Driving to Write

My toddler takes his afternoon nap by falling asleep in the car. Usually it takes about 20 minutes of riding in the car seat for him to finally surrender. Driving around for nap today, I keep getting writing ideas and turn into the parking lot at every municipal park that we pass to jot down notes on the phone. At least I’m not trying to do it while driving. But the frequent stopping to type a few sentences is throwing off the rhythm of the car ride, and it’s keeping him awake. “Oh! This one!” he says when we pull in somewhere else. “Ok! Go out!”

“Sorry honey, Mommy just needs to write some more words down. We ‘ll come back here and get out another day.” He’s supposed to be asleep by now anyway, dammit. The baby is dutifully snoring in his car seat, why can’t the two-year-old just forget about the choo-choo train and about going over railroad tracks and just go the fuck to sleep already so I can get down my ideas before I forget this brilliant turn of phrase about the beautiful things he did today?

Twenty minutes stretches into forty, then sixty. Still no sleeping two-year-old. Now I have to pee, so I start heading back toward the house, thinking maybe he’ll close his eyes by the time we pull in the driveway. He asks for “Snowman again” each time Frosty ends on the Raffi Christmas CD. This is not a good sign– he’s too aware of his surroundings to be asleep three minutes from now.

As I pull in and turn off the car, I’ve accepted the fact that nap time isn’t happening and we’re going back inside. I’m steeling myself for a late afternoon with a toddler who didn’t-quite-nap. Ok, I got this. I’m putting the phone away and I’m going to be fully present with my children, who miss Mama and are tired and hungry. “I have to go pee, honey. I’ll be right back.” I jump out of the car with the keys, my bladder exploding and put all I’ve got into my post-perineal-tear Kegels.

“No! My turn go peepee!” I hear him say as I close the car door. Not a chance, kid. I flash him a sweet I Love You smile and unlock the front door.

I pee alone, and in silence.

Ok. I’m ready for this nap-free afternoon. Let’s do this. I go back outside and take out the baby in his car seat, still snoring. I carefully set the car seat in his crib, and go back for the no-napper. “No! I do it!” he whines as I slide open his door. I reach for his car seat buckles. “NO! I DO IT!”

“Oh. OK,” I say. I know what this means. This means that he really does want to go to sleep but he really doesn’t want to go to sleep, and if I unbuckle his car seat, he is going to flip his shit and everything is going to be the wrong thing for him for the next four hours. Poor guy. I’m not going to let that happen to either one of us, so back in the car we go. I turn around and go back ¬†inside to get the baby, still snoring, and gingerly re-click him into the car.

“Back in?”

“Yes, honey. Back in.” As I start the car he looks longingly to the front door.

“Hoooome” he whimpers.

“I know, you want to go home.” I turn off Frosty as we get to the stop sign. No talking, no music. He’ll be asleep halfway through our usual loop. I check his drooping eyelids in the rear view mirror. The next red light is particularly long, and I listen to his breaths getting deeper over the traffic noise. I flick on my right turn signal. We’re going home.

I get a full hour of writing time sitting in the parked car in the driveway, the soft sounds of two boys in slumber the only background noise. Miracle. Eventually the baby stirs. We transfer inside, the no-napper still asleep as I slowly lower him onto his bed with all my love and tenderness. In that moment he embodies all the fleeting, fragile miracles in the world, and I am full of gratitude.

Waiting Room

I’m sitting in the lab waiting to get bloodwork done for hypothyroidism and to check my iron levels. The last time I was in this office was in my 39th week, to get an ultrasound to check baby’s estimated weight. The midwives were concerned that baby might be big so they wanted me to have a late-term ultrasound to make sure I wasn’t growing a 13 pound baby. The day of the ultrasound I was having what I thought was early labor- BH contractions very steadily 5-7 minutes apart. I went to the ultrasound (it was a conditional requirement in order to be cleared for a water birth at the hospital) thinking that I’d probably be at the hospital before the radiologist even had a chance to make his/her report. The contractions cooled off when I got back home and rested, and didn’t return again for ten days when I FINALLY went into true labor. My mother had the same pattern when she was pregnant with me; 48 hours of steady but painless BH contractions, then nothing but a few hours of BH in the evening for ten days, then labor finally arriving. I’ve heard lots of women say that their labor was very similar to their mother’s labor for their birth.

Back in the waiting room for my blood draw, Aran is asleep on my chest in his sling, resting his full weight on my ribs and belly. He was on the inside the last time I was in this room and now he ‘s on the outside. Simple, obvious, but still miraculous.

Did you have a similar pattern of labor as your mother?

Are there certain places, foods, or images that trigger strong memories of pregnancy and birth for you?