Here is yet another deleted scene from my forthcoming memoir about postpartum depression. This scene comes from a chapter about the OCD rituals that I developed during the postpartum months.
Our kitchen had a 1950s stove with gas burners that sometimes went out. Even before we had Pippa, the stove terrified me a little. I checked the burners every day to make sure they were lit. If I discovered an unlit burner, and Nathan was home, I scurried out of the kitchen and held my breath as he struck a match with an extra long stick. That way, if a fireball erupted, I could drag Nathan to safety.
If I was home alone, I opened all the windows and turned on the ceiling fan. After a few minutes, I would lean as far from the stove as possible before lighting the match.
It was not long before the stove was added to my nightly rituals. While walking from front door to back, I would pause and hover my hand over the burners to feel the heat of a lit flame. Not trusting myself, I then crouched down on the floor and looked until I had visual confirmation of each little blue flame.
Soon, I was checking the burners every time I walked through the kitchen. Since the kitchen is in the middle of our house, that meant I was hovering/crouching at least a dozen times a day. Sometimes, if I was feeling extra anxious, I passed my palm against the burners so I could really feel the heat.
More than once, I felt compelled to check a burner just after using it. I would press my palm on the burner itself and gasp as the metal scorched the skin.
I did not mean to burn myself intentionally, but the pain felt good. So long as my palm ached, I knew the burners were lit and Pippa was safe from invisible toxic fumes. And for a few minutes, my palm would hurt so badly, it would even eclipse the anxiety.