I want to tell you how awesome Natalie is. She’s been speaking at a two-year-old level since she was about eighteen months old, and now has progressed from two-word sentences to full-on dissertations. “All a people get ON!” she announced early on, noting the crowd on the D6 bus. “No, no sausage. I want ice cream please,” she’ll tell you, very politely, at dinnertime. “I all done, Dr. Warfield!” she indignantly informed her astonished pediatrician as he administered her 21-month shots. “I ride a merry-go-round with Nana and Bubba and Daddy! I go on a horse!” she’ll tell you whenever you remind her of this event, and will frequently follow up with “I watch a video merry-go-round on mommy PHONE!” She’ll repeat anything you say, or try to, often coining portmanteau words that riff on a familiar syllable. A ride-on dinosaur toy at the park is a “stego-horse.” Her stuffed caterpillar rocker is a “cater-pillow.” Her paternal grandparents live in “Virginger.” And the Georgetown Reservoir, which we pass on the way downtown, is the “reser-water.”
She is that wonderful, and has been for months. We moved from a snug downtown condo to a big echoing house with an hourlong bus commute, switched her into a new daycare the following week, and my solid, reliable trooper of a daughter has remained as contented and well-rested and full of sunshine as ever. She slept through the first night in her new room and has kept up the trend ever since. She still naps for two hours a day, and is joyous and ebullient and almost uniformly good company for the rest of her waking hours. For months I’ve been meaning to blog about it, but months have passed, and I haven’t.
I want to tell you about our new house, too. It’s big and modern and full of light, vast plateglass windows, acres of screen porch, and just enough things needing done that the nesting urge has nagged at me for months. We need a new master bathroom (the place doesn’t have much of one right now, just a little water closet with an adjacent sink) but, after soliciting a half dozen quotes from local contractors, we reluctantly admitted that it just wasn’t in the budget this year. So we have been nesting on a smaller scale: converting the spare bedroom (the would-be master bath) into a dressing room, fixing up the second garage from an overlarge outdoor closet into a space where a car can actually reside, installing outdoor lights and organizing the bookshelves and then spending lots of time on the screen porch eating bratwursts off the fancy grill. Settling into the place and making it home has involved hundreds of little decisions, choices we made here and there, and for months I’ve been meaning to blog about it, but months have passed, and I haven’t.
I want to tell you about the crazy spell that just concluded at work. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t even want to think about it any more. As it was happening, all I wanted to do was get through it, and now that it’s over I just want to put the whole marathon mercifully behind me and resume my neglected practice of getting a good night’s sleep. I will say that, in the space of one month (September), I filed three motions for summary judgment, opposed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, completed two rounds of dispositive briefing in a major injunction case, opposed two other motions, and, on the very last day of the month — because September wasn’t quite done with me yet — met no fewer than six (6) filing deadlines. I meant to blog about it, to boost myself up through the tough parts, to bask in the light at the end of the tunnel once I’d emerged. But the month passed, and I didn’t.
I want to tell you what a mind-boggling season this has been for our baseball team, the Washington Nationals, previously known for being reliably, almost unwatchably awful. I married into a Nats fan family and have enjoyed having a home team of my own, but had never had much emotionally at stake in their number of wins or losses. Until this year, when they finished with the best record in all of Major League Baseball and made the playoffs, the first time a DC baseball team had done so in eighty years. Previously we’d get home from work on a summer evening and flip on the ballgame for a few innings before giving up and switching to Stephen Colbert on the DVR. Now we were glued to the television every night, all summer long, amazed at what we were seeing. For months I meant to blog about this, but the months passed, and I didn’t.
Most of all, I want to tell you about this other baby I’m having. As I type this I am 29 weeks 2 days pregnant with my second daughter, which makes this a new personal record for my longest blog-drought ever while pregnant. I haven’t written about this pregnancy at all. I didn’t recount any of the first-trimester exhaustion, the strange compulsive mania that replaced the second-trimester apathy I felt last time around, the migraines and backaches and unforeseen difficulties that have made this pregnancy so much more of a job than my previous one.
I had an enormously complex tangle of thoughts that I wanted to sort through in writing: the economic and sociological implications of spawning again, ambivalence about the value of siblings and the (dis)service we might be doing Natalie by making her one, the odd silence and lack of intuitive connection I’ve felt with this baby despite constantly begging her to introduce herself, trepidation at the thought of confronting a difficult infancy after my angelic firstborn utterly failed to school me on the tough parts of parenthood…and so on. I have been meaning to blog about all of this for months, but the months have passed, and I haven’t.
I suspect that this is the real reason why I haven’t done any writing for six months. I suppose I could blame the obvious time-crush of busy job, new house, long commute, active toddler, and other hobbies more compelling than time spent at a screen. (My last concert before maternity leave, the Duruflé Requiem at the Cathedral, is next Sunday. I’ve taken the entire season off from the Kennedy Center. It’s so hard to sing right now, so hard to breathe, harder than it ever was when I was pregnant with Natalie.) But if I’m honest, if I dig past all the other claims on my time, I reach an unsettling truth.
Something has shifted in my head. My husband and daughter, house and job, hobbies and pastimes are as satisfying as ever; my life is as close to perfect as I could ask for, and I would not trade a thing. And yet for some reason I am uncreative, unmotivated, unsteady in my thoughts. Words elude me. I feel fragile driving a car, writing a brief, carrying Natalie to the bus stop. It’s as though I’ve lost my ability to hit any bullseye I target, like I’m walking in the shadow of some terrible thing about to happen. A foreign dark certainty episodically haunts me: I’m going to mess this up. I’m going to drop the ball. Something has blurred my vision, and now I am no longer confident in the boundaries of things.
I wonder if it’s hormones. During my last pregnancy I had plenty of gripes and complaints, but I don’t recall the general sense of the air thickening and the frequency of soundwaves decreasing all around me, as though some editor had slowed the film of my life. I remember having energy and creativity and libido last time. I remember feeling such an amazing connection with my fetal daughter, who introduced herself to me and then kept in touch the entire pregnancy. Now I’m older, more tired, sore sooner, quicker to exhaust my patience, already losing sleep, and have no idea who this person is who is tenanting my midsection. Pregnancy should be anchoring me, and instead it seems to have set me adrift.
So I haven’t blogged about it. To tell a story, you need to have a story in you with the energy to tell itself. And right now, the only thing in me with any energy at all is my second daughter (who, to her credit, started kicking me several weeks earlier than her sister did, and has been measuring a week to ten days ahead of schedule this whole time). I wouldn’t change this — if feeding her all of my best energy is the price of having another beautiful wonderful daughter, I’ll pay it gladly and without complaint — but if it means that I go dark and quiet for awhile, then at least we’ll all know why.