Monday, November 28, 2011

Due date , ten years later

I feel kind of as if I have been shot out of the ass end of an overstuffed turkey.

I survived hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily some family members couldn't make it so it was only ten of us. I only had to call Ian three times while preparing and cooking the turkey. I'm proud of that. I'm not proud of the fact that I still have trouble distinguishing the turkey's head from its bottom. Ian thinks I'm kind of retarded. Those legs of theirs look like perfect arms, up and ready to box, if you ask me.

Remarkably, I came out of that turkey's butt feet first  and am now right back on the hamster wheel, racing towards the next false summit. This is America after all: Land of the free, home of the mindlessly busy. I had no idea just how good I had it in France, until I came back here and remembered what life lived consistently above a resting pulse, even while resting, felt like.

It's Esther's due date. I don't know how I caught it, but I remembered before I even left the house this morning to take the kids to school.

November 28th. "What a good date," I thought. Good numbers. Ha ha. Little did I know due dates are nothing more than an educated guess about when your baby might be thoroughly cooked. Oh yea, and they provide an arbitrary number upon which all pregnant women tend to fixate on and feel inadequate about. And friends and random onlookers  use to annoy you and judge your fitness as a mother with: "Honestly, haven't you had that baby yet?" "I think I smell something burning.""You're gonna give birth to a baby elephant if you keep growing like that."

That day, ten years ago, when Essie was still camped out in my inflated, turbulent belly, was a lot like today. I remember standing on the front porch in my nightgown, looking out at the dry, gray/brown/pathetically-faded green landscape with hints of purple on the mountains, and feeling the eerily warm wind flow across my bare ankles.

The weather disappointed me. I wanted a winter baby. Where was winter? I do realize winter doesn't technically start until the 21st of December, but since when does Vermont heed the calendar.

Where were those gently falling snowflakes that appeared in my mind each and every time I practiced my hypnobirthing relaxation routine. There I was, skating in a frozen gray pond, charcoal bare trees all around me, their limbs weighed down with fluffy white snow. The only noise, the sound of my skates scraping against the ice--punishing the frozen water with their sharp blades--and my breathing.

Steadily falling snow has always been the most relaxing thing I can think of. I have a friend, a tropical flower, who thinks I'm nuts.

"Everyone," she says, "but you, dreams of warm breezes and beaches when they want to relax."

Esther apparently wanted to be a winter baby too. She did not finally appear until the first minutes of December 12th. A good two weeks after her estimated due date.

It was rainy and cold the first day of her life, better than nothing, but still not snowing. The freeze came about a week later, and I still remember the look of her, asleep in her baby Bjorn, with snowflakes on her cheeks.

So now we are planning to touch down in London on Esther's tenth birthday, just an hour or two off of the exact time she was born. When I asked Esther what she wanted for her birthday recently, she answered,
"All I want for my birthday is Daddy."

Call me a child spoiler, but she is getting her wish. How could I turn down that request, after all these months without Ian, when we were planning to go to England anyway? 

 I'm not yet ready to consider that trip since I am first getting prepared to go to Guatemala. Yes, I'm going as a blogger to check out Save the Children live, in action.

I've been filling the freezer with easy-to-prepare food for my sister who will be moving in to take care of the girls. I've also been watching videos on the Save the Children-affiliate website See Where the Good Goes. 

What a reality check.  I've been so caught up in the logistics of taking a humanitarian trip like this, not to mention the giddy excitement of traveling to a completely foreign climate, I haven't saved  a minute to consider what it is I'm going to be doing, and seeing, and feeling once I get there.

I joked to one of the Save the Children liaisons about what I might do to keep myself from crying the whole time, I'm a crier in the face of any sign of human ... suffering, joy, hope, loss.....everything. And she told me not to worry, crying goes with the territory. Luckily they aren't expecting a robot.

"Hey, who's that weeping  lady in the corner?"

I leave in less than a week. In the meantime I will be wrestling with the middle-of-the night, irrational -thought demons. I've had the lost passport dream, the kidnapping dream, the never-ending travel itinerary that never reaches its destination dream, and the typical neurotic fears of one of the kids, or me, getting sick just before I leave.

