Week 35

To move about the world this way; as if I am an egg. On Monday evening walking down Second Avenue the bustle which is usually a comfort was too loud, too close, too hectic. And when the F train pulled in packed, a nervous tremor of how to get myself onto it and home.

Combinations of feeling invisible and hyper-visible.

On that same F train, heads buried in kindles and phones, one man staring blankly, no one offering me a seat. But there are other ways of not being seen too; in casual encounters, in the give and take of a day, those who see the belly and back away–frightened almost, confused. Some pretend it doesn’t exist. Some ask me about it and then have no other sentences to offer. God forbid a pregnant lady might chit chat. It reminds of my wedding; how everyone stood a few feet back just staring at me and grinning and not talking. That day one friend said to me, and it was magnificent honesty, “I don’t know how to talk to brides.”

My sense of my body in public spaces is forever changed. At least, I hope it’s forever changed. I see now how the world doesn’t have time for us; those of us who need help, who move slow, who are delicate, in pain sometimes, uncomfortable. The world, or this city at least, doesn’t want to be bothered, often doesn’t know how to look us in the eye. I hope I remember when I am no longer this egg being. And I hope I never, ever sound like the woman in the gym locker room who said to me in the voice with which one talks to a puppy, “It’s sooo great that you’re getting yourself here.”

Honestly, fuck you lady.

Not Americans are far better at it. At Punjabi’s the other week, the man behind the register, grinning, and at ease, and so kind.

How many months? Is it your first? I have two daughters. Are you eating healthy? Lots of water and vegetables. 

I want to go back and visit just to have the pleasure of being spoken to like a normal human being by a stranger.

***

My godmother says that when it’s time the best advice she can give me is to pass right through the center of that ring of fire; don’t try to skirt it. Last night on the couch, my hand on my belly, and the kick delivered a little foot into my hand. This person is fully formed and simply gaining weight now. In a sense, we’ve already accomplished it, this babe and I. We began this project in August and here we are; waiting. Everyone says it’s soon when I tell them it could be five weeks, could be seven. But if I was going away for five to seven weeks, if I was flying to Peru and not returning until early May, that would be a long time, wouldn’t it?

Last night B. was wondering about hair and eye and skin color. I’m doing that less these days. I feel less intertwined with the babe and more like we are two beings sharing one space. It’s funny, right now the babe imbues my body with something special–sets me apart; highlights me and gives me shine.  When the babe exists outside of me, it will take that dazzle with it. The babe will draw the admiration and I will be (only) the mother caring for it. The celebrated body will become the emptied body.

I think it will be more of a blow to my ego than I like to admit.

My consolation though, is that I am very much ready to not be this vulnerable.  I’m not fantasizing about alcohol and sushi–although, I am kind of dreaming of a tuna sandwich. Instead I’m craving extreme sports. (Well, kind of extreme. Extreme for me.) I want to surf (I really want to surf); I want to ski; sled; roll down a hill; ride a skateboard; jump off a bridge into water; go on a rope swing; walk on a tightrope; go to trapeze school.

Also, it will be really nice to walk fast.

Week 27

Time to rant.

The ice is a pain in the ass, and yet somehow the concern is getting to me too. To be careful, to be careful, and B. is so lovely with his elbow on my arm and yet it is the weirdest fucking thing in the world to be helped across a patch of ice the way I used to help my grandmother. I understand now that waving off of help; that, leave me be, I can do it.

And people who don’t handle their patch of sidewalk suck, as do the people who should be helping said people if they can’t do it themselves.

And also world, please stop telling me “I am carrying well.” I’ve touched on this before, but it is just code for I haven’t gained “too much” weight and at some point my brain can’t keep up my feminist levee against the rising tide of body obsession and just the other day, a leak sprung, the thought, “My thighs are getting big.”

Have you heard this one? Girls steal your beauty. Apparently mine hasn’t been stolen. Yet. Also my belly is “pointy”. Sure signs. It’s a boy.

Ah, but a rant intermission here to say that I really love these women, the aunties and grandmothers, who rub my belly in the ladies room without asking and tell me not to eat salt.

I love them much more than the woman today who suggested I help her stock apples during my co-op shift and there were lots of other people around and I looked at that low shelf and the big box, and had to say, “I just can’t bend like that these days.” And do you know what she said? “Some days I don’t want to bend either.”

