Notes on a hospitalized pregnant woman Pt. 33

September 20th: I guess I whined about it enough because MOM SENT FLOWERS! A combination of orange and pink dahlias, yellow roses, purple and yellow somethings. It smells like a botanical garden in my hospital room.

Is there maybe a pesticide I can use to keep nurse leaders out? A new director came in (they all look the same now) and asked how I was and if she could get me anything and OH MY HOW CUTE YOU HAVE A GIANT PINK BEAR WITH WITH THE LITTLE PINK BEAR OOOHHHH ooooooohhhhhh. No stop. STOP. Oh god go away.

The humanitarian in me wants to appease her. The residual catholic guilt in me fears my obvious disgust will negatively effect my Medicaid coverage. The majority of me wants to hit her with a stethoscope. After a few awkward attempts at conversation, she leaves but her granny perfume remains. She leaves the door open as if to passive aggressively protesting my antisocial behavior.

I have to get out before I’m interrogated by more visitors. I escape just in time for the Nepalese maid to arrive. The same one who kept declaring, “You are SO BIG.”

“You are so CUTE,” she says now every time I see her. 

At the women’s pavilion front entrance a very large woman with a cane and flower dress says: “you tryin’ to get that baby to drop huh?” 

“No,” I grunt.

Maybe if I put on my headphones. I’m still listening to a book on audible about French child-rearing. It talks about pausing to comfort a crying baby, spacing feeding times out, letting a child experience limitations and frustrations, and helping a child experience compromise and patience. This makes them happier in the end. This helps them understand gratitude.

This is advice from a country with subsidized healthcare, guaranteed maternity and paternity leave, guaranteed vacation leave, great coffee, films and museums, beautiful mountains, beautiful beaches, and a quality education system emphasizing creativity and inventiveness. While France charges college tuition, it’s only around 200 dollars at public universities, (a dramatic difference from what you’d pay in the United States which, for me, is a number I don’t think I can even fathom much less pay off in my lifetime). 

French families also make cake almost everyday. I love cake. And I love baguettes, wine, pan au chocolat and cheese. France loves pleasure. I love pleasure. Why am I not in France? Why isn’t Charley interested in France?

Coco Chanel and Charles Baudelaire are from France. Marcel Proust, George Sand, Gustave Flaubert, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoire, Jacques Derrida, Jim Morrison, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn are all from France.

French is the language of Enlightenment, reason, debate and love. French is poesie belle.

French child-rearing is treating a child (even a baby) like a little human, not a piece of property or a babydoll. That means treating them with respect, gentleness and patience. 

The surest way to make a child miserable is to give him or her everything they expect they cannot do without. That’s often just a fallacy of their cravings. While French parents are strict with a narrow list of matters, they’re also very relaxed and calm about the majority of other matters. They stress constant learning, in and out of the classroom, and with a balance of severity with key issues and flexibility with every other thing, parents feel a confidence that leaves children feeling illuminated.

France isn’t the only country I would consider raising my child, and I don’t have many unsurpassable obstacles in my way. But there is one obstacle I can’t defeat: Charley refuses to leave the Rockies or Four Corners, and he’s determined to live in a ski town. A mix of high desert and ski hills, Taos was Charley’s old town and our new compromise. Taos was what happened when we drove to see Annie on her deathbed, and Charley said to me, “I want to move here right now and I’m going to do it.” And then I said, “Well that only works if you do something about it”, and I bought the local paper and made him call some numbers. 

Della met us at a house on the Mesa- brand new, three bedroom and cheaper than are one-bedroom apartment in Jackson. There were no pan au chocolat here, but there were green chiles.

“You get your money’s worth here,” Della said. Here was a walk-in closet and a jacuzzi tub. Here was a large kitchen.

“If you want to give it to us we’ll take it.” And we did. Then we drove back to Jackson to pack and to figure everything out. We were broke and I was stressed and when I went to Dr. Roberts she said my blood pressures were crazy high and that brings us back to where we are now.

The longer I’m here without Charley, especially when he doesn’t call, the longer I feel like I’m on my own. I feel like I’m floating and there is no detour from Point A to B. I am in A 1/2 and I’m never leaving. My hospital room is purgatory. 

