there is a frenzy in the air. people are rushing about, consumptively preparing for the holidays like they were storing nuts for winter. it is catching and it is adding to my already crazed and nervous state. i can feel the tension in my muscles. i am filled to overflowing with semi-conscious anxiety. i am twitching and i am fiddling. i am terrified of the improbable. my faith in my immunity to random bad things happening to me has been greatly diminished by the random bad things that have happened to me. i do not feel safe. i feel vulnerable, made so by the circumstances in the weather, by the political climate in this country, by the fact that bad shit happens to people more innocent than i every day all over the world. the hole that is new orleans makes me see the post-industrial wasteland that is this town where i live as potential fodder for some unintended apocalyptic consequences of a government overrun with greed. the near-empty streets in the early morning hours, snow falling in the darkness, are like visions of horror movies where dark men creep unexpectedly and zombies emerge silently from shadows. these are the irrational ramblings of someone half-crazy, and i am struggling against the impossibilities of my brain, those synapses have been so altered and the chemicals are mixing in weird ways. i feel not-myself, as though some thing has put a blockade inside my mind, making things twist and turn, making me foggy and confused. and yet there are new insights which feel like sudden lightbulbs sprung up, lightning flashed and abruptly illuminating the previously unseen, causing it to feel airy with obviousness. i am in constant confusion and my emotions are short-circuited so that rage erupts from nothingness and i go from calmly doing the mundane task before me to gnashing my teeth and snarling wildly in an instant. i am intoxicated by my hormones as they are all coming out in stupid, uneven amounts like the chemist who resides in my brain were clumsily spilling things all over, sloshing progesterone this way and that, noradrenaline careening over the edges of glass beakers, melatonin splashed on the floor and walls... i cannot put thoughts together in coherent sentences and then in an instant, i can. i feel muddled and groggy, yet on edge, flinching and itching, like there is something out to get me, some instant karma lurking just around the corner, ready to grab me and drain my life of all the good in it. but if i am sitting here, anxious and wondering of what is next, of what is yet to come, how can there be any good at all in my life? how can i let the happiness at all inoculate me against my madness when i cannot even sense the light pressing in on my darkness or when i am in constant expectation for it all to close off? how do i find me again amongst all this clutter of brain-damaged mumblings, the imagined corpses of my future selves sprawled out before me?


i am trying to be okay. i am attempting, in my own way, to overcome the challenges of my current hormonal makeup. in the anxiety of my thoughts, stillness does not arrive, but must be talked out, worked out, pulled out. i am trying to find a way through all this to that, from the question to be crazy to the answer to maintain. i don't know if i can do it. my body has dwindled to a sliver of what it should be and completely unintentionally at that. i am just moving through my life, every day a question on my lips, in my mind. i try to plan it, try to complete the mundane tasks of my domestic existence, try to do the dumb things i gotta do. and in all that i am not certain that there are answers for my son and his behavior or for me and mine. perhaps they are a mirror of each other, though i've sensed that before and denied it then too. maybe it just is what it is and we will live through this as we've lived through everything else - the surgeries and the accident and the continual upheaval dealt us by our destination. when we've finished transitioning from one thing to the next we may find ourselves built for transition though, and all the struggle will be but what we know and how we understand our life. maybe i will yet be able to do all the things i want to do and maybe yet i will not hate myself while trying. maybe we can accept this and be who we aspire to be even while everything is churned about, my chemicals raging, his urges immutable and somehow all this insanity will be the symphony of our days and will make sense and will not feel like such palpable craziness. maybe it will really be all right. maybe i am worrying about how i am the cause of all destruction around me for nothing, because maybe i'm not.


in the darkness of my days, i am all alone. it is just me. i do the caretaking. i pick up, i fold and i wash, i feed and i clothe. i make the lists. i plan the days. i think the thoughts and i do the dance. i do the communicating and i do the caring. i want nothing more than to be saved. it is what i have always wanted. someone merely to care enough to dig me out, to give me the love i need for myself to grow unweary and to rise. i just want someone else to come for once, to uncover me, take the initiative. i don't want to plan the plans. i don't want to be always and forever in my head, listless, bored, miserable. it is the hardest part - the solitude of my discontent. i open my phone and scan the contacts list for someone to call. there is no one close enough to my heart for me to step out of myself and make the leap. i cannot reach out of my darkness to find the words to say all that is wrong. it is too much. the words are too heavy on my tongue, the weight too heavy on my heart. tonight i am wandering around my house literally in the dark. i am lonely and i cannot think of what move to make. i am weeping constantly. i feel so lost. i feel so incapable of making any move towards the light. my body is cold. i can't identify all the parts well enough to say even what is so terrible. the desperation i feel is so palpable and yet so inarticulatable. how even to form my lips, to make sound pass through? the drafts in the house whistle in the silence. what do i do? which way do i go? my thoughts are full of all the horrible ways to move through this. to leave, to pack my bags, to chew gaping holes in my wrists, to merely sink to the floor and wait to be taken away. am i insane? the rational is there, in the background making comments now and then, but i keep burying her again. i am waiting to be loved. i am waiting, perhaps have been for a very long time, for someone to come and nurture me. i am the mother awaiting mothering. i feel so vulnerable and like such a child. tears streak my cheeks. i am stained by sorrow. and yet this is the same person who is supposed to appear on national television next week. is it some cry for attention? a truck fell on me! recognize me! tell me the world would be emptier without me! i am so stupid sometimes. i feel so utterly ridiculous.
the words i read reinforce the resentment i feel reinforces the misery that overpowers me. there are so many moments lately where i am falling deeply towards the choice to be crazy, i am beyond control, i have nothing, am nothing, want to do nothing. i think to take my kids and go, but i don't want to. i just want to disappear, sink, starve. and really all i want is to feel whole. i want to feel more than running on cycles of the trivial. i want to be committed to something beyond my small scope, beyond this viewpoint, this perspective, this history, this culture. i thought growing up that i would somehow live to see and help create some sort of utopia and now i am so resigned to the fact that things cannot get better than they are. i don't want to be like this. i don't want to feel so lost, so hopeless. the arguments that arise in my house feel so empty - "no, you can't have chocolate," "please pee in the potty, not on the floor," "don't lick/spit/hit me." what is the meaning? where is the fulfillment? i once felt so committed to motherhood. i am committed to motherhood. i know that, somewhere in here there is the sensation that this is a calling, but sometimes i think that really i just am too lazy and too defeated to attempt anything else. best to just forget about it and do what i am biologically destined for. i don't know how to reconcile the two sides of it - i am a mother, i love being a mother versus i am more than all of that. it seems so simple, but it is so complex. i just want to go away. i just want to get away. i just wish that i could have some sort of recognition that anything i do is at all worth anything. i want to know that i do anything exceptionally. i want to relax. i want to not be so hormonal, so out of control. i don't want to take zoloft. i just want to be happy. it is too familiar to feel this depth of despair. it's too comfortable and so so difficult. i am aching. i am - at a loss for how to move forward.


