Now is the Spring of My Discontent

How does a pregnant woman who has just lost her mother celebrate Mother’s Day?

Denial. Denial, denial, denial.

It’s worth noting that we were never a “Mother’s Day” family. Breakfast in bed, flowers from the back yard, and a homemade card. That would be it. Of course, this was how most holidays were celebrated– everything was pretty low key. It’s almost like we were Jehovah’s Witnesses…

I have been dreading Mother’s Day. Not in my usual “Damn Commercialization!” sort of way. In a new, exciting “I hate all people who have mothers” sort of way. This sounds crazy, I know. But in the same way that you secretly hate all pregnant women (or used to) I now secretly hate all people who have living, breathing mothers. Lucky me, there is a whole holiday dedicated to celebrating this relationship which I sorely miss! De-light-ful!

So I decided to pretend like none of this was happening.

In a weird and unfortunate scheduling snafu, Mr. O planned a vacation with his cousins for this week, meaning I would be by myself on Mother’s Day. He freaked, offered to change the tickets, but honestly, I didn’t care. I miss my mother every single day, and I didn’t see how this one would be any different. I’ll just cry a little more than usual, and that is no reason to incur change fees.

Still, it did seem like nice excuse to do whatever I wanted, so I mapped out what my day would look like. It started with a long walk in the arboretum near my house.

I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside.

I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside.

The arboretum has been my sanctuary in many ways. When I’ve lost jobs, suffered personal defeats, or just needed to clear my head, it has been the first place I go.  I’ve been running there almost every day for the past two years, and I’ve seen it change in all seasons. It’s kind of like an old, trusted friend. I can lose myself in this space, and it always seems to reflect where I’m at.

The winter where I live was brutal this year. I actually welcomed it because it gave me a perfect excuse for not wanting to leave the house. After my mom died, I would go for runs in the arboretum. It was freezing cold, the trees were leaf-less, and everything seemed gray and barren. Striped down. And exactly how I felt. It was a place where it was okay for me to cry and run and lose my breath– and keep moving because if I didn’t I would literally not be able to feel my face. Even as March approached, it looked like winter here wouldn’t end, and this didn’t strike me as a problem. Rather, it felt fitting.

Why do trees have to be such assholes?

Why do trees have to be such assholes?

But here’s the thing about seasons… they are temporary. I may have wanted winter to last forever, but Spring is always just around the corner. On this particular Sunday, Spring wasn’t just around the corner– it was in full effect, and RELENTLESS. Birds frolicked from branch to branch, and bush to bush. Flowers were everywhere. Trees which up until a few weeks ago reflected my emptiness were now full of adorable little green leaves bursting from their ends.

I have never wanted to start a forest fire more.

Instead, I cried on a park bench. I have become, by the way, an expert at public crying. The key is to not give a shit what anyone thinks about you. Should someone give you funny looks, fling the mucous which you are producing in abundance in their general direction.

After I collected myself, I headed back home for a spot of breakfast then to my prenatal yoga class. It seemed like a way I could “celebrate” Mother’s Day without actually doing any celebrating. Hell, I would have gone anyway– it just so happens that my class is on Sundays.

This week, Randi decided to do something a little different. Instead of our usual meditation on intentions for the practice, blah, blah, blah, we meditated on motherhood. This shouldn’t have surprised me– I was in a prenatal yoga class on MOTHER’S DAY after all– and yet my first thought was “Motherfucker, do we have to do this right now?!”

Part of the meditation was to think about the emotional connection that mothers have with their babies while carrying them. Just like they get nutrition from our bodies to grow, they also feed on our emotions and our state of mind.

“Well, my child is screwed because I’ve been an emotional train wreck since January.”

What am I teaching this kid? Am I teaching them to be sad all the time? That seems like a depressing legacy (literally and figuratively.) Just as I was about to burst into tears at the idea that I’m harming Chick by crying all the damn time, I caught myself. Rather than teaching Chick that life is painful and terrible and morose, perhaps I’m showing them how to love deeply and completely. While this can be painful and terrible and morose, it can also be such a gift.

The truth is that I’m not ready for Spring. I’m still hurt and sad and angry, and I’m not ready to give that up. Yet there is something comforting in knowing that eventually seasons change.

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Make Way for Baby

This weekend, I begrudgingly took a prenatal yoga class.

Since I’ve had to quit pilates and running, I knew I would have to pick up something else or I would lose my shit. I need to move, but I also have come to terms with the reality that I need to slow down. That is, I think, what my abdominal muscles tearing apart was trying to tell me.

I have resisted yoga my entire adult life. It just seemed so fruity to me. I need exercise where there is yelling, grunting, and the occasional need for obscenities. The idea of being trapped in a room smelling like patchouli sounded like torture.

But my body and my baby are trying to tell me something. This shit is not about me any more. Aaaand as luck would have it, there is a yoga studio right down the street from my place that offers prenatal yoga on Sunday afternoons. I was running out of excuses.

As I prepared for class, I realized exactly zero of my workout clothes fit me any more. None. All the spandex I own has been stretched to their last stitches. The sports bra that had fit just two days prior practically screamed for mercy. I cried on the couch for about 5 minutes because I couldn’t back out– I had already pre-paid for the class.

Decked in Mr. O’s sweatpants and a ratty old t-shirt, off to prenatal yoga I went.

I was the first one there and filled with a lot of anxious energy. “I’m going to hate this. Someone is going to read my chakra or something ridiculous and I’ll just have to leave.” And in walks the instructor, Randi, who is the picture of calm, graceful, voluptuous, earth mother. I told her about my injury, and she said she’d suggest certain modifications, but the class should be just what I was looking for.

It turns out I am a yoga natural. Yes, it did take me some time to slooooooow doooooown. There were a few times when Randi had to remind me to “make room for the belly” and this helped me sink into positions and fully experience my body as it is now. As the class went on, I fought it less and something clicked inside me. Specifically, someone kicked inside me.

This body, the one I have today, is something I have never known before. Up until this point in my pregnancy, Chick and I were living like roommates to a certain degree. I wasn’t bothering Chick and, with the exception of some seriously unpleasant constipation early on, Chick wasn’t really bothering me. Then around week 24, Chick literally busted through my abs. No longer roommates, someone is taking over all the communal living spaces. (Hint: it isn’t me.)

At the end of the class, we had a moment of meditation where Randi encouraged us to put our hands on our bellies. Yoga had woken Chick up and sparked a dance party in my uterus. For a little while at least, I started to feel a connection to my child. Me and Chick, we’re in this together.