This is my No Exit. In Sartre’s “No Exit,” three people are stuck in a room of Second-Empire French furnishings for all eternity. They come to realize, over the span of a conversation, that they are dead and can never leave. The three of them are “inseparable,” “inextricably linked.” On top of the “agony of the human mind,” they are allowed no respite from each other, since neither sleep and nighttime exist. Realizing the absurdity of everything, they break into laughter and collapse onto fancy couches and the play ends.

This isn’t exactly my situation, but I am inextricably linked to the child in my womb, and sleep hardly exists between my med schedule, and yes it all feels very absurd. What I have to remember is that this isn’t the end point and that it’s only the beginning. Before I know what hit me I will be surrounded by dogs, cats, my husband (I have a husband?), and a little daughter who currently seems like nothing but am animate lump on my belly.

Mirror or no mirror, I feel like a different person with my swollen belly and swollen face, my red, dry eyes and messed up hair.

“When I can’t see myself I begin to wonder if I really and truly exist. I pat myself just to make sure, but it doesn’t help much.”

I pat myself. This isn’t a dream or a room with Second-Empire French furnishings. Trump really is running for president. My husband really is in Taos. Soon I will be a mother.

Single women like to joke about not getting knocked up and not wanting to get knocked up. I did it. I was married to the morning after pill. I used to say things like, “I wish I loved anything as much as newly pregnant women love posting their fetal ultrasound images on Facebook,” and “What city can I move to where everyone’s not having babies?” and then I got pregnant and I was the one posting ultrasound pictures.

I watch “I Heart Huckabees”. Vivian Jaffe, (an existential detective played by Lily Tomlin), says, “Have you ever transcended space and time?” and Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) says, “Yes. No. Uh, time, not space… No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I live in a world constituted by others, and restrained by schedules and commitments. And in this moment I’m separated from the normal flow of my responsibilities. “Do nothing” is my motto. “Stay pregnant” is my goal.

If everything reoccurs and happens all at once, time is never coordinated or subordinated to anything or anyone. Time and space are constructed by perceptions and the realities we’ve constructed our subject to the limitations of perception. Basically, there is no more tangible reality out of the hospital than there is in the hospital, and all the doing that I do on the outside is equal to all of the nothing that I do here.

Plato, identified time with the period of motion of the heavenly bodies, and space as that in which things come to be. Aristotle, in “Book of Physica”, defined time as the number of changes with respect to before and after, and the space of an object as the innermost motionless boundary of that which surrounds it. It wasn’t until new debates and new minds tackled the enigma, that philosophers were able to dissociate time and space from material and matter. 

Albert Markovski strives to know the meaning of everything and he seeks help in figuring his life out. Who am I? What’s the point? What do you mean by all this time and space? He seeks to shed his basic identity: his job, his family, his perceptions. He isn’t in fact separated and isolated from the world. 

Maybe I am Albert. I don’t look like Jason Schwartzman and I don’t head an environmental group, but I am learning to disconnect from the daily grind and detach from the constraints of my problems. In seeing them as problems they become problems. Everything is subject to my perception.

I have this tattoo on my left wrist. It says “I am”. I’d just blacked out and flipped my car in San Francisco. I got a DUI and was feeling bad about a lot of things. So I got “I am”. It could have been from practically anything, but it was from a Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar”: “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” And I’m not anything you think I am.

I’m not a writer. I’m not a wife. I’m not a bookstore clerk or a pregnant woman. I simply exist. I am. 

Jeanine comes in at midnight with blood pressure medicine. “Did you hear the lady fighting next door?” she asks.

“No. What happened?”

The lady I’d seen slowly walking the halls with an IV, who’d smiled and asked how I was doing, had a C-section a day earlier and was now fighting with her boyfriend. I’d somehow missed all the screaming and banging that was echoing down the halls.

“Fucking men.”

“It’s a different time,” says Jeanine. 

“Is it though?”

She laughs and nods. “Yeah I guess it’s not that different.” 

“The unavoidable drama of existence.”

Jeanine looks at me funny and leaves.

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