as of 4 pm yesterday afternoon, i’m free.  the bedrest is officially over.

not only that, but i’m done with the IWK…that strange, cloistered otherworld where i’ve spent more than ten weeks of my life, where my first child was born and died, where Oscar and i spent our long, still wait together in ye olde Craftmatic, where this pregnancy was saved by a stitch in time.  at last count i’ve had at least twenty-four ultrasounds on the seventh floor of that hospital; Dave and i have made an almost equal number of four-hour drives to their doors and back.

it is finished, now.   barring delivery sometime in the next couple of weeks – which Miss Cervix Universe is giving no signs whatsoever of succumbing to – i get to spend the remainder of this pregnancy as a regular ol’ pregnant lady, waddling to my local doctor for checkups, getting my own water and groceries, picking up my kid and panting after him.  i get to relearn to sit up for long periods of time, get to train my poor calf muscles and enlarged carcass to walk around the block again without getting winded.  i get to carry my own bags.  i get to stop being dependent, stop planning every moment of my day around economy of movement and the boundaries of how far to push myself.  i get to stop asking for help all the time.  and i am profoundly relieved.  last night, at a rest stop on the trip back home, i was able to haul Oscar from the car and bring him into the washroom with me, lift him to the changing table, prop him up to wash his hands.  simple things, but it has been four months since i could do them for my boy.  walking back to the car with O on my hip, his legs wrapped around my awkward middle, my chicken arm holding him up, i felt ten feet tall and a hundred pounds lighter.

amd yet…and yet.  i hadn’t expected full release from bedrest until 32 weeks, another eighteen days away.  i had them counted; i was eager.  but i’ve spent the last seventeen weeks in an imaginary birdcage cobbled together of proscriptions and fear and uncertainty, and having it opened early has left me startled.  pleased, about all i can suddenly do,  but shaky.   i stood on my doorstep this morning, foot hovering above the step, blinded by the wide open space.  i froze.  for weeks, i have been sneaking tiny sojourns into my days, little walks halfway up the block, a drive to the pharmacy around the corner.  i’d become adept at balancing tiny tastes of freedom with my restrictions…took pleasure in responsible stretching of the boundaries. but having them melt away entirely leaves me feeling anxious, exposed, lost.  i feel pressured suddenly to revert to the normal person i have learned how not to be, and finding my way back is not so simple a matter as flipping a switch.  the who am i? of all this taunts me, shames me.  i have a little Stockholm Syndrome, friends.

i mourn not the reality of captivity, but the safety i had to convince myself it offered in order to abide by it.  they have freed me, declared that this baby no longer needs the birdcage.  this is success, i know.  this was the goal, and i am grateful beyond measure to have brought us both safe thus far.   but the panic that rises in my throat as i perch on my doorstep with the whole world open and dizzying before me reminds me that coming out the other side will be as complex and strange as the shutdown of accommodating myself to bedrest.  i am free.  i can do.  now i have to remember how to slip the bonds i’ve bought into, and free myself.