6 1/2 Weeks.

I was wrong. Sleep is everything.

Best not to think this sentence:  “All I need is one full night of sleep.” Because it can only be followed by this one: “You’re not going to get that for a long, long time.”

I thought I could outmaneuver all those sleep warnings. I thought I could break down the day/night industrial complex. I thought all it took was the right attitude.

The thing is that I really can’t blame the boy. His needs are too pure. I can’t steal sleep from his wants and rhythms. But from B.? It’s not in the middle of the night, but in the morning, that he can, at times, become my sleep nemesis. I think I do for him too, but I don’t want to assign him my own character defects. It is he that has the power to give me more sleep. He who can take the boy for a walk. He who can pace with him upstairs while I fall back asleep for that precious hour more. I would like to say that I think graciously of his needs in these moments but the laws of scarcity apply and sometimes, well sometimes if sleep were money I’d rob a small child of their candy fund just to get more of it. These are the moments when I glimpse the borders of my own basic kindnesses.

I’m immensely disappointed about all this. Not the tiredness itself, but to have fallen into the most obvious of new parent modes. Also, yesterday we ran into another set of parents whose babe is only two weeks older than ours and they get six and seven hour stretches and I walked away from that conversation saying to B., “We need to get serious about a bedtime ritual.”

Evening as it is now is something that comes on us suddenly. The day moves along at a meandering pace; morning and afternoon seeping into each other until suddenly, as if we’ve been dropped over a hidden waterfall, B. and I find ourselves sweaty on the couch at 8 o clock, 9 o clock, 10.  He is bare chested. I’m in my nursing bra with one flap open, a nipple airing out, and the boy, having finally fallen asleep, lies before us unbathed and still in his day outfit. You’d never know it though, looking at him. No signs of the long day show. Instead, he makes sleep look good, lying there, a gorgeous being straight from the cosmos.

We had talked earlier of the movie we would watch. The emails we would send. The random tasks that we’d accomplish with great satisfaction. Instead, we lean gently into each other so as to keep our sweaty skin from touching too much of the other’s. We kiss. Say, “Good job,” with a laugh. And then we assign the first shower, hurrying towards bed, the clock already running down towards the moment when the boy will stir sleepily, stretch, still looking adorable, until, very quickly if not intercepted, he’ll begin howling with all the unmitigated fury of his need to survive. Sometimes, if B. is the one to bring him to me, I think in my hazy sleep that I already have in my arms. I hear his cries, and feel the shape of him in my arms and then fumble around blearily to find him in the covers.

He is fed, and held upright to help with the gas, and then rocked back to sleep, and though I know how the next sleep cycle will end, he gets me every time–the look of him a mighty balm against the raw edge of the interrupted night.

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 20

I’m scared of never being alone again. Even from the beginning that was the one fear that could pierce my optimistic forcefield. Would you like to hear my ideal day?

Wake up at 8.

Morning rituals; meditation, stretching, pages, breakfast.


Lunch. Exercise.

Afternoon out in the city somewhere: meandering, looking at stuff, museums.

Reuniting with B. and/or friends, family, in the late afternoon. Doing stuff.

Yes, some mornings I love more than anything lying around in bed with B. and then the slow rise and maybe we cook and maybe we go out to breakfast. Yes, I absolutely love those mornings. But for the rhythms of most days? See above. Notice that I have very little interaction with another human being until the late afternoon. A dear friend pointed out to me that I might be so fixated on alone time right now, because my job is such the opposite that I might be a little starved for it right now. Which is fair. But I also know that there’s a truth to this for me. I really like being alone. Which makes me feel a little bit like a terrible and crazy person.

Also, I’m completely lying about one part. When I wrote “9ish to 12ish” that’s me trying to be a little less crazy than I am. I’m really bad at that -ish. The schedules I am capable of putting myself on tend to not be flexible. I used to write them out. In those years before the full time job, especially in those years when I was deep in my fixation on body size and food, I wrote out the days to the minute. At some point I became aware that I was leaving no transition time. As in, writing done at 12; running begins at 12. I’d cut out the time it takes to pee, change my clothes, breath, exchange a sentence with another human being.

