Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I just found this picture of Esther in Ian's archives. It captures her so perfectly. She is wearing her favorite twirly dress that Granny made. The same dress that she wore every day for most of that spring and waited anxiously for each morning as it tumbled dry in the clothes dryer.
Ian took this picture a year ago as I lay upstairs debilitated by pregnancy. I was so sick --I had hyperemesis--I was the absent mother for close to 8 weeks. I was admitted into the hospital twice for dehydration and when I was home I was not really here at all. I was the ghost mother who dwelt in the upstairs bedroom and made intermittent moaning and wretching noises. Thus my little Esther retreated safely into her fantasy land of princesses and fairy queens.
When she needed a dose of something, anything feminine she would make Ian pretend he was me. This is one of my most vivid memories of that time, lying in bed with the windows open, hearing the spring peepers calling to each other from the swamp and Ian talking to Esther in a woman's voice. It was these times, listening to the conversation between my husband, sounding like something out of Monty Python, and my child that I managed to smile and feel that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't going to die after all.
I sometimes look at little baby Isla now, my blue-eyed Izzy Boo, and am utterly amazed at her happiness and healthiness. I hold her chubbiness up over my head and look up into her laughing face and tell her how worried I was about her. How sick she made me and how sorry I am about the scary pills I took in order to get myself off of the bathroom floor and back into the world. Each time I took one I felt weak and selfish but each time I tried to stop taking them the vomiting would return. It's all so far away now as I roam around the house stuffing my face with anything that can be eaten on the fly and struggle to keep Isla occupied until her next catnap comes on and I can get back to, um, whatever it is I do.
I am reading this new book, "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert and am finding it provides the perfect escape in short digestible chapters that can be read while nursing. The author basically did something I always dreamed of doing-- travelling for a year, not divorcing-- but never had the balls to follow through with. As testament to my current, surprising sense of satisfaction, I am reading it only with interest rather than with envy. Phew. That could change tomorrow.
Isla is really digging eating lately. She is so appreciative of anyone who will sit down with her and spend just ten minutes spooning strange and delightful new foods into her mouth. She's been grabbing my glass whenever I try to drink anything with her in my arms. I gave her some sips of fruit smoothie yesterday. She clung to the glass like a little tree frog and kept pulling it to her mouth. I only let her have a few tastes but it was enough for her to know she likes it very much. Much more than rice cereal and breast milk. So much for introducing peas before peaches. I read that human's affinity for sweet foods exists at birth so I'm not creating it, just cultivating it. Right? Sometimes this whole idea that we play god for our children, that everything we say and do goes towards shaping the adult person they will become, is just too much for me to believe. I like the concept of nature rather than nurture. It lets me off the hook.
I still remember the first time I let Esther have some carrot cake and she dove into it with such fervor I imagined she was wondering why we ever bothered to give her any other food. In fact, why did any other food exist when there was carrot cake. why indeed.