Week 21

I’m really pregnant now. Taking this little globe of mine out in public, and people can see it. Today I’m liking it a lot. I also really like the language of, “Are you expecting?” I am. Very much. Expecting and expectant. This morning, a polite request to touch my belly, from a stranger, but I said yes. He asked so nicely. This is a new and strange phenomenon. I would never ask a stranger if I could touch her belly, but I was raised in part by a very polite grandmother.  I am a power source. No. I contain a power source, and people are drawn to it, hands extended, they can’t help it. For those who don’t fear it, avoid it, uncomfortable, there is a desire to be close.

The babe has been moving. A few times over the last few days, it feels like it points its head down, extends its arms like it’s doing a breast stroke, and then dives down towards the bottom of my uterus, bouncing there a few times. It’s pretty cute, despite the fact that it’s treating my bladder like a trampoline.

Last night, while I was sitting in the glow of the christmas lights, my belly shiny and coated with shea butter, the babe began pushing and rolling more than ever, and I called B. over. And yes, lo and behold, he felt it for the first time. That look in his eyes–“Shhh,” he said when I laughed–what I can say? Wow.

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.


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 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.

Week 12

I heard the heartbeat, not last week, I think it was the week before. I was on my couch, and the midwife next to me, B. sitting on the floor and our cat on the other couch. She didn’t react when out of the echoing, whooshing sounds of my uterus came the rapid patter of this new person’s new heart. I shouted and B.’s face opened in surprise and the midwife laughed at us. I kept laughing which came super loud out of the Doppler machine, so that she had to keep lifting the wand off my belly. She moved the wand over to play us my pulse and it was slow and gurgly and heavy in contrast to the light hurrying of this new heart. Adult hearts beat around 80, and this new one beats between 110 to 160. It was steady and fluttering and, I have to say it, adorable. I won’t be needing to take anymore pregnancy tests. (I only took one after the first positive, but I really wanted to keep taking more. I just kept wondering if I was really and actually pregnant. It’s official now. I am.) But the other best part was how spacious it sounded in there; looking down at my belly did not match the echoing sounds playing out of that machine. It sounded like I had a cave inside of me, with water and wind flowing in and out, and the midwife told me that that is what the baby is hearing and my body, my belly, my core became this lovely place to be. This new little person has no idea what a small space it’s occupying; to it, I’m an entire universe.

Whoa, those last words just settled on me like a balm. I do this thing, have this knack for taking any plenty and making it feel like scarcity. And for me, it’s always time. I always want more time. I woke up today looking at the week to come and already it feels parceled out, a checklist I’m going to live out one item at a time with no space for anything beyond the daily tasks of living. And then the days become a locked in tunnel, all sense of possibility leached out. And when I’m thinking like that, it becomes the month, and then it’s the season, and then it’s the year, and then in my mind, the baby is born and I didn’t have any time to myself, any time to prepare.

“When are we going to get diapers?” I asked B. over dinner last night. “And, like, a bottle?”

“We have time,” he told me.

I’m trying to feel like we do. I keep on telling myself this baby is going to come a few weeks late, as if those weeks are the ones in which all the tasks will get done and also I’ll finish my book. That week of hearing the heartbeat I felt the horizon open to me–like everything was all possibility–and I want that back. It’s only Monday. Maybe there’s another way to look at what seems like a very small space and discover just how much is hidden inside it.

A note on timing and process and my first major insight into the concept of parenting.

We’re about to jump far ahead in pregnancy time. When I began this blog, I was writing up entries I had handwritten in real time, and so there’s been a lag between the posts and the day count and where I’ve literally been in the pregnancy.

I’ve decided that I want to bring blog and life together, and so we are fast forwarding together. Because of the way pregnant counting works, day 15 was something like Week 6. I am now, at this actual moment in Week 11.

There was writing that happened in those weeks between, but also there were a few weeks that were kind of lost to me, when maintaining a holding pattern was about all I could do. Carrying my body through the day was about all I could do.

And then about two weeks ago, there was a shift. Not in the physical. I’m nauseous the majority of every day, and tired, and that just goes on and on. But there was another form of lightening. That first month of knowing felt like I was being just constantly overstimulated every moment of every day; like a confetti storm, and then suddenly, it just all calmed. The wind stilled. The air cleared. And other feelings could come in. Like happiness. Like optimism. Like excitement.

It’s a funny moment. Never before could I have imagined feeling this sick all the time and being happy at the same time. But I am. The thing being hard is not the same as the thing being miserable. I’m even joyful. And so I’m beginning to see…all those situations when I look at parents, and gape at the impossibility of what they’re doing, I just assumed that the hard-ness of it also meant that it sucked. But I see now that perhaps this is the secret crux of it that I at least could not imagine until now: that parenting realigns the patterns, that there truly is nothing like it, and that what appears shitty might not actually be. I’m guessing that there are going to be impossible moments, and that I will feel awful and overwhelmed again, many times, but also I like this moment. Everything feels wide open and full of possibility, and if I can be happy today, hours into a day that I’ve felt like throwing up in since I woke up, then who knows in what other situations I might discover these hidden caves of joy.