Thursday, December 30, 2004

Top Ten Ways to Torment the Preggo in Your Life

#10 – Talk about the shoes you had to return because they were "just too wide."
#9 – Throw a party to show off the slides and share the bounty of your recent tour of French vineyards.
#8 – Replace all her furniture with beanbag chairs.
#7 – Extol the virtues of your name and how it can be easily adapted for either gender.
#6 – Schedule early morning get togethers to which you arrive looking particularly refreshed and go on for long periods of time about how you don't remember when you got such a good night's sleep.
#5 – Give her a razor and watch her try to shave her legs. Note often that she "missed a spot."
#4 – Drop things often and ask "Would you get that for me?"
#3 – Take her shopping with you and each time you try something on ask, "Does this make me look fat?"
#2 – Pick a day when she's really exhausted, then get her to stay out late and watch her mental state deteriorate. At the point when she can no longer finish a sentence, point and laugh.

and the #1 way to torment the preggo in your life…

- Drop the bomb about that picture of her from the holiday party that's on the company website which turns out to be a full body profile shot taken while she was standing at the dessert table actively stuffing her face. Console her with the news that "it's only the internal site," limiting her audience to a mere 200 people.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

and eat it too

March 7th. Have I mentioned yet that I'm grateful my due date does not coincide with any major holidays? Other than a crowding of family birthdays in March, and I suppose a chance of a St Patrick's Day baby, we're in the clear.

It was the morning of Mike's birthday. I'll try not to go into how I have married a man who's birthday is four days before Christmas or what pressures this might place on his wife year after year. Not that my husband asks for anything, wants anything, or, let's face it, needs anything that badly. This year his one request was the cake part – chocolate with chocolate frosting, chocolate chips and chocolate candles.

I arrive at the store not as early as I'd hoped, and I know immediately upon getting out of the car there is big potential for derailment. There is someone sitting at a folding card table by the door. He has forms and signs and damn if he isn't asking people if they are registered voters. Shit. This is all I need. Decisions about important issues. I creep closer and see this one's about the new high-end development and golf course they just changed the county's general plan to approve. It's a bad idea. But I don't know all the facts and I just need… "Good Morning!" The man is in his late forties, dressed in earthy tones, and probably belongs to the green VW bus with the If War is the Answer, We're Not Asking the Right Question bumper sticker parked a couple spots away. "Maybe later," I call, bustling by in my best New York stride.

I stand in the grocery store mid-aisle, not yet awake, starting on a cold, thinking about the agenda for the rest of the day, and being generally lost. Store clerks taking pity on me stop one after another to ask if I need help finding something. Yes, I say, and read off something on my list. They point, I thank them, maintain my position, and when the next one comes by I ask again for the same item. This goes on until one of them wants me to follow him, and I distractedly trail my guide through frozen foods to where the chocolate chips are kept. Okay, zombie preggo is on her way to a cake!

Even in an age of superstores and enormo-buy-your-vintage-wine-ear-medicine-fresh-salmon- and-have-your-tires-rotated-under-one-roof stores sometimes things don't work out simply. No cake pans at this stop. A person needs a cake pan. I lingered in the store for a while hoping a cake pan would materialize, or a cake pan fairy perhaps. Acceptance, not my forte. I thought about returning home without a cake pan – you know, one of those plans where you'll just "figure something out," but then I broke down to logic, checked out, and started thinking about where to go to buy a cake pan. That's when I ran into my socially responsible friend again.

I took two steps past his table ignoring his attempts to grab my attention, then stopped. "They want to build it on ag land, don't they?" I called behind me, knowing he was staring at my back. "Yes!" he said, joyful at this open door. "And they'll be 100,000 more blah-dee-blah blah-blah blah…" I don't know what he said after that. It wasn't him that had gotten me to stop. It was my own damn conscience.

I reached for a clipboard and started to write in my name and address. "I'm just not really awake yet," I told him. "Too early for meaningful social contributions."

He had the answer. "I can offer you a spiritual renewal."

For some of you this might seem an odd thing for someone to say. I've been six years in California; I didn't even look up.

"I wish you energy (he lifts out of his chair and waves his hands above me) and peace (he brings his hands into prayer position) This could be the day for clearing mental space, creating sacred…"

"You know what I really need?" I interrupt. "A cake pan."

"A cake pan?" Though he repeats my plea, he is unmoved by it, continuing immediately with the process of healing me, or at least wishing healing on me.

Apparently not noticing the protruding belly that met him almost at eye level as he sat back down behind his card table on this foggy morning, he recommends I give up alcohol and caffeine. This last comment appears to seal my healing session and I leave, no closer to a cake pan. As I walk away, I hear him thank the next woman for "taking the time to do this." Hey! He didn't thank me, I think. All I got was a blessing toward my spiritual well-being!

That's what I get for trying on good habits before the baby gets here. What kind of an example would I be if I'd zipped by like I really wanted to and shirked my social duty? Still, I was glad that from safe in his little swimming pool of belly, the baby couldn't see the big scary man waving his arms and chanting at us.

You'll be relieved to hear I got my cake pan, only took me two more stores and three more clerk guides.

Social justice, spiritual healing, and cake pans. Each have their own time and place at the head of the line. And to think, me with all three of these treasures in one day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

a gathering of grandmothers

Before I got pregnant, I said often that if I were ever to have a child I wanted to move to a village somewhere where having children was a complete automatic, as automatic as breathing, as automatic as hitting your brakes when you see a cop car. And all would swarm around to coddle my infant while I snuck off with my journal to the nearest banyan tree. Really, I mean, who am I? Just the mother. Why hog the little one with an entire older generation of women waiting to help raise my baby? This may all sound very quaint and selfish, but tell me a child raised within a community of caregivers isn't better off?

Once in a while, I'm lobbed hope that something like that could happen here. People, often my friends with grown kids, make comments like "Of course, I'll baby-sit! Anytime!" I'm suspect, but I want to believe it. I've also discovered I'm welcome to tote my newborn to my writing group. This is exciting. One of my fellow writers added to the news "And there are plenty of grandmothers here to hold him." How very appealing. The woman who said this doesn't look like any picture of my grandmothers that I've ever seen – she's that spry, trim, youthful, California grandmother, no horn-rimmed glasses or grey hair swept back hurriedly into a bun, but I think she still counts.

Then there is our upstairs neighbor, a woman of seventy with five children of her own. She's another one who makes me want to believe that the community of grandmothers is out there just waiting to be reunited. She was so excited to find out about our news that I felt guilty all over again for my dubious approach to motherhood. Mike and I already go to her with a myriad of (non-baby) questions on a regular basis. Adding to her overall openness and seventy years of life are the facts that she's in proximity to ask, has lived in the area for decades (we, only six), this house for 12 years (we, only 5 months). We've come to simply point at our ceiling when we wish to include a reference to our neighbor, like it has to do with something on a higher level, at a status we haven't yet reached. Like it indicates hope in a power larger than us, the gesture of the index finger deferring to what might only be in heaven's grasp. Like the habit in many Latin American countries of pointing up to refer to the United States above them on the map, "el norte" (the north). If not literally their intended destination, it is often at least a (frequently economic) goal post, a mythical Other with all the answers, a solution to all worries. The term el norte has come to be used as a euphemism to mean any goal or high aspiration.

And there's more to tease me. Recently, we went to a holiday open house for our block at a neighbor's place. I have yet to meet the majority of the people on my block and it seemed like a reasonable thing to attend. (Besides, we had a great escape route built in, we couldn't stay long as it was Mike's birthday and we were off to dinner with my sister and a friend.)

We enter a foreign land I both fear and want to eat whole: a picturesque home, hearth lined with photos of the kids on Santa's lap through the years, table lined with goodies, a family dog that the owners must scold mildly in jocular tones about not jumping up on guests, though he never does, stiffly friendly greetings trying so hard, so hard.

We mill and introduce ourselves. Compliment the house. Repeat our names. Chew tiny pastry triangles of spinach and cheese. Eventually, fate calls for us to float into an adjoining room where older women in Christmas sweaters are holding glasses and leaning from plaid sectionals toward each other with animated conversation. We hover.

The owner of the house joins the group and, having been tipped off by my neighbor across the street, spills my news with "When are you due?" The old women's eyes move without delay to my belly. I am now the center of their animated conversation. "Who's your doctor?" they want to know right off. I am hedging, telling them of the various doctors I've had, mumbling something at last about a midwife. But I needn't have feared. "Oh!" Mrs. Livingston from four doors down starts with excitement. "My daughter-in-law is a midwife in Seattle!"

There is space on the couch next to Mrs. Livingston and I feel compelled by courtesy to sit, though I know we are dangerously close to being late to meet our friend at the restaurant. She goes on to tell me all about her daughter-in-law, midwifery, and the births of her many grandchildren, one of whom, a boy of about 14, is sitting next to her staring intently at his knee wishing, I imagine, he were invisible. I could have used some invisibility powers myself…

"…so they froze the placenta!" Mrs. Livingston's voice rose in the small room, bouncing about in its crescendo just as the buzz of conversation around us came to a natural and unfortunate pause, as general chatter has a habit of doing when something inopportune is being spoken. Mrs. Livingston's mother, to whom I'd been introduced earlier, was leaning on a cane across the room. I heard her say softly, perhaps to her friend seated beside her, perhaps to herself, "What is she telling her?" The woman shifted her stance with the authority of one more generation, and the conversations took a tenuous step toward continuing.

Mrs. Livingston hadn't missed a beat, however. "Doctors!" she shrugged at last, "They just come in at the end when all the work is done! Now if you need anything, honey, we're right down the street. I've changed diapers for 11 babies in my life. Eleven babies! Three children and eight grandchildren." She pats her grandson's knee at which he is still staring, harder than ever.