driving in darkness under bridges, there is a slowing, an easing of my foot upon the accelerator, and a quickening in my chest, the thud of my heart and the agony of my senses widening, drinking in ever more in anticipation. i am fixed with my hands clenched at "ten and two," my eyes open, my mouth secreting bile, my stomach cold. i am waiting. as i round the bend, my eyes turn instinctively heavenward. there is no enormous object, there are no sparks flying. there is only the crushing truth of having been here once before, of having survived my own death. and as i move away, i begin to sob. tears break the levees of my eyes. i have been taken back to the night of my accident and i realize that it was not at all my life that flashed before my eyes, but it was the possibility of my own death being revealed to me. i have been witness to my own end. it is nothing short of terrifying. all my logical conclusions about the preciousness of life, the fragility of it all, the delicate balance that my entire existence rests upon falls so short of the truth of it. the raw, unencumbered reality is that i did die somewhere, in some time and i saw it all in this existence for but a second. i have known my death and my natural reaction is to cling, ever desperately, to my life. there are no deep thoughts regarding my death. there is only the urge to not die.


thoughts on birth. just after i gave birth this last time, i was thinking about what birth is like, what birth feels like (emotionally) and i was wondering why anyone would want to not feel it. when we opt for the epidural, what exactly are we anesthetizing ourselves to? there are people though - lots of people - who anesthetize themselves to the way that they feel all the time. my upstairs neighbor for instance is a whirlwind of different artificial scents. her laundry reeks of petroleum-based cleansers and softeners, she has one of those little air fresheners in her car, and she herself leaves behind the scent of tammy-faye-having-exploded every time she passes through the hallway. and it begs the question - does she ever smell anything that isn't manufactured? why all the nose-blockers? what's the need? must be that the dirty, stinky, musky odor of everyday life is too much. a lot of people in this country don't want to smell, feel or experience anything too raw or real. they want it compartmentalized and pre-packaged - we get our adventure at theme parks, we package up our dead and dying, our food comes pre-processed looking nothing like its origins, our interactions are reduced to 1s and 0s or hi-fi, fiber optic connections - we do very little that's real. to get outside, we "pack up the jet skis and go up to the mountains" - it's all prepackaged, pre-ordained, ordered, compartmentalized. we try very hard to avoid too much reality at all costs. even our "reality" programming on television is devoid of reality. so when mainstream america thinks of having babies, they think of little packaged babies smelling of powder, all clean and all bright, being handed over from the doctor/nurse. that's the money shot of childbirth in all of our entertainment - that moment when the mother is sitting up in bed and is handed her little "bundle of joy", all wrapped and diapered and clean. someone this summer who was newly pregnant wanted to smell my baby, who was all of five weeks old at the time. she said she loved the smell of babies. she came and sniffed his head and wrinkled up her nose, confused. he didn't smell like a baby. i had to explain that we don't use baby powder or disposable diapers and he drinks breastmilk, so instead of smelling like a nursery, he smells like a human. personally, i love his smell. i love breastmilk-breath. i love the smell of his head, his little pheromones. i still sniff my three-year-old's head. they smell like mine. there is a disconnect somewhere between baby and pregnancy/birth in this culture. it's handled, it's manufactured, it's artificial. there's no ritual for getting the mother from here to there, and it's not talked about except in the terms and the language of the hospital. in order to get an experience out of it that is not handled by somebody else, you have to do a whole lotta thinking. you have to navigate it all yourself. that's not right. there need to be rituals for this. our rituals do not suffice. our rituals do not honor the mother or the baby. our rituals if anything, torture mothers and babies. women are not birthing in this country, they are being delivered. just as there is someone who takes away our waste, treats and bottles our water, and freshens our air, there is someone to deliver us to motherhood in the most brutal manner imaginable. who would not want to anesthetize themselves to the interventions thrown at you in the hospital - the strangers, the needles, the electronic beeping of monitors? the whole process requires that we dull our senses because there's no way being delivered feels like the impossible transformation birth really is and deserves to be. when we birth, we are bigger than ourselves. we are the beginning of the universe, the start of time and there is no way that the beginning of the universe is a clean, quiet ordeal. the beginning of the universe is an explosion, it is a swirling mass of cosmos. our hormones, the blood, the poop, the mucous, the grunting, moaning sounds that we make, the gush of fluids, the stretching wide of flesh, bone against bone - it's incredible, raw, messy stuff. i think the beginning of life deserves that. life is like that - it's a spiraling rush of energy in a perpetual forward motion, and damn if we don't constantly make messes of it.


fundamental differences in brain chemistry are at fault for the divide that exists between the perspectives of myself and my son. his testosterone-laden mind is aggressive and spacial where i am more empathetic and verbal. he needs to occupy a large amount of space, spilling each activity out onto the floor after brief encounters. he moves from place to place in the house, pulling costumes out of drawers, dumping blocks from baskets, crayons from boxes, searching out action figures he has hidden in the sofa (complaining loudly in unbearably whiny tones for hours about darth vader gone missing, only to abandon him again in some random locale). he is a sweet boy; a boy's boy. something i understand so little about despite having spent my formative years in a boy-crazed stupor, trying desperately either to attract them or fit in with them, trying to get them to understand and to love me. how self-centered and foolish it all was. it seems fitting payback that i should now be forced into the position of having to try to understand them. how else will i raise them but to uncover them at their roots, to understand what it is that makes boys boys. surely understanding will lend me the perspective necessary to stop from tearing out my hair when all that is necessary to them is chaos to me. surely insight will grant me the patience to wait through refusals to discuss one's feelings, or wall up my sanity against tidal waves of aggression, destruction, sudden outbursts of inarticulatable frustration. how i know love will have to be put aside for how i am able to receive it. one day soon enough my boys will push me away, will want to strike out on their own as men and i will not have the sobbing, screaming, hitting mess of a three year old clinging to my leg. certainly one day this will be but aching nostalgia. this will be what i miss most - the point in their lives when they needed me most. i am terribly saddened to confess that i badly wanted a daughter, that i might experience being needed forever and ever. i know that to say absolutely that i will not get the opportunity at the relationship i desire with my children just because i have boys is most likely a gross over-simplification of the matter, but i think it is highly more likely to be true than the alternative where my boys talk to me in ways that i understand and go on forever needing me to mother them. it is such a shame that i have the knack for empathy my mother never had and still no children to really offer it to in a reciprocal manner. as my sons are only three years and five months respectively, maybe i should lay off the future and deal with the current tugging on my arm.


