Sarah Menkedick recommends four books on early motherhood. “One of the many surprises of pregnancy was the craving I developed for literature, not too distant in its urgency from the craving for Haribo gummy raspberries.”
Two years ago, when I was living in Mexico City in a rented room that faced a noisy gas station and made me an insomniac for the first time in my life, I got the news that my book, More or Less Dead: Feminicide, Haunting, and the Ethics of Representation in Mexico, would be published.
Serbia. For me: baklava, sarma, palacinke, family, roots, the old country. For the uninitiated: a small landlocked country in southeastern Europe separated from the rest of the continent by the Danube river in the north, and from the Mediterranean by the Alps in the west.
In the eighth month of my nine-month human pregnancy, I go on a binge-Googling of animal gestation periods. Frilled sharks, I discover, gestate for 42 months. Elephants take 22 months. Sperm whales: 16. Walruses: 15. Rhinos: 14.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was training for a half marathon. I was also swimming regularly, about five times a week, sometimes with a club. I hadn’t been that fit in years; maybe I had never been that fit. I certainly remember thinking…
I break the surface and sink again. I kick upwards, furiously, but I do not move. I do not move. My mind is blank and calm. I picture our neighbor’s empty pool in winter, and how it fills with dead leaves. Someone grabs my upper arm.