In an emergency, I'm sure I would have no trouble scaring up Mrs. Livingston from her plaid couch and taking advantage of all that baby experience. But can I just come by for tea? What if I want to take off with my journal for the banyan tree?

I'd like to send a thank you to our neighbors who hosted the open house but I seem to have thrown out the invitation and I don't know how to spell their name. I mention this dilemma to Mike. He immediately points skyward, indicating again our upstairs neighbor. "Maybe she'll know." Maybe she will. Of course she will. Doesn't she hold gently to all solutions? They must always know more than us, this gathering of grandmothers. They are a resource I crave, my el norte.

Monday, December 27, 2004

virtual fears

"So, apparently we shouldn't let the baby eat raccoon poop," Mike informs me casually one day. We are driving in the car, him behind the wheel, me the passenger, each looking straight ahead. I have known this man for seven and a half years. I have learned damn well in that time that, as bizarre as it is, I won't get any more out of him until I ask explicit questions. Yet, I wait it out. Another traffic light. Several minutes. I am offered nothing. I bait my hook, rifle through the plethora of questions in my head, take a breath, dive: "And why, my love, would our child be eating raccoon poop in the first place??" "I don't know," he replies. Again, we return to silence. A left turn arrow. A parking space appears ahead. Finally, another morsel: "I heard it on the van." Strangely, this explains quite a bit.

"The van" is the car pool he takes to work most days. He and up to a dozen other bobbing heads chug to and from work together 30 minutes each way, taking turns at driving and generally being upstanding eco-citizens. This scenario, as it turns out, is ripe for sharing random information. At home he regales me with tales from the van. "On the van today…" "Someone was talking on the van today and…" I've learned about personal philosophies and local politics, the growing cycle of the artichoke and the flight patterns of the pelican. And now, raccoon poop.

At this rate, we will never escape the voices. They are chasing at our heels, their well-meaning handouts of knowledge and rumor morphing into snarling canines with fire in their eyes. I know the voices are only warming up – the advice from every corner of society about what to watch out for. After all, the baby hasn't even arrived yet.

Just for kicks the other day, I started reading one of my preggo guides again. Thought I'd get a feel for the current alarmist tidbit. Appendicitis, in case you were wondering. I'm supposed to worry about appendicitis. The authors admit that it can happen "any time." But thankfully, they've tossed it onto the preggo pile of worry dolls. Pray tell, dear guide book, why should I worry about appendicitis, exactly? Some of the symptoms of pregnancy are similar to the symptoms of appendicitis, making detection rather difficult during the nine months of prenatal bliss. Ah. Of course.

Could this be another symptom of our separation from community? We no longer only worry about truly relevant threats from our local environment. Tornadoes in Kansas, poisonous tarantulas wherever poisonous tarantulas live, etc. We live in virtual space (blog anyone?), where, in fact, virtually anything can happen. We no longer look at what's in front of us; and if we do, we don’t believe it.

Take, for example, the interchange I enjoyed with my former doctor after she performed an ultrasound at seven weeks (That's doctor weeks, in real gestational time it was five weeks. Long story). At this stage you see and know almost nothing about the little heartbeat on the screen. Still in my fog of shock and disbelief, I stumbled along with this "routine" procedure only to ask again and again later why it was done. The biggest reason I was provided was that it would "date the pregnancy." In other words, to discover how old the little blip was and devise a due date. When I protested that I should have had a choice about it and that if they wanted to know, they should have simply asked me when I got pregnant, they held calmly to their ground on the basis that "most women don't know." I know. This woman knows. Hello? In front of you…yoohoo! Real person, over here…

I think that at night doctors must snuggle up close to their statistics, whisper sweet cliches at them, slip out of their physical bodies to enter erotic dreams of percentages dancing in sterile white cages, margins of error the bouncers at the club door, only the hottest new research pulled out of line to enter… But now I'm just spreading rumors. In their waking hours, turning back into human form, doctors schedule unnecessarily automatic early ultrasounds (which are not automatic for all doctors or patients, I should mention, but I happen to have insurance that covers it…).

Since our initial conversation, Mike has told me that it's not harmful for us adults to eat raccoon poop. I try not to linger on thoughts of how this conversation resurfaced in the van pool or what that breeding ground of bizarro facts would leave on my door step next. "Uh, huh," I manage in response, trying to banish the visuals. We are made of tougher stuff than babies when it comes to fighting off the evils of raccoon poop then. And that we must do. Stand between our babies and rodent excrement. Defend all, grown ups and children alike, against fears that would have us turn our backs on common sense, our lives into wishbones.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

"29 ½ Weeks" … an anti-erotidrama that tells the story of a husband and wife (newcomers Mike G. & Kitty P.) and their two cats (Zap Mama - "It's a Wonderful Life…If I Get Canned Food" and Emily - "When Harry Met Sally I Was Under the Table Eating the Scraps") in a moment along the path of their first unplanned pregnancy.

With the same mythic appeal as "Elf" and all the suspense of "Ground Hog Day", "29 ½ Weeks" –based on the book of the same name- is a ground-breaking glance into life on the edge. This movie's truest success comes in its ability to blend competing sensibilities while never losing its focus (the cats).

While the dialogue is sometimes lacking, (K: "Okay, so, we're, like, having a baby?" M: "It appears so." Or: K: "I'm hungry!" M: "And?"), the cinematography is phenomenal. Like previous films by the same director ("28 ¾ weeks", "19 Weeks, One Day", and "Ohmigod, I'm already 4 months!") the story turns on the universal idea that we all face challenges in life, it's just that some of us do it with more sarcasm and crying fits than others.

For those looking for real life on the big screen, "29 ½ Weeks" will not disappoint.

This film is not yet rated.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

surfacing from hiatus

If you are the Christmas type, have a Merry one. Fetal Positions will get back on track with regular entries beginning this week!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

we're all searching for something

I think the best writing to read is the stuff I don't craft or try forever to whittle into a witty build up of the point at hand (or that I whittle and whittle, hoping that eventually I will hit on some – any! – point at hand). The best stuff is just reporting exactly what people do and say. For example, when I quote my dear husband. Or list the contents of my trunk. So, in that tradition I'd like to share with you today a few of the funnier key word searches people have done to inadvertently land themselves on the fetal positions site. And just remember, I don't make this stuff up.

absessed teeth
cave woman costumes
haiku pregnancy
curt schilling ego
pomegranate pregnancy
Budapest I'm pregnant
bun in the oven teeshirt
unplanned pregnancy poet
where to buy ginger chews
is bean sprout safe to eat during pregnancy?
who's responsible for teen pregnancy?
and, last but not least – TV fun house fetal Scoobie Doo

The fetal positions board game will be out shortly for all you die-hards to play your hand at who remembers which entries the above words and phrases appeared in.

So here's to the site meter. In the end, it's just good to know that someone, using a MAC, in the Russian Federation, spent 2 seconds perusing my blog.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Eddie Izzard & Michael Jackson – how many degrees of separation?

"did I leave the gas on?…No! I'm a fucking squirrel!" (- EI, from the squirrel bit)

In a previous post, I mentioned Eddie Izzard. What you don't know is that Eddie is inextricably tied forever in my mind with my early weeks of pregnancy. Some of you may be thinking, who is this Eddie Izzard? You people need to go to the link. Some of you may be thinking, what does a British transvestite comedian have to do with your pregnancy?? You are people of little faith and imagination. Some of you, who read this blog regularly and know exactly who Eddie Izzard is, may be thinking, that explains a lot!

If you are lucky like we are and have a local video store owned by a Brit, you have the whole EI library at your disposal. Before I even knew I was pregnant but was feeling like the ultimate in crappola, I rented Eddie Izzard videos to try to distract me from my persistent tummy ache. After I knew I was pregnant, I rented more, to distract me from, well, all the rest.

I would lie there watching, falling in and out of consciousness in my fitful sickness. It reminds me of when I had a raging fever due to chicken pox in the ninth grade, and I dozed on the couch while the making of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video played on MTV. Delirious with fever, I'd wake up to scarier and more baffling scenes each time.

Back then, I was watching scenes involving lots of make up and the performance of a dark, unusual mind. With Eddie, I was watching scenes involving…lots of make up and the performance of a dark, unusual mind. You keep looking and you find commonality in the oddest of places.

Cheers to my friend Bridgett for first introducing me to Eddie Izzard! And jeers to Bust magazine who published an interview with Eddie in their latest issue that demonstrates some of the worst interviewing skills I've seen in a while.

"Nuts, nuts, nuts. How I long for a grapefruit!" (the squirrel bit, reprise)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

shake your groove thing

I once compared the sound of my baby's heartbeat to a choo choo. While I try my best to side step the passing thoughts that my life is headed for a train wreck with Little One as engineer, there is another reason this comparison has turned out to be appropriate. Each morning these days, usually somewhere between 5:00 am and 7:00 am, baby likes to move around a lot. Actually, baby takes off on what I have come to refer to as "the Dance Party." I might still be attempting to fend off the cats for another 10 minutes of rest, when the Soooooooouuuuuuuul Traaaaaaaaaaaaiiiin arrives. Everybody on the dance floor.

You see it at every party or gathering – the little kids dancing. The adults sit and sip. The kids get their groove on. And they sure don't care who's watching. Mine's starting early with its love of abandon and hip swivels.

People always say things like "Davey has always loved music since he was a baby." To me this seems silly. It'd be like saying "Little Simon really seems to enjoy drinking water." Music is basic. Music is core. Even the sullen teenagers everyone rages on about turn to what? Music. Davey may become an international star of the Whosville Philharmonic and Little Simon may have a garage band for a month, but so what. We all get to claim music. I'm not sure what music my little beast hears, but I hope the volume is turned up. There's lots out here to drown out lately. Such as yesterday.

