times. I can’t tell her the news, or ask her for help, or input, or find out how her labor or pregnancy was with me.  For the most part, this hasn’t haunted me as much as I expected.  And maybe it will.  But lately I’ve had a nagging feeling that the mucky dull pain is starting to get stirred up a little.

My mom lost her own mom early and she used to tell me how much she missed her.  One time she told me her mom's name was Dorothy.  I started laughing, "HaHa!! Like the Wizard of Oz?!?" I bursted out.  But she surprised me with her seriousness and said it wasn't nice to make fun of her mother's name.  Once she began to cry and when I asked her what was wrong she said she missed her mother.  I was only a child- maybe 7 or 8 and didn’t know what to do.  It’s a weird thing to see grownups cry—especially someone as tough as my mom.  Speechless, scared, I just crawled across her bed and hugged her while she cried.  Maybe she found comfort in that.  I hope so, but now that I know how deep the pain goes, sometimes the comfort can't ever reach it.  I remember when I realized that everyone dies, and that she would die someday and I cried and hugged her tight and told her I didn't want her to die.  I don't remember how the conversation went, but I know the fear lingered with me as a child.

When she died I felt surprised at first how much everyone can let you down, no exceptions.  I started to think there were only two beings I could depend on-- myself and God.  Then I realized I let myself down all the time.  So that just leaves the one Being.  But I also started to feel really strong.  Like I could handle anything in the world and nothing could hurt me as bad as I'd already been hurt.  Boys? Fights with girlfriends? Public humiliation? Bring it on. And that was somehow comforting.  Then as my relationship with Danny grew and as this baby begins to grow, that comfort has slowly been slipping away, because I know that the price of loving them this much and so deeply means I could hurt like that again.

But aside from the fear of losing them, there is this fear that I may leave the little one behind the same way I felt left, and my mom felt left.  What if it's a weird cycle that will continue through the generations? This unfortunate dead mom virus.  What if it happens before she even knows me? What if I miss her high school graduation? Or her college shows? Or her wedding?  

I dragged myself to church last week, and of course, the pastors talked about losing their moms.  And it stirred up the muck.  But it also gave me a focal point.  The two readings were from Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3.  Of course I have a love/hate relationship with the bible.  But I loved it this day--because it had this great parallel.  In Numbers, Moses and the Israelites were wandering around trying to get Home and the Israelites were doing their usual thing-- complaining about the food and the scenery, which I can totally relate to.  And then it got worse when poisonous snakes started biting them and killing them.  Moses hangs up this bronze snake and tells them they dont need to be afraid of death if they look at the snake.  Basically, Moses was like, 'Hey, God said to keep your eyes on this snake and you won't die'.  In the John 3 passage Jesus was still trying to get people to not be afraid of death.  So he basically said, 'Keep your eyes on me'.

I know I'm not supposed to be afraid, but it's still a fight to keep it at bay.  The comfort and strength I once felt knowing nothing could hurt me as bad as my mom's death is being replaced with something new-- faith, hope and a delight in the mystery of not knowing what's in store.  I know that even if/when I make it to see my grandchildren, there will be plenty of pain before then--fights with my daughter, or seeing her hurt, or having to tell her that the world has really ugly parts- like poverty, hunger, hate.  I dont know what's going to happen exactly, when I will die, or when the people I love the most will go, one of which is the size of an eggplant.  I'm just trying to keep my eyes on the same Being that has gotten me this far, the same one that got my mom as far as she did, which wasn't far enough, but still pretty good because it got me here.  And the eggplant.  Instead of fear, I aim to believe in the best, but also trust that God will be with me even in the worst.

And eventually the muck will slowly settle back down to the bottom, like an ugly snowglobe.  Only to be stirred up later on at an unexpected moment.  But I've noticed it's stirred up less often as the days go by, and takes less time to settle again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Weirdo Pregnant Dreams

So I'm about 6 months late, and have missed recording some real gems, but thought I should start a log of some of the weirdo pregnancy dreams I've been having.

I dreamt Julie Jo and I were driving on ice.  She was upset because she'd just driven this same path with her husband but he'd been reckless and the car had slipped on the ice.  But as we were driving I realized we were driving on a frozen lake and asked her if we should be doing that.  As she began to assure me we were fine the car started filling up with ice water.  I calmly rolled down my window and swam out and she followed me.  When we swam out of the icy lake we found ourselves in the woods.  We spotted a park ranger and started telling him what happened.  But suddenly it was very funny and we were acting like Eddie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous.  He was really angry, though, that we'd polluted the lake by sinking a car into it.

Last night I dreamt I was at an outdoor John Mayer concert.  It was at this seaworld type park with different  ocean creatures.  One tank had sting rays, piranhas and some other types of fish that could potentially hurt you.  A brave person- I dont remember who- stripped their shirt off and dove in heroically as if proving themselves by swimming with the dangerous fish.  Someone cried out, "But there are Penelopes in there!" (Penelope is the girls name we like, and in this case used as if it were a dangerous species of fish).
Meanwhile, John Mayer was playing this really long guitar solo.  When he was done only a couple people clapped.  I tried to shout 'Woohoo!' but it just came out unenthusiastic and sounded hollow because it was so quiet.  He looked down and sighed.  Into the microphone he said, "I'm so embarssed".