house of girls, house of boys. having grown up surrounded by my own sex, i am now spending my adult life surrounded by the opposite. the change was slow and unnoticed at first. even now, i only quite realize the full scope of boy surrounding me in my eldest son, the tornado he is, the running, jumping, screaming, death-defying el chupacabra. he is so boy it is unfathomable. he plays with sticks and makes paper into light sabers. in fact, he makes everything into light sabers - food, cups, junk mail, crayons and colored pencils, cloth diapers and cloth wipes, blocks, the stuffed inchworm, silverware, pretty much anything remotely resembling a stick has the potential to become a light saber. i love that there is potential for play in everything around him at the same time i loathe being made to fight another round and of course the disaster left in his wake. but all his aggression is served up with a hearty amount of joy, something i find myself inadvertently trying to squash when the wreckage is just too much for me. there is such a tender side to him too - his need for me, his capacity to love and to snuggle. he is so surprisingly fragile at times, despite his whirlwind nature. he will crumble and cry at things that surprise me, and when i am angry and i am uncontrolled, he says, so sadly, fat tears upon his cheeks, "be nice to me." he is needy as often as he is independent. i want him to be who he is, i want him to be a whole person. i am learning daily how to recognize and appreciate all the parts of him - the flaws and the virtues, his varying capacities and talents, his strengths and weaknesses. it is all such a new journey for me, the everyday of living surrounded by all that is boy and ever realizing the complexities that entails. it is so easy from the other side of the gender pond to write boys off as one thing or another. in truth, there is much that they share in common with girls and much that makes them different. i am on the path of discovery everyday.


in need of a dose of surrender. in all the tiny instances of my daily life where i lose it and yell, where my patience has lost me and my child has inched his way into the cracks in my well being, i then hear my words in his, creeping back to me to tell me how wrong i was, what a sin it is i've committed. lately it has been so tiring. i cannot keep up with my life. i am not doing what i need to be doing. a reminder won't fix it, it's a matter of stress. and i haven't figured what it is i've got to be stressed about. there are the money issues. there was the fury building towards the unsurprising ineptitude of the government. there has been the husband going back to school, feeling incapable himself at fitting all the things he's gotta do in the time he's got to do them. but there's been something else. something i am unable to pinpoint. the coordinates remain a mystery. there has been a struggle between my child and myself - some mounting unease. we feel like my mother and me all those years ago, butting heads. we are just too much alike. and yet we don't see things the same way. we are both so selfish and so stubborn. and it is so hard for me to let go of my own desire to control things. i haven't yet found the secret password into the world of letting go. i thought it was one thing, but it turned out it wasn't. i just don't know where the answers lie. it seems for now i need to put things aside and let life happen a bit to try to not get too upset about it all. i escape daily in harry potter books. at the moment i have a cold and growing worries regardless, and it is too difficult to change our world completely and how i deal with things and how we cope when things are just so difficult right now. and it is hardly the actual. it is all simply the emotional. there is some bad aura in our house just now. something that makes breakfast a fight about brownies and eggs. there is something somewhere causing aleks to be having accidents like crazy and something too making me just totally incapable of dealing. i suppose i need to be taking my supplements again. there is that. but it hardly seems a solution. i have contemplated taking aleks off dairy. but he doesn't seem so crazy as to necessitate such a pain in the ass as that. he seems normal. he seems three. but right now, at this moment, he is more intensely three than usual and i am more unable to effectively allow it to be when it disrupts the natural flow of my life and my routines. i am fumbling over the problems turning each thing this way and that in search of a solution like my life were a rubik's cube, like my life had answers hidden amongst its infinite array of questions. parenting is hard. parenting is not only a challenge to my abilities and my sensibilities, but to my being, and it asks the most fundamental questions constantly about who i am and what i want and what i want to be. all i want is to find the joy in my constant sorrows. i want to sense the reward in my struggle.


eyes wide open drinking the buzz of the television set, the buzz of the computer screen, words screamed in binary, flying over wires to project the terror and the rage of the first world turned third, of the truth of systematic racism turned blatant, of the continued failure of a pathetic administration. i look at my babies and i am terrified of the possibilities. the sight of dehydrated, listless children forgotten in the streets in the chemical wasteland that is now new orleans is burned forever in my brain. i shut my eyes and my ears against it, but the buzz continues on in my head, rolling over and over the most outrageous, the most despicable, the shameful, the atrocious, the undeniable, the unthinkable, the undoable unfolding day by day on my television screen. i am just so......saddened. i am so exhusted by my fury. to the people who are victims, i will think of you. to the people whose reaction was terrible, i will not forget.


every misstep is a precursor to deep-seated, permanent, life-long psychological struggle. and yet, at the moment i am rather amazed and impressed with how well i am doing, at how well i am managing to keep two children alive and fed and my temper from exploding even at some most precarious moments. aleksander's birthday cake was carob sweetened with homegrown honey after all, right? i feel guilt and the inevitable and painful self-scrutiny as well, but it is more general, less localized, less like a knife to the chest than at other times. there is a driving urge to always do better, and i don't suppose that it is a bad thing as long as it is not completely overwhelming. i took a moment recently while mulling over more of alfie kohn's unconditional parenting to realize that really i do alot of the things i aspire to already. i guess i just don't give myself a whole heck of alot of credit. i always have a tendency to want more or want to do more. i must be a glutton for punishment or something. the other day i was realizing how i had managed to pull off so much recently and that i did it well and without too much stress and of course with a little help from my husband and then i started thinking, what else can i add to this? what else can i do? and i stepped outside myself for a second and realized that to add to it would make me a little like the cat in the hat balancing on the ball with two books, a fish, a rake, a cake, a teapot, and waving a fan with my tail - and that while i might be able to do all that and not fall for a bit, adding to it isn't always necessarily a good idea. eventually something will fall. and knowing my luck, it will weigh eight tons and fall from the sky.


the inevitable guilt of being unable to meet the impossible expectations of perfecting motherhood weighs heavily on me. heavier at some times than at others, but always there, a lead on my heart. my heart knows how important it is that i not let my sons watch tv or that they eat the best foods or that i not yell and remain always emotionally responsive to their needs and their feelings. i read books about how i should birth or nurse or discipline (or not); about how i should school or support my own emotional sanity with a well-balanced outlook and my own interests. but i always fall short of the mark. i am forever indebted to perfection, struggling to merely stay afloat, let alone not yell or turn off the television or serve nutritious snacks. i birth at home, breastfeed, cloth diaper, co-sleep, stay at home, don't vaccinate or circumcise, provide creative, open-ended, natural-made toys, eat mostly organic, whole, vegetarian foods, try very hard to be responsive and gently guide rather than discipline punitively...and yet i am still so far from what i envision and i feel always at fault despite lacking a support network or real encouragement in these endeavors. why shouldn't blame fall also on a society that doesn't value children or the work of mothers, a government that allows gross over-marketing to children, and a culture that encourages finding short-cuts to every encounter with pain or discomfort? why don't fathers share in the blame or at least partially shoulder the guilt? why do i have to worry about perchlorate in my milk or even milk in my milk? why is there so much goddamn information yet no clear answers? i am bombarded with data about what is good or right or best that i have to somehow navigate and find a way to feel secure in my decisions despite being alone in this sea of ideas. and i must prop up my own self-confidence with the assuredness i gain when making decisions about what is good and what is best. the only way i've found to really accomplish this is to be self-righteous about it. it's what i encounter in other mothers all the time as well. it is no wonder there are "mommy wars." we all blame ourselves, so why not blame each other? we face an impossible time trying to get society to shoulder the blame or to affect any change in the world. getting the world to unlearn it's preconceptions about the work of mothering may be the biggest challenge yet and may be the first step to changing everything else.


