Thursday, April 05, 2007

"These are people who died, Died..."

This is some of the most fatigue I’ve ever encountered. I’ve had insomnia before, but no one was flailing inside me and my back was not contorted in pain and I did not have to pee every couple of hours. There are always dangers with this degree of sleep deprivation but I can stay out of my car and not write any pointed emails or play with tools or any of that stuff. Mostly I have two overwhelming things that haunt me as a result. One is the obvious: My God, how will I survive the lack of sleep after she’s born? The other is death.

A fear of death is somehow inevitable with a birth, I think. There’s the physical thing I have to go through, the constant monitoring of whether the kid is okay and going to make it, and the fear of responsibility for another life. This seems normal. But I have all this extra baggage. Especially being due in early May. Spring has become a time of renewal, but renewal that requires summers of therapy.

There’s the super clear issue: I miss my mother. She’s standing there on Mother’s Day with open arms for the baby when I look at the calendar, counting days until my due date. On really bad days her fingers are blue like when I found her dead. Realistically, the problems she was having toward the end of her life would have prevented her from a lot of helpful mothering, but how she would have loved this. And how I would have loved to share it with her. And she missed the great respect a kid can only have for their mother after going through what she did for me to be alive.

The day before Mother’s Day my friend Sakura stands lovingly waiting on her birthday. She was killed in an arbitrary car accident on her way to buy supplies for her new apartment a couple of years ago. She too, would have been so tickled. I imagine her smoking a cigarette and strumming her guitar in my garden, and in the kitchen, making dumplings the way her mother taught her and the way she taught me, talking about photography and teaching and letting glenn practice his Japanese. She gave us so much advice before our trip to Japan, and she was gone when we sent her our photos.

And May 5th, the date I imagined I’d be reclaiming from death with this birth is the day I watched my friend Jim leave his body last year. This one has perhaps been the hardest. I know when he stopped eating and that this last, incredibly physically difficult month of my pregnancy is corresponding with his physical decline last year. It’s hard not to feel like me or the baby will die at the end. And oh how I wish she got to know him. I’m so glad I told him I thought I was going to do this and that dealing with his death had given me the courage – it was one of his last, mostly unresponsive days and with his eyes still closed he suddenly had the hugest of grins, the last of them I ever saw.

I thought I had this under control, and was looking forward to the renewal of birth on his death date… until the cancer my dear friend Jen started battling in August as a lump on her leg just went crazy and spread everywhere. She just stopped eating the same weekend as Jim did last year (right around when my new friend Greg jumped off a bridge a couple of years ago). Jen’s asleep most of the time now. I wanted to introduce her to the baby, like a sign of hope for her. We were planning to have coffee just over a month ago.

Now I am always awake, waiting for her relief, and for my baby. And each day I know with increasing force the horrible sadness of her husband and four children, and I am again missing my mom. And I will likely miss Jen’s memorial, as it’s predicted to be around when the baby is due. I just missed glenn’s aunt’s memorial, too.

I try so hard to focus on the positive. I imagine playing with my kid and being a kid myself and lolling in total silliness. I write down fun activities to do with her in a festive bright book my mother-in-law made me. I like imagining dressing her, smelling her, sleeping on the couch with her. I wake for the 80th time out of depression or pain or kicking or baby hiccups or needing to pee and I smile at my cats, all snuggled together at my feet. I got a note from a friend who is very much alive and positive and wants to come help sometime after she’s born, and he was born the day before her due date. I want desperately some way to rid myself of the sad parts of my reality so it does not affect my child, and days like today I’m pretty sure I can’t. I can’t even lose it by sleeping. But I’ll keep trying.

It seems the way I will deal with those first difficult weeks is because I would trade nearly anything right now – any sleep, activities, normal eating – to just have a live, healthy, wonderful baby life to focus on. I will just keep trying to shed some of this emotional weight by focusing on the positive, and the circle of life, and all the gifts all of these people have given me, and all that you are now. This screwed up period of my life will Not take her from me. Thank you my cool real life and virtual friends. One of you is singing “Interjections” from Schoolhouse Rock on Instant Message to me right now and already I am laughing and looking forward. The sun has just come out, as cheesy as that is, and I can see the green sprouts in the back yard of the bulbs I planted to bloom when the baby is due.

Sorry for the overtired spew. Blogging is probably another danger of extreme fatigue....

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At 10:21 AM, Blogger michele said...

It's so hard to be/become a mother when you are motherless.

I sometimes wish my mother had been more "normal," ie more helpful, less alcoholic, and that would make the wishing-for-her-to-be-here feelings more bittersweet and less hopeless. As it is, I still wish for her to be here, desperately, daily, but know that part of my path involves trying very hard to make the right decisions in the hope I don't become who she was in the end.

Ultimately we bond with our mothers in a new way when we become one ourselves, whether they are here or not. The power of mothering, the experience of it, is that strong.

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may be an overtired spew, but it's beautiful and true. Thank you for writing it.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Uncanny all that passing between life and death that has happened around you in the spring. I don't know what I believe in really, but I take an uncertain comfort in a vague notion of souls continuing on somewhere, somehow in the eternal cycle of life-death-rebirth.

I had a friend in high school who told me once about one morning when his kid sister came into his room and told him about a dream she had just had about being "back in heaven. Remember," she said, "like back before we were born." I can't say I believe in heaven, but still I take comfort in my friend's sister's dream. And I would like to think that Baby Ericson will arrive with a fresh baby-soul rich and colorful with threads of Jen and Jim and Sakura and her grandmother. At the very least, I believe there is some scientific evidence to the notion of "inhereted memory;" undoubtedly Baby Ericson will come into the world one incredibly soulful little girl.


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