And while I’m on the subject of the co-op: I’m just home from the last half hour of the shift spent loading fruit onto those low shelves and there I am standing there and honestly, just send me home. I am not even remotely ambiguously pregnant these days; just send me home. There was a Latin man working with me, and he kept waving me away, “Go sit. Go rest. There’s nothing you have to do here.” Reminded me how a friend traveled to Columbia at five months pregnant and said that every woman should have the experience of going to a Latin country pregnant. My mother said the same thing of being a new mother in Mexico. That she felt like a queen. I always planned/hoped to make it to Puerto Rico once I got pregnant, and today has been a day in which I might murder for the feeling of sun and sand on this belly of mine. Today also a day when I understand why I don’t have a proper credit. B. tells me all the time that I’m actually super financially responsible, and I think I am, but I don’t trust myself with credit because of the fact that I can always find a reason to buy a plane ticket. (Just as I always used to find a reason to go out to dinner; drink the best drink.) Then again, if I did let myself have one, I’m 99.9% sure I’d be flying to San Juan this very Friday.

Ice storm coming tonight.

Okay, now I’m having trouble holding back the visions of heat and water and swimming and fruit and Spanish and sun and diving into the ocean in a tiny bikini and oh man, now I’m imagining skinny dipping in a calm ocean, and how good it would feel to just feel my skin. Only my skin in the air and the water and none of this armor of long underwear and wool and scarves.

Two nights now of better rest because I followed a pillow diagram and am sleeping with six pillows. I’m not kidding. Six. My head hovers a full foot or so above B.. When he kisses me before sleeping he has to fully lift himself up to reach me because once I’ve achieved the position of maximum comfort I’m too nervous to move for fear of jinxing it.

And the reward for all this is a baby. I watched babies today. None of them seemed cute, and most of them annoying.

It’s just that there’s not enough time left. This baby is going to be here too soon and then I’m going to have a baby and then I’m going to be a mother and I have plans for many of the weekends coming and they’re hurrying me towards my due date, rushing me along, and it’s too fast right now. I’m not ready and it doesn’t matter because the babe will come anyway.

But.

I love the bumps and wiggles and shimmies. I really do. Me and it in this private dance.

I’m having an experience without reference point or comparison.

It’s just hard some days, the not knowing my way.

Week 25

The dream I had last night will make a lot more sense if I add that in the last week I’ve watched Selma twice, and just last night sat down with Dear White People.

I sleep in shifts now; I can’t make it more than a few hours without the babe doing it’s bladder dance and sending me sliding out of bed. Some nights I sleep deeply in every interval and the night stretches on and on in this luxurious way; always hours left to go if I check my phone. Other nights though, it’s all restlessness and peeing and this sensation in my lower back that I can only describe as static electricity. I fidget and turn and piss off the cat, and even disrupt B., who’s been known to fall asleep in the corner of the club with a speaker as his pillow. Other nights, like last night, I dream.

I was sitting in a long, spacious hallway with dark, carved, wooden walls and gothic windows set in high ceilings.  On the walls hung portraits of white haired white people lit with little lamps. It looked like what I imagine Oxford or Cambridge to be. I was in one of a cluster of armchairs, student center style, when up walked Oprah Winfrey and Harry Belafonte. Oprah was looking regal with braided and looped hair; she did not sit, but presided over us, disinterested, a being of an elevated state. Harry though sat right down with us. I don’t know who “us” was, but I wasn’t alone, and it was understood that we were student organizers of some kind. Then my mother and her brother were there too, and my mother, who is as blonde and white and Scandinavian looking as her brother, suddenly appeared as if she was a shade or two darker…it was if she had become another, darker ethnicity and when he was introduced to them, Harry commented on it. “Siblings?!” He was surprised. Then he got to me, shook my hand, and said, “And you, you look like everybody. It’s almost a race-less thing.” And I nodded and laughed, and it was clear I’d heard it a million times before. Then Oprah began walking through an imposing set of double doors. We knew to follow. Her braids were at my eye level, and I admired them. I wasn’t pregnant, and I was wearing tight, high waisted black jeans and a boxy, cropped black sweater and I felt Harry Belafonte admiring the flashes of tattoo he caught as he walked behind me. We walked through the doors and I woke up.

