dignity + the will to live

As I laid upon the cold tile floor of the bathroom at the Michael’s craft store in Everett, Massachusetts, I made the decision to die there. It wasn’t a dramatic decision. I didn’t recount the moments of my life that meant the most to me, or the people I wished I could reach out to one last time; I simply gave up. Sprawled upon my $99 Michael Kors puffy coat from Marshall’s, my past season Cole Haan bag contracting ebola in the corner, I resigned myself to a much quieter and lonelier death than the one I had imagined for myself.

I always thought my death would be something tragic and unbearably sad. While I don’t wish to be cut down in my youth, many movies portraying grieving young husbands has led me to imagine Corey– the strong, silent lead character– cast into an ocean of unbearable grief, vowing to never love anyone ever again after losing the bright and promising light that was his young, beautiful wife. (Though we all know he’d end up turning to one of my best friends [likely H] in his time of grief and they would end up together. Each would act as shocked as the other. “It just happened.” they’d say. And we would all judge them, though eventually it would blow over when someone remembered my benevolent and forgiving spirit. “She would have wanted you both to be happy.” someone would say. And I would be dead, and unable to say, “Fuck no I don’t.”)

But there on the bathroom floor of the Michael’s in Everett, Massachusetts, I realized there would be no tragic accident, just a slow leaving of life from my body as I laid there and wholeheartedly wishing that I’d never left my house. It’s hard to imagine these dire episodes of my first twelve weeks of pregnancy, but without warning I would lose the will to live. One moment I’d be tearing stickers off the wall and imagining crafts and the next I’d be cuddling with discount ceramic and hoping for a swift end. The child was trying to kill me. And all I could think was whether I should go ahead and kill it first.

When the hubs and I first found out I was knocked up there was a three or four day window before I started wanting to die. During that time we did the cute things a lot of first time knocked up people do. We squealed a little and said a lot of “can you believe this?” and “OMG we totally fucked up.” We made all the appointments and kept the secret as best we could. And we contemplated a name for the growing human being. Not a final name, but the name we would call it while it was a genderless cell mass. We spent days going back and forth. I wanted to call it “puppet” while the Mr. wanted to call it “pip”– short for pipsqueak. We never did agree on what we would call it and for a little while we each referenced it in different ways.

And then the little fucker started to try to kill me. From the inside. Weeks stretched on where the only thing I thought about was ending my existence. My usually vegetarian and greens-filled diet turned beige. I was nourishing our embryo with the Welfare Diet. A steady stream of white carbohydrates and cheese. I showed up to on-site client meetings with sea sickness bands and a big gulp of ginger ale and spent most days texting the hubs to let him know where I wanted my funeral held. I even picked out a play list.

Eventually the name conversation became moot. The unborn Beaulieu was dubbed “the dragon” with little to no fanfare. It was apropos and far less shocking than calling it “the little fucker.” A close second. As the days and weeks wore on, the dragon continued to wage war. Morning sickness is for pansies. The dragon brought on life sickness. Every hour of every day I wanted to crawl back into bed and leave the cruel confines of the earth. I read books with a bucket next to my bed, though in a sick twist of fate I never once threw up. There wasn’t a single, physical sign on my blackness and suffering.

I finally told the doctor of both my unbearable sickness and my ill will towards my unborn child. He handled it really well considering the sobbing and womb-extraction hand gestures I was employing. He assured me that it would get better and not to worry about the dragon. To the best of his medical knowledge it could not, at this stage, physically feel my hatred. I had plenty of time to infuse love and adoration and end up with a baby who felt welcome. He prescribed some medication to help with the nausea and then– to the shock and horror of the hubs– put an ultrasound in my lady parts and confirmed that the dragon was right there, doing evil twirls and having a gangbusters time. (The hubs was pretty much sunk at that point. He was so in awe of the little fish swimming around in there he forgot all about my pain and suffering. He was a DAD. I was not so easily sold. I think I need better proportions before I feel motherly.)

Shortly after our doctors visit, my sickness not alleviated in the least, I lost my will to live yet again. This time it was at the Shaw’s grocery store. After two and half hours of walking through the aisles unable to form cohesive meals in my mind or cart, I realized I was going to have to live there. I lacked the will to make it to the check out line and the thought of trying to get home was too much. I rolled my cart into a corner near a bench, parked it, sat down, and began to weep. It was over. I hadn’t felt such desperation and loneliness since the Mr. left me in Paris without a cell phone and didn’t show up for lunch. I knew I was going to die at that cafe by the Eiffel Tower. The French would never accept me as one of their own. My frame was too thick and my body too fleshy. I wept then too.

After some time the hubs called. He was really worried that I’d been at the grocery store for three hours and had stopped responding to text messages. I explained that I’d lost my will to live and was trying to find a way to get home. Having been through it before, he wished me luck and told me to call him if I needed him to come and retrieve me. I told him I didn’t. I just needed time.

I didn’t die on the floor of the bathroom at the Michael’s or on that bench at Shaw’s. I didn’t die on any of the unsavory surfaces I sprawled upon in those first twelve weeks. It’s as shocking to me as anyone. I did, however, learn that I am not of pioneer stock and do not wish to be. I do not like to be afflicted and will therefore need to pick any future children out of a catalog.

Low and behold, on the day of the 13th week I rose like Jesus. Forgetting my cruel crucifixion, my life resumed almost as if nothing had happened. I kept waiting to be stricken in the Target or the Panera but it never happened. The dragon had moved on.

It was busy making me fat.

4 thoughts on “dignity + the will to live

  1. that’s fairly accurate 🙂 One day I woke up and felt so dramatically different (aka, normal and not wanting to die) that I was convinced I had a miscarriage. But- low and behold, lil’ buddy was doing just fine The first trimester is a BITCH! The second has been easy 🙂

  2. Congratulations! This is so beautifully written. I remember that day–that 13th week day as a a serious fog-clearing. scary, those hormones. I wish you a puke-free 3 months! (cause soon you’ll start feeling the oxygen leave your blood)

  3. Caroline, I’m crying with delight! You will make a wonderful Mom and forget all of this. You will also get tons of advice. Smile, take what you want, leave the rest and always say thank you. And that is all the advice you will get from me! Being a Mom is the absolute best thing that ever happened to me and I was married for 10 years before I had our daughter, and even then I thought “Am I really ready for this?” Best.decision.ever. So happy and still crying with joy!! Congratulations.

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