I’m having trouble sleeping again. I think the insomnia began when I was fourteen, and has never fully left me. I lie down to sleep and my brain whirrs on. I’ve tried every natural remedy there is to help me sleep; I’ve taken every herb, drunk every tea. I refuse to take anything stronger because I tend to form habits, I lean heavily in the direction of addiction, and anything you take to sleep tends to be especially habit forming. I had a break this fall from the sleeplessness. In the midst of all that first trimester physical misery, I slept deeply almost every single night. When I sleep deeply now, as in times when I’m not depleted or sick, I wake up with so much energy the next day I feel like a super hero. I almost can’t imagine what it would be like to feel that way on a daily basis.

I am not in a good mood today.

My co-worker gave me baby clothes as a secret santa present. I cried at first, then brought them home, and hung them over the banister–a row of four adorable onesies of the softest cotton you can imagine. One has yellow ducks on it. Another is striped in grey and white. There are snaps where I’ll need to unsnap them to change a diaper. I passed them, eyeing them for a few days, and now they are folded into a little bundle and tucked out of sight into my closet. They mean a real human being is going to be the end result of all this. This nine months of discovery and self-awareness and new sensations and a new body and thinking and talking about my feelings and how I’m doing and how my health is-all of that is going to end up in a human being who I am going to have to care for. All the time.

Many people have spoken to me about the selflessness of pregnancy; as in, “Oh, it must be easier to go through all of it because you’re creating a person.” It is spoken of as a turning over of myself, my physical self, to this greater cause. But I have to say, it often feels gloriously self-indulgent. I get a lot of attention. It’s like being a bride in white; everyone notices you and pays attention, there is a spotlight following you as you move through the city, your home, your job. You are special. And when this is all said and done, it won’t be me who is special anymore, it will be the babe.

Which does sound nice actually.

I’m okay with the babe being special.

It might be good for me to have this focus outside of my own self.

But this morning while I’m being grumpy and pissy at B., I imagine there being a baby here too, and I’m scared of being grumpy and pissy at them for the simple fact of them existing and demanding my attention.  I don’t think I’m going to stop loving being alone and quiet, and at this moment, those hours of solitude feel like an island I’m sailing further from by the day.

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 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 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.

Day 15

It’s a beautiful Sunday and last night I went to bed in a horrible mood and did not wake up much better. Had to tell B. I needed to be alone for most of the day. I can’t be around him right now, which happens, every now and then, and really he’s done nothing. I just…last night it felt hard. I was talking about how I’d been snappy with some of the kids at work, and he said something about not just at work, and it really fucking got to me. All of me feels so outside of my control. I’m hungry and then I’m full and then I’m nauseous. I’m sleeping and then restless. Moody and, apparently, snappy.

I thought I was going to be so happy to be pregnant. I thought I was going to radiate joy and light and so far it’s been mostly hard. There’s joy there: I feel like I have to keep explaining this to the future child who could somehow read this, but I think this might need to be my space to write any thing I want. Be as selfish as I want.

It’s also really easy to be super self-centered right now. There’s a way in which nothing seems as interesting as the science project of my body. I find myself giving away very personal information without even thinking about it. Last night I was explaining to my friend’s husband how my period cycles normally worked, and mentioning that I didn’t want an internal sonogram. Pretty sure that’s more detail than he ever needed. I wonder if I’m legitimately becoming a crazy person. Suddenly the day alone doesn’t seem like such an amazing idea. Although also…maybe I don’t need to be inflicting myself on anyone for a few more hours.

I want these posts to exist out there—some flecks in the internet sea—because I can’t imagine I’m the only woman who’s ever felt and thought these things. It would be a comfort to me to stumble onto this.

Time to get out in the world though. I don’t need to interact, but this house just got too quiet.

Day 12

One hour and thirty minutes awake no nausea! Praise God!

I went to an herb store a few days ago to find a magic cure for the queasiness. (There is no one magic cure. Even the seabands are fallible.) One of the women behind the counter was about a decade younger than me, and she said, “You know, a little toke of weed in the morning might work wonders.” Which may be true, but that’s not a thing that’s an option for me anymore, and stopped being one long before I got pregnant. But then the other woman behind the counter, who was older than me and had been pregnant and was one of those women who makes me believe that it’s possible to have a baby and still be cool in life, started talking to me about scent; how we associate these super smelling powers of pregnancy with horrible smells, especially in the city (and let me tell you sometimes this whole f-ing city just smells like garbage), but that also my new super power makes good smells better. Ahh, now this was a revelation. She poured some lemon verbena in a bag and held it out to me, and sure enough, bliss. I left with that bag, a bag of dried fennel, and a small glass jar of organic lavender shea butter. The woman swore by it; said she had no stretch marks.

