There's no way to understand certain things about having a baby until you have your own. Perhaps you remember my sister: Brooke Shields, three kids, POWER. THROUGH. Her kids changed my life, and I don't mean in an over dramatic, Tennessee Williams kind of way. There's no comparison to how much I love them, except that I love them like I love my own baby. Regardless, there are some mommy things impossible to understand until that baby wailing in his car seat the entire drive home was mine. I understand now that I felt sympathy, and I even remember a sort of second-mommy panic, but I didn't understand the really raw, suffocating mommyfeeling of i have to fix what's wrong with my baby RIGHT NOW until that sad little wailing baby was mine.
So lately I've been reading this series of books by George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones, etc.). They're all Renfest fantasy stuff which is normally not my gig, but my husband sucked me into watching the HBO miniseries and it bugs me to watch a show-based-on-a-book without having actually, you know, read the books. They're pretty dark, with lots of bloodshed and war and women being beaten/mistreated/killed and kids and babies, too. Here's the point (did I take long enough? no, really.): when my sister was pregnant, she read this Nicholas Sparks book in which a mother died in childbirth. I can't remember the name of it; all those books run together for me, kind of like Jodie Piccoult, who I swear is taking a page from Danielle Steel and writing the same book over and over again. But I digress. Anyway, so my sister makes me read the book, because she's so freaked out or moved or upset about it, and it was a fine book (as fine as you get with Nicholas Sparks), but as much as I intellectually understood why she was all ohmygodican'tbelievethisbookcanyou?, I didn't feel the fundamental disturbance in the force the way she did. As a matter of fact I remember thinking hmmm, a Nicholas Sparks novel? Well, she's pregnant.
Fast forward to today, when I'm reading these stupid Renfest books, and, sure enough, now I get it. I find myself dwelling on the myriad of deaths of mothers and children in the book, and I don't just mean dwelling, I mean DWELL-ING, and the dwelling usually comes at the most optimal time, like when I'm nursing Dane at bedtime and really need to relax for milk let-down, or about 15 seconds after I turn out the lights and hit the pillow, and I mean, really? I'M READING RENFEST FANTASY AND IT'S DISTURBING MY SLEEP? Beyond the utter knock on any cool quotient I have left, it's not like I have that much sleep to spare. And now I understand why hmmm, a Nicholas Sparks novel gave my pregnant-hadn't-eaten-in-six-months-having-contractions-with-every-step sister nightmares.
So thank you, Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Piccoult, George R.R. Martin, Cormac McCarthy and other purveyors of fiction not dealing with unicorns, butterflies and our children growing up to be astronauts or presidents or professional golfers. Contribution, noted.