the boy who lived. (way un-edited birth story)

sunday, may 29th, aleks woke up early at 9:30 a.m. we got up and i asked jon, who was asleep, if he wanted to go to katie's wedding in dayton (four hours away) that day. he looked at me like i was crazy with one eye open and said, "no." aleks and i then went about our morning routine. at 11 i asked jon again about going to the wedding, saying if we left at noon, we could make it. he again gave me a crazy look and said "no." so i went to find something else to do. tired of cleaning the house and being that it was already nearly spotless, i thought to sew new cushions for the rocking chair to replace using the pillows from the couch. so i set to work after chatting with a friend online for a bit and of course caring for aleks.

jon crawled out of bed at 3, took a shower and ate some food. i finished the back cushion for the chair and decided to do the seat cushion simpler to hurry up with it. i was out of stuffing, so i just made it big enough to go over a throw pillow and left it unfinished on one side. just as i was doing the last side, i had a contraction that sort of hurt. i'd been having tightening contractions for weeks and had had several that morning and lots the day before, but this one felt almost real. jon left to go to the library and i cleaned up my sewing mess. as i did this, i had two more contractions that felt real and decided that this might be labor. i called jon. he hadn't even made it to the library yet, which is less than a mile away. it was 4:44. i told him that labor might be starting, but to go ahead and do what he was going to do as i had still not seen any bloody show or lost my mucus plug, so i wasn't positive that it was really happening. i even felt a little silly calling after just a few contractions. he said to call our midwife, pam, and my mom (our other midwife, four hours away). i told him i'd call him if i needed him right away.

i paged my mom and when she called back asked her when i should call her about labor because i thought it was starting, but hadn't had any show. she said she'd just get the rose bush that she'd just dug a hole for in the ground and then leave. i said okay, but still felt silly. this was at about 5:00. then i called pam, told her what was happening, and told her we'd call her when we needed her to come. at about 5:15, i called my dad and step-mom to tell them what was going on and had 2 contractions in the five minutes that i talked to them that sorta made it hard to talk. when i got off the phone, i started trying to get everything cleaned up and ready for labor. i put the diapers in the wash, got the video camera case out of the closet, picked up the house and did the dishes. jon came home while i was doing this. i was surprised to see him so early, but it turned out the library was closed and i was glad he'd come then as things started picking up a bit and the contractions were coming regularly, though at somewhat irregular intervals and strengths. jon started to set up the birth pool with the help of aleks. i posted on mothering saying that i thought labor was starting and that it sure hurt like labor. i wasn't having the back pain with contractions the way i did with aleks, but i kept getting on hands and knees and leaning against the birth ball like i did in aleks' labor because i was expecting the back labor. the contractions were like very strong menstrual cramps and i suppose leaning on something was as good a way as any to cope with them. as they filled the tub, i became convinced this was definitely the start of labor and jon called pam back. he asked me if i wanted her to come then, but i was wandering around the house dealing with contractions. she asked him what he wanted her to do. he said it was up to her, she said, "no, it's really up to you." so he told her to come. aleks started to take off his clothes, wanting to get in the pool, but the water was too hot for him. i had called our friend heather to come get aleks several times, but kept getting her voice mail. it was sunday, so i didn't expect her to be at work. scott and sarah, who were our second choice for aleks were in canton for a wedding, so i asked aleks who was arguing with jon about getting in the pool if he wanted to go to riley's house to play. he was really excited about that and i was glad to have him go somewhere so i could have jon's full attention and so i could labor without disruption. i called riley's mom, jenny, and she said aleks was welcome to come over. jon got him dressed again and they left. i busied myself getting ready for real labor in between contractions, which i was starting to have to pay full attention to. they were still like menstrual cramps, but the intensity and pressure on my pubic bone were increasing steadily. i ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and set up the camcorder. jon called me from the car just to keep in contact. i sat leaning over the back of the couch looking out the front window at people going by as i talked to him. after a couple of minutes, i had another contraction and got off the phone. we had timed the contractions a bit while aleks had filled up the pool and they were about 3-4 minutes apart and 45-60 seconds long. they were certainly variable which struck me as funny, considering this perception that we have of labor as a finite thing, as though the body were merely machinery and an uterus should contract at an exact and even pace, like a ticking countdown. i didn't need my water breaking or exactly steady contractions to tell me that this was labor. i didn't know what to do with myself really. i kept getting on all fours during contractions, anticipating back labor that never came. all the pressure was on my pubic bone. pam arrived just before jon got back at around 6:30. i was still talking just fine between contractions and decided to get in the pool. as pam was setting out her equipment, i pointed out the cushions i'd sewn that afternoon. i was rather glad to have that done to have a comfy place to rock the new baby. jon asked where my birth music was. i had been listening to modest mouse earlier, which i thought was funny, but the new album is really good! i told him the cds were in the birth kit (i was so prepared!). he and pam set up the video camera in a better location and i labored in the tub. the contractions were intense and i was now moaning through them, but the breaks in-between were like not being in labor at all. i was surprised at how coherent i was and kept waiting for the lala-land feeling i had with my first labor. as it was, i could think clearly and make observations, even during contractions, though i couldn't quite voice them. i found myself wondering what it was that i thought was so cool about birth and realizing exactly why people choose pain relief for childbirth. if it were available and offered to me, i'd be hard-pressed to turn it down. which is why it is best for me to have my babies at home.

i also found myself worrying yet again about the thought of having two children. of course, none of these ideas were formed articulately by any means. they were more flashes in my mind of "we're going to have two kids - holy shit!" i wasn't exploring what that might be like or anything, i was simply surprised by the clarity i felt - how normal my body even felt in the breaks between contractions. i didn't remember that at all from my first labor. i could also think clearly enough to remind myself what kind of sounds to make and to speculate about how far into labor i was. i could remember some of those mantras i'd read about and repeat to myself "open" or think abut ina may having women "smile their babies out". i thought to remind myself that i was strong enough to do this and that i was in fact doing it. i got out of the tub for a while and labored alone on the toilet, having a bowel movement and still looking for bloody show or mucus plug, but finding none. then back into the tub where the nice breaks between contractions were just enough for me to catch my breath before the next contraction. at one point i announced that not having contractions felt really good. i really started to make a lot of low moaning sounds with them and the intensity of each surge was increasing. i even started to look for a head in my pelvis with my hand and was quite disappointed to find none. i could feel myself pushing though, probably the baby down into the birth canal. each contraction was so intense and there was so much pressure on my pubic bone that i was anxious for the whole thing to be over. i quit caring about having a baby. i wanted to stop. i felt like changing my mind. of course, i knew there was no way out but through, so i kept on, anticipating the final pushing the baby out. at some point i also thought to myself that this baby was going to be a sebastian rather than an eleanor like i had planned all along. i didn't say this out loud, as i most likely couldn't, but i do recall definitely thinking it. i had jon holding the puke bowl for me for ages, thinking i might throw up and not wanting to in the pool, but i never did. pam tried making some recommendations, suggesting that i might find it helpful to be checked for baby's positioning, which i declined, and that i might feel a little better on the toilet or the birth stool. i silently decided to get out of the tub to go to the toilet, since i was having trouble supporting myself in the tub i think because i'm so short, and my arms hanging over the sides started to wear on me. i waited through a few contractions before standing and making this decision known. i wasn't really communicating at all any more, though i was still impressed by how clear my thoughts were. mostly i was just catching my breath between contractions. i wasn't really observing my environment any longer, but it wasn't the deep in-my-body mindlessness that i recall from my first labor.