I think about the babe’s potential skin color.

My mother is Norwegian and Swedish and looks it–as I said, tall and blonde and green eyed. My father, well, we don’t know exactly. He was born to Spanish parents exiled to Mexico, but his mother was adopted, and the circumstances of this were hazy and secretive. In the photos I study, she sometimes looks Palestinian to me; Arab. He doesn’t look Mexican and he doesn’t look Spanish. His skin is a rich brown, his eyes opaque and dark; his dark hair curly. Some North African men remind me of him, and again, some Arab men too. B. is Sicilian and Polish, with none of the darkness of his Sicilian family. He is blonde, or used to be, his hair has darkened, and green eyed.

I’ve never figured out how to handle my whiteness.

Because for me my white skin is not simply that (as if skin color were ever simple)–it is instead an entire narrative, proof of things that I wish were not true. My whiteness advertises my estrangement from my family of color, tells the world that I don’t write my cousins enough, lists every word in Spanish I don’t know. Every time, my father sends an angry email,  my skin pales a shade.

And now this baby is coming, and what can I offer it of those lost countries, culture, and family? What am I going to be able to explain? My urge is to bone up on my spanish vocab and family history as if cramming for a test.

This must have been at least five or six years ago, I was in a small library when a very white father came in with his very white daughter, who was maybe 6, and he was speaking to her in a loud voice, using American accented spanish, his words slow and deliberate. He did not sound at all like someone who had grown up with the language; it didn’t seem a part of him, and I was sure that this man, this family, had simply chosen spanish as the language to teach their kid–take advantage of those early sponge like years, to help her grow up speaking a second language. And I was so pissed and so jealous. I wanted to be free to just pick up a language, scan my city for the largest immigrant group, and buy it for my kid. He didn’t care at all how he sounded, didn’t mind his gringo accent, he was so damned self-assured, while in the meantime, I sit and linger over Pablo Neruda’s poetry books, alone, whispering words to myself like incantations that will bring to me all that I don’t have.

This babe will not be race-less. No one is. It will have a color, a shade, and the world will read into it what it does, and the babe will have to learn to negotiate whatever those meanings, privileges, signifiers are. We’ll have to talk about it, and whatever I’ve lived in my body will not be what it lives.

It would be a surprise if this babe didn’t come out white; not impossible, but a surprise. And if my father’s genes assert themselves in this new being? Well, as B. pointed out, the world will probably just assume we adopted.

Week 23

In the last twelve hours, I have become significantly more pregnant. It began while we were watching TV last night–we have a whole new world of options because a friend gave us her Hulu log in–and it’s funny because I’ve barely watched any of the shows that I hear talked about and now they’re all at my fingertips. I haven’t meant not to watch. Often it’s been a matter of limited resources. Of money for one, not wanting to pay, but mostly of time. These last two years, I’ve been so tired when I get home from work I’ve had about three hours of wakefulness and of the potential evening activities–eating dinner, talking to B., having sex with B., watching TV, showering–something had to go.

But also true is that nothing holds my attention. Again, I don’t want this to be true, but these shows, especially all these critically acclaimed giants, seem like the same plot with different costumes. And that plot always manages to center on a flawed, but charismatic, white man engaging with his inner uber-traditional masculine (and capitalist) self against a back drop of sacrificing, or naked, or murdered female bodies. The only series I’ve watched to completion in the last five years was Battlestar Galactica. Do you know that David Byrne and St. Vincent song? The first verse goes like this:

I used to think that I should watch TV
I used to think that it was good for me
Wanted to know what folks were thinking
To understand the land I live in
And I would lose myself, and it would set me free

That’s me, only present tense. I still think I should be watching TV. I do think it will set me free. I do want to know what folks are thinking. So I keep trying.

Anyway, last night, by the end of the first episode of the first season of Scandal (is anyone else annoyed that the kryptonite for this badass woman’s spidey sense is a man who is sleeping with at least two other women?) my belly had become half a planet. All day I’d been like a kangaroo, hopping around with my babe tucked neatly inside of me, and then suddenly, they’re kissing on the edge of the oval office and I’m an overturned turtle.

