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By the time I send out the next newsletter, my third baby will be here. Anticipating his arrival includes a kind of preparation I’ve never taken on before: Maternity leave as a freelance writer.
I have mixed feelings about this leave. On the one hand, I’m excited to wind down work to focus on the baby and our new family of five, and I’m grateful that I have space in my life to do so. On the other, I love the work I’m doing as a freelance writer and expect that I will miss it.
Because I haven’t had a maternity leave like this before, I don’t have a personal blueprint to follow. So we’ll see what happens! As of this writing, I expect maternity leave for me means that I won’t be pitching new editors until the new year. Between now and then, I plan to honor existing commitments, write as I feel moved to, and start behind-the-scenes work in earnest beginning in October.
Meanwhile, I’m doing what I can to set myself up for a smooth reentry to freelance writing when the time comes. I decided that I needed support to do that, and part of that would include applying to join the American Society for Journalists and Authors (ASJA).
I applied at their highest level of membership, as a Professional Member. It was a reach, but I am delighted to report that on June 1, I got word that the ASJA approved my application! Your girl is a professional member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. It feels good to head into maternity leave as part of this professional association.
New From Me This Month
- For ideas on what to do if you’ve experienced a traumatic birth, especially if you’ve experienced a pregnancy lost in the past, read How to Cope With a Traumatic Birth After a Previous Loss and Where to Get Help.
- For what you need to know about postpartum depression and anxiety, read Postpartum Anxiety and Depression – What You Need to Know.
- For some very kind words about me and why I was selected to receive an Alumni Service Award this year from Macalester College, read Emily P.G. Erickson Alumni Service Award (or watch the video).
Your Curated Reading List
- For a deep dive into how alcohol may have shaped human civilization and the binge/abstain swings in American history, read Katie Julian’s piece, America Has A Drinking Problem.
- For a slim, subtle, and superb book in translation, where economy of language says more about relationships, people, and place, than books eight times its length, read French-Korean author Elisa Shua Dusapin and translator Aneesa Abbas Higgins’s Winter in Sokcho.
- For an engaging story perfect for reading by the lake that also critiques class, race, and start-up culture, read Mateo Askaripour‘s debut novel, Black Buck.
- For a technical and thought-provoking book about noise (defined as unwanted variability of judgments), why it exists, and what to do about it, read Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein’s Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment.
The first time I raised butterflies was two Mays ago, which was also the last time I was pregnant. Most of the butter-colored beads of possibility we rescued became butterflies. But my pregnancy didn’t become a baby.
Last summer, the first pandemic summer, we didn’t raise as many butterflies, but there were some. Enough. By the time the frost came, one swallowtail chrysalis hadn’t become a butterfly. 2020 wouldn’t be her year.
If you’re new to butterflies, like I was, you may not know that a swallowtail chrysalis looks like a crumpled-up, decaying leaf. We put the dead-looking thing in a mason jar in our fridge. When we moved houses, she came with. So did the beginnings of a baby. When the ferns unfurled, we set the chrysalis out in the butterfly cage on our new porch.
Faith doesn’t come easy for me, and I was certain it was too much to expect it to work out. The brown crinkled cocoon has borne too much. I wondered how long we should wait before we put her in with the lawn clippings.
But on May 25 — the anniversary of so much pain, of George Floyd’s murder — a swallowtail butterfly — perfect, whole and complete — beat its wings for the first time. And in July, the month I lost my last pregnancy, I’m expecting a baby.
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