Not to say that motherhood isn’t work. Surely, it is an imposing and critical job that, done well, helps keep society afloat, but there was something surreal and unnerving about driving away from the high school where I teach in a car packed with milk crates full of books and binders, markers, stacks of unwrapped post-it pads, my office coffee cup, knowing that I will not return until September of 2018; to abandon an intellectual identity that has shaped and defined me for fifteen years; to embark on this other wonderful but unfamiliar domestic career.
Everything is ready, sure. The prints I ordered of our wedding flowers came on Friday, completing the finishing touches on the pastel garden-themed nursery, and the room now sits pretty and pristine, waiting for these new occupants to come out and come home. Clothes and blankets and towels are washed, folded, organized in dresser drawers, all of it so clean and perfect that the whole room seems to be holding its breath, the air thick with anticipation. The breast pump came in the mail; the car seats are installed; the bouncer seats are assembled and sit ready in the closet, but so much of this has felt like detached busywork compared to the gravity of what awaits. I keep remembering my wedding day, waking up groggy in the same stupid bed, drinking coffee, marveling at how regular an exceptional day can feel. I keep trying to extrapolate from this memory: I will brush my teeth and put my shoes on and perform other such mundane tasks, get in the car, drive to the hospital that I’ve pass routinely for years on the way to grab a Friday night bite to eat (meals and bottles of wine that so often bore the mark of a flimsy escape from grief and deprivation) and become a mother of two. In my imagination, this change is tectonic in its breadth, a planet yanked by some astronomical force into an entirely new orbit, and it all starts with an unremarkable case of morning breath.
Over the long, hard drag of twin pregnancy, this has felt far away and mostly theoretical, my attention so often refocused on managing the daily miseries of nausea and vomiting that lasted the duration, layered with aches and pains, carpal tunnel, and now hip-to-toe swelling that makes all movement uncomfortable and onerous. However, it looks like I am developing mild preeclampsia, so the doctors are in risk-management mode and searching for a perfect middle ground between infant maturity and the consequences of this complication should it suddenly spike past mild to urgent. The babies have been breech the entire pregnancy and are now too crowded to turn, so I am destined to deliver by c-section, but the chatter seems to be leaning in the direction of taking them a week earlier than my scheduled surgery on March 30th. This has truncated the timeline in a way that really magnifies the awe and bewilderment. I am suddenly mere days away from birth, and it seems that an event this transformational should unfold amid some technicolor backdrop with a dramatic musical score like in the movies, but it doesn’t. It happens in perfunctory increments of paperwork and laundry and appointments until the moment a tiny human is placed on your chest and your life suddenly begins to turn on an entirely new axis. Wild.