I once dropped acid. I did it once and never again because it was definitely not my thing. As soon as that little drop of drug had dissolved on my tongue and filtered into my bloodstream, finding its way to the top of my head where it preformed a magic trick on my brain, I regretted it. I wished I could have taken my decision back, but I couldn’t. Drugs have a shelf life in our bodies and I therefore had to wait. One of the friends with whom I was tripping noted my regret. He told me: “Hey, its just a buzz.” And buzzes wear off. You just have to go through them; to wait them out. And I did. After hours of neurotransmitter gymnastics, my brain chemicals hit the showers and I was allowed to go to bed, the ‘buzz’ having finally wore off. It actually took a few days for my brain to revert back to normal as the dregs of the LSD were worked out of my system but I soon found my equilibrium enough to get back to the business of being an experimental university student.
My daughter just started pre-school and I find myself marvelling at how quickly time has passed from the moment she arrived in this world. On her first day of school, I found myself thinking about the moment when she came barreling through my nether regions into the light of day, a greyish, purplish, wailing perfection. Twenty-four hours to that moment, I had started to have little ‘cramps’ as I told my husband. She was almost a full week overdue so I was happy for any twinge indicating that she was ready to come out. As those hours progressed, the ‘cramps’ grew more intense, waking me up in the night and making their purpose clearly known by the next afternoon when they became more frequent. My husband was freaking out, saying that we needed to go to the hospital, but I ate some lunch, took a shower, timed the ‘cramps’ and then finally acquiesced when I could only count three whole minutes between ‘pressure waves’ as my Hypno Baby CD’s had called them.
I spent weeks sitting on the bed in as-lotus-a-position as my pregnant body could manage, listening to those sessions. At first I thought they were a bit hooey but after a while, I found them to be very calming and looked forward to my sessions with them. Listening to the CD’s, convinced me that the birthing experience was nothing to worry about, that going through the discomfort of the ‘pressure waves’ would just bring me closer to meeting my baby. Kind of like waiting out an acid trip finally brings you back to sobriety. Contractions felt in the body, just like a drug’s effects on the brain, were just buzzes that needed to wear off. In time they would cease to exist and go on to be something else, be it a baby or normality.
It is not very PC to extoll the virtues of youthful experimentation with drugs and further link it to birthing a baby, but drugs solidified the lesson that my parents when I fell off my bike, my teachers when I failed a test and life in general when it kicked my butt, conspired to teach me, which is that even the most uncomfortable situations pass, and they pass easier and more quickly if you just detachedly wait them out. Kicking and screaming, complaining and contemplating, resisting and fighting just amplify and prolong their effect on your psyche. If you can just stand back and monitor the ride knowing that the ride will come to an end, life can be much more enjoyable and you can be much more resilient.
That afternoon, when my husband and I went to the private hospital where his sister works, I was hooked up to a monitor for 30 minutes. Now that I have parented my rebellious, spirited daughter for a few years, it does not surprise me that the ‘pressure waves’ stopped pressuring. One of her many rebellions… They were still quietly there, said my doctor, and indicated that the baby would soon arrive, but they were so slight that it could be days before we saw any baby action. I was fine with that. I didn’t want to hang out in a hospital for longer than I had to, so I got up and went to my sister-in-law’s office to wait for her to clock off. My husband having to go to work, had insisted that I let her and her friend ‘monitor’ me for the rest of the evening. Before we ventured home, we went to the hospital café for a tea and my doctor happened by.
“I have a feeling, I am going to see you later on tonight,” he said excitedly.
“Yeah, probably.” I agreed with him.
“The contractions are so light right now, when they start hurting, you’ll be back.”
I looked at him incredulously. “Hurting?” I said. “Trust me they already hurt.”
He became a little alarmed at my confession. He said that he hadn’t realised because I had never said as much or shown as much, and perhaps I should just stay at the hospital. I told him, forget it. I was going home to eat dinner, I hadn’t spent hours hypnotising myself to eat hospital food. I was going home to put up my swollen feet and eat a large pide (think a thin, fresh, flat bread smothered in cheese).