This morning it was worse. My leggings were too tight, and my long underwear had a tag designed to annoy the shit out of me, and my tunic shirt made me look the hippie mom character in a sitcom whose quirky politics are represented by her brightly, patterned leggings. Which mine are.

I handled all this by changing into a different pair of leggings; the ones I would wear every day if I thought no one would notice. As it is, I do wear them for days in a row if I know the only who’s going to see me on each of those days is B.. And even to him, I said, “You know I’m wearing tights under these so they don’t get totally dirty.” Not that that’s even all the way true. He, of course, just shrugged. “Whatever baby.”

The problem being that I look so very pregnant in everything I put on.

Last night it stopped making sense that I was pregnant. In my brain, I was just me, the same familiar me, same types of thoughts, same personality, but I couldn’t connect to the body below. My back was tingling and the skin of my belly taut, and when I tried to sit up from my sunken couch, I needed to push first and then roll, and it was awkward and weird and foreign. My body very much not my own

Movies I will not be watching: Rosemary’s Baby, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien.

I would like to say that my body and brain have been reunited with my outfit change into my favorite leggings, but so far, I’m still itchy and fidgety and discontent. And irritable. Also, restless. Probably one of those days where it’s a good thing that I work with a gaggle of energetic teens because in a very short while I won’t have the time or mental space to pay attention to myself.

I would like there to a right shirt to fix it, a right breakfast, maybe if I go get a muffin, maybe if I wear hoops. I don’t know.

And as a final complaint, the fruit and vegetable sizing system has completely broken down. This week the babe is said to be a mango, but last week it was supposed to be a spaghetti squash, and spaghetti squash are bigger than mangoes. And also, two weeks ago, it was a banana. Because of the length. Not the girth. No comment.

For now, it’s time for me to get this body of mine in motion; to bundle it up, take it work, and see if over the course of the day we can make up.

Week 21

For the first time since I was secretly trying to starve and exercise myself into another body, the general public are commenting on my body. The consensus is that I’m “carrying well.” As in, I’m not getting a lot of weight. This is also a sign that I’m having a boy since the girls curse you with weight gain. Although, the girls are also said to curse you with nausea, so my tortuous first trimester means a girl, while the “blessing” of carrying small means a boy.

From two New Yorker articles I’ve read in the last month:

“[Angela] Merkel has lost weight–bedridden last winter after fracturing her pelvis in a cross-country-skiing accident, she gave up sausage sandwiches for chopped carrots and took off twenty pounds.”

“In photographs, Cheryl Strayed looks like a big bodied woman.”

Merkel is the German Chancellor, and the same piece refers to her as “the most powerful woman in the world.” Strayed is an award winning, best-selling author. Amid the countless articles and profiles I read of notable males, there are very few that mention body size and if they do, the subject is usually Bill Clinton, commenting on his post heart surgery veganism, or Chris Christie, whose weight is almost an asset, some kind of shine to it–as if it is a symbol of his individualism, his defiance. Can you imagine a woman of his size being taken seriously as a potential presidential candidate? Can you imagine her being taken seriously at the post office?

Last night I watched The Wolf of Wall Street. The first wife was a super hot brunette with curly hair. Obviously, she was left for the super hot blonde with straight hair.

But this is all painfully obvious and so familiar to me, as I imagine it is to every woman who might read this, that it is totally boring. Boring to think about, boring to write about, barely worth talking about. Feminism, the notion of it, was not something I had given any real energy to in years, but this fall my school began doing work around sexism and gender identity. And also, I was pregnant. Turns out being pregnant and talking about sexism is a surefire way to ignite long dormant anger. The students were really the ones who did me in. Because they are young and female and they are very angry. New to the experience of objectification, they can remember more clearly than I being 8 and 9 and 10 and 11. They are closer to that time before breasts (for some of us) and puberty, years when we were mostly free from the constant gaze, the constant fusing of our identities to our physical appearance. They are just recently coming out of the shift into sexual beings and the new way they are treated pisses them off. They call out the perpetual disrespects leveled at women that I had stopped paying serious attention to years ago. And of course, at the same time, no matter how brilliant and bold and defiant they are, they are tortured by the expectations…comparing their thighs and breasts and hips and arms to the computer polished images of the female form that bombard us.