after a contraction, i stood up and pam and jon helped me out of the pool and into the bathroom. i leaned on jon while sitting on the toilet, just as i had during transition with aleks. jon heard something fall into the toilet and asked if it was my water breaking. i reached down between my legs and we looked into the toilet and i said, "no, it was poop," which gave him a bit of a laugh. the pressure on my pubic bone was incredible. i was waiting for my water to break at any second, and i was still looking for bits of bloody mucus. i knew that i could have the baby without any show, but i didn't expect that to actually happen. even as i was waiting for my water to break, thinking that the bag itself was causing a lot of the pressure i felt, i was also scared of it breaking since i'd read about the bag cushioning the head and i wasn't quite ready for anything more intense than what i already felt, though i was anxious to get the whole thing over with. i could feel my uterus pushing the baby lower and i consciously helped it along, pushing with the stronger contractions. i knew this pushing wasn't the "real" pushing, but i was hoping to move things along any way i could.

pam again asked me if i wanted to be checked, saying that i might find it useful to know and that sometimes there can be a lip of cervix holding things back, which i knew. i didn't really want to go through the discomfort of being checked, but thought that it might be far enough along that it wouldn't hurt so much. i decided, though i don't think i was able to say it out loud, that i would consent to being checked and that i'd lay down on the bed in order to do it. i got up from the bathroom. maybe i said "okay" or something. i got to the hallway when another contraction started. i bent my knees, then dropped to the ground on my knees, torso up, legs out behind me. i was really vocalizing. screaming some, moaning, making guttural noises with my teeth partially clenched (though i kept thinking of smiling my baby out, i couldn't quite smile). pam got a chux pad under me as i said i was pooping on the floor! when it was over, i crawled into the bedroom and got up on the bed. at first i laid down on my back, which was NOT going to work, so i rolled to my side with my legs spread wide, which was NOT going to work either, the pressure was too much and i made a comment indicating as much as another contraction was hitting all the while and i rolled to my hands and knees, screaming again, still tremendously uncomfortable. as the contraction waned, i spit out the words "birth stool" and pam went to fetch it. i got on the stool at 8:58. they slid chux pads underneath me to catch the poop that was still falling (though there was still no bloody show or mucus). pushing was happening more now. jon got a flashlight and pam said that my water would probably break with another good push. a couple of contractions came and went with me pushing but not wanting to overdo it as the pressure was beyond intense. they could see the bag of waters bulging now and at 9:05 it exploded all over the floor and down jon's legs. he slipped his meconium-soaked socks off and i announced the meconium in the water, though it wasn't thick and i wasn't worried. pam threw some more chux down to soak up the fluid and the head started to come. pam told me to reach down to get the head. she was trying to help me catch myself, but i told her she had to since i was supporting my weight with my arms firmly gripping the handles on the birth stool. she was rapidly getting sterile gloves on, and then she reached up and grabbed a big glob of bloody mucus and presented it to me. i grabbed it and then wiped it on my leg to get it out of the way. i felt the ring of fire and thought to myself, "ring of fire!!!" i thought of the recent mdc thread and remembered pamamidwife's words about the ring of fire telling us not to push so we wouldn't tear. i tried to breathe instead of pushing and did so with much concentration, rapidly through clenched teeth. pam started to encourage me to push. i told her i couldn't because i would tear. she said i wouldn't tear because she had me, so i pushed and out his head came. i thought again of the ring of fire thread and how posters said they felt like they pooped their babies out because that is exactly how it felt! pam checked for a cord around the neck, and there was one which was easily unlooped. i stopped after the head and wanted to wait to push, but pam was again telling me to push. the shoulders felt big, but i went ahead and pushed with the next contraction. i think that's when i tore because there was a hand up. his whole body came out and pam caught him. it was 9:10. i took him from her and announced that he was a boy. there were bits of meconium on him and pam suctioned him. his eyes were wide open, but he wasn't crying, though i do think he was breathing. his color was certainly fine. i said "he's so small!" and asked him if he was okay a few times because he was so quiet. eventually pam's suctioning started to annoy him and he cried out briefly. pam was glad to hear it, but i wasn't concerned too much, though i did ask him if he was okay again. i was so surprised at how little he was (though it turned out he was bigger than aleks was at birth) and at how quiet he was. i was also shocked that he had dark hair. i looked down at him and noticed three skin tags on his chest, all of which are gone now. my mom walked in 3 minutes after he was born. i was still on the birth stool waiting for help to move me to the bed. he had a super long cord, so we were able to wait for the placenta to be born to cut it. he actually stayed attached for awhile. i cut the cord because jon said the feeling freaked him out & he didn't like it. after everything was done and cleaned up a bit, sebastian and i took a bath in the still clean aquadoula. he was so calm and alert. he just looked around the whole time. i was so happy! sure, my body was sore and my abdominal muscles weren't working right yet, but i felt great nonetheless. i was thrilled with my birth though i'd hated the pain. i really felt like i'd done it, that no one else did anything. it would have been nice to catch my own baby, but all things considered, it was as good as it gets.

sebastian diego born sunday, may 29, 2005 9:10 p.m. 7 lbs. 5 oz., 20 inches long


one son, two sons. old son, new son. i had heard, but never myself felt that people often wonder how they will possibly love their second child as much as their first. what i am finding as i am flooded with oxytocin as i gaze into the big brown eyes of my new baby is myself wondering how i will ever again love my first son as much as i love my second. i am content to laze about, doing nothing but holding sebastian in my arms, nursing him, trying to eat with one hand or type with one hand, brush my teeth with one hand. i am finding this newborn business so much easier and relaxed this second time around. i could, i suppose, attribute that to sebastian's calmer temperament which is probably due to his ability to eat just fine unlike aleksander as an infant, who i am realizing probably burned almost as many calories as he took in, making him slow to gain weight and generally pissed off. it could be a basic personality difference. it could be that my expectations are different and that i am calmed by experience, that i am a wiser woman, having been informed already of how this newborn thing is supposed to go. but i feel like i've put so much energy and intention into creating sebastian that i've failed aleks somehow. i know that during my pregnancy i was far from the best mom i could be and now i still feel like i've got way more of a handle on this newborn thing than i do on this toddler business. is this how it is to go in the future? will aleksander always be the child i learn on, my training session? will my second son always get the learned, wiser, more calm and relaxed me? and is that in any way fair? is there any way to combat this? is there any way to be a better mom the first time around, as i grope in the dark for the truth about my child's development, for the clues that let me know what is right and what is best? if i were to have more children, would i get even better at this and find that my third or my fourth received better treatment than the first two? or is it all simply hard and will i find new challenges in my subsequent children as their personalities offer new perspectives and they present new obstacles for me to navigate around based on wholly different needs? and ultimately, my question comes to this - is there any way at all to do this right, to be my best when my job is twenty-four hours long and involves the ever-changing whims of two tiny, developing creatures whose needs are constant and only half-way knowable? dare i even try, lest i make my already obsessive and perfectionist self completely crazy and miserable?