Yesterday was taxing. It started by seeing my husband off at 5:00 am for a work trip amidst a raging rain and wind storm. Like I wanted him to get on a plane just then. (I don't do well with separation and less well with plane trips.) The day continued with an audio editing job I couldn't finish, sitting on the highway for-e-ver behind a school bus accident (no serious injuries), errands I only half had time to do, teaching, etc. etc., blah blah blah. For those who don't know, gestating is exhausting unto itself. I ain't up for this crap anymore. This morning I am utterly exhausted, like weepy exhausted, like bones sagging exhausted, and I'm in for another battering schedule today.

At one point yesterday, somewhere between the third time I thought I was lost in the car trying to drive around the accident, and the second hour on my feet in front of an unresponsive group of students, my hands landed on my stomach and I was almost surprised at the swell I found there. Oh yeah, I'm carrying a baby around, I thought. It's easy to become completely disassociated with the pregnancy on the days when things spin out back to back to back obligations and stress. We can say we are "out of our minds" when we want to express that we are crazy busy or harried. But what would be more accurate is if we said "we are out of our bodies." The whole problem is that we are all in our minds. I'm looking forward to being pulled in to another world for a while. One where Mickey Mouse or Mozart are equally good reasons to boogie and screw the daily stresses.

I think that was the problem with yesterday. All those 24 hours, all those people I encountered, and nobody was dancing.

…show em how we do it now,
shake your groove thing, shake your groove thing, yeah yeah…

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

does size matter?

It's hard to go on vacation from one of the most beautiful areas of the country. This time we went to Catalina Island, equally beautiful to our home area, and as it turns out, a trip that brought on many ruminations about community. (Catalina Island is part of Los Angeles County – off the coast of Long Beach/LA etc.)

Catalina Island is small. It would be small anyway, but it's even smaller because most of it is maintained as a nature preserve. Cool! I first thought. Pretty! I first thought. And then you get there and realize that the nature preserve status means your ass, and the asses of aaaaaalllll your fellow tourists are confined to the single square mile of downtown with its repetitively charming teeshirt shops and prettily tiled public restrooms, plus the botanical gardens up the hill.

Did I mention Catalina Island is small? Stay there longer than a day and things circle back to you. We met up with our morning's waitress buying Christmas presents for her kid and our hotel desk clerk out and about in street clothes. The same guy who seated us for nachos sold us our movie tickets. It's small. (Cute, but would I live there?)

Then there's small town talk. Since it's an island, this mostly revolves around storms and the weather. We got in some quality eavesdropping regarding this topic. "Sounds like it'll be as bad as the last one!" (Teller and listener shake their heads gloomily.) "Headed directly into the harbor! A Nor'easter!" (Commiseration continues. Whistles are made, their trills peaking quickly then descending in that universal "uh-oh!" sound.) The next day dawned on a cooler and breezier version of its predecessor, but I'm afraid without the most dire threats realized. These are people whose downtown is one square mile and who drive golf carts. I don't begrudge them a little story telling. In fact, I quite like it. (But would I live there?)

Yes, golf carts. Cars are limited on the island. The majority of the residents of Catalina drive golf carts. It's kinda comical to see really, but believe me, I'm all about ditching the Hummer with tinted windows and chugging around in your Yamaha cart. (How would I live with that?)

The whole time I was there I was so fascinated by what the locals did, how they might have gotten to be locals, etc. How interesting to choose or be born into such a community. (In the end, could I live there??)

As parents, I guess you get executive decision making power on locale. Is that a good thing? In whose interest and at whose cost will we be making that decision? Do you think children more often grow to love their first home arena or will they scoff at it no matter its values? The city has cultural diversity in people and experiences. The small town has grass and safety. How do you begin to prioritize these and the million other things that could make the list? Someone told me once with disdain that you "can't be a writer and live here!" Should I mention to him that with less than an hour and a couple addresses I could be at Jane Smiley or Adrienne Rich's house? Should I mention that with two hours the list grows exponentially and includes names like Isabel Allende and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Nah. Let's not tell him. He's an angry little man, and we don't like him.

I think I'm becoming more and more a small town girl. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, but I think my embarrassment comes from what we've been railroaded to believe about the quaint backwardness of small town USA. Naturally, there are plenty of small towns I want nothing to do with, but it's not so cut and dry for me anymore. When I think about where I'd want my kid to grow up, small or large matters to me less and less, while the ability for community seems the most important element. But do we have that ability anymore? Did we ever? Does community have to mean being in each other's hair and raising eyebrows if someone isn't like us?

There are some really nice things about living in a little place. In my town, I know all the bookstore owners by name. The other day when I asked the local video store owner when my videos were due he said, "When do you need them until?" We all mill around telling each other we look familiar. There's a charm here. It's tricky because I've always been the one to leave. To go. Move. Next place. Next! Am I selling out if I stay? Isn't that what most people do? Is this what they all meant when they talked about "settling down?" Why do I still have a physical reaction to that phrase?

It would seem none of us can make up our minds. We want people in the bar, but we don't want anyone to talk to us. If the bar is empty, we don't stay cuz "this place is dead!" We leave our houses to be out...each of us in our own car. One thing we don't do in my town is drive golf carts. We drive cars and big SUVs named after the things they're helping to kill off. Like Tahoe. Or Sequoia. Add a Jesus fish and it's just like you really care.

In the example of my town, we drive our vial machines often through a small traffic tunnel. There is a dubiously interesting tradition among many drivers here to beep their horns as they drive through it. The Honda Civic goes "Beep Beep Be-Beep Beep…" and waits for its mating call to be answered. If the Ford Bronco goes "…Beep Beep!" we've got ourselves a match. This is apparently the best idea we've had so far in terms of community building. Whoah, people, whoah! Everyone just slow down! If we're not careful, soon we'll be talking to strangers in elevators, and after that, well, it's straight to a national health care system. Try that with a golf cart.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Catalina Island pics

Us on Catalina Island goofy golfcarts for traversing a weeny island

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Buellton & harboring the enemy

We went on vacation over Thanksgiving. Vacation is a funny thing. (I'm sure it'll get even "funnier" with a kid.) You go mad for days before it, preparing everything that you need to have with you and everything you need to have done before you leave – since surely the world will halt on its axis without your careful attention – then you drive some icky number of miles, let's just say (for the sake of argument only, of course), through LA traffic, and finally arrive at, ah – vacation!

But alas, I glaze over the journey too quickly. Along the way, before being able to claim *vacation* as yours, you may also, let's say (for the sake of argument), find yourself in a town called Buellton waiting in line to use a gas station restroom. Sometimes, as it happens, while in the midst of a journey, we are foggy on how much progress we've made or when we might arrive at our destination. For instance, some people have been known to mediate on forgiveness for months and think they are getting nowhere, but one day wake up free from the yoke of guilt and blame. In what is surely a similar sort of way, you may not be all that clear on when your vacation officially begins. And while you stand there, in Buellton, waiting for the privilege of entering what will prove to be a vile and disgusting atmosphere of confined, unventilated human waste and germs, gnawing on a hang nail and trying to look really pregnant so everyone else will feel guilty and maybe let you go first, you might possibly ask yourself "Is this vacation yet?" … Buellton?…Buellton?…

Thank god for the little paper toilet seat covers. My child will be born into a world where little paper toilet seat covers have always existed. When did they hit the scene? Early 90s? (They've at least been around long enough that the people who fill the dispensers should know how to freakin' do it. "Pull up, then down" works only about 45% of the time.) Some research studies have borne out the theory that our trend toward hyper-cleanliness is partially responsible for a rise in allergies and the like. Personally, I'm all about the 12-second rule. But let me tell you, I'm totally with the clean freaks when it comes to toilet seat covers.

Here I am celebrating the right of my baby to have toilet seat covers without ever having to think twice, and yet…if my hunch is right, and this baby is a boy, do you know what that means? … It means I'm not going in any public restrooms after him. He's the enemy.

Not counting various port o potties I'd rather forget, I think the tie for most disgusting public restroom I've ever been to is between the toilet in a little jungle airport in Ecuador and one somewhere on the way to Joshua Tree in the Arizona desert. Makes you think maybe extreme climates might have something to do with the inability to politely pee and exit while still maintaining some semblance of hygiene.

I think about bathrooms a lot these days. I have to. Darn if I ain't in them a lot. But at least for now they are still called "bathrooms" "women's rooms" "restrooms." Soon, [gulp] they will become "potties." Why? Can I buck the trend or are the diligent tendrils of societal influence too strong?

The word is even in the "official" language of parenting – "potty training." Potty training is something I dread beyond words and yet, can't wait to get accomplished. Reason #3,453 why I can't have a child: I have never changed a diaper in my life.

Friday, December 03, 2004


A friend told me early on in my pregnancy that I had every right to feel angry or sad or ambivalent about my situation…for the first five months. Now of course, I'm on borrowed time. I'm out of bounds. Once again, as seems the trend, my crayon has strayed beyond the boundaries.

Don't get me wrong, we all want to protect our children. The problem comes because most people assume eventually feelings of love or protection replace the other murkier feelings, the darker days, or the biting anger. They don't. They coexist. Sometimes I want desperately to lift my baby out of his round, taut belly house, and hold him. Just to hug him to me or keep him safe from the world I walk through every day. Foolish creatures that we are, our bodies yet a mystery to us – stolen by medical "professionals," we believe pedestrian notions of how arms show tenderness. That I would steal my infant from the womb to grip him with lesser parts, like hands. Silly humans.

