I have been holding onto a few things, Internet. They are little things – completely inconsequential and frivolous and don’t have any bearing on anything. And they are even more ridiculous because I can’t change them. Nor will I (probably) have a chance to repeat the circumstances around these things, in order to change the outcome of similar events.
But they are weighing me down. I am heavy with ten thousand worries, big and small, real and imagined (mainly imagined), and I don’t need the extra luggage straining my back and my shoulders.
I read once, somewhere, about something, maybe from a culture different from my own, I don’t know (and apparently this is what I do now, I just type without looking anything up… although honestly if I DID take the time to look things up my typing window might close so there you have it), about releasing little paper boats into the sea with a candle glimmering inside. Like I said, I don’t remember what the little boats or the candles signify, but I would like to commandeer the idea for my own purposes: to put these things I’ve been holding tightly in my fists and rubbing rubbing rubbing until they are smooth, but still solid, still heavy, into little vessels and releasing them into the water to flicker and gleam and gently fade away.
My whole state is frozen solid, so I don’t have ready access to a body of water. So I am going to scatter these pebbles across the page… and let them go.
(These are so small, Internet, and so silly. But they are so heavy.)
(If you have similar things, big or small, that you want to release here: please do so.)
1. I am letting go of the birth announcement. I really, truly wanted to send out birth announcements when Carla was born. For some reason it was – is – important to me, to mark her arrival in that specific way. I made a point of letting my husband know, in the months and weeks before her birth, that it was important to me. We picked out templates and crafted language and had our announcements waiting online for us to fill them with a photo of our sweet newborn.
But we didn’t ever send them out. Her birth didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped, and she wore a nasal cannula for awhile, and then even when her little face was clear, she had an IV on her arm and leads strapped to her chest, so we couldn’t get a GOOD photo of her when she was brand new.
And then in the early weeks, she developed baby acne – which, okay, I realize that is a STUPID reason not to take a photo of your kid, I REALIZE IT – and I wanted to wait until THAT cleared up… And then, even though we took a billion photos of her a day, all of them were gritty iPhone photos and none of them was just right.
My husband did a little photo shoot of her one day, with his fancy non-phone camera. She must have been a few weeks old by then, but I insisted: it was still fine to send out birth announcements! We got a couple from friends a few MONTHS after their babies’ birth and I was fine with that! So he snapped away and got some beautiful artsy photos that I love, to this day. But they were photos where her little face was half covered or half in shadow. And even though we loaded them into our online template, I just didn’t LOVE them. And I wanted to LOVE them.
So we never sent out birth announcements.
I can’t do that over. I can’t do her birth announcement ever again. And that’s fine. We did a holiday card with photos of her and we included her birth details in the accompanying letter and that just has to do.
I have to let it go.
2. This is similar in nature: I have to let go of Santa Claus. It was really important to me that we do the whole “first Christmas, first photo with Santa” thing with Carla. I really wanted to do it. But absolutely NONE of my family members wanted to do it – and for good reasons! Long lines! Traffic! Parking! Gross dude in a Santa costume holding my baby! (Apologies – I acknowledge that not all mall Santas are gross dudes.)
And I let them convince me – I didn’t even really put up a fuss – because I didn’t want to experience this Magic Moment by myself, but I also didn’t want to force other people to have the Magic Moment with me. And it would have required forcing.
I think the reason that this and the birth announcement and possibly other things on this list bother me so much is because I feel like this is My One Shot. We plan on Carla being the only. (Minds can change – we are not closing doors. I never wanted ANY for most of my life, remember?) So I feel this enormous (self-applied) pressure to Do It Right and Do It All. To make sure that we get ALL the experiences in, so we don’t regret anything. I want – I am trying – so badly to Enjoy Every Moment, even the bad ones, even the ones I complain about, because… this is IT. Every moment happens and then it’s gone. Carla is a million of those little candles floating away into the darkness, brilliant glimmers so numerous they outshine the sun, but still: fading, one by one, as fast as they collect.
3. I have to let go of the anaesthesiologist. While I was always pro-epidural, I wanted to see what contractions were like. I really did. I wanted to see how far I could go. (Plus, I didn’t want to do the epidural too early, and with my takes-her-time baby, that was a REAL risk.) So I started having contractions at sometime in the early evening the night before Carla was born. They were very frequent, and quickly grew in intensity. I admit that they HURT, a LOT, and I didn’t handle it very well.
And here is where I say: pain is personal, the same experience affects people differently, and plus no two experiences are the same and blah blah. I had never thought of myself as person with a low tolerance for pain, but perhaps I am. Because the contractions HURT to the point where I don’t remember much of that evening except in snips and flashes. I remember asking for the epidural and then wailing at my husband about wanting it now and where was it, why was it taking so long?
The worst: I remember being SURE that I was progressing! The contractions were so painful, and so close together, and had been going on for HOURS, surely I was practically ready to deliver! So the OB resident came in to check and I was… one centimeter dilated. ONE CENTIMETER.
I feel the need to tell you, in even more excruciating detail, just HOW painful the contractions were. But I suspect that if you got to more than one centimeter without an epidural, or if you went more than a few hours of having contractions, you are giving me the side-eye because I am clearly a pansy. So I am going to reiterate: pain is personal, different for everyone, etc. Maybe I am a wuss, but whatever – I can’t change that.
So here I am, disappointed that I am not progressing and that Carla is continuing to dig her heels in (SIXTEEN DAYS LATE, remember) and in serious pain and wondering where the epidural is.
And the sainted anaesthesiologist or anaesthesia fellow, I’m not sure – in either case, he has worked with my husband before – shows up and angels sing and whatever. And I don’t remember WHY he says it, because I must have held still enough for the epidural to be placed because HE PLACED IT, but he says to my husband, “She sure is making a lot of noise for only being one centimeter.”
It makes me mad to this day! What a jerk! Saying it in the first place, when he wasn’t nor ever WILL HE BE the one in labor, but actually saying it OUT LOUD within earshot of the patient! To her husband!
But it also makes me embarrassed, like I was acting in a way unbecoming of a woman in labor. Or like I wasn’t doing labor right. And, okay, who cares about that guy, but what if my husband thought the same thing? What if he was embarrassed by me?
There is no reason to keep thinking about that. The guy is a jerk with no bedside manner who forgot that he was dealing with a person and her spouse, not chatting about a case in a textbook with his medical school classmate. I tried labor; it wasn’t for me. Pain is personal and different for everyone.
I have to let it go.
* * *
There are some other little fifty-pound pebbles I need to send off in their glowing boats. But this is enough for today.
* * *
Things I won’t ever let go:
My husband, in the delivery room, helping me push. He cheered and encouraged and wouldn’t let me give up. I didn’t know he knew how to do that! It was such a delightful surprise.
My baby girl, once we got home, in those early first weeks: milk drunk, head lolling on my shoulder, purring softly, cream scented breath.
I don’t feel lighter yet. Maybe once I hit publish.