The first twelve weeks of our Peace Corps training we had fairly extensive language courses: some Spanish but mostly Guarani, the Paraguayan indigenous/national language of twelve syllables and Kermit the Frog-like inflections.
One day I was paired with my good friend Bill and a girl we’ll just call Gertrude. In typical random language class fashion—maybe we were practicing the subjunctive—our teacher asked us to describe a movie we’d write and direct.
There have been two times in my life I have heard the noise Kelly just uttered, an inimitable cry of surprise, wonder, and horror. The first was shortly after our return from the Peace Corps, when Kelly, lying on the bed after a shower, realized that a ten-inch translucent roundworm parasite had emerged from her anus. The second was just now, sitting at her desk on a nice spring day, when she realized that her nipples were leaking colostrum. Needless to say, this latter cry had a greater pitch of joy.
So we’re going for a “natural birth” at home, which essentially means we trust K.’s innate birthing abilities more than a hospital’s routine medical interventions.
Kelly, off to birth in Avalon.
My initial, uninformed, and thus reactionary attitude towards the “natural-birth” movement was to assume it was led by women of whom our doula seems the paragon example: sensitive owl-women who long for a Mists of Avalon past that never existed, who romanticize the druidic times of hard-packed dirt floors, straw beds, poultices, leeches, and, well, the occasional dead mother. Continue reading
Not that K. was unhappy with herself or her pregnancy or not a beautiful pregnant woman or not living up to my expectations of how she’d be as a beautiful pregnant woman, but at some point in the last month a line was crossed whereby the baby came into herself as a person and so too K. came into herself as a pregnant woman.
And for the first time in this pregnancy I felt the slight twinge of jealousy.
It struck me that I’ve been thinking too much of the future here; focusing too much on how this little parasitic humanoid will become a little girl and a strong woman (and, yes, possibly the iron-fisted goddess of the nuclear wasteland formerly known as Oregon.) This is a good thing, but the original point of this blog was to explore and celebrate this particularly unique time in my (our) life—the nine months of pregnancy purgatory.
So perhaps a little update is in order.
We were in a fairly useless “birth class” the other day and were subjected to watching a video of a man who has built a career out of quieting colicky babies. It may have been the best part of the class, actually, but something in the man’s eyes made me uneasy, and I couldn’t tell why, until it struck me: he reminded me of this guy:
Yeah, this guy.
Remember him? 1997, a small gated community in Southern California, Hale Bopp comet in the night sky, and this wide-eyed gnome having convinced 39 other men and women to dress in black, lie in their bunk-beds, and ritually overdose so that their souls could be carried off by the spaceship lurking behind the comet.
I’ve been on a particularly intense Apocalyptic bent as of late. In the past month Kelly and I have watched Melancholia (planetary collision extinction event), Contagion (flu virus pandemic), and the second season of The Walking Dead (zombie apocalypse); I’ve reread The Road (nuclear winter); and been buttonholing more people than usual with my “the-thin-fabric-of-civilization-is-soon-to-be-ripped-asunder” litany of global climate change, peak oil, phosphate depletion, ocean acidification, and associated and wide-spread geo-political instability.
I’m a blast at parties, let me tell you.
But I’ve always had this dark strain. In my Grand-Canyon-Manuscript-That-Will-Never-Be-Fucking-Finished, I attributed this love for post-apocalyptic narratives to the San Andreas fault, which haunted my childhood as a sleeping-dragon-like force that could, at any time, unleash “The Big One”: the earthquake that will destroy LA.
But on the other hand, I can’t blame it on plate-tectonics: I don’t see how any rational human being who pays even infrequent attention to the news could not harbor the same fatalistic views. Perhaps he or she finds it easier to ignore such views. Perhaps he or she simply has more faith. My intrinsic lack of any such faith is a blessing and a curse, but seems especially unfortunate now that we are to bring a baby—a helpless babe!—into this doomed world.*