From a fashion blog, “It’s not that I idealize skinny-ness, it’s just that I am entranced by the aesthetic of the skeleton. I am drawn to the beauty of bones.”

I read that five years ago. Haven’t forgotten it yet. Nor that little whisper of agreement, like Gollum convincing Smeagol, “Yes, yes, that is pretty, the clothes flow, how nice and long and lean.”

Last night during The Wolf of Wall Street naked women swarmed the screen like schools of fish. And they were fucked in more ways than I usually see in one movie; their bodies on desks and beds and floors and airplanes and cars. Their bodies their bodies their bodies. White. Pale. Public hair ripped off, leaving bare little-girl vaginas, hip bones jutting, asses often flat actually, little muscle tone, just thin. A pregnant character nagging her husband, no longer the desired sex object, replaced by others, by hookers, her body unaltered except for the prosthetic bump beneath her tight dress, her body after the baby showing no signs of pregnancy, or nursing, simply back to her stunning self, but still replaced by other women as the desired one. The woman in the house, with the baby, spending the husband’s money, no longer putting out.

And yes, you could ask, what else would I expect from this particular movie? The point of the plot is the depravity and debauchery and so on. But this is not so much a critique of this one movie because what I just described is true of countless movies. You all know it. It is the perpetual narrative of the transformation of the beauty, the one sought, the one desired, into the one taken for granted, the nagging wife; the timeless triad of virgin, wife, whore.

Really, I’m writing about the movie because last night I forgot to be angry. I forgot to critique. I was too tired. Just wanted to absorb and not think. So mostly what I thought, without realizing it, the words simply seeping into my consciousness, was this:  My body will never look like that. Of course, my body was never going to look like that, but I could always hold the delusion in reserve. No longer. Some of these changes are going to be permanent. These veins and bones and skin are never going to be quite what they were.

I battle future stretch marks with tubs of shea butter. I fear post-nursing breasts as flat and useless as popped water balloons. I anticipate those months after the baby is born when my abdomen sags and flaps. I anticipate hating it. I see myself grabbing that extra skin in my hands. I see myself feeling ugly.

B. says my body is luxurious.

One of the things that kept me from acknowledging that I had an eating disorder was that I assumed I was simply too much of a feminist. Also, that what I was doing seemed normal. Everyone cleanses, reduces, refuses, runs. I didn’t look sick. I just looked smaller. I just looked like a New Yorker.

My grandmother spent years eating only one banana for lunch. In her last months, ill and in pain, she mourned the loss of her waist.

How mundane to be a woman writing about body image. How commonplace and ubiquitous. How repetitive. In the movie the early scene of a man snorting coke out of a woman’s white, naked ass gave me a little shock and thrill–Caught my attention. By the end of the three hours, the vaginas were only background. Scenery. And boring scenery. I want to be wary of the dulling of my senses. I think we should all be. The flash of a woman’s naked form should always excite. And the equating of her worth to that form should always enrage.

I don’t say thank you when the women appraise me body, nod approvingly at my size, give what they believe to be compliments. Because I can’t afford to agree with them. I have to believe there’s no such thing as there being too much of me, just as I’m piecing together that it’s not possible to be too much of a feminist.

Week 16

I just finished sitting by my kitchen window eating a grilled cheese. A.) I ate a whole grilled cheese and 20 minutes later I still feel fine. B.) I normally have a hard time sitting still in a quiet house. Not all the time, but in the afternoon. From midday until dark, it’s often a challenge for me to be home. Especially when it’s sunny. During the summer this can get tricky because I’ll want to stay out until the set sets, which leaves me taking meandering walks until 8:30 no matter how busy the day’s been, with B. trying to convince me how nice it would be to just relax. Sometimes I’m not so good at relaxing.