I listened to her advice and yesterday got myself to the Botanical Gardens. At first I was only going to stay an hour; still making plans in a day like I’m not pregnant, like it’s a doable thing to pop over to the gardens, and then jump onto my bike to make it to the 4:00 yoga class, and then swing by the grocery store, shop and cook up a quick dinner. Yeah. Instead, I spent the first hour sleeping on the grass in the sun. Even then I almost raced off to yoga, but then my body’s new, much more assertive voice told me to stop being ridiculous and to go to the rose garden. Which I did.

I hadn’t known the roses would still be blooming. They were not in their full, flamboyant June glory. Their edges were tipped with brown, some hanging heavy off their branches, on their way out, shedding petals and blooms for the fall. I had come in June, walked with the crowds while holding a paper, pink parasol and celebrating my step-father’s birthday. Everyone was wearing their bright skirts and shades, shedding our winter skins for the summer that was now very close, nudging and weaving for chances to get close to the flowers. That was a parade of a day. This September sunday was much gentler, just a few of us visiting in the off season, coming by to see the quiet of the exiting.

I began to smell them, stepping in close, nose into the flowers, checking for bees. All of them were scented. Some smelled just like plant, and things growing; some were traced with scent, leftovers. I was still hazy from my sleep. The sun felt good. I reached the end of the row, and passed into an area of tall grasses, lilies, non-rose flowers, and then suddenly I was stopped by the most glorious of all smells. I paced in front of the area, reaching for a hidden rose in the midst, but it wasn’t that. I don’t know what to call it in fact, don’t know which plaque matched which flower in that tangle, but the scent was from this tiny vertical row, yellow-ish, cream-ish. I stayed, inhaling, walking away and back for the pleasure of returning to it. And finally the solid rock of “getting through the day” that I’d been walking around in cracked. My chest opened.  I cried. And felt fully myself for the first time in a week. Maybe longer.

I stayed until closing time; all the air a pleasure. The water lilies were in flashy bloom, and every one of them seemed to carry a good name for a daughter. On my way out, I walked one edge of the Japanese garden, sent into raptures by the pine, taking long slow breathes, indeed my own new drug to fill up on. A plant that looked like sage, with purple blossoms, turned my palms into rosemary scented wonders.

At the statues that mark the exit, I turned, gave a silent thanks, and then I did get on my bike, but wasn’t zipping anywhere. I just cruised the downward slope toward home, queasy as hell, and totally at ease.

Day 11

I can’t remember anything today. Can’t hold a thought in my head; it’s comical really–it appears and is gone. I mean it’s happening mid-sentence even. The words just trail off. I feel like I’m the one packed in fluid. Thank God for seabands. I was all prepared to have to explain my odd new bracelets to the students, but then they didn’t ask a thing. Also, all I need (well, considering what is feasible) are some fifteen minute naps. They actually do a lot. I’m convinced that all my co-workers know. Also, this is how I react to kids on the street: with horror. I’m staring at all kids, at all ages, wondering why we’re bringing this on ourselves while somehow remaining totally committed to my own spark. How long am I going to be in shock? I get off on the novelty of it, and am also aware that I have to be careful to not be totally self-involved because honestly this is all I can think about. When I’ve been with friends, I’ve had to give myself literal instructions. Stop talking about the pregnancy now. Ask how they’re doing. Ask about work. It’s hard for other people’s concerns and details to pierce this haze I’m in. The nausea doesn’t help. But even while I’m thinking these reminders to not be completely unaware of other people and their lives, I’m also wondering where all the texts are–I swear to God when someone gets pregnant next I’m sending them flowers. I want B. to get me flowers. He’s doing great, so much better, but he’s caught up in this change too. He’s terrified, or not terrified–just overwhelmed and without the hormonal cushioning that has me in this soft state, unconcerned about the future. Sure, the house is on my mind a bit, his mom, school, all of it, but nothing can pierce this gentle confidence that it’s all going to come out just fine. Is this the great simplification? Perhaps so much of me is being rationed to my core that there’s little left for other worries. Except for my writing. There’s a little left for that. Have to stop now. Nausea coming. Have to eat.