Ashes, ashes

Not much going on in the garden in February. The peonies are still frozen in their dead swoon over the edge of their bed, a row of understudy Juliets in workshop  (does one cut back dead peonies? If so, when? I don’t know any of these things).

Nothing moves in the backyard, and I sit on the only step that’s wide enough to allow room between my knees and my belly.

Nothing moves, but the birds are carrying on their usual conversation in the woods behind our house. Not singing, exactly. Just a few notes here and there to maintain the illusion of good manners between them.

When I was little, I remember carrying piles of old sleeping bags and pillows across the crust of hard snow to a meadow behind our house and making a nest on the ground where I would sit, wrapped in blankets and always coatless, until I was too bored or cold to sit any longer.

I’ve done this as long as I can remember, really. There’s something about sitting outside, toasty in a depth of blankets, just being there while the world goes about it’s thing. I wasn’t able to do it for the last three winters because my only option then was a concrete slab facing the apartment parking lot, but I always miss the air, the smell of things, the sound of wind and birds, the stillness—especially in winter, when it’s been so long.

But I’m too pregnant to sit on the ground this year, and we don’t have any lawn chairs. I have to make do with sitting on the step in my coat and fuzzy hat.

It’s not the same.

It’s funny the things you notice when you sit: the pattern of brick and the color and the little systems of green growing in the cracks. There isn’t much green in the yard in February, but these plants—whatever they are, and tiny as they are—look as healthy and chipper as they probably do in June. This doubtless means something, but I don’t know what, and I’m too tired to figure it out.

To be honest, I don’t feel well.

I had an OB appointment on Monday to see how the baby’s doing. Turns out she’s low. Like, really low. Like, if my cervix were open and she were two centimeter’s lower, she’d technically be crowning. This explains, I suppose, why walking has become my least favorite activity ever and changing positions in bed requires a potent mixture of calculation, resolve, and great presence of mind.

“All you need,” the OB said cheerfully, pulling off her gloves, “is a few good contractions.”

Or a really hard sneeze, one of the women on my birth board joked.

But I haven’t had any “good” contractions, just a steady supply of Braxton Hicks—painless but unpleasant, especially since my brain usually interprets the sensation as one of those pre-vomit cramps.

Just tired…

And I forgot it was Ash Wednesday until I saw it in the status updates in my Facebook feed this morning. I don’t have any good Lenten thoughts either, and I haven’t figured out what I want to give up. Sleep would probably be the easiest, soda the most self-serving. Neither seems very appropriate.

Although, as I think about it, there’s certainly aspects of both Lent and Easter mixed together in the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. The hope and pain, new life and sacrifice—though I think our insurance only covers a 48 hour stay in the tomb before one is required to resurrect enough to at least go home.

So, yes, there are parallels (shaky as they might be), and I could probably find more of them and run with it and write something a bit more meaningful. But I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen today.

Today I am reading a book on gardening and taking a nap and eating girl scout cookies.

I believe they call it nesting.


5 thoughts on “Ashes, ashes

  1. What an itchy time this must be for you, the waiting, the discomfort. I’ve had 2 new babies (a nephew and a niece) come into my life in the last 5 weeks. Your sentiments sound so familiar, which I’m sure is of no great comfort to you =). I wish you well in this time; she’ll be here soon.

  2. I’m sure Carleen could better tell you, but I usually trim back my peonies in the fall. I’m sure you can do it in the spring too, but I just try to make sure the dead stalks are out of the way in time for new ones to come up. Saw that my tulips are on their way up and am looking forward to spring.

    Sorry about the discomfort. Girl Scout cookies and a nap sound like a good plan to me. Can’t wait to hear some good news soon though!

  3. Yep. Trim back the peonies. They grow botrytis fungus otherwise. Do you know what they look like? How exciting to have them already there in your garden! Am looking forward to the pictures in June. I hope you have a heady, scented variety. Ahem. Right. On to the post.

    Hang in friend. This is a truly draining part of pregnancy (at least for me). I am starting to approach the uncomfortable phase myself. Stairs are my nemesis, rolling over in bed sucks (I officially hate our aged mattress more than any other being on the planet), and watching Reid dash off in public knowing I have to chase him can bring me literally to tears. And I’m only at week 25. Am a wuss.

    Sending you hope and comfort and peace and loads of patience for whatever you have left to endure. I hope my niece is kind to you and that her deep engagement means no fooling around, just smooth labor in a managably brisk way. Until then…lets pressure Jon and Gerlinde into posting more baby photos to drool over! 😛

  4. Thanks for the encouragement and peony advice, everybody! Carlie, the first time we saw the house was in late September, so the garden had already mostly died back for the year. I have no idea what’s planted for the most part, but the peony remains were fairly obvious. Shall chop them back tomorrow…

  5. Yay for peonies! They’re one of my favorites. I know nothing about them, but hearing about chopping them makes me think I should chop my dead mums back.

    I’m sorry you’re in a rough patch right now. I have never had a baby engage ever until well into labor, so I’m oddly jealous. You saw how I stalled at 10 with Faith still floating high. Like Carlie said, I hope your deep engagement means you’ll have a nice, no-messing around kind of labor.

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