waiting. another arbitrary deadline passes everyday. the 23rd a deadline by last menstrual period, the 24th a deadline for no reason but it was tuesday and the weekend had me thinking tuesday would be a good day, the 26th was a thursday and months ago aleks said the baby would come on thursday, the 27th a deadline given by ultrasound... sometimes i walk around and think stupid things like, "let me just get this load of laundry done and folded and put away and then i'm ready." or something equally pointless and mundane. i suppose the more finish lines i give myself, the more targets, the more chances i get at being right once, or rather the more opportunities i give myself to miss it completely. the actual event gets pushed further and further back, day by day, hour by hour. it is a million tiny litle failures marking my path to the inevitable. it is a waste of energy to mark the passage of time this way. and yet i am still stupidly trying to out-think the universe, trying to dig my way to acceptance of things as they will be. but it cannot be forced. there is no way to navigate it, and somehow i seriously doubt that my faith in the universe has anything at all to do with it anyhow. it is not about me getting to the place where i have given up. my baby will come when my baby is ready, not when i think it is time, or when i have everything in order, or even when i have everything in disorder. it has nothing at all to do with me, i'm sure. i am simply up against my own brain trying desperately to predict something unpredictable, trying to accomplish the impossible for no reason except its own satisfaction. it is an endless thirst, incapable of quenching correctly. i am left as tantalus, stuck on this island, forever reaching for grapes just out of reach, water beyond my grasp... totally pointless this exercise is.


being in birth. it occurs to me the difference in perspectives of being in birth versus having once given birth. time and retrospect have given me an appreciation for birth as a life-changing experience. i can view it as the experience that most transformed me, but it is a mottled lens - it leaves out the sensation itself - something forgotten intentionally thanks to a hormonal blueprint for the continuation of life. if i could remember clearly what it was like - if i could re-experience by simply remembering the pain and the intensity - i might not be inclined to give it this upcoming second go. but in thinking, in considering and trying to remember, i glimpse what it was. i recall the intensity of labor, how dark it was and how foreign. i remember the isolation and the sensation of feeling boxed-in, trapped in a tunnel of sensation, the whole of my body coursing with baby, with the impetus to eject. it was a place that i had never been, a landscape i had never before seen, and it was dark and treacherous. in trying to imagine, to remember the opposite of that, the positive side of it all, one might be inclined to think immediately of the end result, of the baby. having had one baby with problems, i am perhaps not in the place to feel as though the end result really is yin to this yang, and whatever opposite of the darkness and intensity was anything other than the survival of the experience, the challenge met. there is simply not, in my mind, a positive aspect of going through labor. there is no light to the darkness - it is all merely a challenge. a challenge that is certainly incredibly worthy, and an experience i treasure, of course, but i just cannot see it as particularly full of light. i see it all as something that enriches my life, just that it's - well, hard. there is a beauty to it, but it's got dirt in it. it is difficult, it is full of obstacles - it's life. despite all this, i am now looking forward to giving birth again and am ecstatic to meet my new baby and start my new life. i have reached the stage where all systems are go and everything is pointed forward, my life just a countdown to rocketing forth into the unknown. everything is chock full of anticipation. i am saturated with it. there is a touch of nervous energy in the air as i make my way through the mundane, through my daily tasks of familial upkeep. i am ready and i am waiting.


preparations for the unknown. my life at the moment is attuned to, fixated on preparing for the new baby. i am creating and recreating lists in my head and on paper and forgetting then remembering then forgetting again everything that is on said lists. i am moving things and storing things and getting rid of things and very much and very often buying new things, all in the preparation for something that i am uncertain of. we cannot predetermine how my birth will go or how the process of making our family new and larger will go. we cannot know ahead of time if aleksander will freak out, though there's certain to be some amount of that, i suppose. we cannot know ahead of time how my labor will go and what all we will need or want during it. as a result, there is in place all the things that we could possibly want or need. i am obsessed at the moment, i am intently focused on this. i have nothing else to do really. i know that i will not be able to do it later, whatever it is, so i must do it now, beforehand. i will not be able to go shopping for new clothes for summer or for nursing tanks or breast pads after the baby is born. i am judging all this based on what i was able to do when aleks was born, which was nearly nothing. so i've got menstrual pads and organic versions of gatorade and skirts with elastic waists and all assortment of accroutrements of homebirth - plastic tarp, plastic sheet, a strainer whose sole designation is the skimming of grossness from out the birth pool, deep red 300 thread-count sheets, more towels, more washcloths, emergency list posted on the fridge, birth kit, plastic basin for placenta, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera... i am reminding myself again and again to go to the dollar store to find a hose, to post on my yahoo group in search of a boppy, to make sure that instructions for aleks are written up and ready, to do all the things that i can possibly do to be prepared. i suppose it is ultimately just a version of exerting control over something that is far outside of my command. because i cannot determine the path of my birth or manipulate what kind of person my new child will be and what she will need and how that will intermingle with the needs of aleksander, i am trying in my small fashion, to have a say in some part of it, if only so that when the time comes i can fully release myself to the spiraling path and confusion and hormonal lalaland that will be postpartum. i view the birth as a deadline. there is before the baby and there is after the baby. before the baby, i can have a say in what happens. afterwards, i'm lost for a good 18 months. i suppose i am doing all that i can now to not die once i jump off that cliff.


little body rolls over beside me, little sigh escaping. little hands crawl up around my neck, hooking under my chin. it is here that i realize that i am this little man's whole world and he is ensuring even in sleep that i know to whom i belong. i pretend to be a grown-up at times, stealing moments away to have coffee with a girlfriend, or putting on a dvd to get some quiet alone time with my husband in another room. but i still have to sneak out of the house because there does not exist in time a moment when it is reasonable for mama to leave and every single intimate encouter is repeatedly and unfailingly interrupted. i am after all, a mother. my life does not belong to me. i am the caretaker for another's existence. i live that he might live. i breathe that he might breathe. i eat that he might eat. and it is true also that i sleep only that he might sleep. so the rising and falling of breath beside me is my reason to exist. and this is only true for me, no other. papa can walk out the door and be called after, "go to school!" i on the other hand must be phoned by cell to sing "old macdonald" while sitting on the floor of linens-n-things examining 400 thread count indian cotton king-sized bedsheets. old macdonald had some jersey knit, ee i ee i o. it is a demanding position, to be sure. but how often are we told and shown so assuredly our place in life? i know this absolutely to be true - that i am here so that my children are here. it is not told to me just by little hands hooked around my chin, or little arms in a death grip around my leg. it is told to me by the joints and muscles in my hips and pelvis, aching as they are under the weight of the fruit of my womb. it is told to me by my leaking breasts, waiting to nourish. it is told to me by the linea negra, arching it's way up my belly, however faint this go around. it is told to me by feet in my ribs both inside and out. it is being kicked and screamed into me, forced into me by a willful, currently with cold and horribly stinky sick-breath toddler who has now climbed from our 250 thread count nest into my arms where he picks his nose and waits to be fully awake that he might continue to make it clear to me how much i am the necessary component in his continued existence.