"Do you feel like you might harm yourself or your baby?" I see reference to the help lines here and there in the better literature. But even Anne Lamott, whom I have unfairly elevated to a status she cannot truly attain – my model of writer mother, truthsayer, and humorist – even she said "no" to that question that rang dully out of the phone at 2:00 am. If such times of distress are mentioned at all, the mothers all say "no" to the question. Like a gate coming down, the flood stops there, the wild storm finds its edge, there is elastic in the circle. The ones who say "yes" surely don't write it down, and the ones that don't have the strength to call in the first place show up on the news.

We all want to protect our children. Sylvia Plath stuffed towels around the door of the room where her children were sleeping before she turned on the gas for herself. We all want to protect our children.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

the selective patient

I usually think of myself as a highly impatient person. The truth is, however, that I just have extremely selective patience. And I wonder (that's my job these days, wondering) - with a touch of anxiety - where my child will fall in the varied spectrum of people and things for which I have and do not have patience.

Particularly when talking about things like building toward personal, professional, or political growth in myself or my country, I'm generally about as Zen as a spin cycle. But, for example, I have enormous patience for dissecting and eating pomegranates. Where one person sees a cost-benefit analysis that to their mind just doesn't pan out when dealing with fruit – one you must work at to eat – I see major yum. I can stand for as long as it takes, staining outfit after outfit, harvesting beautiful ruby seeds from their stubborn honeycomb, eating them one by one if necessary.

While as a student I have zero patience with fellow students who don't get it or ask teachers for extensive examples of "just what they are looking for", as an ESL teacher, I have extensive patience and understanding. I'm not bothered in the least by having to explain something a million times or deciphering accents and grammatical structures from around the world.

Teaching is tricky, though, and things soon fog. When I'm not teaching ESL, all bets are off. One of my university students who'd rushed back from her wedding (she was the third of my students that semester to miss class to get married) in time to deliver a Power Point presentation on her final research paper didn't get to enjoy much of my magnanimous patience. In a topic selection that at least followed my advice to choose something personally relevant, her project was on "the success and divorce rates of young marriage." Her findings noted a plethora of statistics about who of these wacky young lovers makes it and why. Her presentation came around numerous times to the importance of patience – or rather, what she noted in three-inch letters projected onto the whiteboard in slide after slide as "patients." There are many days when I'm reasonably sure I married my husband because he knows the difference between your and you're. I haven't seen the stats on this kind of match up, but I think we're gonna make it.

It's hard to categorize just where I'll draw the line: Cashiers who can't make change – no patience. Old farmers counting out my change in nickels – patience. Stupid drivers or anyone in something bigger than a Toyota RAV4 – no patience. Drivers who stop and ask me directions – patience. Cleaning up day old oatmeal spills – no patience. Cleaning up cat vomit – patience. My own forgetfulness – no patience. My husband's forgetfulness – patience. (Hey, it happens. Sometimes. Okay, once.) People who lead unexamined lives – no patience.

And so, to be my kid is a crap shoot. Will I endure the fifth feeding of the day with as much patience as the first? Or will I just check in as a patient?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

what child is this?

Always a generous soul, without any prompting, Mike tells me my six-month pregnant body looks "elegant." I waddle my naked self back over to the full length mirror thinking maybe I missed something. Hmm. Well, we're all entitled to our own opinion.

There is my beach ball belly (a given), my stretched out bellybutton, and … whose boobs are these, anyway? Maybe it's just that all the holiday music is already playing nonstop everywhere you turn, but lately I can't seem to shake this one ditty from my head. It's a composition of my own: "Whose boobs are these?" sung to the tune of "What child is this?" (Whose boobs are these/ that came to rest/ on Kitty's lap lay sleeping… etc.)

But I also can't escape without examining more closely the original song, its title leaping out to me no longer as some kind of sacred rhetorical question, but one that maybe Mary really asked and wanted an answer to. I mean the stories all circulate around the shepherds, the angels, the wisemen, yammer, yammer. And we seem to have some inkling that Joseph was probably somewhat freaked out being named da baby daddy n all. But what about Mary? I mean, sure, her statues cry blood here and there, she shows up on cave walls or grilled cheese sandwiches from time to time, but what do we really know about Mary as a mom? Not mother of all, virgin idol, but the talk-about-unplanned-pregnancies!, mom.

Maybe she indeed asked What child is this? A lot. Here she is living her life, maybe thinking career first, not even the hint of a bio clock ticking, when WTF?? And did her ankles swell by the third trimester? Did Jesus give her indigestion? Because let me tell you, my little savior is killing me over here. Did people in her preggo yoga classes that talked about what they got at their baby showers piss her off too? People on the street coming up to her, rubbing her belly like a Buddha statue, "Do you know what you're having?" "The son of god. Now back off!"

Naturally, we'll never really know the truth about these kinds of details since men wrote this shit down back then. The questions still plague me, however. A big one is, how was she on body image?

Right now I'm reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. The book is good, but the pictures still freak me out. I try to refrain from the "ewww." reaction as much as possible, but sometimes I fall short. Just one more thing to work on. I show Mike and, ignoring the screaming head stretching through a once much smaller opening, I ask frightened, are my boobs gonna end up looking like that? My poor, helpless husband rubs my back, calls me elegant again. I hope Mary had someone like him.

Monday, November 22, 2004

being pregnant

You are told you look "great", a lot. Too much. You grow suspicious. You don’t look any different than you usually do. No, you look a little different - your belly sticks out and you have that blemish on your nose that hasn't gone away for 5 months. You got an exfoliating facial just to prove how bourgeois you could be, but the blemish is still there (belly too). You suspect they mean "great, seeing as soon life as you know it will come crashing down around you" or "great, considering you've gained 15 pounds so far" or "great, since when they told me you were pregnant I expected to find a wheezing, ankle-less slob in flowered overalls stained with pickle juice."

You glide through baby sections of department stores trying to create a registry to offer people who want to buy you gifts and benefit from such things as registries. You are afraid to touch anything. It would feel like admitting defeat. You are lulled into a stupor by the wash of pastel colors. You wonder what ducks and giraffes have to do with being a baby. Oh, you see now, they are baby ducks and baby giraffes. Well, as long as that's cleared up.

You have questions. Question to husband: "What will you do if I run away and leave you with the baby?" Answer: "We will miss you." Question: "What will you do if I crack up and get committed?" Answer: "We will visit you."

You discover you and your husband have different ways of preparing for the baby, although you suspect your paths are obscurely related. You read birthing stories and focus on the one where the woman in labor screams at the other women in the room that they are crazy for ever having done this or telling her she could. Your husband asks you where the fire extinguisher is.

You figure you'll have to do the dishes after every meal now since you don't want to get caught in labor with a messy kitchen. Your rationale is solid. Midwives apparently deal with blood and slime and exposed genitals, but you doubt they'd tolerate what's in your drain catcher.

You tell the cats on a regular basis that "things are gonna change around here" and that "I can't be at your beck and call every minute any more, you fuzzy little rats." Then you lie on the floor and pull a shoe lace slowly past waiting paws.

Sleep is a joke. There aren't enough pillows in the world. You dream restless dreams about job interviews. Your husband asks if you're okay. You think about smothering him with one of your pillows.

You are often really hungry.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

adults only

In an entry entitled "something I can do for my child from within the confines of my own egotistical mind" on October 18, 2004, our heroine pondered the reasons behind her sensitivity toward being mistaken for much younger than she is. We join her now as she picks up the thread of that dilemma and jogs off with it into the obstacle course of tangents we like to call, "Fetal Positions"…

The beginning of this week was challenging. Mostly physically challenging. I had to do a lot more running around than usual. In a painful turn of events, husband-guy threw out his back on Monday. Yeah, I know, exactly what I thought – the little bugger doesn't want me to have all the attention! Can you believe it? Can't stand the idea of me being the only one in the family going to the chiropractor. (although I still win because I doubt they give him the preggo donut pillow to lie in, belly hanging through the center. A sweet idea, and yet, obviously still invented by a man since there is no allowance for the boobs. smoosh. ouch.)

So husband-guy could barely walk on Monday. Wifey-chick wound her way through a flurry of a time that included picking husband-guy up at work, driving him to a chiropractor appointment, the drug store, home again, making him dinner (way outside my contract, I am not the cook in this arrangement), preparing my classes, checking on the upstairs neighbor who just had eye surgery, volleying emails about work stuff, back to husband-guy, etc etc etc. He's spent his days since in a repetitive routine of recline, walk briefly, go to the chiropractor, put ice or, in his case, a bag of frozen peas, on his lower back. I'm trying to keep up and be as helpful as I can. I help him into his underwear, as called for, or I remind him when it's again time for him to stick the bag of frozen peas in his pants, for example. I try to jump up before he does to get the water he wants, or the book he's dropped, or the remote control. All of this is challenging because frankly, my back doesn't feel all that great either, and the belly, it doesn't bend well or make for extended cardio workouts like climbing out of bed. I realize I'm not really a very sympathetic character in all this, but give me credit for writing truth.

The other day I had planned once again to nail down some publications that might want to print my raving commentary, convinced as I am that this, this thing, this publication thing, this time, will be my key to happiness, fame and fortune. Instead of having the time to cruise the web, download submission guidelines, and ferry my fertile words off to eager (ha!) editors as I'd hoped, I tried the next best thing I could think of when I found myself waiting for my husband at another chiro appointment. – I sat in the waiting room with my Bitch magazine and a legal pad, ready to do some investigative reading.

Prisms in the windows send bits of rainbow light over the brown waiting room chairs. I watch as my husband tip toes into the exam room, his poor wrenched back making for an awkward posture, hands poised on crooked hips. His stance looks like one a person might take just before launching into Riverdance. My Bitch magazine falls open to ads featuring pink dildos and people in neighboring chairs look away with a jerk, suddenly extremely interested in something in the opposite direction. I manage to scribble a few notes, mostly about the other patients I've frightened before intermission is over and my husband reappears ready for Act II of Riverdance. I pack away the pink dildos and we walk around the block, doctor's orders.

