It's been almost a month since I've written. I'm still pregnant though I was in the hospital Monday night because I thought my water was leaking. The membranes turned out to still be intact so now I'm still pregnant and waiting. I'm having a little bit of that contraction feeling tonight, but not close enough together to monitor and the contractions are very minor.
Eliza and I left New York on April 9th and have not been back. We've been holed up at my mother's since then. It has not been easy but I'm managing the best I can. I'm getting used to driving all the time though I can't say I enjoy it, especially with all the rain we've had lately. I keep thinking about my nice, comfy rain boots back at the Manhattan apartment I fled with what my 66-year-old father could carry.
My computer is still not rigged to the internet and my mother's computer (the one I'm typing on now) makes a turtle race feel like a speed show. I feel cut off from my friends but I felt that way before I came here, cut off by the strain of being pregnant and living in a city where it's hard to get around with a big belly and a three-year-old in tow.
Eliza settled into here wonderfully at first but now she's got questions and she's starting to showcase some unhappiness at the situation. At first when I told her we were staying at Grandma's until after the baby was born, she was thrilled. Now she's asking to go home to East 22nd Street. She doesn't ask often, in fact maybe she's asked three or four times since we've been here but it's enough to rattle me with guilt.
C came here to see her over the weekend and it went fairly well. At first, he asked if he could pick her up on Thursday, bring her back to New York and then return her Tuesday or Wednesday. I vetoed that, saying that she needs to be settled in here. We hadn't even discussed the separation at that point. We discussed it a little this weekend and he agreed the relationship is over. We will be fighting over visitation issues in the future but for now he's not disagreeing with me. I explained to him that I'm not going to never let Eliza stay with him in New York, but for now I want to establish that her home base is here, with me.
It will be tough as C doesn't think anything of moving her back and forth between two homes, something I absolutely don't think we should do to a three-year-old. I would prefer something along the lines of her staying with him maybe one night a month while he visits her here on other weekends. I don't think he'll ever agree to this situation and he'll use his other two kids as bargaining chips. I want Eliza to see her siblings and I understand that they have busy lives that would interfere with their coming here regularly. However, even when we all lived in New York together, Eliza didn't see much of her siblings. As Katie's a junior in High School, we saw her on average, about twice a month for about an hour or less. Harry's in sixth grade and also gravitating more towards friends and after school activities.
But all of that is on hold for now as we wait for the baby. Eliza is very excited about having a little sister. And I'm trying to enjoy this time with my one and only girl. We've had some rough times. One afternoon in particular stands out as one of the tougher moments I've had as a mother.
I woke Eliza from a nap and she wouldn't stop crying. She was tired and not feeling well but nothing I did seemed to calm her or stop her crying. I can only handle so much crying, so after about 25 minutes or so, I left her in her room and closed the door to tend to dinner prep with the sobbing slightly muffled. When I opened the door a few minutes later to again try to comfort my girl, she informed me that she'd had "an accident" on the couch in her room.
Rage surged so quickly through me, it almost felt like my forehead was on fire. Eliza was so close to the bathroom and yet she didn't even try to make it there, I'm pretty sure, out of spite. Having left my comfy nursing glider back in my old apartment in New York, I planned to nurse the baby on this couch. It's one of the only comfortable places to sit in my mother's house. The couch was drenched, like Eliza had saved an entire afternoon's worth of pee just to piss me off, pardon the pun.
I yelled at her, explained that the couch would have to be thrown away now (the material is beginning to fray and I didn't think it would survive scrubbing) and that I'd have no place to nurse baby sister. I nudged her towards the bathroom and stripped her. She sat naked on the floor crying for a few minutes and I yelled at her to stop crying. Red faced and naked, she crouched on the floor and struggled to hold back her tears. Angrily, I turned the water on.
She climbed into the tub and I remembered a day when my father said "There will be times when you hate her." Eliza was about eight months old at the time, I can still see her asleep in her stroller wearing this little red cheerleading outfit. I looked at her and couldn't imagine ever hating her. As I looked at slim body standing in the tub, still heaving from the held-in sobs, I still thought hate was a strong word but I didn't feel like I loved her either. I didn't feel like being a mother anymore. Here I was, homeless, single, worried like crazy about money, trying to care for her, a recovering mother, while I waited to give birth to yet another child. I didn't want to do it anymore. I didn't want to be the only person bathing Eliza, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning for her, myself and my mother. Driving to the pharmacy to pick up my mother's prescriptions, running to the post office to send off mom's income tax, trying to make space for myself and my new baby in a house that my mother has packed to the gills.
I squeezed soap onto my hands and Eliza obediently stood still as I gently scrubbed her leg. And in that little gesture, I fell in love with my daughter all over again. I washed her other leg and slowly cleaned her dirty bottom, her back, her lovely little tummy. I marveled at how wonderful her body is, how I created it inside my own body, how this little creature is the best thing I've ever done.
I started to sing a song I made up for her, one that says "I love my little girl, she is my whole wide world. I love my little girl called Eliza." She turned towards me and smiled with a look of such love and such innocence, I can't begin to describe it.
Tonight at dinner, Eliza curled up next to me and said "I love this dinner. Thank you for making me such a wonderful dinner." How many three-year-olds say that to their mothers. This isn't the first time she's said something like this. I used to say to her "Thank you for having dinner with me." Maybe that's where she gets it from, I don't know. All I know is I'm lucky, so, so, so lucky that this child is somehow mine.
And this next kid, she's got some big shoes to fill.