Cathy Eats Her Words

January 12, 2008

Day Twenty-one

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Novel — jeanne @ 1:12 pm

And so they waited for the baby to come. And waited, and waited. Waited, waited, waited, waited waited. Star got enormous. She would stand watching herself in the mirror, a hand on her belly, moaning about how huge she was and complaining that she’d forgotten how it felt to be thin. She was fitting into Cathy’s sweatpants now, and little else. Cathy had made her a shirt big enough to fit, and Star looked askance at it, and only wore it once. But she didn’t need a varied pregnancy wardrobe, because she never left the house. Cathy watched her like a hawk. Gray watched his monitors and spycams. When friends came over, they were careful to shut off access to the back rooms. Star didn’t mind being shut away from the world. As long as she couldn’t hang out with her friends, who all did drugs, she didn’t need to leave her room except to hang out in the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror. She slept, and watched TV. She found things to cook, and supplied Cathy with endless lists of things she needed at the store, all of which Cathy sent Gray out for so she could stay at home and mind her daughter.

Every night there was the rub my belly with vitamin e ritual, ended only when Cathy declared that her hand was tired and she needed her sleep. Star had gone from an independent, rebellious girl to a clingy, suggestible pregnant lady, and Cathy was happy with her that way. She felt like she had her daughter back, after having dealt with a screaming demon for the latter part of her teen years. She didn’t mind having to wait on Star hand and foot. She didn’t mind teaching her how to cook. In fact, she loved teaching her how to cook. One of the things she’d looked forward to most when she was pregnant herself was teaching her baby everything she knew. It didn’t turn out that way, of course; Star didn’t want to know most of what Cathy had to teach, but while she was pregnant and living with her mom, she seemed anxious to pick up any skills she could. Except for housekeeping skills, of course. Cathy flatly refused to do Star’s laundry – the smelly detergents and fabric softeners gave Cathy sneezing fits – but everything else was extra work for Cathy. Which was fine. She didn’t have time to write now that her baby was home.

She didn’t have time for sex, either. It was out of the question when they went to bed, because Star demanded Cathy rub her belly. In the morning, there was a better chance for it, but there was no telling when Star would get up to go have a morning pee and march right thru their bedroom, never minding the little secret hatch into the bathroom that Gray had cut. More than once Cathy had yanked Gray’s head out of her crotch just in time to avoid having Star catch them at it, alerted by some small sound that someone was moving around.

So Cathy and Gray started looking for excuses to be away from Star. This involved making sure Star wasn’t up and around and looking to get on the internet and contact someone she shouldn’t. Cathy would listen carefully for noises from her room, changing channels, footsteps on the attic stairs. When there weren’t any for an hour or so, she might sneak downstairs to the workshop and hang out with Gray. He would check on his attic stair camera and make sure she wasn’t roaming, and they would do it on the workbench, clearing off the junk and the dust and having a stand-up quickie with one eye on the monitor. It wasn’t ideal, and it was hard to concentrate on the feelings when you were waiting to catch a stray movement, but it was all they had, so they made the best of it. It left them very frustrated, tho. Their preference was for hours of sex play, a slow buildup toward orgasm. At their age, they were practicing tantric sex, where coming wasn’t the goal it used to be. The urge to orgasm had much less hold on them than it had when they were younger, and now it was the pleasure of playing, the sensuality of touch and caress and kiss that they were interested in, not the 3.8 minute thrash that drove younger kids. They thought of themselves as privileged. They’d finally begun to master sex, after decades of practice, and laughed at the idea that the young had exclusive rights to nookie. Star was scandalized, of course. The image of their old, saggy bodies doing the red-hot mambo was enough to make her scream and run off holding her hand over her eyes. And Gray and Cathy would just look at each other, roll their eyes, and reach over for a friendly grope as Star turned the corner or slammed the door.

One day Star came to Cathy with a list of things she wanted to make sure she packed to take to the hospital. She’d been reading her what to expect book and was worried that the day was coming soon. She still had a month to go.

“You know, the last month feels like forever,” Cathy told her.

Star looked at her as if she’d heard it before. “Yes, Mom, but I want to deal with this issue now.”

Cathy looked at the list. “Okay, but you realize we can’t go to the hospital, don’t you?”

“What do you mean? We can’t have the baby here.” She looked around the room. “It’s s so dirty here.”

Cathy laughed. “Well, kiddo, you clean it up, then.” Now’s the time to discuss this, she thought. “You know we can’t go to the hospital. They’d arrest you right after you had the baby. We have to have the baby here. You’ll be fine, there’s nothing to worry about. Babies have been born at home for millions of years.”

Star winced. “That was because they had to. They had to stand the pain, too. But now we don’t have to, and I don’t want to.”

“It’s not necessarily painful, sweetie,” she argued. “It can be felt as pain, but if you understand that it’s just the squeezing of the womb, it just feels like pressure.”

Star was completely unconvinced. “It sounds like pain on TV.”

“That’s TV. It’s not reality.”

“Uh-huh.” To Star, TV was reality. Cathy couldn’t persuade her differently.

“I want an epidural. I want Fentanyl. I want Darvocet.”

“You want drugs, after going thru rehab?”

“Damn straight. I don’t want to feel a thing.”