And how does any of this relate to a deeper understanding of my sensitivity toward being taken for younger than I am? Glad you asked. Because I'm a grown up living in a grown up's world and I want credit for that. Monday in the midst of running-running to help Mike and meet our responsibilities, one of my errands was to stop by a dinner where we were originally meant to be that night. It was with a group of our Italian classmates who'd wrangled one of the local Italian restaurants into opening specially for them. We owed them to at least pay our share and pick up our food, and so I dropped in to do that. I stood speaking to our friends who had organized it while steaming plates of spaghetti were dished and passed.

At one point our friends introduced me to the woman to their side, whose personal space I was crowding while we conversed. The woman and I greeted each other pleasantly in Italian. The old man across from her stared at me. "Are you in the class?" he demanded accusatorily. Well, I was last term, I explained, somewhat taken back by his tone. "You're speaking Italian," he informed me. At this point, my friend chimed in to allay his alarm and once again explain how while not currently attending the class, I had done so in the last months. "Oh. I thought you were their babysitter come to let them know how things were going," he blurted. My eyes nearly left their sockets. "Well," I said lowering my voice only slightly and turning away from him to face my friends more fully, "isn't that the most offensive assumption I've heard in quite some time."

That night, when I finally fell into bed beside Husband O' Restricted Movement, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I realized that I had become used to being the one that got taken care of. I realized that this comfort wouldn't serve me in the least post-baby. I realized I need to rest more than I do while being this harbor of baby. And I also realized that one of the reasons old men who think I am the babysitter get to me so badly is that I want credit for living in the adult world, dammit. The adult world can be hard and sucky and if I have to live in it/through it, I better sure as hell be recognized for my efforts. I am not the freaking babysitter. I am all adult and I cook meals and rearrange my plans and bring my husband his ibuprofen even when it means rolling out of bed again with my big baby belly and my own aching back. Old men who think of me as twelve might be shocked to see what's on my average day's schedule, not to mention what's in the pages of my magazines.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

poet mama

Being pregnant and accepting this new motherhood thing is so much easier when I can simultaneously embrace the things that keep me sane and creative. However, those very things are as likely to drag me into the undertow of major moral questions as buoy me past the big waves. My hobbies and passions sneakily create in my mind dilemmas over how to raise my child and/or what world will be waiting for this baby, to serve as its background noise while it tries to make its way and its own moral choices. (You mean, I don't have to/get to make all the decisions for my offspring??!) So, I'm trying to rally to maintain self during the first trying months. Poetry must not be set apart from mommy-ing, for example, or mommy will lose it.

I run a poetry slam. It's fun, and perhaps something to put on the "do not discard" list for my postpartum world, but it doesn’t automatically make me a poet; it makes me an organizer. However, I do write poetry. And sometimes that makes me a poet. This week is a particularly good week for that. Three appearances under the title "poet". After the famine, the feast. The first of the week was last Friday. I got to do a featured reading at one of the local bookstores along with another poet friend of mine. It was so much fun, not just because I read stuff I felt confident about that had been begging for an audience, but because so many friends came out to support me. Friends rule. I still maintain that the highlight of deciding to get married, was the reward of having so many friends in one place at one time.

Sometimes the coolest stuff is just that – cool. What more can you say? While stuff we thought might be weird or boring or potentially less than cool, holds our interest the most in terms of the analysis we do in retrospect of it, or the stories we seem to keep telling about it. Yeah, so, I did this other reading this weekend. It was a 15-minute slot in a line up of various entertainment for an event held in a shi-shi-foo-foo hotel to benefit the local hostel. While the word "hostel" brings up images of bedraggled backpackers clutching maps and bumming cigarettes, the word "benefit" brings up images of clam shells bursting open to offer their single pearls, jewels of nature, to be strung and hung around the necks of blunt cut blondes in hounds tooth. Slightly incompatible mental pictures in my world. And I wondered how my pedestrian poetry was going to fly with the over-55 bling-bling crowd of the central coast. I know it's probably an unfair assessment all around. Life is unfair, get used to it.

So I read my stuff. They chuckled and nodded and in general seemed engaged and attentive. Hmm. Nice. In one piece of mine I read, there is a brief line in Spanish that repeats and is integral to the poem. I asked beforehand if there were any Spanish speakers present. Not a hand went up in the packed room. Not a single hand. In a room of people sworn to be undying supporters of travel and cultural exchange, hostelling their way to a better understanding of the world. In a room of people all living for most of their many decades in a state originally held by Mexico, in a city that was the center of Mexican California, in a town full of streets with names of saints and topographical elements all in Spanish, where so much of daily life is posted bilingually, you'd have to really go out of your way not to pick up at least a skeleton vocabulary just by osmosis. Maybe there were Swahili speakers there instead, or perhaps several people knew the basics of Urdu. Still.

I couldn't help it. I was shocked. You would have thought I'd asked who would be willing to come in the servants' entrance. I tried to hide my horror and amazement and move on quickly, translating the line, as I would have even with some bilingual souls at hand. But if anyone was watching closely, I'm sure they would have been able to detect those suspended moments of incomprehension in my eyes before I recovered.

I want to believe that it's different now. It's a generational thing. I want to believe that my child will grow up in a world where this kind of thing just couldn't happen. I want to believe that I'm not just a snobbish linguaphile, and that being monolingual is no longer an option. But I'm concerned. I'm thinking about the distinctions among cycles, evolution, and that simple pendulum effect. What brings about one or another? Which is truer? Will ethnicity matter more or less in the foreseeable future? Will the painful realities of global markets and the undeniable truths of global interdependence be reconciled? Will it be the age of GMOs or CSAs? Can we cherish our neighbors across the globe while demanding local justice? Will poetry be in vogue when my baby is a hip high school hormone factory?

Nonetheless, in the moment, we carried on, the audience and I, each with our judgements, our scripts firmly secured.

At the break after the reading, I was surrounded by half a dozen well-dressed women who wanted to compliment me on my work. The first to corner me, daintily holding to her tiny square of brownie and her glass of purple punch, wanted to discuss a poem of mine I wrote about my ESL students. "I cried when you read it," she told me, and promptly proceeded to well up again. Dude. No way.

Sure, I've had people cry around me and writing before, but usually in writing workshops. In these incidents, it's the unsuspecting novice who thinks they'd just like to take this class and --what-the-heck-- try out writing, who ends up going with some seemingly innocuous prompt until they find that unexplored pain – it's always right below the surface – and much to their surprise are weeping through a reading of their free write. Writing is dangerous territory if you plan to tuck away your blemishes and remain guarded. I try to warn them, but they have to experience it themselves. I let them marvel when they tell me, "I can't believe I'm crying!" I keep it to myself that it means we're both doing something right. They've dealt with enough for one day.

But this was different. Something I wrote brought someone there. Well, whaddaya know. And since I'm usually such a leaky Sally, it's so nice to have someone else do the crying for a change! Foiled again, Batman, a pearl necklace does not an insensitive soul make. Now maybe I can also hope that someone really did catch the momentary flash of fright in my eyes when no hand lifted to claim knowledge of Spanish, that they saw it and they got it. Give me evolution. Pendulums are for politics; we are people.

All this, food for thought. Feed me poetry and I can manage anything. Even motherhood. But despite prettied lines or eloquent commentary, the questions you're left with don't get easier.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

traitorous instincts

We are in that minority of parents-to-be these days who are choosing not to discover the sex of our baby. We want to be surprised. And I wish I could be. But I know anyway. It's a boy. Just an instinct. Not that I'd be disappointed if it were a girl. And thinking it's a boy has given me these months of getting used to the idea that (good-god!) I might have to raise a boy, and so I feel it's prepared me for either array of genitals.

I’m not really sure why I think it's a boy. I did have that dream the day I found out I was pregnant that pointed out a very specific boy name I should take up. But since then I really haven't had any boy dreams, or baby dreams much at all, to tell the truth, besides a recent one and in that one, it was a girl. But it's a boy.

I tire of typing the "s/he" nonsense, when I just want to say "he". I have to qualify my answer when people ask (every day, 30x a day), "Do you know what you're having?" (Apart from the subject at hand, that is a rather strange question, wouldn't you say? "Do you know what you're having?" A baby. I think it'll be a baby. I'd be more comfortable if it came out a kitten, but they tell me it's not possible. I'm having a baby, you dolt.)

Friends and strangers tell you all kinds of things that are supposed to be fool-proof methods of determining the sex. With girls you're sicker, with boys you gain less weight and carry it in a compact ball, blahblahblah… No one seems to care that with any of these guesses, the odds are a healthy fifty-fifty. It ain't the race track, people. But I'm still going with mother's instinct: boy.

So, if my instincts are right I'll get to be regularly peed on by a tiny little man. Figuratively speaking, not that different an experience from what I've encountered all my life. A microcosm of society right here in my own home.

Of course, I don't rule out the possibility that I'm wrong. The last time I trusted my "instinct" it went something like "I guess it's possible I'm pregnant, but my instinct tells me it's just stress."

Monday, November 15, 2004

my little fruit fly

I've been a vegetarian for something like 13 years. People ask me if I've had "those red meat cravings yet." I grow weary of the ultimate certainty so many have in their world view. If only I possessed such confidence. (This goes for more than diet choices.)

My baby wants fruit. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. It's by far my biggest craving. And I'm happy to oblige. Oranges, strawberries, watermelon, pomegranates, tart apples (none of those shiny red things), spinach, carrots, asparagus. I'm a long way from my beginnings eating TV dinners in a once-farming town raised by a mother who, when given the choice, to this day takes canned asparagus over fresh every time.

