My essay “States of Permanence and Impermanence” is published with 22 other parenthood stories in Oh, Baby! True Stories About Conception, Adoption, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Labor, and Love.
“States of Permanence and Impermanence” captures what I call Helmet Time: when my first son was outfitted with a cranial orthosis. Four months earlier, he had been born with a head tilt, the first sign that his babyhood story would not be typical. Torticollis led to plagiocephaly, and a diagnosis of hypotonia followed, along with admission into the Early Intervention Program for physical therapy. Then, Helmet Time. After Helmet Time came additional interventions and a journey that would lead us to newly discovered and sparsely populated territory.
When I learned this piece would be published with other baby-centered essays by In Fact Books, the independent book imprint of Creative Nonfiction, I did what my son does: waved and danced my arms like a conductor does at the most clamorous part of the composition. (It’s involuntary.) I’m thrilled to be part of this anthology. In her review, Cynthia L. Copeland, author of The Diaper Diaries: The Real Poop on a New Mom’s First Year, wrote: “Inspiring and joyful, humbling and heartbreaking, this collection of essays reminds us that becoming a parent is the biggest, blindest leap any of us will ever make.” This was true for me. Having a baby in the first place was a long haul, one that required my husband and me to take multiple leaps and trust blindly in each other and in medicine. So I thought birth might bring the typical. We’d have a baby at last and be pushed into the new-parent machine, swapping stories of breastfeeding and night waking and baby’s firsts. But I was still blind, and when I landed, I had a gorgeous baby boy who couldn’t nurse, held his little fists tight against the sides of his body, and only looked to the right.
Oh, Baby! is available on Creative Nonfiction’s website, as well as Powell’s, Amazon, and other outlets. It’s been reviewed at Publisher’s Weekly and elsewhere. CNF is also hosting a giveaway and offering a book + “Future Memoirist” onesie deal. I snuck in a little time to read my copy last week and fell deeply and familiarly—“I am both pregnant and not pregnant”—into Barbara Duffey’s “Schrödinger’s Pregnancy.” Over the weekend I read “Birthing Class” by Eden M. Kennedy: “Apparently, Jack not showing up had pushed a button, and that button opened a hatch, and out of that hatch flew all the self-satisfaction they’d been suppressing.” Wow, does this ring a parenting bell. And while my other sons’ napped this morning, I sat with my cat and read “Push” by Wanda Pitschel Harding, in which the author describes herself in labor: “Maroon-faced and sweaty, teeth bared, fists tight as rocks.” To all my friends who’ve been in labor … remember when?