The Bridge


photo 2 (1)

I am 13 weeks pregnant, it is winter, it has been the strangest three months of my life. Winter is always partly like being asleep. When I look back at the last weeks, I think I was there, I can remember most of it, but it feels more like someone else is describing it to me.

We moved house, to a new area of London, more strangeness; dislocation is always strange. Leaving the new house in the dark in the morning, coming back in the dark at night, peering at this new place where you will spend your life. Even the daytimes we had here in the first week seem to have been in the dark.

At home, when home was in Hackney, early on in morning sickness, when I was terrified by it and uncertain of how it was possible to get through the next two months, the first cathartic weep I had was at this from the introduction to Anne Enright’s Making Babies:

“I wanted to say something about the anxiety of reproduction, the oddness of it, and how it feels like dying, pulled inside out.”

The sense of relief that someone was talking about dying was overwhelming, I don’t know why, perhaps because feeling very ill induces grand statements in us – I’m going to die! when we’re lying on the bathroom floor after a bad prawn cocktail, when what we really mean is please, please let me die. Not forever, of course. Just let me die for now. I felt thrown and cheated that no one told me it would be this bad, when of course they had, I just hadn’t been able to listen, my imagination hadn’t been big enough to hold it.

And the oddness, the oddness. About 8 weeks in I tried to connect the images on my pregnancy app to what was lying in the silent, watery dark inside me, but it was impossible. Your baby is the size of a poppy seed. Your baby is the size of a raspberry. Neither could I connect to what I knew was my happiness that we were going to have a baby and that didn’t really worry me, I knew it was because I was trying not to throw up on a train full of people and because I would spend the day trying to get through 8 hours of not throwing up over anyone in my office, then when I got home I would try and eat something and cry over a sad dog on the telly then collapse into bed and the next day it would start again.

At the time I felt like I needed concrete reasons for why I had opted for this – volunteered for this – but of course, our reasons for wanting children are generally nebulous, gooey, irrational perhaps. Having children, from what I understand, is one of those hardest, best, worst, most difficult, most wonderful thing you ever do experiences, so perhaps it always feels slightly odd to elect for it. And pregnancy and birth, the relatively common physical or mental health complications or issues that come from it – for example the women who have severe morning sickness and vomit up to 50 times a day for 9 months and then do it all again for a second child! and a third! – do we do it because it’s worth it? Is it because we forget? Is it because we are mad? Is it because we love each other, because we want to make versions of ourselves, because we want to fall in love again, because we adore gorgeous babies, because we only get one life and we want to create something in it, because it is most bizarre, biological normality-that-feels-miraculous?

Over those 3 months I did not manage to apply the things I’ve “learned” – for example, to use mindfulness, or what yoga has taught me, to get through. I didn’t write a word, except for work emails. In this way I sort of failed, I’m not saying that to beat myself up, I just mean this is how I know I can improve when it comes to the kind of well-intentioned, strong life I would like to live (on a practical note, what it means is trying to do yoga every day – even for 5 minutes! Even when life is hard! – and writing things down when they are difficult.) Instead I relied on Adam, and others around me (both Kates, mum, dad, other friends and people who were kind at work and by email and text). I almost completely relied on Adam, physically and emotionally. I didn’t get myself through it, he got me through it.

I felt so negged out by the world (not depressed, just down). Winter doesn’t help. We did this positive thinking seminar at work and at the time it was actually very useful, it was all the obvious stuff but very well approached – there are things around you that you can’t control, all you can control is your reaction to it, and so on – and every time I think about this I conclude that you may as well be happy, you may as well see the good in stuff because there just isn’t any point to not. In this extraordinary piece of writing there is an extraordinary quote from someone called Franco Beradi:

“Depression can’t be reduced to the psychological field. It questions the very foundation of being … Faced with the abyss of non-sense, friends talk to friends, and together they build a bridge over the abyss. Depression questions the reliability of this bridge. Depression doesn’t see the bridge. It falls off its radar. Or maybe it sees that the bridge does not exist … If we consider depression the suspension of the sharing of time, as an awakening to a senseless world, then we have to admit that, philosophically speaking, depression is simply the moment that comes closest to truth.”

In eastern traditions, the wise women and men are called enlightened; the argument is that they are more wise because they have found some truth by shedding off all the peripheral rubbish, by stripping back, by simplifying down and down until you get to some bare reality. Are they right or are the melancholic right? Or do they see the same truth and draw different conclusions from it?

It’s winter, and I don’t know if there’s a bridge. I don’t know if the world is more beautiful than terrible, and maybe there is some kind of blindness, a denial in finding peace in it, but I’m not sure that it matters. Winter is hard, and a few weeks ago I saw my baby on the screen during the scan and he or she swirled around faster than I could have imagined and her/his heart beat so fast! Me and Adam stared at the screen, our mouths were wide open. There was where my joy had been hiding for these months, there is the baby, our baby. I think we all just want to be happy. I guess we may as well be allowed to try.


One Response to “The Bridge”

  1. 1 robgeorge57

    As so often, your writing moves me to tears

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