On Rest

029 (2)

I find myself sitting, lately, a lot. If Sophie is content playing on her own, I sit and watch. If Andy comes into a room to talk to me, I sit and listen. Sometimes, while Sophie naps, I sit on the couch and think about all the things I should be doing—laundry, cleaning the kitchen for the fourth time that day, window washing, light-fixture cleaning, closet organizing, present wrapping, even Christmas card addressing, which is a job that requires sitting and yet I sit, without doing anything at all. I’m tired. All the time. So I sit and watch. Listen. Sometimes fret. But mostly, I just think.

Apparently, this is a good thing. I had a doctor’s appointment today and the babies are growing quite well. My official due date is June 26 but I won’t be allowed to go past June 12 (in which case Andy would share a birthday). We saw two heads, two torsos, four arms, four legs and two beating hearts. We saw swimming-like-yet-also-incredibly-human-like movement—all at 11 weeks, four days.

I was told there’s a 50 percent chance of bed rest with twins. I asked if there’s anything I can do now to prevent this. Rest, it turns out, prevents bed rest. I go to a group practice and the doctor I saw today was the oldest doctor in the group—she was grandmotherly and took her time, both listening and talking, and there was something about her eyes that made me trust her wisdom. Three times a day for an hour each time, she said, flat on my back, legs propped up on pillows.

At first I stifled a laugh. Did she not see the 20-month-old running around in circles in the small examining room? Does she have a maid and is therefore not used to daily housekeeping chores? Does she not cook or, perhaps, not eat? (She was quite small.) But then, I thought about it. In the morning, once Sophie and Mia and Tucker are fed, the coffee is made, Andy’s lunch is packed and I’ve eaten, I sit. Sophie plays or takes advantage of the fact that I turn PBS on in the morning for a half hour. I check e-mail and read and look out the window and gather myself for the coming day. So to follow my doctor’s orders, I would just have to change my position.

In the afternoon Sophie (usually) naps. I could rest then. And Andy comes home at 6pm. After dinner I could rest, too.

And thinking about it—as much as I hate to admit it to myself—I already rest a lot. I’m a worrier, especially when it comes to cleaning and organizing and preparing. I often worry myself into doing all those things, constantly. But maybe, subconsciously, I’ve been listening to my body a little more closely—as I should. Maybe my babies are, in their very early stages, telling me something—slow down. Or maybe I’ve just been too tired to physically peel myself off the couch.

It’s a strange mix of feelings upon realizing I already do rest—I feel guilty thinking of the time I’ve spent not doing but also very much at peace with the time I’ve spent doing, and by doing I mean growing two humans—humans with heads and bodies and legs and arms that already wave—inside of me. Perhaps I just need to rethink rest and take away the “not” in front of the “doing”—at least while pregnant.

And of course, if put on bed rest, I’ll roll my eyes at the thought of me thinking three hours a day a hardship. And, come June, I know I will give anything for three full hours of rest, and consider myself crazy for not treating it as the luxury—and yet also the important job—it is.

It’s hardly a hardship, only in the worry part of my brain, the part that makes lists and frets and sees dust where no one else sees it. I think about the few accomplishments I’ve had in my life and the amount of work they required. And while this one will require more work than I’ve ever put into anything come June, right now, the act of growing two people, two minds that will think things and say things and analyze things and love things and hate things and create things and destroy things, requires something so small and yet so complicated—rest.

“What is without periods of rest will not endure.” —Ovid