The Day My Daughter Was Born Essay

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I could no longer stay up late drinking with the workshop writers.

As the weeks passed, I began to feel less like a writer among writers and more like the pregnant wife who skipped the after parties to go to bed early.

I spent more and more time reading about pregnancy and childbirth and less and less time on novel research.

At 20 weeks, we found out from an ultrasound technician that our baby was a girl.

I began to see those months as the last ones in which I would be able to work unimpeded, as if pregnancy were a countdown to the time when I would inevitably divide into two opposing parts: the intellectual side of myself and the mother.

At first, it seemed that this divide might take place even sooner than I expected.

But now that it was happening — my body busy building a child while my mind was busy constructing my second book — I was not at all sure how the combination would go, or what one pursuit might cost the other.

There’s a familiar idea in our culture that working too much is bad for a woman’s children, but there’s a newer idea, too: that having children might be bad for one’s work.

I loved the idea that, long before birth, a fetus begins to sleep and wake in cycles, her circadian rhythm already in tune in certain ways with the earth’s 24-hour day. Although my doctor seemed calm as she instructed me to change positions again and again and adjusted the heart monitor, she would later confess that she was about 30 seconds away from calling an ambulance to rush me to the hospital for an emergency C-section.

I was astounded to learn that in the last month of pregnancy, the baby’s brain becomes capable of dreaming. And so, I met before I met my daughter: the particular terror of loving a child.


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