Sunday, November 05, 2006

Breaths and Compressions

Yesterday we took our third and final baby-related class: infant safety and CPR. This was infinitely better than our childbirth class. Of course, now I feel compelled to insist that anyone who is ever alone with our children be CPR certified. The instructional video we watched included a harrowing scene of two grandparents babysitting their infant granddaugther. ("Don't worry; everything will be fine. You kids have a good time.") When grandma goes in to check on the baby in her crib, she's stopped breathing. She proceeds to perform CPR until the paramedics arrive. We don't find out what happens, but to my eye, that baby looked pretty dead. Then again, it was a doll. My point, though, is that neither my parents or A's know how to perform infant CPR. I think when they're here for Thanksgiving, I'm going to give them a little crash course. I'll demonstrate on the turkey.

No other big news. I'm feeling increasingly tired, unwieldy, and achey. A good night's sleep is a thing of the past; I wake up every few hours either needing to pee, needing to change positions (which takes some doing), or needing to pop a couple of Tums. The heartburn is killer, and what or when I eat seems to make no difference. It really is a cruel irony that in the last weeks of pregnancy it's impossible to sleep through the night.

The fatigue and achiness, coupled with the feeling that there are a million things I need to do, make it difficult to get in good, solid stretches of writing. And being on the homestretch of a novel draft is a surprisingly daunting place to be. I've been piling up characters and plotlines and now, somehow, I'm supposed to make it all come together and Mean Something. Knowing, of course, that most of what I wrote in the beginning will end up changing in the rewrite anyway. It's a little like running across a bridge that's crumbling behind you.

And sometimes I'm convinced that I've forgotten how to write entirely. The other day, I copied out a few paragraphs from a novel pulled at random from my shelves, just to convince myself that what I'm writing bears at least some passing resemblance to what is generally accepted as fiction writing.

I'm trying not to worry too much about how I'm going to get this novel done after the monkeys show up, and simply accept that it may take several years. At 32, I'm too old to be a wunderkind, or even a "promising young voice in contemporary fiction," anyway. The (Iowa Writers') Workshop sort of fucks you up into thinking you have to hit it big as soon as possible. Things like family, children, the need for income, etc. don't really figure in. I've tried hard to remind myself that there are many paths and paces to publication. (Julia Glass, for example, didn't publish the fabulous Three Junes until she was in her mid-forties.) But it's not always easy to hang on to that perspective. Especially when you see your classmates' stories showing up in The New Yorker or spot their books on the shelves of your local B&N. They're giving readings, I'm giving urine specimens to my obstetrician. It's my choice, and I don't regret it. I just hope I don't lose the time and motivation to write entirely.

4 Comments:

Blogger Churlita said...

You have to cut yourself slack about how much you can achieve with two babies, or you will make yourself feel inadequate. Twins = two full-time jobs. After a while, you will work out a schedule with them and be able to sneak in some writing here and there.

When you're teaching your parents CPR, will you shake its leg and say, "Turkey, turkey are you alright?"

1:19 AM  
Blogger SER said...

You are the most disciplined, motivated writer I know, so if anyone can sneak in a few hours of writing here or there with twins, you can. I'm sure the first days/weeks/months will be a blur, but think of it this way: you'll also be acquiring material (perhaps you can write a horror story in which one twin is good and one is evil...that's never been done before!).

I hope you get some good sleep between now and the big debut, and I hope the aches and such aren't too annoying.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Larki said...

I second SER: you will be able to write post-babies, because you are incredibly determined and productive, as well as talented. Also, you are realistic about it. Children slow you down, they just do, but you know that and you're already talking yourself into the very useful headset of acceptance and going with the proverbial flow. Wise, wise girl...but we knew that!

That said, yes, it's hard to be patient and write in increments, when your psyche and writing muscles are screaming for a good workout. Oh, you have my sympathy there! And I am seven years older than you, honeychile!

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the heartburn--my pre-natal yoga teacher told us yesterday that a shot of apple cider vinegar, however nasty, apparently cures heartburn. Another woman in the class seconded it.

We went to the same American Heart Association infant CPR class. That grandma kicked ass! The paramedics couldn't really pull her away from trying to resusitate (sp?) that doll. Of course, the real baby had expired long ago...

7:39 AM  

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