It was a rainy day last fall when I visited my local comic book store. In addition to being in desperate need of the new releases of my favorite serials, (including the third and newest Walking Dead compendium) I was also stocking up for a lengthy hiatus from my beloved comics. You see, I was nine months pregnant at the time and getting ready to be sidelined at home for a few weeks recovering with a newborn, a toddler, and four teenagers.
Yes, you counted right–six kids.
That day in the comics store, I was after some updates to my stash as well as a few volumes to help me fill waiting time—the hours while I labored having the baby (if the anesthesia gods aligned and the epidural worked as heavenly as planned) and the time I would spend in recovery feeding, burping, rocking, and waiting for the baby sleep and eat. Nothing beats catching up on the latest pages of Bitch Planet or checking in on the antics of the Rat Queens while serving as a fluffy human pillow to a newborn at nap time. I would have to contend with the toddler and teens too, but with hubby’s help, I would still have a ton of time that I could fill with my beloved comics.
This was baby number six. I knew what I was in for. This momma needed some comics in order to make it through the next three months or so.
Okay, I can see the wheels spinning and the questions popping in your head. What the hell does a mother of five, soon to be six, kids want with comics—especially after the exhausting task of giving birth. Don’t you only feed the baby and sleep during that time?
No, dear reader, no I don’t.
The hubs wrangles the teens and the toddler. After all, he fathered them. Why not pitch in and help out when the sixth one comes. So, my priority is just the baby. These tiny humans spend their days eating, which is a task I perform seated with nothing to do but watch the little mouth take the milk into her body. It is precious for a moment. But, although I won’t admit it aloud, it gets old. I get bored. I need something to do while sitting there filling up the little one’s tank.
Babies do sleep and they require a lot of it. But, like the eating process, the process of putting them asleep is one I perform while seated, gazing onto the slumbering form. Again, dear reader, I’ll never admit it in person, but that shit gets old real quick as well.
Layer in all the mental stuff that comes with birthing babies (baby blues, exhaustion, and hormone imbalance) and, you see, there’s plenty of reasons to want to dive into the alternate worlds that comics create.
I would need to catch up with Rick, Carl, and the gang in the third compendium of The Walking Dead, as they struggled to live in the community after all the problems. I needed the witty, fantastic stories of those badass female mercs The Rat Queens who were unafraid of any mission, any time—as long as the price was right. I wanted to get lost in the beautifully tragic worlds illustrated by Fiona Staples and conjured up by Brian K. Vaughn. I need to have some visits from my favorite antiheroes and supers from the DC and Marvel multiverses. These would keep me sane, keep me human, while I was spending so many long hours nurturing a new one.
I went to the comics store while nine months pregnant because I knew that, despite the looks I was getting from the teen to twenty-something crowd, I would need those comics more than any of those guys could ever know.
That day, the group of shop regulars all watched me as I gathered up my wares, while the shop owner showed me enough new works and writers to series with long enough runs to fill a feeding session or two. Hubs walked alongside me with his own comic choices mingled into a pile of my own. I am sure they questioned amongst themselves whether I was a mother/teacher/caseworker or someone else of authority they might know. I’m sure my bloated, cankled form made all of them reconsider the busty broads on the covers of many of the books they were holding.
Whatever they thought, I didn’t care. I was a momma on a mission. A baby was coming; my life was going through a dramatic shift for the sixth time. I was going to need my comics to get through it.
Jonita Davis is a mother, wife, writer, and English instructor who has found that the best way to get through a day with teens, toddlers and babies is to write about it. She has started documenting the journey on Twitter.