Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The H.M.S. Me

As I enter into my third trimester of pregnancy, I have become aware that I and the baby are simply passengers aboard the ship that is my body. The vessel that carries us both is a lurching, sloshing thing, inducing seasickness in the both of us. The ship leaks in mysterious places. We are prone to days of little movement, and then tossed about on days of great activity. The ship isn't really big enough for two people. As the baby gets bigger, the quarters are more cramped and less comfortable. Sometimes it's hard to breathe.

I can hold my baby and protect it inside this ship for three more months, and then I've got no choice but to let it out.

My dreams are brilliant and vivid every night. Sometimes they are nightmares, and I wake up the husband to be comforted. The good dreams are random, or about breastfeeding, or sleeping close with the baby and my husband. My nightmares involve miscarriages, filthy houses, and (once or twice) being forced to move back to Murfreesboro.

This week my youngest sister, Abby, is in town with me. We've both got the week off and plan to visit family and start setting up the nursery for the baby's arrival. While the baby will sleep upstairs with me for the first six months or so, we've still got to put together its room so there will be a place for all the stuff people are giving us. Little hats and booties and toys are already floating our way. It's nice.

Because I have waited to have my baby, I can afford a nice crib that will convert to a toddler bed. Because I have waited to have a baby, carrying it is more difficult. There are plusses and minuses to everything. I know the financial ease with which I am giving birth arouses envy in some of my family and friends. And to them I should say: we are two people aboard this ship. I've been to the emergency room once. I have vomited until all the blood vessles in my face burst to the surface. Hyperemesis Gravidarum. When I talk to you and say I'm feeling better, a lot of the time I'm lying. Although; it's not a big lie. I feel better now than I did three months ago. But I am still sick. I am less sick than I was and I am used to the constant queasiness now and I have learned to manage the illness better. You can have your children young with ease on your body, or older with ease on your wallet. At 29, I have tried to find that balance point between age and money. So it is only a little difficult both ways.

The week I will call about making a will. This week I will call about getting the fireplace cleaned. This week the house will get cleaned in a way that will chase away the nightmares. This week, inside my storm-tossed ship, I will not be ill, but well. I will be careful. You should come and see all the progress.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The king-size bed

The king-size bed

I woke up this morning profoundly wishing that when I go into labor, I could give birth at home in my own bed.

The bed that the husband and I share is a big king-size four-poster darkly finished beast of a thing. I didn't want a king-size bed at first, but he talked me into it; I have always slept on very small beds myself, and only went up to queen-size a few years ago when someone tipped me off that queens have an extra few inches at the bottom. When you're six feet tall, those extra inches matter, and I was having trouble getting sheets for my extra-long twin. But sleeping in the queen-size bed alone was a total chore. I always felt very vulnerable there unless someone else was with me. The queen-size bed, when slept by a person alone, seemed to represent a vast stretch of matress that haunted me at night with its vacancy. The extra room only emphasized my aloneness.

When the husband moved in for good, I was thrilled to be in the queen bed with him, but at times he found it too small. I warned him about how it would feel when I left, and as soon as I went on my first business trip, he called the next day and told me: "You were right. This bed is huge without another person."

Still, the husband pressed for the king-size when we moved and it was time for a new bed. I gave in with the stipulation that I expected a baby to be in that bed with us. He agreed, and now the baby will be here about the time of the new bed's first anniversary. I hate to admit how much I love the new bed. It's the nicest piece of furniture I've ever slept on. The husband also talked me into a pillow-topped mattress, and I like our bed so much that on occassion I have cut adventures a little short just so I can get back to my own bed for the night.

The bed upstairs in our converted warehouse isn't just comfortable on a physical level. The new bed is the place where I have felt the most loved in my whole life. It's not just the sex, or the cuddling, or the security that the bed represents. It's so many other things that have happened in the past few months. Since I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis, the husband has brought me a little breakfast in bed every morning to help settle my stomach. He does this without asking. He's not a cook, but he can manage the microwave and a little oatmeal, or toaster waffles, or a piece of last night's pie warmed over. And so every morning now when I wake in a wave of nausea, there's something there to help me, and often my husband as well, eating breakfast beside me.

Before I was pregnant I was always first to rise and woke easily and quickly. I would wash up before getting my breakfast and eat in front of the computer. Now it takes me longer to fight my way out of sleep, and I'm always a little afraid of vomiting again. The breakfasts in bed were prompted by a series of mornings where I heaved stomach acid into the shower. The husband left me alone, but I know the sounds had to be a bit terrifying. Afterwards, I would crawl back into bed shivvering and exhausted again. I'm past that now, luckily. I'm six months pregnant now and the Hyperemesis has gradually faded into just a little morning queasyness. But it'll be a while before I'm a morning person again; for now, the husband wakes me with food, and I roll the blankets around him as I wake, often seeking his foot or hand for a little skin to skin contact before he leaves for work each morning. His attention every morning means more to me than anything anyone's ever given to me or expressed. I have never felt more loved than I do every morning now when I wake up in the king-size bed.

So I wish I could have our baby in this bed too. It's against the law here in Georgia to have a baby at home, but of course, the law in this case means nothing; only that I would have a difficult, but not impossible, time finding a good midwife. I like and trust the midwives at Emory who will deliver me at Crawford-Long, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that the hospital experience causes me some anxiety. The bed where I wake every morning seems safe and reassuring, and the hospital foriegn and strange. The husband finds the idea of the hospital comforting, because he trusts the machines and the degrees and the antiseptic smells. I trust our bed more than all those things.

Even when I am alone in the new bed, it never feels too large; the empty spaces on the mattress seem like promises instead of vacancies. The empty stretches of bed are merely waiting places for the new pink bodies my husband and I can create.