That should take care of the prerequisite mom-anxiety, I hope. 


Was Living Down Under said...

Yes, yes and yes.

Yes, life here does go at lightning speed. I thought it was just me and Sydney, but apparently not.

Yes, snow falling is one of the most peaceful, entrancing things ever. I love the quiet of air as snow falls. And your description of the sound your blade makes as you push yourself on the ice. My favourite sound in the world. Still, when it is icy cold and my nose hairs are freezing as I brave through the wind, my mind wanders to the ocean, the blue sky and the warm air. Lately, despite the warm weather we've been having, my mind has been going there a lot. Winter is only beautiful with snow and until it comes, I will pine for Sydney.

And yes, it's awesome that you're able to give Esther exactly what she's asked for. I'd bet I'd be in tears in anticipation of the girls jumping into daddy's arms. I too, am a crier at the most unexpected things.

Guatamala sounds awesome - I'm glad you're going. Can't wait to hear all about it! In the meantime, I'm sending some zen vibes your way (if there is such a thing), I know I'd need them with all you have going on! :)

Robin said...

I'm glad you've got your travel plans somewhat sorted! I'm sure it will be stressful, but I think you've worked it out in the best possible way: a loving family member to stay with the girls while you go to Guatemala, and holiday plans to be with Ian. You might feel even more run ragged after all the travel and the emotional demands of all of it, but I doubt you'll regret any of it. And when you get to England, you can lean on Ian a bit to recharge!

Betsy said...

Robin: I plan to do more than lean on Ian. I'm imagining putting him on full-time kid duty for at least a week. He owes me that. Though, I also imagine I will want to be with him and the girls all together all the time as well. If I were rich I would disappear to a London hotel for a few nights alone, or with Ian....

Betsy said...

Was Living Down Under: I agree: winter is dumb without snow.

Rowena said...

I know exactly how you feel about going to Guatemala. Three years ago now (wow, has it really been that long?!) I spent two weeks in the Philippines on a service learning trip. Three days into the trip I thought I wanted to turn right back around and come home. I was devastated by the things I saw there. I stuck the trip out, though, and learned more than anyone ever could by just watching a program or listening to someone else tell the story. To this day I consider that to be the hardest moment of my life, that whole trip, but one that I'm glad I had, and I learned the most from.

When I came back to the states, I had a really big problem with depression for a while. Everything here is so extravagant and unnecessary when compared to those places in the world that barely scrape by. It took good, and patient, friends and family to help me out of it little by little. It took more than six months to really come around after that. But it has definitely changed my outlook on life permanently.

I wish you luck and safe travels, Betsy! And you definitely won't be alone with your tears. I look forward to reading about your experience when you return.

Ali D said...

Have a great time in the UK. I'm going back to Vermont (where I am from) for the holidays from Northamptonshire where I live, so we're doing a flip flop. They are predicting another white Christmas here, so hope you have a great time. Eat some mince pies for me while I enjoy cookies and eggnog.

Robin said...

Ha, Betsy, your comment about the hotel room made me laugh. When my husband and I were still together and my kids were still very little, a night alone in a hotel was one of my greatest fantasies! And I've ashamedly admitted that now that my ex and I aren't together, I actually love having a bedroom to myself! So I wish you some much-needed alone time over the holidays (alone-alone and alone with Ian, both!).

Betsy said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Rowena. I am imagining this trip will be a real eye opener for me. Just researching Guatemala has shifted my perspective. My poor kids are hearing a lot of "You have no idea how lucky you are. Please stop complaining!"

Betsy said...

Robin: :)I do think the thought of being totally alone, allowed to sleep uninterrupted, is first and foremost on my mind no matter how much I have "missed" my husband.

Betsy said...

Ali-D: Rest assured I will eat my, and your, share of mince pies. I looooove them. MIL is an avid mince pie baker.

Kingsmom said...

Have wonderful time on both your adventures!