At home, we ordered the food and sat down to wait for our dinner to arrive. I started to feel much more pressurized and found I had to do something, so I went into the kitchen to wash the few leftover lunch dishes. My sister-in-law came in to find me grimacing in pain, sweat pouring down my entire body. She asked if I was alright and I told her I was hungry. The food came and I started with some soup. As I took the last spoonful, brought down its container onto the table and reached for a slice of gorgeous pide, an almighty pressure wave broke against the cervical coastline and water came gushing out of me. That’s when the buzz became a little more real. We abandoned our food and rushed to the hospital. Soon, my out-of-shape, chubby husband arrived breathless, having ran all the way to the hospital from his work. The nurses put him in a chair and put a cold, damp cloth on his head as I sat on the toilet wanting to push.
Women talk about the pain of natural childbirth and for all of my youthful experimentation, I didn’t take any drugs to aid in my daughter’s entrance, I just experienced the raw, intense feelings that my body brought to me and I never considered it painful. Past experience and a very expensive self-hypnotherapy course had taught me to just be. To let everything wash over me without putting a label on it. See, that is the other part of the lesson here. I didn’t label the contractions as contractions. I didn’t label giving birth as painful, fraught or difficult. I didn’t put any label on anything, I just thought about having to go through an uncomfortable experience to meet my baby. I didn’t experience pain. I experienced my body creating chemicals and reactions to soften itself up enough to safely expel an 8 pound baby. I kept thinking that my body was a giant cavity that was opening itself up to give the world something amazing. I can’t say that it hurt. It had gone further than hurt. No point in taking a pain killer if you are beyond pain. So I sat (and grunted and groaned and yelled and cursed) through that extreme, otherworldly sensation until a miracle passed out of my body and into the world.
Of course, not all difficult experiences result in miracles. Many just result in relief. Relief that life is not a constant discomfort; that life is not just an exercise in the unbearable but a series of buzzes that eventually do wear off. The hard part is that we can choose to have some trips whilst others are forced upon us. Sometimes we are caught in a journey of hopelessness and despair without any idea about how we will ever see its end. The light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
I am back in Turkey for a few months and I returned to a place very different from the one which I left. When I left, tourists were starting to arrive, even after the terrorist attack in Ataturk Airport. Many were coming back to a place where they had vacationed before and knew was safe and welcoming. Bodrum is still welcoming but its inhabitants are now only welcoming a winter that they will have to survive without their normal monetary reserves. As I walk around town, I see the disappearance of well-established businesses, the disappearance of old friends and mostly the disappearance of hope. I understand fully how people here feel. Their once sustainable lives have been hit hard and they do not know when or if they will get it back. What would make them feel immeasurably better is if they stopped holding onto the thought that life was the best that they had or could have. Maybe their previous life was a dull comparison to what awaits them.
On that first day of my daughter’s school, my husband and I returned home to an empty house. I made a coffee. He made a fire. We sat around the fire with our coffees. I looked at him and laughed.
“It is not the same without our sun, huh?”
“You mean our daughter.”
“No, our sun, not son. Like the one in the sky.”
“Oh yeah, I am sitting here waiting…”
After I waited so long to have a baby and then an extra week to give birth to her, I never imagined what life would be like with a child. When I look back at my childless, days, yes, there are some things that I miss, like the ability to have an uninterrupted conversation, bowel movement, moment… However, I would never exchange those things for what I have now. I rode the pressure waves to a little wonder that is demanding, petulant, stubborn, loving, happy and curious. Being a parent has it challenges, but I chose this experience and unlike many others, it is one buzz that I hope never wears off. As for the rest of the experiences life brings me, well, I will jut sit back and wait for them to pass knowing that what will come out of them could be that much better. Just like I waited for the sun…