The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Pregnant Pause

Rachael Conlin Levy

39 weeks, 3 days and counting … the number of times I wake up at night to pee (three) … the number of times I ask for aches to be rubbed away (once daily) … the number of contractions I feel in the 10 minute walk to my children’s school in the morning (four) … the number of baby heartbeats in a minute (137) … the number of times the voice on the other end of the phone expects to hear labor has started (every time). The numbers bore me. The waiting bores me. Being round and ripe as a pumpkin ready to be split open and spill its seeds upon a newspapered table bores me.

I’m one giant, tired yawn that yearns to wake up, move on, charge ahead into a rich, complicated life spilling over with family and writing. For I believe — no, I’m determined — to kick-start a career that stalled out nine years ago when I became a mother. And this time it will happen, not because I want it to but because I’m not interested in learning to be a better mother. Don’t give me a book on the latest parenting method. Don’t sign me up for a mommy-and-me playgroup. Sure, I’ll be the best mother I can be, but what I really want is the chance to be the best writer I can be. I want to move away from a child-centered existence, and instead care for my baby with benign neglect. I want writing to be as critical as my cups of afternoon tea (two), and as regular as the punches and kicks the baby gives to my belly (10 between 9 and 10 p.m.).

My role model is Harriet Beecher Stowe. According to an article on the website Write from Home, one day Harriet wrote that, “I have been called off at least a dozen times … to nurse the baby, then into the kitchen to make chowder for dinner, and now I am at it again, for nothing but deadly determination enables me ever to write: it is rowing against wind and tide … the spirit moves now and I must obey.” It will take a mountain of determination to listen and heed that small voice of inspiration after a day of diapers and drool, but bring it on! I say. Give me the baby over this belly crisscrossed with stretch marks and plagued by indigestion (nightly).

Monday it stormed, and as the the sky turned to slate and the wind tore the leaves from the trees, I thought, “Tonight, baby! Tonight!” My friend, Jenny, a former labor and delivery nurse, said that the hospital always had a spike in deliveries whenever it rained or snowed. “Something about a change in barometric pressure,” she guessed. So I smiled and hummed a few lines of the Sheryl Crow song that I had taken the liberty to change: “Come baby, come baby, come baby, come, Baby come.” And when Marcel poured himself a second glass of wine, I warned him that I was planning on having the baby that night. But he just laughed and raised his glass — to the wine, to my whine.

One response to “Pregnant Pause”

  1. Kyna says:

    Eat more rice, Rachael. Last week I learned that wooden ships that carried rice as their cargo had to be careful not to let the rice get wet. If it did, it would expand and split the ships open.

    One of our students brought a Taiwanese dish to our Halloween potluck: baked pumpkins filled with rice, sausage, and chestnuts. I asked her if she split the pumpkin open, and she said, no, the rice expands and busts the pumpkin open in the oven.

    So, there you go…

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