Ready or Not

In a previous post, I talked about the symmetry of the birth of this project and the birth of my baby, waxing poetic about the neatness of their parallel beginnings.  I didn’t want to start blogging daily until after Lil Mil was born because it was important to me that my detour into Life with a Newborn start concurrently with my attempt to embrace that detour.  As it turns out, I’m a week into motherhood already and haven’t written a word of the novel.  That will change tomorrow.

If these two births are indeed parallel, then today is my labor day.  Last Saturday at 9:30 a.m., my contractions started.  Of course, at the time, I didn’t know that I would be holding my baby less than 17 hours later.  As the contractions got stronger and closer together, it began to sink in that this was indeed it.  I was in labor.  I told Husband that I wanted to stay home as long as possible, that since this was my first baby, it could be a whole day before we needed to go to the hospital.  He packed the car.

At five o’clock that evening, I knew it was time.  It wasn’t that my contractions were that strong or that close together even.  I just … knew.  So we left the movie we were watching and headed to the hospital.

As we drove, I tried to absorb the moment.  To be in the now.  I looked over at Husband. He looked at me.  We grinned at each other.  ”Is this it?” I asked.

“I dunno,” he said.  We grinned some more.  A contraction hit.  I grimaced.  He drove faster.

At this point, I still thought Lil Mil’s arrival was a day away.  I figured we’d check into the hospital, I’d get my epidural, and then we’d sleep.  Lil Mil would arrive on the morning of his/her due date, after mommy and daddy had gotten a good night’s sleep.  I liked that plan.  It gave me 12 hours to transition into a THIS IS IT mentality.  A night to contemplate and percolate and prepare.  Some time to just THINK and BE.

Lil Mil had other plans.

At exactly 12:01 a.m. on January 17th — my due date — a nurse informed me that I was fully dilated and that it was time to start pushing.  My baby was coming whether I liked it or not.

And she did.  Two hours and seven minutes later, Lil Mil made her entrance.  Just like that, she was here.

Which is why I’ve decided that, of the two births (hers and my novel’s), hers will end up being the easier of the two.

Why?  Because her birth was an imperative.  It wasn’t something I could control, or manage or art direct.  Ready or not, here she came.  Despite my fears and anxieties and trepidation about motherhood.  It was time for her to come and so she came.  Simple as that.

This novel is different.  This novel won’t be born unless I actively birth it.  Unlike my daughter, this book does not have a will of its own.   If I don’t wake up tomorrow and start writing, it won’t get written.

Not so with Lil Mil.  In a lot of ways, her story began without me.  Sure, I was there.  When it was time to push, I pushed.  But by that point, momentum had taken over.  There was nothing to do but push.

Sure, childbirth is exhausting and painful and messy.  But the fact that it just BOOM! happens is kinda nice.  It doesn’t mess around.  It gets itself done.

What if every “birth” was like that?  What if I could wake up tomorrow and go into book labor?  How great would it be if this novel just forced itself out of me, without my having to do anything but push?

If only.

Instead, I’m going to have to manufacture the circumstances of my book’s birth.  I’m going to have to force myself to labor through the writing process, even when I don’t want to – even though I know I have the power to stall, to delay, to put it off until a more convenient time.

Eh.

I love this project.  I love its premise.  And I want to do this – I really want to do this.  But let’s be honest:  it doesn’t sound all that pleasant.   It sounds exhausting and messy and (mentally) painful.  But if I’ve learned anything from my daughter’s birth, it’s this:

It’s worth it.  It’s totally worth it.

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