The Quickening

Towards the end of June, 2018 6:30 am

The sun is streaming thru the window, splashing across the wall behind my bed, casting squares of lace. I tossed and turned last night and peeled off my leggings and flung my t- shirt and woke up naked, shivering. The fatigue aches but still I can’t sleep. A knot in my stomach seems to flutter and pulse. My period? My thoughts spiral away in the dark to that alternate option, the impossible. But what if? I lay my hands over the curved spot of my lower abdomen and ponder the fact that all my jeans are too tight. No. It can’t be. I’m sure today I’ll find blood on my underwear around lunch time, and I’ll swallow my food knowing it’s only feeding me. My mind can’t help but flip and flop back between the 2 options. What…if…No…But what if…NO.

No of course I’m not going to be pregnant. That would be crazy. That would mean it was a miracle, and you can’t refuse a miracle. Yet I am not prepared to accept one either. I start thinking about a housing lottery, about how my salary hovers at the poverty line here in this town of billionaires.

It feels like a period is about to come. I can normalize my emotions, release the fantasy option that I love and dread at once. I think about my friend Kate for some reason. Her sweet, simple little life in a small town, with a husband and a little yellow house and two boys. Clothesline and baseball in the backyard. I wonder why I couldn’t have just been happy with something like that, but no…I have wandered. Perhaps I really did conjure this. I said I wanted it, I wished for it to happen, I prayed in the mosque that day in the desert a month ago. A wave of nausea, that pit in my stomach, all reminders.

Yesterday the sky was an eerie shade, almost a pale green but tinted with burnished bronze. Patina sky. Wildfires in the distance like a bad omen. I have strange dreams I can’t recall. I feel ill and sleepy each time I awake. Great Aunt Sallys crocheted blanket hangs across the chair by my window and I think about her and Uncle John, living in their beautiful little retirement village in Santa Barbara, and I wonder if I’ll ever be taken care of that way.

When I tell Michael he puts his face to my belly and weeps, he tells me he wishes he could take the pain for me. He goes to the store and buys Tylenol and motion sickness wristbands. He assures me he loves me, that he’s here for us. Yet still, I weep constantly.

It’s as if this pregnancy stirred the sediment in my loins that had settled – years of sadness and disappointment and failure with sex and relationships. The silt of having accepted I may never be a mother. As it began to churn I felt I was balancing precariously at the edge of an abyss whose depths contained my own rage and wounding, my broken heart, all the ways it was never going to happen. It threatened to pull me in, and I confess I spent most of the first five months mesmerized by its darkness, unable to tear myself away from its edges.

I cried. I stayed in bed. I called in sick. I hid. I couldn’t eat. I tried reassuring the baby that I wasn’t sad he’s here, that I was just…sad. But it was hard to believe my own wavering reassurances. “This is what you’ve always wanted. This is what you’ve been waiting for. You manifested this. This is your destiny.” These personal mantras fell on my own deaf ears, and I remained paralyzed in a state of distress. Until.

At 23 weeks, I felt it. A little thump on the inside, just one at first, followed by three more in rapid succession. It brought me back to the small steady voice inside my head that has always known, and has constantly reassured me from my heart of hearts, I will be a mama someday. The tiny flutters of the baby boy I’ve always longed to hold tugged on the last part of me that kept me from falling in. As the flutters grew in strength and frequency, my happiness grew. As my belly swelled, so did my love for the life inside of me. The less I could see of my feet, the more secure I felt on the path I’d chosen, or the path that had chosen me. There are still quavering moments of self doubt and insecurity, but the closer I get to my approaching due date the more confidence I feel.

Four years ago today, I got my surgery. And it took that long, didn’t it, to get to this place? But I made it. I’m doing it. And I feel triumphant. Never give up on your wildest dreams, and when they find you, never forget that you deserve them.