I grew up in a town that suffered from an image neither here nor there. It used to be many things, but was nothing else yet. By the time my family moved there when I was ten, most of the fields were planted with Burger Kings and 7-11's. Of course, there was old Bill Andersen who steered his pickup truck around town with his one and only arm -- the other having been torn off by the soybean processors when he was just eighteen. He didn't make the farming history real for me though, just creepy. And there was the Lima Bean Festival every October - stuffed lima bean dolls smiling dumbly through red felt lips, tee shirts gloating over the mental faculties of local elementary school kids and how they used their “beans,” the crowning of a Miss Lima Bean, who would undoubtedly use her reign to further world peace, or at least get a stop sign at the traffic circle and introduce non-fat milk at the school cafeterias. None of this told me anything of what those beans might look like growing in the fields, or what they might smell like fresh picked and pre-canned.

At home, I failed to see the relationship between the greyish, watery vegetables my mother scooped from cans on the shelf, and something that once grew in the ground. Potatoes grew as flakes in a box, rice cooked to flavorless starch in minutes, pineapples floated in stick syrup, "cherry" was most often followed by the word "flavored". The world came canned, sealed, packaged, bagged, dried, sweetened, chopped, and pitted. And while I suspected there could have been a better way, I didn't know what that was or where to look.

I find it significant that one of my strongest childhood memories centers around my cousins coming to visit from upstate New York. The significance of the memory isn't in the visit itself, but that I remember in preparation for the visit, we bought grapes. Other than my cousin breaking my rocking horse that weekend, it's the grapes I've stored in my brain all these years.

I can see I may already be falling into the trap of parental overcompensation. The "I never had, so I'm going to give my child X whether s/he wants it or not" trap. But then again, when it comes to food here, I feel I'm simply following directives from within. It's not as if what I'm doing is so heroic. If my little fruit fly asked for cheesy poofs instead, far be it from me to deny the wee beast. So lift a banana to us. Here's to never having to say "Eat your veggies."

Monday, November 08, 2004

the chemical make up of ginger chews

Early on in pregnancy you get to find out just who your real friends are. Trader Joe's Veggie Rice Bowl, for example, is the enemy. It precipitated one of my most noxious vomiting episodes and I can't imagine ever wanting to eat it again in this or any other lifetime.

I've thought about naming all the chapters of my fabulous upcoming pregnancy journal book (wish it true, wish it true…), the food items I was able to keep down in the first trimester. What eager reader wouldn't want to dive into Chapter One: Chocolate Pudding and Root Beer, or not be tantalized by a peek ahead at Chapters 19-23: Peanut Butter on Saltines and Orange Juice, White Cheddar Popcorn and Grapes, Carrot Sticks and Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Honey Nut O's and Mashed Potatoes, and – that crazy cliffhanger – An Apple and A Hardboiled Egg, respectively.

Most of these food items were only fair weather friends it turns out. Sure they soothed for a couple days, but when things got tough most of them turned on me. I was a moaning, whiny blob of rotating cravings. Each time I found a food I could eat, I thought I was saved. Thinking we'd discovered the miracle cure for morning sickness, we'd go out and buy bottles and bottles of root beer, for example, only to discover a day or so later that if I even looked at a glass of root beer the room started spinning.

Something we bought in bulk before we caught on to the pattern of rejection were ginger chews. (My former doctor informed me once in the most sincere robotic voice she could muster, shrugging off the probes about numbness in my arms and long after the morning sickness had subsided, that some people thought ginger calmed an upset stomach. Ah. I see. How can I put this?… um, DUH! What a waste. Four friggin' years of medical school and all she had to do was ask my mom, or three out of five folks walking down the street. Aren't your people looking for you back on Planet No Shit?)

For the time that they worked, I piled these little ginger miracle chews into my pockets, carried them in my purse, stowed them in my car, … you get the idea. I was particularly fond of stuffing handfuls, desperate as an addict, into the bag I used for my teaching materials. In an attempt to just get through the end of my summer class without having to call the janitor, I snarfed these suckers before, after, and during class. In a recent rearranging project in our tiny apartment (nesting??) I rediscovered the summer teaching bag. It was completely intact, like some sort of time capsule. I hadn't cleaned it out or filed it away or tossed it altogether. There it all was, my list of grades, my extra copies of newspaper articles about immigration, my post it notes directing me to read journals and email Rosa. And the "connecting force" through all this work? The ginger chews. Gluing paper to paper, ballpoint to folder, the chews had melted into some other form of life, leaving nothing unscathed and taking no prisoners.

The wrath of the chew didn't stop there. I've found them around the house, as gummy cat toys or self-stick coasters, forming ink blot shapes I don't need to analyze. I know you've come to know me as a rational, even-tempered person, so it may surprise you to hear that I tend to yell at the ginger chews when I find them in these states of decay. I throw away what I can still scrape up with force – just to show them.

There is no winner in this ugly game. Hey, I'm normally not one to go in for misdirected dichotomous visions of GOOD and EVIL. I mean, the doctor, she wasn't all bad, she had nice sandals. And even in my predictable cast of characters who've traipsed through this blog, that is, me = negative psycho weenie, and husband guy = saintly optimist, there is sometimes a third dimension to our paper thin personalities. How about when I admitted I'd probably love my baby, or when husband guy fell asleep instead of attending to my needs?? Yeah, see, not that black and white anymore is it, huh?! In a world gone to hell and a country gone to the religious right, it's all I can do not to be swept up in the duality and the pointing of fingers, not to have the veggie rice bowl and the ginger chew absorb my own dark, projected feelings. – Oh, but there's so much instant gratification in the blame game.

Friday, November 05, 2004

the conversation I dread

Sure, it's true that for now people like us, when they aren't freaking out about this whole pregnancy/parenting thing - still, 5 months into it ("You've gotta get over it," Eve tells me. "You've gotta get over it." I know she's right, but then what would I write about?) - we're concerned about basic things. A baby that's healthy, for example. Things look good for us in that department so far. We did an ultrasound about a week ago. Things were positive. In fact, the little monkey was lying on its back with its feet over its head playing with its toes. It appeared to have all the toes generally considered necessary and not any extra that I could make out. Frequently over the last several days, my husband or I will stop what we're doing. "Wait! Wait! Who am I?" we'll plead, and try to pull our feet to our forehead. He's more successful at it than I am, probably because I have the real thing in the way. This activity is somehow one we find wildly entertaining.

Healthy is important. But why stop there when you can worry years ahead? I'd like to think I'd be the kind of parent that could accept my child for just who s/he is. But, I'm afraid I'm not as open minded as I'd like to be. There's one conversation I dread, that would break my heart into a million teeny, tiny pieces. What would I do if one day my child approached us and said, "Mom, Dad, I'm a Republican." Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Children do rebel, you know, the potential implications of which leave me shivering with fear. I dated a Republican once. I was young and foolish. We used to joke that if we had a kid we could live in Central America where mommy would work to save the rain forest and daddy would be stationed in that rain forest staking out local guerillas "unfriendly" to the US. But thank goodness we never planned such a child and that such a child never happened. I'm sure I had my reasons for dating that guy. He must have had other highly redeeming qualities… What were they again?

Studies have shown (quick, can you find the tired, meaningless catch phrase in this entry?) that the capacity for things like empathy don't necessarily develop in the brain in childhood. This is worrisome. In addition, higher critical thinking skills don't kick in until someone is about 22 or so. My boss when I was teaching freshman composition at the university announced this to me one day, all bright and cheery. Yeah, it explains plenty, but I didn't see why I should be happy about it. My dear, dear students. Jaded fairies with clipped wings and nose rings. Every once in a while though, we'd make a break through. One day in class, a student who was King of Inappropriate Behavior suddenly quieted after a debate about current issues we'd been attempting to have. I happened to know that at the time he was also slogging his way through a Wendell Berry essay (his choice) trying to make sense of it and his research paper which was approaching two weeks late. He spoke tentatively. "Sometimes it seems like, I think, maybe, like, the US doesn't really do the right thing." The innocence in the room was palpable.

Perhaps we could send our kids on vision quests. Maybe that could grow em up. It could be a whole new market to explore. P Diddy could change his name to Running Bear and start a "sit out in the woods by yourself for a week or die" campaign.

Do I really think vision quests would produce fewer Republicans? Well, yes, frankly. But anyway.

In my mainly Democratic town, Republicans show themselves in the oddest of places. I've noticed that craft stores seem to draw them like flies on ca-ca. Craft store parking lots are dangerous, dangerous places. At least my craft store parking lot is. It's always full. The drivers are always ruthless. And the bumper stickers, I can't help but notice, are always pro-Bush. Things get mean out there. These people need their quilting squares, so get out of the way!!! It's not unlike my experience with the parking lot of the church of my youth. Behind the wheel? mean bastards, these Christians! The closing words of the priest would always be "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord." But I think some people only heard the word "go." They'd bolt for the parking lot, Catholics with Cadillacs, while my mother sang the recessional hymn through clenched teeth. She'd watch them go, glowering, and mumble about them under her breath when the song was over. Her blood pressure was always up after a Sunday morning of worship.

Once you make like a character in an 80s video game and get the hell out of the parking lot, the craft store itself isn't much better. Craft stores are filled with moms wearing American flag sweatshirts they puffy painted themselves and dragging around shopping carts full of kids and items connected to little projects for two holidays ahead of wherever normal people are on the calendar. The clerks in craft stores carry their burden visibly. They stagger around like tranquilized game and answer my questions about the location of items as if I've asked the question 100 times already. "All the paint we have is in aisle 16. Everything we have is out."

