August 26, 2022

Weekly Breakdowns

While we were away on our honeymoon, one of our cats Bishop started peeing on the carpet. They’re not kidding when they say cat urine is the most odorous, most pervasive smell. Because G has been doing so much around the house and because the smell affects him most as he works from home, I took it upon myself to clean the carpet. Each step of this process, like everything these days, consumed kilojoules of my energy. First, I ordered a fancy carpet steam cleaner from Wal-Mart, designed specifically to remove pet-related smells. Then, I went to pick it up, frustrated that the pick-up area is way across the store, far from the parking lot, and I hadn’t thought to bring a cart over with me so they gave me an unwieldy crate. When I lugged it home, I found numerous plastic parts without a manual, so I looked up various YouTube videos to figure out how to jam the pieces together. Then I cleared the rug and weights over our carpet, and ran the steamer over it from corner to corner. 

Later, when I showed G the cleaner, he asked me what a specific lever was for, and I realized I hadn’t used it all. Turns out it’s the main way to diffuse the cleaning solution over the carpet. I watched another video on how to actually use the steamer, which showed how to use the lever and also recommended using warm water with the cleaning solution. So I promptly heated water in our hot water heater and poured it into the steamer…which promptly warped the plastic of the machine such that it wouldn’t function anymore.

G gently told me that maybe the water was too hot, and I irritably responded that that couldn’t be the reason. He tried several things to fix it, and then went to the store to exchange the steamer for a new one. He returned with a new, non-warped machine and cleaned the carpet as it was meant to be cleaned. Meanwhile I lay in bed wiped out from my efforts, and cried. Bishop also started to cry, as he has been doing more and more since we came back home. He sometimes calms down with affection, but he won’t come to us for it; he’ll simply sit in the middle of the house and cry until I come over. I’m too tired to move, and I just add some sobs alongside his wails. 

G finds me, holds me and asks what’s wrong. I blubber “I’m sorry” over and over. I’m sorry that I can’t help with anything around the house. I’m sorry I broke the cleaner. I’m sorry I’m so tired and can’t interact when I’m home from work. I’m sorry that I’m like this, moody and upset. I’m sorry I have these meltdowns. I’m sorry I can’t help you. 

He tells me to stop apologizing, that I don’t need to help him with anything, that he’s supposed to help me because I’m growing our baby, and that a weekly meltdown is not that often at all. I stop crying long enough to tell him about my day, and we laugh about ridiculous interactions with patients and about how I yelled at him about the steamer when I was in fact wrong, and I’m able to fall asleep. 


It’s easy to feel like I’m doing this alone because I’m the one experiencing all the physical changes right now. But G has been there, bearing witness to how those changes affect me, and adjusting to them. It has been one of the many wonderful gifts from this process, to realize how much of making new life is about partnership. 

Before trying to have a child, G and I talked a lot about whether adding another footprint to this very burdened planet was a good idea for the world. To be honest, we never quite agreed that it was, when we ultimately went for it.  One of my reasons for doing this was the driving force of most of what I choose - the desire to experience the full spectrum of human life, what we’re capable of physically and emotionally. And also because I want more of G in the world, and because I wanted to create life specifically with him.

Sometimes we don’t realize the full extent of our capacity until we’re forced to. I’m seeing how this shared life between G and me is stretching our ability to relate to one another, work with one another, find balance between us. And how new life compels old lives to be malleable, to morph and grow, to support and nourish that newness.

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