I am getting closer and closer to sending my book back to my editor and then, hooray, publishing it. Hopefully by Fall 2017! But in the meantime, here is a scene that is not making the final cut. This is what postpartum anxiety does to a simple stroll around the neighborhood.
Life was monotonous and claustrophobic.
Nathan was at work most of the time. My parents, thanks to the L.A. Traffic Gods, only visited during the brief window in between rush hours. I had friends but my brain concocted dozens of excuses to avoid them: they might be sick; they were busy with work; they were not interested in babies; they probably did not like me now that I had a baby (assuming they had ever liked me at all).
Pippa was adorable, sweet, cuddly and fun — but rarely awake. When she was awake, she spent most of that time breastfeeding. When she was done with her meal, I talked to her, changed her diaper, forced her to endure tummy time, and entertained her with rattles and picture books. This was lovely, but I wanted to introduce Pippa to the world and maybe have a conversation with a person who could say something – anything – more complicated than “ah gooooo.”
I had spent enough time letting my body heal. By Jove, it was time to take Pippa on neighborhood walks.
The first time I bravely ventured forth, I was chaperoned by my husband and father-in-law. It took me at least fifteen minutes to push Pippa’s stroller a whopping two blocks but every minute was dazzling.
A barking dog!
Holy shit, I had not heard a dog bark in almost a month and Pippa had never heard one during her entire month on earth. She had heard muffled barks in utero, but never the sharp staccato of a terrier defending his turf. How magical! It was as if I myself was hearing a dog bark for the first time. My body tingled with joy.
Yet even as I reveled in the wonder of Pippa’s first neighborhood stroll, an undercurrent of anxiety contaminated my joy. I could not keep myself from worrying.
Was my father-in-law bored? He must be bored.
Was I walking too slowly? I was walking too slowly.
Was Nathan annoyed with my insistence on taking a neighborhood stroll? He must be annoyed.
Was I pushing the stroller correctly?
Was the sidewalk too bumpy?
Was that jolt too much for Pippa’s head?
Was she in danger of brain damage?
We were using our brand new, pumpkin orange jogging stroller with rugged tires that glided over bumps, cracks and curbs. My father-in-law said, “That is quite a stroller.”
Nathan said, “Yes, strollers these days have all the bells and whistles.”
My anxiety ticked up a notch.
I asked my father-in-law, “What sort of stroller did you have when Nathan was a baby?”
He laughed and said, “I do not even remember owning a stroller.”
Guilt flooded my body. Was our stroller too fancy? Too expensive? It was, it was, holy shit, it was. What had I been thinking? Why had I squandered our money on something fancier than a $10 drugstore umbrella?
EVERYONE MUST HATE ME!!!
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