What makes a Republican? How can I shield my baby from this road to hell and the craft store? If the day comes when my child confronts me with such a reality about his or her selfhood and tells me "Mom, I'm a Republican," I hope I will be liberal-minded enough to handle it. But just in case, I'm thinking of buying up some pretty little molds from the craft store and making some pretty little soaps to wash out a pretty little mouth.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

preggo for prez

If I were president…

- mayonnaise would be illegal
- siestas would be mandatory
- the entire country would have public transportation
- Israel would have to just fucking stop it
- production of all Hummers would stop and all existing Hummers would have their roofs cut off and be used as planters
- pomegranates would be the national snack food
- They Might Be Giants would sing "Dr Worm" before baseball games
- the Bushes would be exiled to Ohio and the borders sealed (let them live with what they've done!)
- anyone harming or abandoning an animal would be exiled to Ohio
- authors of pregnancy guide books would be exiled to Ohio
- TVs would be banned from airport waiting rooms
- Jane Pauley would never be allowed to do another interview
- Eddie Izzard would be my Press Secretary

laughter in a blue state

Everyone I know is depressed. I believed it was possible. I hate Ohio. I think we should steal all the red crayons from crayon boxes across America. It's the most productive thing I've been able to come up with so far.

Right now I'm sad. Sad doesn't lead to action. Anger mobilizes. I'm gonna have to call some up, but for now, I only have anger memories to share. And a few other emotions…

My midwife asked if I'd officially broken things off with my doctor. I told her um, yeah, I think it went something like, "Expect a request for transfer of records!!" Yup. I didn't escape what I knew would be my final visit to my doctor a couple weeks ago without completely melting down and losing it on her. I have this annoying personality quirk that drives me to try to make people who are incredibly stupid and do things that fuck with me understand their own stupidity. While rarely successful, this most recent instance was a particular failure. I was so angry I was babbling incomprehensibly. I'll spare you the details of what set it off.

I was embarrassed and exasperated by my little display and jaunted roughly 12 steps backwards in anger management. If this baby is going to change me so much, why am I still an inarticulate hot head? But I'm holding out hope that it just goes along with all the other emotions that have intensified since I've started carrying around this little person. I cry harder than I ever had before pregnancy. It comes from somewhere deeper than it used to. I also laugh louder and more fully than I've ever laughed before. This is probably the most dramatic change I've experienced being pregnant. Flat out. My new-found laugh resonates with a timbre I don't recognize. Just for those moments that it lasts, it laughs me to a release from and, simultaneously, a comfort with the world. And as we all know, it is a volatile world. But I now share my laugh with someone who doesn't know for red or blue states, who couldn't be less affected by Bill O'Reilly or Haliburton. I'm going to drink that purity as long as I can.

Years from now, when my child asks me where the red crayons are, I'll laugh. It'll be a strong laugh. One I almost recognize. And we'll melt the wax, assign new meaning, start again.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

the guest bedroom

So our little trip to Tahoe this past weekend brought to mind something I find fascinating but hadn't thought about for a while. We went with another couple and stayed with their family who live there in town. Maybe some of you have also pondered the meaning behind this phenomenon toward which I cast my curiosity. It is known as … the guest bedroom.

After this pregnancy journal, I swear I'm gonna write a guide book called America's Guest Bedrooms: the Underbelly of Suburban Life. And since I always tie in my blog entries clearly and exclusively to having an unexpected baby on the way, I think I'll propose that I am pondering such things as guest rooms now because of the nesting instinct we all know goes along with pregnancy and motherhood. The preparation of house and home for the new arrival. The thought that goes into decorating the spare room with duckies of the proper color – colors which, naturally, must be determined by the sex of the fetus. We all know how infants demand separation on the basis of gender from the moment their little pee-pees and wee-wees form in utero. I don't think I have to tell you that, if you're having a boy, at a certain age, say, three years old, you'll have to trade in the duckies all together for more manly ornamentation, say, grenades. Girls may keep the duckies until they trade them in themselves for creased posters out of pre-teen magazines of some hunka hunka 20-year-old singer whose favorite color is blue, just like hers(!).

Don't fight it. It's biological. … kinda like … this nesting instinct, to which people in the know will assign any move on the part of a pregnant woman that resembles domestic thought in the least. Dad tip: Offer to carry large heavy pieces of wood if your partner decides she must build a giant stork for the front yard. (Sorry, got carried away. Was I lapsing into the language of the What to Expect If You Want Be Accepted into the Monomaniacal Society of Mainstream Bullshit book du jour again? I give you my wrist. Go on and slap.)

Now that you understand fully my motivation, I return you to our regularly scheduled blog, "the guest bedroom."

Guest bedrooms of people my age and generation have, until recently, usually consisted of a futon mattress on the floor and a computer. This cozy set up has begun to change somewhat, but I don’t want to admit that. I remain in my mind a sloppy college student and so must my friends. Guest bedrooms of the older generation, now these are fascinating.

If a kitchen is the soul of the house, the guest room is the appendix – you don't really need it and the rest of the house functions perfectly well without it, but as long as it's there you might was well use it. They are never in progress. They are always finished products. Quite. They sometimes don't match the rest of the house. They are often somewhat sterile and wallpapered with pink rosettes. There are lamps, gold-trimmed and chairs, not so much stark as simple. These rooms are warehouses of odd, but proudly displayed trinkets. I try desperately to imagine the day of the decision…"I think I'll puuut….the vase of fake tulips….um….riiiight….Here! Yes, that's it!"

I remember one guest room we slept in at the house of a friend of a friend. On the nightstand there was a clock radio and a picture frame. The picture frame, displayed in decorative colors clearly chosen to match the décor in the rest of the room, contained no family snapshot. Just the thin reproduction of a photo of smiling models the manufacturer had slipped in, and over that, the price tag. I suppose you could look at this item as proof of some unfinished project, a crack in the veneer. But I see it as determined in its drive for completion, so much so that the items in the room need not be necessary or sentimental, only the right color (like the duckie nursery).

Despite the fact that they aren't used very much, there is never any dust in rooms like these. And there is nothing cluttering the space. I grew up in a house where clutter and stuff ruled large. Consequently, specimens like the dresser top empty of anything but a doily and the fake tulips intrigue me to no end. It is as strange and beautiful a thing to me as an exotic jungle bird. I approach it slowly. I am drawn to it in wonder, yet almost afraid, as I have nothing in my realm of knowing to compare it to. I brush the tail feathers lightly, the silk leaves ruffle under the silk flower petals and then return to still.

Sometimes you can find paintings hanging in guest bedrooms, oils, say, in heavy wooden frames that are signed with a last name corresponding to your hosts'. These dark landscapes or portraits of children with large, round eyes have been painted by a grandmother or an uncle no longer living who was, your hosts will tell you upon inquiry, an artist. You know instinctively and with a certain sadness in your heart that their artistry never went beyond the guest bedroom stage. The reason for this is either because they had other, "real" work to do – dishes and dusting, or paid work that cracked the palms of their hands and won them a seat at the head of the table. Maybe their art only came out of the garage after they'd passed away.

The most extreme examples of the type of guest room I'm describing really lie just this side of hotel rooms in terms of character. They have no personality on their own, but wait for the personality you lend it with your visit to leak out little by little from overnight bags that spill tiny tubes of toothpaste and jolly ranchers, themselves a shock of black against the rosettes and doilies. However, for all their quiet façade, these rooms usually have a secret past. Most only became guest bedrooms after the kids moved out and many years went by. If you look closely, you might find little signs of this other time, like a wink to the past. It might be the first few letters of a childhood nickname barely scratched into the dresser. Check under the fake tulips.

wait for us!!!

You know how all those Get Out the Vote campaigns always say it doesn't matter who you vote for? … Oh my god, they are LYING. Are you crazy?? It SOOOO MATTERS. Look, vote and don't vote for Bush. That's it. That's the bottom line. I mean, I have a BABY to think about!!! Diplomacy has no place in an election year. And shut the media the hell up until the west coast polls close. It is sincerely my least favorite thing about living here – that the exit polls from West Virginia are streaming in while we are barely out of bed. Knock it off!!! Vote like your life depends on it – not your gas tank, not your favorite moral issue, not who's gonna be mayor of Boo-Foo Glen, Anywhere, your LIFE, because it does. And by that I do not mean to imply that you should vote in a way that in some twisted, fucked up vision might deter terrorism. Terrorism starts at home.

Monday, November 01, 2004

a day late

Came up with the perfect costume for Halloween. Only a day late. Mike and I should have been a sperm and an egg. I suppose we could still do it next year and bring around the baby too – just put an equal sign on him/her. Most people seem to dress up their infants in fuzzy little animal onesies with hoods and ears, but we could buck the trend and dress ours as, well, a baby.

Next year with baby?? Time and space between now and then is so grand its unfathomable. Like trying to grasp the concept of the stars at their true distances. You can't really wrap your brain around it, so you stop trying but still talk about them since they are part of the landscape.

Just back from a weekend in Tahoe where the snow was on the ground and the sun was in the sky. Luminous. The gracious purgatory between way-past-summer and not-quite-ski-mania made for an extra calm beauty. The lake, having purged itself of jetskiing nimrods, hosted the mountains like a true debutante. The snow melted off the pitched roofs in frantic fits of glitter dust, like they couldn't wait to change chemical form. (Maybe there's a profound analogy in there somewhere, but I'm afraid to look.)

We went to a Halloween party at one of the casinos in Tahoe. Didn't turn out to be quite the display of creativity one hopes for in a Halloween party. The bumblebee, his tights starting to bunch around the knees, walked by on a cell phone, while two women in identical dominatrix outfits greeted each other like long-lost friends, and three dead Elvises crowded around the giant pumpkin guy for a Kodak moment. This is why we reserve words like "luminous" for snowy mountains.

