Of Human Bondage

Bonding to one’s child, particularly when you’re the one cultivating it like a prize fairground pumpkin, is an interesting process. We’ve known for sure for three and a half weeks, suspected for the week before that, and at first the enthusiasm was very easy. Some of it still is: mindfulness of everything that goes into my body, never a great concern of mine, is forefront. I haven’t had a caffeinated beverage in a month, down almost cold turkey from a 3-cup coffee/2 can Diet Coke daily habit. I made two gift registries for a baby shower that I probably won’t have, not having much of a social network here, just because it was fun to look at baby things. We even started allocating funds and special savings in order to buy the single best carseat on the market, the Britax Marathon, which costs more than an 80GB iPod. And why not, we reasoned? We’re young and normally frugal with our money; there’s a surplus in the budget now that wine and beer are no longer recreational items. Why not get swept up and go a bit wild? Why not get enthusiastic with paint colors and cute baby items? Why not start researching glass bottles vs. BPA-free plastic ones? Get up, get excited, get funky. Tom, for his part, has remained unflaggingly joyous and has adopted the idea that my belly button is a microphone with a direct line to the baby. It’s adorable.

But the worse I feel, the harder it is for me to feel good and enthusiastic about this endeavor. I know this is normal, and I know it will change once I start feeling better. At the moment, the initial momentum has worn off and I simply feel gross. I want a long, hot bath (forbidden) with a glass of wine (ditto) followed by an enormous plate of ahi sushi (so, so forbidden) and to wash it down with a full-power Diet Coke (shout the answer if you know it), but mostly I just want to feel better. The economy has issued my company a full body blow, and while it’s foolish to take the blame for the state and national economic crisis, that and a second issue at work that I won’t discuss here still smacks of personal failure. Feeling like a failure is bad enough; feeling like a failure while riding waves of rollercoaster nausea is enough to make me want to lie down and hide.

But, I won’t. I have no intention of calling in sick; no one else should have to be called upon to do my job for me. And though I can’t feel him or her yet, I can pull enough strength from the idea that my one real job, my only task, is to do everything I can to make sure I have a healthy baby. It’s not healthy to lie down and give up.

And surprisingly enough, I can draw strength from the idea that what I want no longer matters, if what I want is at odds with what the baby needs. It isn’t healthy to disappear into your children, and I do recognize that. But for a little while, it’s all about the little being we’ve affectionately dubbed “the sea monkey.” And that makes it okay. I guess we’re bonding after all.

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