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.

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.

Day 9

I’m so nauseous I can’t think. I bought Seabands today; I think they’re starting to work. I read on one site that some doctors think that it’s only a placebo effect that makes them work. Yeah? Well, so fucking what? If it helps, it helps. I hate doctors today and did I mention I hate the phrase “morning sickness.” I hate the phrase morning sickness.

B. is still back though, with me. I get it too; his retreat and what scared him. It can all be overwhelming; I’m really scared of us becoming a version of business life partners. Often in the last week it felt like that: both of us tired and discussing and divvying up the life tasks. And this baby still only a notion.

I have to remind myself that we’ve always found our own ways to do all these things. There is no prescription. We’ll figure this out too. It doesn’t mean the end of all adventure.

Also, this is always what happens to us if we don’t have sex. If I could just have a moment of stillness, a pause, in this roiling, tumbling nausea, I would jump his bones in an instant. If this goes on unabated for too much longer I think I might go a little crazy.

Day 7

The due date confirmed and left me sobbing on a park bench while talking to my mom on the phone.

I told two co workers.

The question they asked; “Is B. so excited?”

And all I could answer was, “I think we’re both a bit overwhelmed right now.”

Hearing “Congratulations” almost feels off.