running out of time
November 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
Christopher, Lily and I went to the lake on Saturday morning. It was a sudden departure because we realized we’d have to return early on Sunday morning. The quick turn-around heightened my sense of urgency–we are running out of time! Running out of time to get our winter boots and coats; running out of time to organize our things so the baby can go back to Connecticut at Christmas; running out of time to go to the dock once or twice more before these lives end and new lives begin. We are running out of time to be as we have been for all these years. But of course, I want nothing more than the crusade of labor to begin.
Little one, I can’t wait to know you! I can’t wait to see your face, hear you breathe, watch you sleep. I can’t wait to find out if you are a boy or a girl–and I’m so proud of us for living with the mystery, challenging as it has been. One benefit is that we have not projected a thing on you: I don’t imagine you with pigtails or toy trucks. You are a clean, blank slate, free of my imposing (if well meaning) expectations. Gender is so wrapped up in those things. By the time I start imagining your life, you’ll already be living it.
But at the same time, I am scared out of my mind. I am scared out of my mind. I started to cry on Saturday night in that heaving, breathless way because I realized suddenly: parenthood is so selfish. What if life is not what you wanted? What if you are sick or painfully shy or not made for the structures and systems we have? Even if you pop out a robust, extroverted, over-achiever, with all the qualities our culture glorifies, you will be unhappy in spells. Sometimes long spells. And I will be at the root of your pain, having decided one day, “I want to have a baby.”
I snuck into Lily’s bed late at night because I couldn’t sleep and was having emotional hiccoughs–my chest kept having little chokes and spasms, even when I thought I was calm again. She was still awake and I told her what I was feeling. “But it fought for that, Isabel,” she said, “It fought so hard.” And I guess that’s true. One little gamete, then two little gametes, fighting to be alive. All we did was set them in motion. And here you are now, a thumping and spirited beach-ball in my middle, ready to fight your way out. And I will be fighting with you.