But today I’m not antsy at all. As I was sitting in the quiet and the sun, looking at the backyards, I thought, “Enjoy this now because in not long you’re not going to be able to sit quietly by yourself by a sunny window.” And I’m glad to feel all calm, but I’m really trying not to get into this game. For me this thinking can lead me to much more hazardous behavior than eating a peaceful grilled cheese. It’s definitely why I smoked cigarettes in Turkey this past summer. And before that, it’s the thing that had me wanting to have one more drink, try more drugs, do more, always more, before it was too late. I officially stopped doing drugs and drinking ten months before I got pregnant, though it had been winding down for a while. But until I woke up one day and realized that, for me, these substances were no longer a good idea, I had been planning my big comeback. I kept thinking to myself, “One of these days I really have to get my game back on.” I bought tickets to a music festival the year before in pursuit of this game. I was sure I would do some proper drugs there. But the universe aligned to keep me from going, and I didn’t have the money to buy the plane tickets. I lost $300 (and the cool quotient) but I have this feeling that things would have gone very badly for me if I’d made my way down there: An outdoor and more significant version of the night I tried to drink like my old self and found myself, a 31 year old, puking a full dinner into my friend’s toilet and then crawling to her couch, unable to stand until morning.

I’m scared that I’m never going to stay out late again. I’m scared that I’ll never be as cool as I’ve always wanted to be. My twenties ended badly in a haze of secret eating disorders and fearing the loss of my grandmother and then mourning the loss of my grandmother, and I’ve spent the beginning of my thirties working a very responsible job that has me rising before the sun, and falling asleep on the couch at ungodly hours. 10, 9:30, 9. Even, yes, more than once, 8:30. And now I’m pregnant. I had a whole life of shows and bars and friends always out and it’s as if I thought I was taking a short detour, thinking I’d be back in just a sec, and the detour turned out to be my life. It’s like Frodo says Bilbo says, in Fellowship, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”

I’ve always imagined that there was a wilder, more fabulous, unafraid, confident me waiting just around the future’s corner. In high school, I knew it would happen in college. In college, every next semester was the one. After I graduated, it was the next trip, the next country, the next job. As my twenties went on, it was every new New York bar, restaurant, thinking that if I was just going to more clubs, doing more, better drugs. And then I slammed into what I’ve dubbed, “the hard years,” and now here I am. Sometimes I feel like I’m standing, blinking, trying to see clearly the place I’ve arrived in.

But. I am happy. I am really fucking happy. Yesterday B. and I went to the Met with friends, and then to delicious (though silly expensive) hot chocolate and then we showed up for his mom, who’s had her hip replaced, and then we ate dinner at the Veselka, the restaurant I’ve been eating at since I was six years old, and then we went home and (I’m sorry, but it must be said) had mind-blowing sex, and then I woke up, and meditated, and drank decaf tea, and made pie dough, and the fact that I can sit by the sun in this silent house, content, calm, not thinking about the next thing to do, is really kind of a miracle.

Assessing it then: I can’t say I’m fabulous, but I am unafraid; I am confident; I am enjoying this solitude; and I am over the moon to meet this babe.

So.

All right then.

Not so bad.

Week 15

I had my first glowing day this week. I also finally told the the students at school, and the full release from that secret has been huge for me. My whole body has relaxed and I can wear whatever I want, and being rid of that tension is incredible. It helps that the outpouring of excitement from the kids is the sweetest, funniest, best thing ever. They can’t get enough; want to talk about it all day long, and ask any old thing that comes into their mind.

“What will you name it if it’s a hermaphrodite?”

“Imagine if the baby came out with your exact tattoos.”

Students I don’t well, all genders and ages, have found a moment to congratulate me. Plus, it turns out that half of the high school knew already anyway. My little bump seems to have been spotted way earlier than I realized.

I am loving my new shape.

The other night as I was changing out of my robe, B. passing by saw and stopped. It was evening. The lamps were doing their golden glow. Before I could re-clothe B. came over and ran his hands over my new belly, and my fragile breasts, this new expansion of me, and us, and he was grinning. There was delight, and such happiness in his face. And I remember those other days when he, fearful and helpless, watched me carving myself down; when he tried to stop me from running in the cold, or injured, and I brushed him aside, and went and was gone for hours. And I remember how I ran my hands over the sharp planes of my hips and how he did not do the same, would not admire them with me. That person is a part of me too; she’s still in there, but the joy of my body now…even my skin feels stronger and softer. I’m grateful I get to have this–this body, this time, because it is more, better, sweeter than anything I could have known to ask for.