experience has led to my self-doubt. while pregnant for the first time with aleksander in 2002, i was confident in my ability to mother. i was, in fact, quite relaxed about the possibilities that lay ahead of me. i knew that mothering was difficult, but that you survive and your kids turn out fine. i knew that you were going to screw up somehow, but that being mindful could aid in not screwing up too terribly. it has taken two-and-a-half years of actual mothering to turn that confidence into an aching apprehension that runs quite deep and colors my every move, it seems. there is now forever the question in my head of, "am i doing this right?" resulting of course in the ultimate, "is my son normal?" it's not that i've failed so miserably thus far that has led to all this doubt, either. it is in fact the difficulty of it having led to the reaching out for similar stories from similar voices - for a place to belong. now i've heard every horror story imaginable and i've witnessed mothers grieving behaviors of their own that i've been guilty of more times than i can count. i've now had incredible self-righteousness about how it's supposed to be done (whatever that is) drive stakes of fear into me, deep enough to leave me with the question about the future of how will i possibly cope with two children and left me forever wondering how it is you mother a newborn exactly because suddenly i am struck dumb by my self-doubt and cannot fathom what it is that you do, how it works, when once i seemed so sure. will i regain confidence enough to mother a newborn? i'm certain it will come and we will survive, but the mother guilt will always be there, coming at me from within and without since parenting is so deeply personal and yet so incredibly social. everyone has an opinion on the matter, and they are never enough to reassure me that everything will be all right and that my children are in fact normal, yet a little bit wild, a little bit difficult. it would be nice to have pity taken on me for once rather than an accusatory eye aimed my way, a pointing finger telling me that i'm doing it all wrong but giving only impratical solutions at best. i am in a constant battle with external notions of parenting advice, poised against the internal knowledge that following my son's lead is enough. will i ever rest? can the guilt ever be assuaged? my self-doubt eased? more importantly, will all the authors of advice ever learn to shut the fuck up?


the emotional aspects of the accidental. as things have slowly returned to a state resembling normalcy, i am continually curious about the concurrent state of my well-being and if it really is just fine, as it appears on the surface to be. for the most part, yes, i am fine. i am back in the groove of washing and picking up and shopping and balancing and baking and all the things that my home life require, including a little twice-weekly chiropractic thrown in for good measure. aside from that, i have pulled away from cleveland life, have refused to rejoin the mommy's groups, have not gone to the meetings that my second trimester burst of energy had me running all over town to. and it's the running all over town part that is perhaps the main motivation for my becoming a bit of a hermit. several of the meetings that i might regularly attend are way the hell out, way the hell far away, and more significantly, require or nearly require highway travel, much of it at night, alone, on or near the same highway that the truck careened off of and smashed my bitty car. i have absolutely no desire to revisit the location of my trauma. i subsequently have not one bit of urge to become again the little joiner that i was in recent months. in fact, i find myself holding a grudge against all of cleveland for the unlikely event. we were set to leave from here in approximately a year and a half or so as it was, and i am all prepared for that year and a half to be over sooner rather than later. i am fully prepared for the squashing of time that i might escape this city that tosses it's long haul vehicles over the edges of bridges. i know fully, even while driving, that i am not likely to have another truck fall on me. yet of course i think of cars running red lights and slamming into my side and cars stopping short and skidding into my rear end. but i have always thought of those things. it just seems to be a bit intensified these days, despite the fact that i am confident while driving, that i occassionally rush a bit and get troubled by people going slow in front of me, muttering profanities under my breath as i have always done, even long before the accident. these days i am feeling well on the road. there is no sudden attack of panic, no overwhelming, jaw-clenching fear (notwithstanding tmj) as i make my way on the city streets. i have even on occassion felt that highway travel is within my capabilities, though i haven't yet had a reason to accomplish it. and yet still i do not want to return to the area shown in the early morning hours on every local news channel, that expanse of intersecting and bisecting interstates, cradling the industrial complex below. when i picture it, i see it as the image from the televisions, the image that i remember - the orange glow of street lamps, smokestacks belching in the background, snow still piled in the shoulder lanes, all under the veil of night or early morning darkness. and it is that image that holds me home, without consuming fear, just a constant state of unease, the feeling that i must not go there.


