Saturday, April 23, 2011

So come out of your cave walking on your hands

Last night I had a most hideous dream. Instead of the kindly field liaison visit which takes place IRL, I was being evaluated at my internship by a stern panel of judges (no doubt inspired by Law & Order SVU of which I watch at least two episodes nightly). During the evaluation I made a series of bizarre and inexplicable mistakes that I would never make in real life. I arrived late and didn't explain myself. Instead of running a process group, I had the kids watch Mean Girls. I laughed inanely at things that weren't funny as the judges stared at me, somber and dour, dripping with disapproval. I sat close to a fan that drowned out my voice and also, at one point, blew open my shirt. All of this was filmed and showed to my cohort during a class as my professor berated me and announced that my colossal disaster was the quintessential example of what not to do and said this proved beyond a doubt that I should never under any circumstances practice clinical work, because I was incompetent, and an embarrassment to the profession. As a little stinging P.S I also had a client reject me for my deplorable Spanish (this has never happened in real life--yet). I was given the evaluation forms that the judges had filled out, and all I remember was the word FAIL, FAIL, FAIL dark and unforgiving on every line. I felt cold shame all over my body and I wanted to cry even as soft light crept into our room and I began to be aware I was dreaming...and I was graduating that day. So cute of my subconscious to dredge up a little extra anxiety even after I'd finished my internship.

Here are the mujeres of Vantage Point on my last day! Scott and Darren were on spring break with their families.

Jen is a wonderful case manager! She and I had fun being pregnant together all this year. The day after this picture was taken she birthed her baby girl!

I'm DONE with school and work! I don't miss it quite yet. :) Oh such a beautiful liberated life I’m suddenly living! It feels so good knowing I don’t have to go to work tomorrow. Summer has arrived. I spent all last week working on the slideshow for the graduation reception. It was fantastic and all of the graduation events were triumphant and relieving…the most fun was seeing Melanie and going out to eat at “Barabbas” after I walked and Jonathan telling me he was proud of me. I loved the finality of all the little honoring events because it’s over, over, over! I have such good things to move on to! I’m so glad to be finished with school before my little guy arrives, now I can pour my life into a different bottle and I’m so excited. I love staying up late and later and hanging out with Jonny without the anxiety of having to be somewhere at 8 AM, finish an essay, plan an activity...I’m in love with that delirious exhaustion and freedom of knowing I don’t have to be anywhere until later…I want to incorporate my little guy right into that. Oh, I can’t wait to see him! What sort of child will he be and what kind of mother and father will we find in ourselves?

I feel less hesitant than before to say I love being pregnant, I really have loved this experience. Since I'm through the majority of it, the doomsday choir chanting "Just you wait" has less affect on me. The worst part for me was the “thickening” in the fall that makes me want to gag when I remember it—before I was showing and people were always clutching my stomach. I also experienced that stage in the soggy fall when everything was dying, the days shut out into darkness too early and I had prickling anxiety about doing therapy almost every night, so I believe that made it worse. It seems fitting to do the third trimester in lovely spring (just like OHS) so I and the world entire are “blooming” together. We are the new day, the little green lives shooting up from the soil. Someone said to me yesterday, “Don’t you find it just gets worse and worse every day?” Why, no. No I don’t!I have had a couple of less-than comfortable nights in the last few weeks, mostly after being in the car for long hours and not able to move my body around in ways that are comfortable (getting on hands and knees). Sometimes my hips ache from the pressure of turning from side to side at night, but they feel good and strong again in the morning. Most days I marvel at how healthy I feel. I’m not stricken with the mysterious aches or heartburn or swelling (still time for that to happen later, I guess). I tell Jonny, “I feel good! I feel really good!” I’m not really uncomfortable. Is this a miracle, or like my grandmother said, “Your lucky day”? People don’t believe me and assume I must be suffering. I’ve had some body image issues but at other times I find my pregnant body lovely. When have I been more useful or more giving? Sharing this clay with a new little being should be more beautiful than when I was tinier, less sincere, and attracting flitting shallow guys. And I want to value it more. I don’t want to honor decay.

We listened to the Bubble of Peace script this weekend and I LOVED the idea of a glossy, ivory white impenetrable bubble floating around me keeping the black cuttlefish fears away. I painted strength on it and filled it with books; Jonathan was the only one I brought in. (His bubble was black and armored with spikes). My mind is powerful and I want to learn to be more disciplined and utilize it more. I love the fear-clearing sessions where they ask you to bring one worry about parenthood or birthing to the top. Most of my fears have to do with things I've heard people say about how having children was traumatic/cumbersome/depressing. I’ve occasionally looked for comfort in the wrong places—anyone else will just tell me what their own experience tasted like, flavored with their own expectations and perspectives, spiced with their individual disappointments. No one else is going to come to me and tell me that my life will be the way I want it—I’m the one writing the book and I’m the one who gets to interpret the story. (Although this is so lovely and hopeful!) That’s what I want to use the Bubble of Peace for—not to immerse myself in naiveté but to choose beautiful interpretations and to reject blackened and bitter views of the life I’m going to be living. The other day I spoke with someone who advised me to enjoy the weeks of freedom I have left "before [your] life is over." She told me of her misery since having her baby and all the things that made it difficult and hard. Nothing beyond the typical realm of caring for an infant has occurred, but her experiences have brought her such sorrow. This unsettled me! Why are so many young mothers so unhappy?

