Identity Shift

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.

16 thoughts on “Identity Shift

  1. OH…this IS happening in technicolor and I most clearly CAN hear the orchestra warming up..
    Will be thinking of you ..as I have been for couple years!
    Amazing really..it’s almost finally here.πŸŽ€πŸŽ€
    “Thank Heaven for little girls….They grow up in a most delightful way!!”
    XXBetsy

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  2. My sister was induced and she also found it very surreal to have that date known- the end of one phase of her life and the beginning of the next.

    It IS wild, the whole thing. And it is strange, and hard, to step away from a work identity, especially one where you are valued for your mind, and to then be subsumed in motherhood, especially if you also feel like a milk cow.

    You do adjust. Your brain does come back (eventually, and then always that little bit busier). And you do, in time, figure out how to reconcile all your selves. But it is work, and I very much felt that the process of becoming a mother only started when my son was placed on my chest. It took time, but we figured it out, and you and your daughters will too.

    Wishing you all the very best in these last few days of waiting. I will be thrilled to hear that they have arrived.

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  3. Good luck. Glad the doctors are playing it safe. Planned c-sections are waaaaay better than emergency ones (I’ve had both, so I can say that with confidence, ha ha!)

    Wishing your family the very best, there’s nothing like a spring chick… or two! πŸ™‚

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  4. Wild it is!! I can not wait for these girls to breath their first breaths and to be quickly nestled into your arms!! I look so forward to your next update, sleep haze and all, where we will hear about your first days (weeks/ months) of motherhood! Changed forever in a good way!! All our best to a safe and speedy delivery. Ps- my csection was not bad at all (except for the urgent nature of it) and my recovery was very quick. I took no pain meds at all except occassional Tylenol. Do take it VERY slow the first few weeks!! Good luck!!

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  5. I am so thrilled for you. I have been following your story and loving your writing for years. I had a scheduled c-section (due to the complications of infertility) and I found it so surreal to go to bed the night before and think ‘this is my last night without a baby. Tomorrow I wake up to become a mother!’ I wouldn’t have had it any other way though and a scheduled c-section really is special. I found a could be more calm and reflective, even in the mundane moments. I hope all goes so smoothly. And I can’t wait to read your reflections on this huge life change…whenever you find time to write again!! πŸ™‚ Best Wishes!!!

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  6. 4 days! Wishing you a smooth delivery and easy recovery into new motherhood. If you find yourself unaccountably sobbing for no reason–remember the hormone drop is larger with multiples.

    I so look forward to the news of your beautiful daughters’ arrival.

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  7. It is weird to “know” when. Both times I got lucky I had scheduled dates. Both times an emergency arose and skewered those dates.
    Glad you and the girls are being watched carefully. Sending you endurance for this home stretch and hoping for an uneventful, complication free delivery. The rest will unfold and awaken an altogether new awe.

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  8. I’ve been following your blog throughout my own fertility odyssey of miscarriage and thoughts of donor eggs, and such. I just wanted to wish you the best of luck with your delivery, and your future as a mom. I’m so very happy for you. Best wishes for a happy and hopeful future!

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  9. A planet spinning into a new orbit…absolutely!!! And a new identity to layer next to and around your other intellectual and professional ones. I’m still adjusting but my heart is so much fuller than I ever thought it could be. Wishing you an abundance of joy as you welcome your precious daughters into this world.

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