So, M and I kind of went through this together. My daughter had low weight gain, no interest in bottles or pacifiers, nursed around the clock, would not sleep, and EXCRUCIATING BREASTFEEDING PAIN. Culprit? A MOTHERFUCKING LIP TIE, which I had NEVER heard of until the day I got to googling after Maja was diagnosed. I sent the photo of my daughter’s lip to the same doctor on Twitter. Instantly confirmed. I e-mailed the fancy Dallas pediatric dentist. Double confirmed. I was referred to one who did laser in my area. Triple confirmed. Now? I have zero pain nursing. She is getting a lot more milk and when she wakes, she’s not crying out of hunger. Weight gain is up. Everyone should check their baby for a tongue and/or lip tie at birth. I could go on and on about this but I’m still upset. I’m taking Breastfeeding to civil court.
I didn’t want to go with the middle name Ilani because of Hurricane Sandy.
My in-laws were evacuated from Merrick because everybody said it would be under water. They came over. I sat in the living room with them. It was a normal evening with my in-laws. Justin avoided all interaction with them by busying himself in the kitchen, cutting up onions, pressing garlic. He was preparing some elaborate last supper one-person vegetarian Mexican meal. I chatted with Jeff and Bernette as they doted on their granddaughter and my belly. The power went out. Shalom threw a tantrum because she was in the middle of one of her YouTube toy reviews. They were getting juicy, I guess. She carried on so long about the dead iPad, she fell asleep in my arms in a sweaty mess. I told Justin to move her to our master bedroom to nap. If I took her, I would lay down with her and fall asleep. I can’t just fall asleep on my in-laws as they sit in the dark being ignored by their son so I told Justin to put her in that room. On that bed.
Small talking with my in-laws by candlelight as he toils in the kitchen. As Shalom naps. It’s eerily relaxing.
Twenty minutes later, I heard a loud thump. Not 140-ft tall, 14-ft wide “old as fuck” oak tree falling on a newly renovated master bedroom thump. It was like a big branch flew into a glass window. I jumped up to check on my sleeping toddler in that master bedroom. It was dark but I could see debris all over the bed where she — was? I was confused. It was a medium thump. It wasn’t a loud crash. It was a medium thump. Then, the panic and guilt set in. Intertwined mania and blame. I told Justin to put her in here. I told Justin to put my baby on that bed, under that roof, under that tree. It took me two years to conceive that baby. There were dead babies before her. And after her. She’s not one of them. She’s not one of them. She’s not one of them.
She’s the one that made it. I bought her a baby dashiki on eBay before she was even conceived. She was such a character. He composed beautiful music for that baby. I was there as the inspiration struck him. I was there and he was in that creative space because she was there. She survived my incompetent body. With a perfect, fake commercial baby disposition. She never cried. She latched immediately, assuring me I was the best mom and she was the best baby. She smiled and laughed on the third day of her life. No one believes it, but she did. I have evidence. She was perfectly named. She was the most peaceful baby. She was a gift to the whole family. Shalom was everything.
I could feel the blood draining from my body. My head felt dizzy, vision went blurry, feet went jelly. I stretched my arms out to grab the credenza on one side and a dining room chair on the other and I lowered myself and my huge belly to the floor before I collapsed crushing my womb beneath me. Two tragedies, one night. When I got down to the floor, I did some out-of-body guttural screaming, flailing as I watched my father-in-law and husband carry my motionless toddler out of that room. Both men were covered in debris. My mother-in-law stood in the living room, unmoved in a state of shock. She just stood there, plain and lifeless. Staring at the floor. She came to my house for safety. They said Merrick was a wrap. They said Merrick would be under water. They said go someplace else for your safety.
We scrambled around in the dark, gathering random shit. Shalom’s sweater. A pair of flip flops. My diamond engagement ring, a box of crackers. A week earlier, I had read out loud from an article about hurricane preparedness. “Babe! They’re like put your fucking passport and insurance papers in an accessible Ziploc bag,” I laughed. “Is it that serious?”
Shalom’s arm dangled as Justin carried her like in a movie. Like how the hero carries a wounded soldier he just dug out from an unexpected dirt grave after the grenade explodes. Her arm was just dangling there. In the shortest, agonizingly long steps we took from the bedroom to the front door, zig zagging between file cabinets and kitchen drawers and closets, I had already decided I didn’t care about anyone’s feelings. I wanted to give birth to the baby and then kill myself. I knew it was fucked up. I knew they’d understand though. I told Justin to put Shalom there. Nobody will want to deal with my failed coping and this newborn. Let me deliver this baby into a good, overprotected life. And let me sleep.