Week 13

Last night my brother-in-law told me a sickly hilarious story about abortion and I was so grateful that he’s the kind of person that doesn’t hesitate to tell a pregnant lady a story about abortion and that I get to have him in my life. I’m guessing there’s more than a few who wouldn’t even say the word in front of me and it was a rush of relief and fresh air to not be treated like this delicate vase, this sacred cow, and just like me who happens to have a baby inside of her. I have a theory that a friend of mine has been out of touch because I know she’s really freaked out about ebola right now and I’m guessing that she doesn’t want to bring it up with me. I could be wrong, but we’ve known each other a long time. And I love this lady, and I love how thoughtful and traditional and right in her ways she is, but it was also really really wonderful to be laughing at this sick story last night.

There is a subtle thing that happens, and in my circles it is pretty subtle, that has my worth and value changing, being defined by this new being inside of me. The existence of the baby making me more precious, more holy, more…everything. As I read somewhere, a pregnant woman should only gaze upon lovely things, hear lovely sounds, breath sweetly scented air. And on the one hand, yes. I’m into that. In those first weeks, I wanted to be hailed as a goddess of creativity. I wanted rose petals and gentle touch and gentle everything. I wanted the world to stop asking things of me, to allow me to pause and devote all of myself to this fertile business of growing.

But my value increasing because of this baby can also very quietly become this baby’s value supplanting my own. I saw it around Week 8 when B. and my friend looked at me, “You’re still riding your bike?”.

I love this new being. I love carrying it tucked safely inside of me as I move around the world. I will fight for this critter and protect this critter, yes, absolutely. But I am not going to give myself over to it. I am still me. We are joined right now, linked, but we are not one and the same, this baby and I, and the value of neither of us is determined by the other. And here’s the thing that there is such a taboo against saying it’s hard to write: should the unthinkable happen, and something happen to this life I love so fiercely (and I know I can’t imagine how that wound would feel, except to be sure that it would be deep and lasting) I would nevertheless continue, my life would continue, and so would pleasure and pain and joy and adventure.

Right now, in this moment, I will give everything to this babe I can, without giving it everything. Without giving it me.

Week 12

My jeans didn’t close today and really that’s fine although of course I’m watching my arms and legs and face, trying to see if they’re getting fat. Am I really still doing this? What in the world will it take for me to free of these nasty, insidious fears of fat. Fuck I fucking hate it. I’m saying now I like the release from a flat stomach. I had one for like 6 months and that was when I was mildly anorexic. I say mildly because not everyone could tell; this is New York after all. I got a lot of compliments. But I was in full body obsession fears food control, the whole damn thing. That’s another story, and yes, I’m sure it will come out here because I’m pregnant and my whole body is changing. My nipples are changing. They’re becoming mom nipples. I remember looking at my mother’s breasts and wondering why hers were so different than my own, and now I know: they literally are changed by pregnancy. The areolas get darker and larger. Is this an evolutionary bull’s eye for the baby? I read something about it but now I can’t remember. So I kind of like that I’m never going to have a chance at a flat stomach again. It’s just off the table. But I think about toned arms a lot. I think toned arms make a woman look smaller and of course I’ve never really had toned arms. Am I going to have a mom-body? I’m going to have a mom-body.

I saw this girl last night, she doesn’t know me, she’s the daughter of a former professor and I’m guessing she’s 15 now, and she has become this gorgeous young beauty…and it’s more than the looks, it’s that particular moment of time. My mother says we all, boys and girls, experience this blossoming. That we are like buds opening in spring, desired by all, the bees buzzing, but also so delicate and fresh. She says it’s our society’s responsibility to protect these young, gorgeous ones in our midst. This girl was on her phone, the street lamps were orange but her skin was lit and glowing, newly minted as Hemingway once said, and I knew that whatever my beauty becomes I will never be that again. The closest I’ll ever come to it is when my child does their own blossoming. I am in this moment of feeling time work on me. Literally. But also yes, I am saying goodbye, once and for all, to my own girlhood. I hope to do it with some grace, but of course I mourn the loss too. The movement of time sometimes breaks my heart with it’s bittersweet edge. This is the bridge, these months, I am crossing into the new land. And I suppose any long journey makes it mark on the body; a passage in the oldest sense of the word. The difference being that this time my body itself is the passage: I’m not taking it anywhere. It’s taking me.