I worry compulsively when he’s unwell. I worry that I’ll miss signs of it getting worse. I worry that I’ll miss a way to help him.
Yesterday he woke up with a runny nose and I with an itch in the back of my throat. Around sundown, my husband and I were drinking tea with honey and whisky for our throats and Thomas wanted no part in anything that didn’t involve mama snuggles (and maybe an apple to gnaw on – he’s working on molars on top of this virus). He went to bed early; we all did. And then I woke around midnight to feel him burning up under blankets and pajamas, fussing and uncomfortable. I worried and dozed through the night as he nursed and lay beside me. Thermometers are haphazard, but they put him just below any concerning level of fever – still he felt so hot. His legs, his belly, his forehead when I kissed it, throwing off heat like a furnace. We had no children’s medication, and I almost wanted to go out and find someplace open to buy some, but the voice of reason (i.e. my husband) reminded me that fevers are natural, that he seemed to be fine, just annoyed, and that it was best to wait until morning.
He woke up chipper, crawled off the bed, chased the dog. I heard him fussing while I was in the bathroom and returned to find him trying to put his shoes on his feet. So I helped him out.
But not forty-five minutes later, a banana was too much to handle and he was back to nursing, then back to sleep. Wearing a robot pajama shirt, a diaper & cover… and his shoes.
Poor little love.
Later I’ll be able to talk to him, to spoil him with star-shaped grilled cheese or soup with his favorite noodles, with silly movies or his favorite books or card games, but now I can just hold him and hope he knows I’m doing everything I can.
And tell myself that one day (one day?) I’ll get a good night’s sleep…
To bear down. To bear. Bare. The fire was hot and I was bare and slick and I hoped the end was finally near. No Sister, no Rebecka – why hadn’t I gone for Rebecka?
Because this burden, this baby, this birth was mine. The old gods were with me, the goddesses, the spirits of these woods, the souls of all of the Ladies before Sister. My mother, her mother, back and back, to the flood, they were there, too. All of them crowding the cottage, their energy crackling in the air.
My body was splitting open like a seed pod, like a hen’s egg. My pelvis was opening like a gate stiff with disuse. My chanting had risen to a cry, a shout, a call not for mercy but for strength. The only way out was through. The only choice was no choice at all. No matter what I did or did not do, she was coming.
With every push I grew stronger, more fierce, more determined. With every push my daughter came closer, my new life approached. My body shook. The world shook. It was too much. It was perfect. It was impossible. I was a beast. The fire as her head stretched my delicate tissue tighter than I could have imagined. I forgot Sister’s words. I forgot how many women she, and then I, had coached to slow at this point, to ease the baby out, to be gentle on their own bodies, to take their time. I forgot it all. My body had been laboring for over a day, and I couldn’t wait any more, couldn’t conceive of waiting any more. I pushed. I urged. I roared. I roared through the flames and through the darkness and I conquered all of the gods in the room and I stood on the shoulders of every feminine divinity and I gave birth to my daughter.
She slipped like a squid into my hands, gasped a breath, and squalled.
Selene. Goddess of the moon. Ruler of tides, of waves, of water, of women.
Selene, my love. Hello.
Tired, so tired. Not just sleep tired, though that is at the root, the core, down below. I can power through my days and pretend that I’ve rested enough. I can keep up with the cleaning and cooking and mothering. But then the nights come and for more than a week of days now he has woken time and again, every two hours, every hour, every forty-five minutes. I watch my patience stretch and stretch and stretch and snap – pop – gone, and I mumble things I shouldn’t speak, things one ought not think about or wish upon one’s own child. Tranquilizers. Abandonment. He goes to bed late, not matter how early or often I try to put him down. He wakes promptly at six in the morning, bright-eyes, chirping, delighted with the sun. I second and third and fiftieth guess my choices – should I nurse him or no, sleep in his bed or no, walk with him, shush him, let him cry. I cringe with each sound, knowing my husband is wishing for sleep, knowing he, too, will be up at six, but then off to work for the day. I try to cry, but I’m too tired. I get thirsty, hungry, come down for a pre-dawn breakfast during one of his dozes.
There is no purpose to this post except, maybe, to remind me the next time around that this is normal, that this happens, and that I survived it, which I will.