Warrior Won Sample Chapter

My sister and I spend the next five minutes on the phone, discussing the party her interfaith church is hosting to honor her appointment to a statewide commission. She needs me to do a few things in preparation. In typical Angelica form, she doesn’t demand these favors or even strongly request them, leaving the door open for me to say no. Of course I don’t.

“I’m happy to help,” I reply genuinely. My sister is responsible for changing my life. She’s the reason I got on, and for the most part stay on, my spiritual path. We chat about my pregnancy and the idea of delivering outside of a hospital. She doesn’t have an opinion, even though I’d kind of hoped she would make the decision for me, either by saying it’s a remarkable idea or a ridiculous one, the two I vacillate between.

She suggests I sit with the prospect for a few weeks before committing, and stay open to the possibility that my knee-jerk resistance might spring from not knowing anyone who’s done this.

We’re nearly finished when Lilah yells. I hang up and rush to her room. She’s standing on her bed, waiting to leap.

“It’s okay, I’m here,” I whisper, trying to lay her back in her bed while stroking her curls. “Momma will stay here with you. Let’s go back to sleep.”

“Noooooooooo!” she shrieks. “Momma and Daddy’s bed!” I sense the futility, but I press on.

“But I’m in this bed. And it’s so warm and cozy.” I lie down and pull her into my arms. The time between her sobs opens, and for a hopeful moment I think I can lull her back to slumber. Then she springs up.

“Take me, Momma! Your bed!”

“All right, sweetheart.” Lifting her silences her immediately. I guess that’s an improvement over this morning, when she didn’t settle until she was under my blanket. Still, I miss when she would slumber through the night. “Such a good baby,” people would say, although I hated that expression. As if an uncomfortable child who wakes during the night—like my darling does now—is somehow not good.

Lilah falls asleep in my arms before I’m out of her room. I consider setting her back in her own bed; maybe if I’m careful, she’ll sleep through touchdown. But when she whimpers at my hesitation—I haven’t even pivoted yet—I decide not to chance it.

She snuggles deeply under the ridiculously beloved teal blanket, like a war bride breathing in the uniform of her deployed spouse. Within seconds she is asleep.

My stomach screams for food—because a full dinner somehow isn’t enough for a creature the size of a banana. But I’d planned to do some yoga, and I can’t with food in my stomach. I know from hard experience that if I stop to eat, the yoga will not happen.

 

I walk to the playroom and push away Lilah’s doll stroller to make space. I grab my straps and blocks, which I didn’t used to use. Now that I’m four months pregnant, my belly is altering my balance.

This also means I need to enter the poses slowly, which I have found to be a blessing. It’s easy for me to forget, but yoga is about watching inside myself as the stretches make space in the body. Being forced to gingerly enter the asanas has been a good reminder. Thanks, Deuxie, I think as I rub my belly. Something else to be grateful for.

The last time I got to my yoga center, Om Sweet Om, my favorite teacher suggested I try a practice of standing poses. I decide to do that now.

Sun salutations are out because they require plank on the floor. Since I like to begin my session with a few of them, I mentally run through the twelve-pose series without moving. After four rounds, I surprisingly do feel calmer.

I do standing backward and forward bends (as far over as a pregnant woman can go), then move to the warrior pose series—my favorites, since they make me feel fierce and powerful. I finish my asanas with a standing spinal twist.

Starving but determined to end my practice properly, I head to the couch for a sitting deep relaxation. I do the quick version, wiggling my feet, bending my knees, squeezing my butt, puffing out my abdomen, raising my shoulders, and tightening my fists at the same time. After a moment, I release everything.

I move to my face, widening my eyes, positioning my mouth as if I’m about to eat a triple cheeseburger (Lorna, stop thinking about food!), and sticking out my tongue. Then I contract them—squeezing all the muscles towards the tip of my nose. It’s a look Don teasingly calls my “fig face” when he spies me doing it. I end with a few-minute meditation.

As I rise from the couch, I take Angelica’s advice and ponder the prospect of delivering Deuxie at home. Immediately, the hair on my arm rises. I’m not sure if that is my reaction to a home birth or to the idea of telling my judgmental mother.

 

Still, my bed does seem like a nice place to deliver. And there are the germs—or lack thereof. I read in one of Sally’s pamphlets that even though we think hospitals are safest, the bacteria there could wipe out every living person in New Jersey. There are germs in my house too, but the pamphlet describes them as “friendly germs” my body is used to.

These are the positive reasons. The negative? Well, it’s just plain weird.

 

Clearly I’m not going to decide today—and in any event, Don needs to be involved, although I’m pretty sure he’ll say I should drop Deuxie anywhere I want to.

 

I gather almond butter, carrots, and an apple while setting my intention for this segment: I want to provide good nutrition that satisfies my baby. I take a moment to send my appreciation to the farmers and truckers and grocers, along with my boss and Don for the money that buys our food.

Feeling energized in both body and mind, I pull open the fridge. I’m reaching for the milk when the appliance starts spinning. It’s good I don’t have the carton in hand, because the whole room joins the tornado.

A second later, I watch helplessly as I head towards our travertine floor.

© Meryl Davids Landau 2020