Week 18

I wanted to write last week about the glow, because I was finally in it. Nausea gone. Fatigue gone. Hair luscious. My rounded body lovely to me, and B. and I thoroughly enjoying the second trimester sex of which I’d heard so much about. So I am beginning here because I want a record that that’s happening too. Pleasure and days on end where I feel like I’m playing my way through the hours and tasks. Days and hours when I feel radiant.

Because as you may be guessing I don’t feel radiant today. There’s this thing that started about a week ago, it’s at the base of my spine, it began as simply a sensation. An awareness at the very bottom tip of bone that lives right in the center of my ass. And it’s not pain exactly until it is. In the middle of the night last night I began to envision it as an egg-not like the eggs my body makes, like a chicken egg, a 3-D oval-nestled at what I’ve learned in yoga is my root chakra. This little egg is the palest blue and charged with static electricity, radiating sensations that are not pain, but are not comfortable, over into my hips and down into my legs until magically no position is comfortable. And as I lay there cursing the cat for daring to try to tuck into me yet again, I visualized just popping this egg out of it’s place holder in my back and leaving behind this blessed, empty space where it once nestled.

This is how the night passed, and as I was laying there this morning, having not realized that for a quite a while it had been my alarm going off and not B’s, B. goes, “Can I ask you a favor?” And I should I have just said no right then and there, but I didn’t. I said, “What is it?”. And literally all he asked me to do was turn the thermostat up, which means climbing down one flight of stairs and then up again, but I was instantly furious. My first two emotions of today were resignation and fury. It was already an innocent thing to ask, but making it even more so is that B. rarely asks me to do those kinds of favors if he can possibly do them himself. All he wanted was thirty more cozy minutes in bed, but sensing my mood turn, he went down while I was in the bathroom, which then made me even more angry for him doubting that I was going to do the favor which I was planning on doing with such righteous indignation. I snapped at him. And then I apologized. And then I scurried off to meditate before I did any more damage.

I don’t want to be the grumpy pregnant lady, just like I didn’t want to be the nauseous pregnant lady, just like I don’t want to be the tired pregnant lady. I want to be the radiant one who just loves being pregnant. Which is why this record has to show that those days have happened. Today is simply not one of them.

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 15

And what if I don’t stop feeling sick? What if I’m one of the women who doesn’t get to feel the magic of the second trimester? I have not yet snapped to and felt surges of power and vitality; isn’t the placenta supposed to be done forming by now? Isn’t that the reason for so much of this nausea, this exhaustion, this…all of this? I’ve been banking on that magic moment, that pay off, but what if I don’t get it?

I get rattled when I look forward into two years of my body being taken over by these sensations; pregnancy and then nursing and then I suppose beginning to get back to normal. What is my body going to be after all this? There is a varicose vein behind my right knee that began forming in college. It’s gotten bigger.

The problem is that there’s a good chance that if I got more energy back I would simply expend it. I think the universe gave me such a rough first trimester because that’s the only way it could get me to slow down. I tried bargaining a few times: “Please universe, I promise that if you lift this nausea then I will rest more and take it easy.” Am I tired today because I stayed up late reading and then did a whole bunch of stuff? Or am I tired because my baby is now the size of an apple?

I don’t get even the illusion of control. And I haven’t even written about the gas. Miraculously, I’ve only gotten caught farting once and it was kind of a cute one; a classic whoopee cushion sound while talking to my co-worker in a silent hallway.

I will say this though. The sex really is amazing.

Week 14

I just finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild for the second time, and like the first, I finished it weeping on my couch, lit by one lamp while B. sleeps. Both times felt late at night, though my version of late is now much earlier than it once was. The lamp I read under was given to me by my grandmother.

The night I decided that I indeed, someday in the future, wanted to be a mother was a night, an evening really, when I was sitting with my mother by my grandmother’s bed. Nearby was the same lamp lit that I read under tonight. My grandmother lit every space she lived in with a careful, golden glow. She’d always turn on the lamps before the room grew dim, and then when the dark outside really began to set, she’d walk around and pull the curtains to “keep the night out.” On the night I decided I’d want to be a mother someday, my grandmother was in pain. She was lying, facing us, curled like a spoon though she was alone in the bed. Other weeks in another year (I think later, though it might have been earlier, her pain had it’s own chronology) she’d spend some time living with my mother and ask my mother to climb into bed with her. In those weeks the pain and the pain medication had made her half-crazy; she viewed us all except my mother with suspicion. She thought we were plotting against her.  My mother did not climb into bed with her. Could not. That was just one of the times we thought my grandmother was an inch away from death. There were many. But on the evening when she lay on her bed like an empty spoon, facing my mother and I, we were talking about hospice. And while we talked, I noticed on the bedside table a jar of ointment that my mother had brought from the hippie store. On the jar of ointment was a drawing of a pregnant woman, her hands wrapped around her belly. And it was then I decided that I wanted to continue what I was a part of right there, the line, I wanted to be old someday with a child and a grandchild by me.

My grandmother died on March 31, 2012. A year before that to the day I cut off all my hair, nearly three feet of it. I don’t miss her any less. Some days I catalogue the things I’m going to tell her when I next see her and I don’t even realize I’m doing it because it’s what I’ve done all my life.

I don’t know exactly why I cry when I finish Wild. Just as I did the first time, I went back over it tonight, more than once, trying to find the line or the moment, but I can’t. I love many of her sentences but I can’t even find one in those final groupings of paragraphs that I go crazy for. And with each pass, looking, the tears come again, a fresh burst.

But this is my guess: my mourning of my grandmother has not felt unlike joy. And my joys now carry the salt tinge of missing her. The place where they meet, the place where the two sensations hover just the barest hair apart, well, for me, that’s the place where babies and books and Monet’s Lilies come from, and it’s that place that Cheryl Strayed leaves me when she finishes her book.

It astounds me that this babe will never meet my grandmother. I once would have said there was no knowing me without knowing her. And this still feels somehow true. That I will be known, but not. I wonder what will give this new person their own glimpses of the infinite. They will have to find their own. I hope they’ll tell me about it when they do.