Clearing My Head

After a busy New Year I was laid low with S’s cold, or flu, or infection. Whatever it was it’s only starting to lessen up today. I always get depressed when I’m sick and imagine that my health’s going to spiral down, like some consumptive Victorian’s, leading me to an early, phlegmy death. This time around, I was a little more upbeat. No way is a cold going to do me in before this baby’s born!* But the sickness did have me thinking a lot about heredity.

I was born with some sort of mucus problem in my lungs. My parents had to use a device – I imagine something like a turkey baster, though I’m not sure if that’s quite right – to suck the extra snot out of my nostrils. Since then I’ve been plagued by congestion problems. As a kid, wintertime meant a constant low level sniffle or persistent cough that kicked in around Christmas time, when our tree set off my allergies, and didn’t let up until the warm weather of May. Bronchitis and sinus infections came and went like fads. I took medicine for chronic asthma, which never attacked me suddenly, but waged a persistent wheezy war. Nowadays it’s dust and dryness that do me in. As soon as the windows are closed and the heat goes on my nostrils dry out and become a breeding ground for bacteria and other viral beasties. And though I love living in a brownstone, its molding collects the city grit, and its plaster crumbles and adds to the problems. One day I hope to move to a warm, Mediterranean climate.

Anyway, while I was lying on the couch in a haze, I staring wondering what our baby would inherit from me. Of course I went to the bad things first – my weak lungs, along with my anxiety problems, and the acne I had as a teenager, and the heat rash I get on my chest after I exercise, along with what seemed like a hundred other things I could list about myself that I don’t like. The old me would have kept this line of thought going to its eventual end: there are so many awful things about me, I should never have children because it would be cruel to pass these conditions and traits on to someone else. But I’m happy to report that I was able to nip this depressive line of thought in the bud. After a few minutes imagining a boogery, nervous baby, I started thinking about all the good stuff the baby could inherit, like my sense of humor and high energy, and even some of the bad things have good flip-sides to them – anxiety fuels my creativity, and the breathing issues have led me to yoga and acupuncture.

That change of perspective actually helped me deal with this bout of sickness in a whole different way. Instead of getting mopey and depressed, I saw it as an opportunity to relax and catch up on sleep and get retuned to my body in an unusual, kind of uncomfortable way. Pregnancy’s changed my outlook on life so much… or is that my outlook changed, and that’s what’s enabled me to embrace the pregnancy?

* On the other hand, the pregnancy has made both S and I a little morbid – we each fear that the other will die, leaving only one of us to raise the baby. It’s a big fear, stoked perhaps by commercials for The Bachelor, in which he’s not only looking for a wife, but he’s looking for a mommy. (That’s not intended as some sort of endorsement for the show, which I don’t watch.)

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2 Responses to “Clearing My Head”


  1. 1 cindy January 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    “the breathing issues have led me to yoga and acupuncture.”
    And the Neti Pot!

    Whatever, as I have been discovering the last few weeks, living in a Mediterranean climate means my allergies come on most wickedly in January. No idea why. The rest of the world is frozen solid and I have hayfever.

    • 2 briangresko January 13, 2009 at 1:37 pm

      Guess there’s no easy solution. Now that I think about it, I also had allergies in Spain, mostly from the dry dust and pollen in the air. We were just born with weak lungs. At least we’ve staved off consumption this far.

      And yes– I forgot to mention the Neti!! I’ve been using mine almost every day since winter came.


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