birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Just Stop!

I stood behind them in chapel that morning, just after the doctor told me I had to go to bed for the last six weeks of my pregnancy. I felt sad, and thwarted.

The “they” who stood in front of me were a father and daughter professor duo that seemed to me to have everything. He was a former dean, and beloved and admired by the entire academic community. She was the new rising star.

I have always been an “also ran”—good at what I do, but never a rising star. And, now, just as I was starting to make a place for myself, a name for myself—I had to “go to bed”?

It wasn’t fair. And, I know … I know … who says life is fair?

It had been a surprise pregnancy—not on my timeline, but the timing had seemed to be working better than my own. I was to have the baby the end of June—on her grandmother’s birthday actually—and the summer off. I would be ready to return with students and faculty at the end of September. And, now suddenly—I was ordered to bed.

High blood pressure and high blood sugar, and my advanced age of almost 38, made it “high risk”.

Of course, I must slow down. No, I must just stop. Everyone understood, and most were more accepting than I. My husband nagged me. My professors encouraged and accommodated. My boss insisted, and made sure I got every extra benefit allowed by policy and law.

Only I was reluctant, and conflicted. How could my body have betrayed me this way?

Hadn’t I done everything for it—the careful diet, the exercise, the sleep regimen, the doctor visits. Everything I was supposed to do, yet here I was victim of some crazy malfunctions of metabolism—and it wasn’t the first time.

And, of course, I wanted the baby to be safe and well—all manner of well. And, my older daughter needed me healthy too. So, of course—I would just GO TO BED!

But, It would be for six long weeks! I’d have nothing to do! It was just NOT fair!

Could I finish my coursework without going to class? My teachers said yes, but I felt so isolated I couldn’t concentrate, and, I hadn’t even gone to bed YET!

I did go to bed. I did not finish my classes. I went into labor early—ruining my husband’s business trip. I labored for nearly 30 hours, and still had to have a C-section.

The doctor and I agreed that dinner, and a good sleep, was more important finally than the machismo of “natural” birthing, that didn’t come naturally to me—another betrayal by my body.

And, finally, stopping—everything—turned out to be just fine. A beautiful round-faced little girl joined her sister and my husband and me. She seemed to smile from the beginning. She was placid and alert; her sister was alternately curious and bored with the pink blob on her mother’s lap.

She was born on a Saturday, and we went to Sea World the following Saturday.

I did STOP, really.

And, wandering Sea World with the baby in her snugly—and her sister running about to see seals and dolphins and sharks and penguins—was a joy.

Perhaps, I would never be a rising-star professor, heir to her father’s world.

Perhaps, it was enough to have been a slowing-down brood-hen of a limited-bodied woman, who loved her daughters enough to … I can’t finish this thought—it is too harsh, and unfair and untrue.

Perhaps, it was enough to love my daughters enough to simply stop, for a little while.

When in Rome

A Break