January 4, 2012 by Leah
It’s a new year. Aaron, Sprocket (that would be the baby), and I survived a trip to Anchorage and four of five Christmas celebrations. (The trip was actually great, though I wish we’d had another week in which to relax.) Duke survived his time at the pet resort aka “camp,” although we discovered he is not a fan of daycare. He ignores all the other dogs and barks at the gate like he wants to leave, apparently. (That’s exactly what he did the first time he went to a dog park, too.)
We’re talking about adopting another dog, in an effort to give Duke a little more company and entertainment. I feel guilty for not entertaining him 24/7, even though he now has a yard to run around in (thanks, Aaron!) and gets a walk or jog and some playtime from one or the other of us every day. If we could find a dog he likes as much as he liked his erstwhile housemate, Bella the Yorkie, I think Duke’s life would be much improved. Or, as Aaron says: “Tramp needs a Lady.” Plus, it makes sense to me to get him used to sharing attention well before the baby arrives. Surprisingly, instead of laughing at us, the overwhelming majority of dog owners with whom we’ve discussed this plan have highly recommended it. So, we’re keeping tabs on the local shelter website and plan to visit when we get back from our fifth and final Christmas celebration, which will be the week after next.
Sprocket is just about “half-baked,” to quote my friend Katharine. (I, of course, am not baked and have not been in years. But particularly would not be at this juncture. Anyway.) I spent last fall trying to convince people to hold off on getting overly excited about baby stuff, promising I would get going with things “after the holidays.” I think this may have been a mistake.
It is now after the holidays. We have boxes full of baby stuff, both new and hand-me-down, from interested friends and relatives. I’m finally reading Birthing From Within, as assigned by my maternity care provider. (I took a long break from reading birth and baby books and have been working very diligently to stay off all the baby websites.) I look pregnant (although no one at work is officially aware of my condition) and can feel Sprocket wriggling around in there – occasionally. I’m also feeling unreasonably stressed and alone.
I don’t know if this is due to normal post-holiday letdown, or to seeing so many friends who have recently become parents in person and then leaving them behind, or if it’s just a normal part of pregnancy. I think I was more excited (we’ll call it the “holy cow!” factor) during the first trimester. I’m not a glowing bundle of second-trimester-nesting-energy like I was hoping to be. In fact, I’m a panicky “what the hell were we thinking?!” sort of bundle. Deciding whether to buy a dresser or closet organizer for baby’s things and how to repurpose our bedroom, study, and living area into a baby-friendly environment is so totally overwhelming at this point that the process just shuts me down completely.
I’ve had a couple of bad dreams recently, too, that really unsettled me. The first was about being in the hospital – I was strapped to a bed and not allowed to drink or visit the bathroom and I knew I’d given birth but they wouldn’t bring me my baby. I’ve been hospitalized a few times in my life, so I can honestly say I’m not projecting based on other people’s birth stories here – I’m remembering the lack of autonomy, lack of privacy, how out of my mind I was on drugs at points, and the way my body just wouldn’t work. People say it doesn’t matter what you go through because once you have that baby, everything changes and you no longer care about anything else. I really don’t like hearing this. I don’t want to become a mindless milk machine or lose myself as I become a mother. I want people to acknowledge that, yes, we’re having a baby, but we’re also becoming parents. I know this happens to hundreds of thousands of people the world over on a daily basis, but that doesn’t diminish how important or special or freaking terrifying this time is for our little family.
The book I’ve been reading talks a bit about how worrying during pregnancy can actually be a good thing, and I think in my case that’s true. My vague depression and bad dreams have led me to take some action. We’re going in for the 20-week appointment next week, at which time I’m planning to set up a tour of the hospital birth center (which, fingers crossed, I’m hoping to find very different from the emergency surgery and intensive care areas of hospitals). I’m also planning on asking about local doulas, but if there really aren’t any, as the internet intimates, I’ll go farther afield and hire someone from the Tri-Cities if need be. Starting the doula-matching process should be a good way for me to work through some of this sudden and unexpected hospital anxiety.
Finally, in an effort to combat the loneliness part of the problem, I ordered a swimsuit. (I mean, I have some swimsuits, but this one is a maternity swimsuit and therefore nothing will be spilling out obscenely.) This is the catalyst I need to actually join the local Y and sign up for their mother-to-be water classes in hopes of meeting some people. I am fairly certain everyone in the classes will be skinny, 23, and already the mother of small children and that I will therefore have nothing in common with any of them, but at least I can make the effort. On the phone to my mom last night, as she was suggesting taking a hospital birth class for the same get-to-know-some-people purpose, I found myself wailing, “But what if I hate everyone?!” She pointed out that I don’t need to go out and make best friends, but that there has to be a subset of the population here who are pregnant and within my general age range and that peers are nothing to sneeze at. So, we might do that, too. And I will probably rent The Business of Being Born again to try to get Aaron interested in all this. If that fails, at least he is a capable cleaner, organizer, and dog parent and can keep the house in shape and the canine happy while I wallow in malaise and escape into prehistorical novels.