I dreamt the movie My Girl with Macaulay Culkin had a different ending.  In the end Vada finds out that her friend Thomas had been dead all along.  Kind of like sixth sense.  She'd been hanging out with a ghost!

I dreamt I was at the hospital in labor!  But I was really bored.  It was like the contractions were taking forever.  The hospital was a shopping mall and a cafateria.  I was browsing some clothing racks, yawning.  And then at the deli they were serving these giant sandwiches on fluffy chala bread.  yummm

I had another dream I was in labor.  This time, when everyone found out they all brought me bagels.  But when I looked at the calendar I realized i was way too early so I stopped.

Nightmare: I dreamt I was in my old house where I grew up in my parent's room.  My mom was there and I was holding the baby. I was rocking her and everything was great until the baby actually spoke. Her eyes got wide and she was looking at something or someone behind me and shouted 'NO!' as if she was fighting something off.  Then she went limp.  My mom said I should call an ambulance.  The baby wasn't breathing.  I was talking to the 911 dispatch and screaming for them to hurry.  I was trying to do CPR on the baby. And I woke up.

Last night I was on a crowded school bus.  We were all piling on to escape a zombie attack.  I had a video game gun that I was using to shoot the zombies trying to get on.  But the bus was filling up like rush hour bus to work in Chicago.  The bus driver was calling, "Move to the back!" as if it were an ordinary day going to work.  People were filling the aisles, standing.  I could see one person up front who was sick.  I think they were going to change into a zombie.  The bus started to quickly pull away and ran over a couple zombies as it left.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Give Myself Away

I Give Myself Away
On Sunday I got dressed and went to catch the bus to church.  The cold was attacking me, but I’d timed the bus so I could walk to the stop right in time to only wait a couple minutes.  Except the bus must have been ahead of schedule because when I got to the corner across the street from the stop it was a green light and I saw the bus barreling down toward me.  As a pregnant woman I probably should not have run out in the middle of the street waving my bus pass to get the bus to stop. But I did. Especially since my efforts were wasted and the bus just blew past me, not even slowing down.  I think I actually growled and checked the bus tracker on my phone.  Another ten minutes! Maybe I should just go home, I thought. I pictured myself going home, putting my glorious maternity sweatpants back on, getting under a blanket with Danny, eating lasagna and making fun of an awful movie on TV.  (When I’d left there was an assortment to choose from: a stalker Lifetime movie, National Treasure starring Nicholas Cage, even a movie about the Rock as a nanny!).  But maybe there was something important I could get from church today.  And plus in February I’d missed three weeks in a row, to just do that exact thing.  So I slowly walked down a few blocks to kill time, and waited in the cold for the bus.
When I got to church, they’d already started service.  Trying my best to be invisible, I slunk in a row toward the back. And the choir got up and sang this song (really, you should listen to it):
And I was just so grateful that I’d put off the comfort of my pajamas for just a few hours so I could be there in that place at that time. 
“I give myself away. Take my heart, take my life… all my dreams, all my plans, I place them in your hands…my life is not my own, to you I belong. I give myself, I give myself to you.”
Because I’m giving myself over physically right now to house this little baby.  And I’m giving away my fears and doubts (although it’s a daily struggle) to have faith that this pregnancy and delivery and life as a mom are only partially up to me.  The rest is up to the Spirit of Truth and Love and Comfort.  By giving up my fears and doubts, I'm able to allow myself to be used as a vessel to co-create this new life.
It was just a beautiful moment.  I guess you had to be there, in my pregnant woman brain.   
The best part was the baby loved the song.  She kept kicking and maybe dancing.  Although the dance was probably like Elaine’s dancing from Seinfeld.  It was still awesome.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Quiet Down or I'm Calling the Cops

As baby P gets bigger, her kicks and punches are starting to get bigger too.  I used to feel an occasional huge tap, as if something inside me were trying to get out. Most of the time there would be a couple big ones and the rest would be kind of toned down.  Often- and perhaps this is not a coincidence- it's paired with heartburn which gives me the odd feeling that I've swallowed a baby.  But now the big taps are getting more and more frequent.  And she's starting to have favorite times for practicing her karate.  Lately it's every 2-3 hours, but almost always around 2 am.
Two nights ago I woke up wrestling with my new maternity body pillow.  It's this massive weird shaped pillow that curves around my head, and then between my knees for support.  Only instead of supportive, it's kind of out of control.  I'm returning it to Amazon today and getting something more toned down.  Maybe just a rectangular shape...But in the middle of my wrestling I felt a huge commotion in my belly.  It felt impossible that just one baby could be making all that racket.  It felt like she'd invited the neighbors over.  And one of the neighbors was a drummer.  Maybe she was building bunk beds (Stepbrothers movie reference) or maybe her Irish blood was compelling her to practice a jig.  But without looking at the clock I figured, 'It must be 2 am.'  and when I turned my head I saw in the dark the red numbers 2:00 am.  On the dot!  
The karate doesn't hurt.  And because I'm at a stage where there is still room, she's only managed to kick my bladder once.  I actually really like it right now.  At this stage when she wakes up every two hours it doesn't require any diaper changing or even for me to have to open my eyes.  (Other than to look at the clock and confirm her punctuality).
So I kicked my maternity pillow out of bed and let baby P off with just a warning-- time for your friends to go home, I don't want to have to have to call in a disturbance, this is usually a very peaceful neighborhood.