the unexpected and the unfathomable comes careening over edges in slow motion, yet the blink of an eye, and all is forever changed and any security that i had, any illusion of preparedness is forever challenged by this, the unthinkable: the semi truck crashing through space, sparks flying from its body and me below, driving alone late at night on the highway; and me below, wondering and staring and trying to figure in the splittings of seconds what the fuck that is. and the subsequent bracing for impact - the foot slamming on the brakes, the head crouched in between shoulders, raised up to meet ears, the body tense, arms locked, all tilted ever so slightly to the right - and impact. the noises i imagine are all fiction - i cannot remember. it is a tunnel either of noise or of silence - the sounds i've invented of crushing metal and glass and skidding truck-trailer along concrete and asphalt, or the hollow echoes of my brain thumping in my head, everything too loud for sound, just the feeling of the roof caving and hitting my head and the sight of the sparks and the shattered glass and twisted metal, the darkness enveloping me as the diesel fuel tanks explode splashing amber fluid all over the suddenly million-pieced windshield, now half hanging out the car, on the hood, the door and roof all slanted down to the ground and i am there, as we are skidding to a halt, waiting simply for death. and then we stop. and there really is silence and i reach out in the darkness of my smashed car for my cell phone wherever it was and dial immediately my husband and the words come in screams, "i have been in an accident, a semi fell on my car, i am trapped in the car, i think i smell fumes." all that sent through space whizzing across town to his ear, wherever it is that he sits with my son, who is up very late playing as usual. there is no way for me to know what he was thinking in that moment, how it touched him, whether it caved in his chest or made his skin go cold, but he tells me to calm down and try to find a way out of the car. i frantically press the lap belt release button over and over in panicked movements, realize that it's not the lap belt, but the shoulder belt stretched across my legs, pinning me to my seat, and still on the phone, still panicked, still rushing, reach down and slide the seat back and try again to lift my legs, but there is no room, not enough slack, and i calm for a moment, enough to reach outside the car, through the hole where my door used to be, down and underneath the crushed roof beside my head and find very carefully the shoulder strap release button and manage to press it and it lets go and there is momentary relief in me as i crawl into the passenger seat and inform jon of my escape. but i am still smelling fumes and i am waiting any second for the truck beside me to explode just as it does in the movies after it falls from the sky. i reach over and turn off my car and pull out my keys and stick them in my pocket. i grab my purse and i try to get the passenger side door open, again panicking. it doesn't open, so i unlock it, and it still doesn't open and i look back between the seats and see cars stopped on the road behind me and a pickup truck, one of those monstrous things, comes forward and i try to reach my tiny hand through a hole between the roof and the door, to wave and i scream "help me" in a terrified, horror-film howl, and he drives past and i bang on the window as i am giving jon a running narrative of what is going on. again i look back through the front seats out the rear window and i see someone standing in the road, hand to ear, presumably dialing 911, and i try again to reach in the hole in the roof to wave and i scream again for help and they stand unmoving, and i tell jon that they can't hear me. i realized when looking between the seats that i couldn't fit through due to the crushed roof and the bulk of my son's car seat, so i reach down and recline the passenger seat back down to it's furthest and try opening the rear passenger-side door, then unlock it, all frantic, still waiting for the explosion, for my fiery death, then open it and crawl out of the wreckage and tell jon that i am out and that i will call 911 since he had asked me why i had called him instead of 911 while i was still stuck within. the truth is that if i was about to die, as i expected, then the person i needed most to talk to was jon. when i am alone and when i am scared, i am aching for my other half and that is him. when i need to reach out of the darkness and touch something to pull me home, it is him. if i have nothing else, i cannot live without my husband. outside, in the cold, on the highway, dialing 911, i walk hurriedly away from the car, wanting to get away in the case of sudden fire, though becoming more sure that it will not happen, i approach the man on the phone and he asks, "is there anyone in the vehicle?" and i do not understand what he means because clearly i am no longer in the vehicle, i am on the side of the highway, standing in the shoulder, in the snow, out of fear that a car will not stop soon enough before the backup and will send a car flying down the highway to kill me who has just evaded death twice already. and a bored, man's voice comes through on the phone and i say where i am and what has happened and he says, "ambulance, fire or police?" and i say, "yes." then he says, "what city?" and i say again where i am and in the same bored tone he says, "what city?" and i say "i don't know what city!" because i don't know which exact suburb i am in and he repeats again like some robot, "what city?" and i am still not understanding and say, "what?!?" and again like a recording he says, "what city?" and finally i scream, "cleveland, ohio!!!" and the phone begins to transfer and ring again and the man on the highway says to me again, "is there anyone in the vehicle?" and finally i say, "no - i don't know about the guy in the semi." and a woman has answered the ring and says, "cleveland police" and i tell her where i am and what has happened and the man is still asking me questions and she says, "did the truck flip?" and i say, emphatic, needing that she understand what ridiculous, unheard of thing has occurred here, needing that the people on the phone come to realize just what an emergency this is, "a semi flew through the air and landed on top of me." she says, "okay, we'll get the police right out there." and i thank her, again emphatic. the man asks if i am okay and i am not certain if i answer, but i know that i am thinking, "fuck no - a semi just flew through the air and landed on my car!" i tell him at some point that i am pregnant, thinking that this needs to be known for whatever reason, thinking that this unbelievable event should have especially not happened to me given my fragile state. then, not knowing what to do with myself, i begin to sob and scream there on the side of the highway and i turn around and around looking for someplace to be, something to lean on and for a moment as i am howling, i look over the industrial complex that is the center of all the intersecting highways in cleveland and wonder where the fire is that spits from the smokestack periodically, and i notice and feel for a second the night and the cold and the stillness of one in the morning. then the semi-truck driver comes out of the wreckage, holding his bleeding head and i wander away from him as my phone has rung with my friend sarah on the line drunkenly wondering about coming to get me. then the cops arrive and the man on the highway tells them i was in the car and that i am pregnant and they stare at me in disbelief and ask, "you were in that car?" and i say, "yeah" with a big valley-girl lift at the end as though to say, "but i'm not anymore you dimwit!" and they ask, "are you okay?" and to the one cop addressing me i say, "no! i am freaked the fuck out!" and he leads me to his cruiser to sit down and everyone who sees me can't believe that i wasn't dead or bleeding or hurt even and i crack jokes with the emts to calm myself, and i talk on the phone to jon and my mom and get strapped to a board and driven in a fire truck to the hospital, where i stay for 15 hours, having ultrasound and doppler use galore to ensure that my placenta remained intact and that the baby kicked and moved as it should. in the days that followed, i became the center of a media blitz that culminated in appearances on both good morning america and the today show, and a call from the folks at oprah that will theoretically result in a show sometime this spring. normal life seems to have resumed for the most part and i am healing and baby is fine, kicking, growing, unaware in her oceany home...


having known, knowing nothing. a concern is rising in me for the months coming at me and the transformation i am making from the mother of one to the mother of two. i find myself unable to recall what it was like to mother a newborn. all i can remember is that it was hard. it is as though there is a dance i did whose steps are now buried some place in my brain that i cannot access. i reassure myself that once the time comes again, i will remember and the dance will seem a familiar one that i simply hadn't done in awhile. and of course this will not be the same as it was at all. this will all be new, for it is a new person that i am bringing into the world, not simply another aleksander. and even as i make this transition to new mother, my son is transforming before me into a child and that too is unfamiliar. once so confident as i had figured all this mothering stuff out, i am being newly challenged everyday. it is so confusing to me. he is changing and i am trying to view with some sort of knowing objectivity with which i can gauge whether behaviors are normal or unusual, and then if normal, if normal only for my child, thereby atypical for his developmental stage, or normal for most or nearly all two-year-olds. the whole process is confounding. first, how do i have a knowing objectivity? how do i release myself from my emotional involvement enough to view him, to see behaviors for what they are and not just as an annoyance to me? it is a tricky process. another dance that i am learning. and so i find myself so unprepared for juggling all these transitions at once and having an understanding of my place and my children and my family and our goals and my life. i am changing by the changes around me. i am adapting and if i think carefully about it, if i begin to consider the unknown, it becomes terrifying. it becomes a cliff whose edge i am walking and about to jump off to see if i can fly - the depths are so dizzying, how will i survive? by surviving. and yet - this is motherhood not some extreme sport! how can i simply survive it? musn't i savor it? my children will only be this young once, musn't i appreciate each inch of them, each fold of fat and every precious moment? i believe that expectation to be a little high for my taste - for my memory of the colicky, spitting up, sleepless mess that was the early months of aleksander's life. my memory of that time is not always so rosy that i can swoon at the thought of babies. and yet i do, i have. it's how i ended up on this precipice to begin with. and as scary as it seems, i do believe that i can, and will, fly.


ultrasound on friday. out of the darkness and out of the blur, came the strangely familiar. at first a head and some bone and a beating heart inside it's chest, hands and feet, legs and arms, and lastly a nose and lip - complete, not broken, soft, and perfect, ripe fruit for what it is i've lacked. and then i felt so happy. there is no eloquent way of putting the elation, the relief. there is no way to say more simply, more clearly, how happy we were and are to discover our experiments have worked, that what we sought to do is being done. our child will be born whole and perfect. we are so grateful. and i am so looking forward to heal what i'd lost. i am looking forward to the opportunity to nurse. there is nothing more to say but that i am ecstatic.