There’s a line that emerged on my belly sometime during the last trimester. A faint, thin, dark line that ran from my pubis all the way to the small freckle that I had never noticed right in between my breasts. My skin is fair and so the line is light, not that dark, barely noticeable. But I’d been looking for it, hoping for it, as I wanted to be marked by this event. Like a tattoo. To have it indelibly written on my skin: Here inside lies life, emerging. Or, later, that it would stay around, saying forever: Here, inside, grew life. I’ve read that this line may fade, as my belly button retreated. What was once a deep innie became an arrogantly pushing outie in the last month. Now, it has burrowed back into the furrows of my soft stomach and I can’t see it like I could a few months ago. I want this line to stay. I lay in my bathtub this morning with my hands on my flatter and softer belly, missing the baths I took in my 9thmonth, when I’d watch Huck’s feet ski across the inside of my skin, an alien moving around inside me. I’d talk to him, whisper, sing, anything to just beg him to stay and to come out healthy.
He is here, of course, and he’s healthy and he’s 3 months old and I’m still sleep deprived but getting used to the short shifts of dreams in between feedings. I’m getting used to the last minute panic before leaving the house of “Where is the Red Wooby?” because the red dog Wubanub pacifier can make the difference between a calm outing to the grocery store or a complete meltdown. We should really have a few on hand…
Black line. Line of demarcation. Line in the sand. It feels like having this physical reminder of the last year is important to me as I’m afraid I’ll forget things. Already time has folded in on itself and it feels like yesterday that he was born, it feels like forever ago.
This time last year I was waiting for a call from my Ob-Gyn to find out if I was pregnant. I was certain I was. When we went into the Clinic to have the blastocyte transferred into me, I did all the things. I brought my blue meditation scarf that one of my best friends had given me. I bought a long necklace that ended in a lapis arrow, deep blue, and rested on my belly button. I brought things for my pockets and my purse. I meditated. I conjured my spirit guides. I lay on that operating table the peaceful beatific picture of Mother. I knew it would work. A half an hour later, we were at a Cracker Barrel and I ate all of the breakfasts, famished, and convinced I was pregnant. I didn’t want to sneeze – afraid the microscopic potential life force gently placed inside me by a tube could be pushed out muscularly. My body started to feel different, my dreams were vivid. I knew I was pregnant. I started to plan.
10 days later, I went into the lab to take a bloodtest and waited until they called me with the results. When they did – and it was negative – I was stunned. Numb. Shocked. How could I KNOW and then it wasn’t?
As it turns out, I had been. It had ‘stuck’. And then it fell apart. They could know this by some hormone level. I felt punished. Karmic retribution. I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. It was a dark day. Jamey held me while a volcanic grief vomited out of me, buckling my knees. He gave me about 10 minutes of ugly crying, until he said, “Put your sneakers on. We’re going for a walk,” and on that walk he convinced me that it was all out of our hands and that we should try one more time. He made me laugh. He literally dove into the dark cavern with a flashlight, put a rope around my waist and hoisted me up to the daylight again.
This time last year.
My baby is sleeping in his crib right now and my dog is snoring behind me in the room next door which is my office as I write this. The house hums with air conditioning. It is 90 degrees and raining.
I don’t remember making the decision to become a mother. I just leapt into the darkness with a casual adventurous trust. I hadn’t really thought through how my career would change, how my way of making money would be compromised and have to shift; how my body would change, soften, hurt; how my rage and sorrow would flip flop around joy and laughter, a hormonal whiplash that does not get better when the baby is born; how my feet would grow a half size and that closet full of expensive boots and shoes now taunts me with my former self, as I live in slippers and flip flops; how my breasts would leak milk anytime I hear a baby cry and how it’s quite possible that my hair is matted with spit up as I type this.
I knew women that were born to be good mothers. They were the babysitters who loved the job. I hated that job but did it for the easy money. I love my nieces and nephews but in short stints. My attention span isn’t suited for parenting. I never considered myself ‘nurturing’.
But I am. Maybe it’s a gift I was graced with as my baby was pulled from the small slice in my abdomen. What wasn’t there before is there in spades now. I love this soft out of shape body so much more than I loved the yoga-toned flat-stomach one I had a few years ago. I have the distracted attention span of a sparrow, I walk through my world these days in a dreamlike state, half in and half out of this world, all eyes and ears to my baby. I forget to send thank you notes, to return calls and texts. I exist in the liminal space: all watery poetry.
Please don’t ask me to do math or be rational or organized right now. I’m not that person. I’m a new mother.
I have the scar to prove it. I’ve been marked. With a dark line. I hope it stays there forever. Like a tattoo.