“What if I told you that some women see the whole thing as a big sexual experience, with the biggest orgasm of your life when the baby comes out?”

“Euww, that’s gross. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“But having a homebirth is safer for you. There are fewer interventions, and fewer complications, the risk of a C-section is almost nil.”

Star was shocked. “You are not cutting me open.”

“No, I’m not,” she agreed. “By avoiding the hospital, we avoid the idea that childbirth is a problem to be solved, and a painful process to be medicated away.”

“But it is painful. You can’t tell me it’s not.”

“It’s far less painful when you’re at home in familiar surroundings.”

‘Yeah, like I feel at home in the attic surrounded by blankets for walls, and listening to the squirrels on the roof all day and all night.”

Cathy wondered. “Squirrels sleep at night. Are you hearing things on the roof?” Could Spike be up on the roof looking for her?

Star looked bothered. “Never mind. I’m not having my baby here with only you. I need a doctor. I need a hospital.” She said it as if there were no arguing. So Cathy didn’t argue.

She redoubled her preparations for a home birth. She ordered and studied videos, she memorized the list of thing that could go wrong, she continued to stock up on supplies she’d need.

Star wanted a baby shower. How was that going to happen when she was on the run? Cathy had fielded calls from various friends, particularly Greane and Saphyr, wanting to know where Star was, how her pregnancy was going, when the shower was going to be. Cathy had to discourage them, and told them she was very worried, but didn’t know where Star was. They didn’t believe her.

“How about if we just bring gifts by the house for when she has her baby?” Greane asked.

Cathy had a thought. “What happened when you had your shower?”

“Oh, I had a lot of friends show up. We had games and prizes, and I got a whole bunch of stuff for my little one.” Her voice changed. “Of course, I never see him, so I don’t know if he’s grown out of anything yet.”

“What happened?”

“Oh, they did a drug test on me and the baby when I had him, and it came out false positive, and they took him away from me.” Cathy could hear her sniffle. “I swear I never did any drugs the whole time I was pregnant. It’s just not fair. I miss him so much. But they told me I can see him every weekend once my rehab is done.”

“You’re calling from rehab?”

“Yeah. They’d let me out for Star’s baby shower, that’s why I called to see when it is. I just have to get away from here. They’re all a bunch of serious downers here.”

“Well, look at the bright side. You could have been in jail when you had the baby and then you’d never see him.”

Greane sounded suspicious. “What do you mean?”

“All it would have taken was for the cops to get involved in any number of your escapades while you were pregnant. Like all the times you showed up here really messed up.”

She giggled. “Yeah, that was insane, wasn’t it? I guess I wasn’t doing my meds the way I was supposed to.”

“Or something.”

“You still love me, don’t you?” she asked with a whine in her voice.

“Every bit as much as I always have,” she assured the girl.

Greane sighed. “That’s good. I was worried.” She wasn’t, surely, Cathy thought. “I really need to get hold of Star, tho,” she persisted.

“Well, I’d like to know where she is, myself. I’m worried about her.”

“So am I.”

This was going nowhere. “Okay, I’ll call you if I hear anything from her.”

“You will? Can I bring over some stuff for her, for a shower?”

“I guess so. I’ll hold them for her.” Cathy didn’t like this idea, but didn’t know what else to say, and Greane was wearing her down. Plus there was that nagging guilt at keeping her daughter from something that she’d always wanted. Like that expensive wedding. But, she decided, can’t have a wedding on the run. Or a shower.

So she went to find out what things Star needed for her baby, and decided she could go out to get them herself, and leave Gray to watch Star.

Star was less than helpful. “I want a shower,” she stated flatly.

“But, Star, I thought you understood the consequences of hiding from the courts. You have to stay hidden, and the people most likely to turn you in are your friends. Have you ever thought that some of them might be working as informants for the police?”

She laughed. “They would die first.”

Such high ideals they had, Cathy thought. When did I abandon mine? If they were this simplistic, it couldn’t have been quick enough.

They compromised. Cathy let Star get on the internet to register for all the baby gear she needed, and Cathy went to the store and ignored the list to get things she actually needed, buying diapers and wipes and creams and little outfits and caps and medical kits and receiving blankets and electrical outlet plugs and q-tips and crib bumpers.

She didn’t buy the $200 crib, because they had an old one in the attic, and she didn’t buy a high chair because there was one in the basement. Gray could recondition them, and she could paint cute little farm animals on them. Cathy thought Star would like them and appreciate having a family heirloom.

Apparently not. “Mom,” she said in exasperation, looking at all the stuff Cathy brought home. “You didn’t get anything on my registry list. What did I make one for?”

Cathy grinned sheepishly. It had seemed like such a good idea.

“What about the Boppy pillow I want? How can I breast feed without one? What about the play yard I wanted? And a playmat? And I need a sleep positioner. And a bath tub. And a crib mirror.”

In her day, people still put newborns in dresser drawers to sleep, put them down on to play on blankets in the grass, and bathed them in the sink. Cathy sighed.

go to tomorrow’s writing


1 Comment »

  1. […] go to tomorrow’s writing Leave a Comment […]

    Pingback by Day Twenty « Cathy Eats Her Words — October 12, 2009 @ 2:25 pm | Reply

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