My Secret Journey

This is just a little story from my life.  I can’t think of a good reason to post it, except that it keeps tugging on the corner of my mind and wanting to be told.  I hope that somehow, it makes a difference to somebody.

Pregnancy made me very sick.  The nausea hit suddenly on the first day of Week 4, and for the next two months the yucky taste in my mouth went away for only a few minutes after eating or brushing my teeth, and I vomited several times a week, sometimes several times a day.  All the rules I’d ever learned about how to behave when nauseated were wrong.  I felt weak and shaky a lot of the time.  I was so tired that sometimes I’d lie down a moment to stop a dizzy spell and then awaken hours later.  I spent an entire day during Week 7 thinking about sitting up for a sip of water from the glass on the bedside table.

All the books said that most women’s nausea and exhaustion are worst from Week 4 to Week 12.  Having started right on time, I hoped that I would finish right on time, and I really looked forward to feeling better in Week 13.

I spent the second half of Week 12 recycling and circulating a petition and playing games with some of my best friends.  I still felt gross, particularly in the mornings, but during that five-day convention I kept down all my food and had enough energy for everything I needed to do and most of what I wanted to do.  I came home that Sunday night, the beginning of Week 13, feeling wonderful.

Then on Monday morning, I awoke before dawn already running into the bathroom to puke up every last molecule of stomach acid.  Rinsing my mouth set me off again.  My head was throbbing.  I could hardly stand.  My darling Daniel was so worried about me that, despite his vomit phobia, he took the day off work to keep an eye on me.

I spent that day lying on the bed in the spare room that would soon become the nursery.  It was very hot.  Every hour or two I awakened, nibbled a few dry Cheerios without moving my head, and lay there waiting to see if they would stay down.  If they did, I could have a few sips of water.  I could not read or pray or even really think.  All I could do was wait.

In the late afternoon, I heard music in my mind.

It was faint but so real that at first I thought Daniel was playing music in another room or someone was playing it outside.  I ate Cheerios.  Where had I heard this song before?  I sipped water.  The song seemed to be a meandering remix.  Was it real or in my mind?  I put my fingers in my ears and could “hear” the music better.  I could almost make out some words.

I sat up, and blackness crowded my vision, but soon it went away.  I was so thirsty.  In the bathroom I drank an entire glass of water and waited for it to come up.  It didn’t.  I lay down again.

Daniel came to check on me.  “I’m thinking about a song,” I said.  “It’s the Police.  Something about a secret journey.  I’m hungry.”

By the time I wandered downstairs, Daniel had prepared a small portion of applesauce and a glass of ice water, and he was looking at his Police box set.  They did record a song called “Secret Journey”.  He played it for me.

It was the song from my mind, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

You will see light in the darkness.
You will make some sense of this.
When you’ve made your secret journey,
You will find this love you miss.

I cried, although I was low on tears.  How had that song come to me??  Of course I must have heard it at some point, but what brought it to the surface right then?  It’s a wonderful mystery.  The song really is about seeking out a guru in the wilderness, but it worked for me, stumbling along on this journey into the unknown territory of pregnancy.  At that point I wasn’t visibly pregnant, so although my journey wasn’t intentionally kept secret, it was hidden unless I told people about it.  (I’d been teased as a drunk by a passerby who saw me vomit into a street trashcan.)  The song reminded me of the light in the darkness, the destination of my journey: the love I had been missing, the love of my child.

And on the days that followed,
I listened to his words.
I strained to understand him.
I chased his thoughts like birds.

After one more bad day, the awful taste slowly left my mouth, and I began to feel better most of the time.  Every couple weeks I’d have a sudden drop in blood pressure, faint or get very dizzy, throw up, and then spend several hours lying still, filling myself with salt and water, and…listening.  This tended to happen on my way to work, so I spent several mornings lying on benches in quiet corners of the Carnegie Mellon campus, watching the birds and the light coming through the leaves, feeling the flutters of what then seemed to be a goldfish in a bag of water inside my tummy.  Time lost its meaning as I listened and felt and strained to understand.

And then I would get myself to work finally and stay 8 hours, and my usual world of data and numbers and little boxes on the screen and files in a 50-foot row of cabinets was just the same as always, and I never had a speck of “mommy brain” where data management was concerned, once I was upright for the day.  As the growing creature under my skin rolled and tumbled, I patted him and got on with my work, and I knew the kind of mother I was going to be.

On the first night home from the hospital, Nicholas was awake a lot, crying and crying.  Finally I gave up on sleeping and brought him downstairs.  “Just keep nursing while Mama takes her painkillers,” I told him through clenched teeth as the dark window showed me the reflection of my scabbed nipples and frazzled hair.  “It’s hard to be a baby, huh?  You can’t do much for yourself, and nobody understands what you’re saying.  Yeah, it’s hard.  Soon it will get better.  Come on, let’s listen to some music.”

You will see light in the darkness.
You will make some sense of this.
When you’ve made your secret journey,
You will find this love you miss.

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About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

2 Responses to My Secret Journey

  1. Pingback: Treasuring Each Day « The Earthling's Handbook

  2. Pingback: What right have you to be angry? | The Earthling's Handbook

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