Jonathan and I talk a lot lately about not “borrowing trouble”—not fretting about something that "might" go wrong or awry. I know life will stir up its own heartache and pain—but I want to escape the trap of perceiving things that should be joyful as troubles. Like the capacity to have children—when I think of having a terminally ill or emotionally disturbed child, or having someone take or harm your child--I can see why those things make people feel broken. Having a healthy infant is not something I need to feel broken over and I don’t want to fall into that frame of mind as I have seen others do. It's okay to feel discomfort, it's okay to feel discouraged. I expect to have as many of those moments as I always have, with varying intensities. I accept that. I just don't want to find myself describing my life to someone and indicating the birth of my child as the time when all good things ended. I can do hard things, I have done so in the past and know I can be strong and stronger in the future. This is the day we are making; I want to rejoice and be glad in it.

Sometimes I think about the tension and resentment that some people close to me have seething between them, it breathes like poison and pollutes beautiful moments, keeps them from moving on. How would they feel if someone beloved disappeared or was murdered? That would suddenly become the focal point of all their grief. Suffering over the former hurts would suddenly seem like a light and pale thing in comparison. So why waste that time? I want to make it right in my own life. I don’t want to waste my energy by taking offense. I want to be such a good mother…I want to “strive to be like [my children] but strive not to make them like [me].” I want to say “I don’t know” instead of feeding them insistent, restrictive answers; I want to help them understand that the world can be so ugly and so beautiful, I want them to feel the openness of their own possibility and potential and the myriad ways there are to learn and expand the universe, I want to fill their lives with creativity. I want to run and play with them in the park and jump on their father when he comes home to greet us, I want them to feel the peace of us loving each other so much. As they get older I want to teach them how to remember they are worthwhile even when others challenge that, how to feel and learn from pain without it destroying them, how to be at peace with failure and to accept uncomfortable emotions. Before all of that I want to make of my life a lovely safe place for a sweet little being. He is so wanted and so welcome. I want to make his new life on dry land as comfortable as possible. I love the idea that he knows my voice and will recognize me! I hope he does! (Perhaps he is already a little embarrassed to have such a shrill mother.) It’s miraculous that my husband and I will have a little person who is equal parts both of us. Jonathan always tells me, “I can’t wait to be a father!" The other day I asked him if he ever wished we'd waited longer, and he told me, "No!...Then we would have had a different baby!" That made me laugh and then made me think. Jonathan is the light of my life and probably the secret real reason that this pregnancy has been so wonderful. Because of him I always feel empowered and full of hope--and he treats me like I am strong, which is what I want. I love his delight in baby kicking, baby dreaming, baby planning. I feel so together with him. It feels so good to know this is a dream of his that I'm helping make come true, as well as my own.

I just finished talking to my own Dad about his trip back to CT to see his very ill father. He told me about taking the train and passing all of the places of his former life—the house he grew up in, the beach his aunt and uncle took him to. He could see himself at all the different ages. He told me how his mother ripped up the crab grass and made a lot of food no one ate—how his father still barks at her and reached out to my dad to hug him when he left, which thing he had never done before. It crushed him. He said that he doesn't feel at all like what he expected 60 to feel like, that he could be 30 or 20 and "it all goes so fast…don’t take it for granted"…nostalgia swallows me whole most of the time but I know I haven’t done the very most important works of my life yet. I’m going to work hard and make the most out of this until I get down to the very bottom of everything. And then we'll see it--we'll see it, we'll see it.

This is 34 weeks. Ay mi hijo, tan pronto al verte la cara!

Graduation reception at the Marriott--We we we so excited!

Con mis papas

Con mi amor, que sonrisa tan linda
Con bellas Teri y Celeste

Monday, April 4, 2011

Little Lion Man

It was a heavy weekend; 3 types of chill and frozen wind where I hoped there would have been sunshine. Those expectations were so cruelly buried under snow like the poor star violets on our lawn. It's okay though, I feel a glowing hearth/heart where it is most needed. The little Stranger is trying to escape with determined lurchings. I love it when I see Laurel (fetus whisperer!) and she can decode the frenzied spasms because sometimes I can feel him in 3 places at once and he shifts so radically that I don't understand how he can possibly still be head down, but so far, so good! He is so active and alive these days! I always want everyone else to feel his bumping and thrashing; I'm constantly pulling Jonathan's hands to my belly. Yesterday sitting on the couch during conference we felt him backin' that thing up with gusto and Jonathan asked, what does that feel like? I said, "Sweet, it just feels really sweet." I love him and I love feeling him, my little boy in the bubble. I have no idea who he is! When I try to imagine our interactions on the Other Side they seem pixelated in mystery. I talk out loud to him in the car and tell him not to be afraid, I ask, will you be my friend? Sometimes working at Vantage Point gives me a little jolts of despair from the inevitability of adolesence; I hope we will have some sweet years when he will trust and believe in us, want us around. I hope those years feel very long. :)

Two poems for Monday morning:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
--Kahlil Gibran

I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.
--Sylvia Plath

31 Weeks!