Political Caveat:
Do I have an instinct or do I have an instinct? Curt Schilling just introduced Bush at some huge rally. Stay away from the man with the bloody sock.

And, this is probably really old to everyone else cause I'm slow and I don't have cable anymore, but… If you haven't seen it you MUST go to the link and watch Jon Stewart of the Daily Show on Crossfire, and then Jon Stewart back on the Daily Show talking about his appearance.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

deal's off

Forget it. The deal's off. I hate this. I don't want this. This sucks. I can't deal with the proposed outcome of all this craziness.

My husband leaves for work this morning and tells me he'll be thinking of me. Oh goodie. Thanks. Cause I'll be here, schlepping around your kid. I don't get a choice about whether or not to think about you. I couldn't get a break from this reality if I tried. Think all you like. Bastard.

Last night, I poured out my thoughts, as usual, to my husband who was falling asleep, as usual. I imagine trying to get his attention by banging on his chest. I'd watch him shatter into colorful and dangerous shards, like stained glass. I imagine sweeping up the pieces, my fists bloodied, communication only slightly improved. Oh but he's a good man. Just read my blog. A great man. A caring partner. And I'm being unfair, aren't I? Perhaps I shouldn’t bother my husband with such domestic issues. He goes out to work after all, keeps us fed, while I piss around with teaching, writing, crap that doesn't necessarily pay the rent. He's tired when he gets home. I should put on an apron and make him dinner. I should massage his feet and smile.

I quake at the thought of the isolation I might feel once this kid is here and my dear, kind husband is skipping off to work to "think of me." I quake because I imagine it in relation to the isolation I already feel these days. Already, trying to schedule coffee with a friend is some sort of logistical feat for which I am under-trained. My image of having a baby is a bit like a death in the family – for the first couple weeks people are all around you. This period is all-too-soon replaced with the one where they vanish to resume their normal routines and leave you helpless in your new paradigm.

Then there are the women who approach me, mothers and non-mothers alike, and feel the need to tell me how my life will "never be the same," to tell me with widened eyes and broad arm gestures that this is "huge." I hate these women and their pantomiming even more than I hate the women who tell me their horrendous birth stories where everything possible went wrong. I want to grip their painfully obvious sentiments in my already clenched hands and beat them unconscious with them.

I don't need more responsibility in my life. I'm the type who in times of despair and sadness could lie in bed in the dark for days at a time and never get up except for the fact that I am pushed to rise eventually for the guilt I feel about not opening the blinds for the plants. Focus on this for a minute: The only thing that would kill me faster than my own wrecked brain is the guilt I would feel for being responsible for killing the PLANTS! I'm not sure if the full absurdity and power of this is getting through.

People like me are not supposed to have kids. I hear them more and more all the time. The stories. About post-partum. The dirty little secret. Just when I've begun to buy into the idea that I'm overstating this problem, that my fear is silly, hardly worthy of the weight I lend it, I hear more stories. Then there are those who tell me about how I have just as good a chance not to be depressed afterwards. And for a minute, it's like a window of light. For a second, I believe it could be true. What if? Right. Fucking look at me. I'm a disaster now, and for the hundred-millionth time since all this began, shit, since I was born. Not because I'm worrying about post partum, just because. I go along just fine and then, bam! Gee, whaddaya think? Will I have an issue with depression after the baby? Fuck. Fuck!!! Maybe I'm addicted to my pain, but in almost every other scenario the well-meaning would turn me toward rational thought, logic, odds. But if I discuss the odds now, I'm being ridiculous. I'm being pessimistic. I'm really just no fun and no one wants to play with me. If you don't acknowledge your demons, great for you. If you don't have any, bite me. If you don't speak them out or write them down for other people to jump all over, cheers. I do. And what if it's because I actually care about this baby? What if it's because I care? The bottom line is, I don't want to know there are medications, and myriad other paltry solutions. I simply don't want to be pregnant and imposing my troubled self onto another human being. I make it sound like I'm a raving mental case, and I'm not really. Here's what saves me every time - I am really, really smart. And I'm intelligent enough I know when to be concerned.

Zillions of women have had babies for zillions of years. So fucking what. What does this mean to me? I still have to go through it. I still have to find my place in it. Do the zillions before me nullify my feelings and cancel my fears about parenting, or do they dull the intensity of labor pain? I pretty much doubt it. I think that the zillions, and most notably the dozens nearest us - friend and neighbor, family or stranger - that hover to tell us just how it is, tsk away our concerns offered already in an air of meekness and uncertainty, a sense of disobedience to our kind, our eyes trailing to the ground, words soft and censored, or chuckling and waving our hands to imply these pathetic cries for assistance we can hardly get out aren't things we really mean, these zillions - or dozens - are perhaps as much the reason for the lack of writing about negative feelings surrounding pregnancy as anything. The women who've been through it and come out the other side cradling baby can't talk that way anymore and don't like it when I do. I know this because I could care less what you all think, but I already carry a guilt at my feelings in relation to this creature than bubbles and pops at me from the inside while I'm trying to sleep. So you made it and I probably will too. Fabulous. But I'm in THIS moment now. And there are feelings that go along with THIS moment for me. And maybe if someone had a notion, as I do, that to look at this dilemma now I can head off future problematic moments, I'd be faster to shut up about it. I thought you mothers all learned the value of the moment. Chasing around small beings with immediate needs and joys that extend only as far as their fat little fingers. Well, my moment is called the middle of an unplanned pregnancy. And this is how it feels. If you know so goddamn much then help me! Help me! Make me some fucking tea.

The personal story is never out of style. Can never be blasé. We hear those that make sense to us for where we are; we miss the rest. You can always change the channel.

So I feel responsible for my thoughts and words. Worried that the mere existence of them is a betrayal to my baby. (Then can writing them down be any greater a crime?) Not so much worried about betraying this secret society of silent, loving mothers who met pregnancy head on and of course never felt like throwing things from impressive heights, like their telephone, large quantities of fruit, or themselves, would never talk that way. Not worried about how I appear to them and yet, perhaps doomed to enter their realm. What if I dare feel a responsibility to someone else who might read this, another pregnant woman who is busy repressing her anger and confusion somewhere? What if she needs me to be honest? Should we care about her? What if she needs not just kind-of-honest, the kind that leaves out the really bad days? What if she needs me to be truly-honest, the kind that makes me write the word that sometimes is the only fit when I think of my gracious, loving husband -- "bastard," even though he'll be hurt, feel like he failed, or see me as cruel. Is it rational to be angry at him? No. Is it real? Yes. Am I allowed to express that anger? Well, that's the debate.

What if I'm responsible not to the mothers who made it, but to this other pregnant woman?…and, of course, to the plants.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Today will be weepy and overwhelming with a sprinkling of intermittent sobbing and wailing. Should clear by the weekend.

I can start glowing any time now...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

early decisions

Some folks have read my blog and been confused. They read my rants as indications that I don't want to be pregnant, and if that's true, then, why am I? I understand their confusion. Beyond my unconditional love of ranting and my inalienable right to do so, this is my response.

Early on, when I was so very depressed about my condition, people asked me whether I had considered ending the pregnancy. Of course the option had occurred to me. But often my first reaction would be to tell inquiring minds what my husband thought. He was excited. He felt (suddenly and inexplicably) ready to have a child. The thought of aborting made him very, very sad. All my female friends, well-trained in independent and feminist thinking, would cringe. "But what do you want? It's your body. It's your life." Admittedly, it felt weird to me too to be spewing on about my husband's feelings, well-trained as I am in independent and feminist thinking. And they were right, it is my body; it felt invaded, an unhappy host. And indeed, it is my life. My life that includes at its center this amazing person I married.

In addition to seeing the implications on "my" life as inextricable from the implications on "his" life or "our" life, my husband's feelings were at least somewhat consolidated and identifiable, whereas mine were swimming in a panicked blur. So I found myself starting with his.

As I saw it, my choices were the following:

If I were to continue with the pregnancy knowing how I felt about it at the time, it would take considerable work to bring myself to a place where things were okay. It would take a great deal of soul searching and relationship hashing. Things would change for us dramatically, but we'd survive it.

If I were to choose to terminate the pregnancy knowing how he felt about it at the time, it would take considerable work to bring myself to a place where things were okay. It would take a great deal of soul searching and relationship hashing. Things would change for us dramatically, but we'd survive it.

We had discussed adoption for some time prior to discovering I was pregnant. We are in our mid-thirties. Even though everything we'd talked about was half-assed and theoretical, if we meant any of it, how much longer would we have waited, realistically? Did it make sense to call off this biological baby only to choose another a couple years down the road?

I don’t take any of this lightly, I just trust my husband's instincts impeccably (eventually); they have panned out for us in the past. I didn't see how we could have this baby when he did. And neither did I have the courage to see we should be together when he did. I wouldn't have been the one to sell my condo, quit my job of seven years, and leave my friends to follow someone I didn't know very well and had already shown herself to be a volatile ball of emotional baggage 3,000 miles across the country to a life unknown. But that's what Mike did. Following my husband's instincts and taking my indecision as enough reason to pause was the right thing for me. That's not to say there wasn't screaming and crying and hurting and flying accusations filled with resentment along the journey. It doesn't mean that I didn't have to come to a place where I felt like my feelings were understood and my choices recognized. There was all of that in both scenarios.

A part of me felt, and still feels, that you should take what you're handed in life. I feel also like something in me knew this was coming, expected it and prepared for it. When I look back on little things I said and did in the weeks prior, there are some eerie coincidences there. I have banged my head and lamented that we should have been more careful, or I should have known better. I knew well enough, but still we are here. My conscious mind would never have, could never have chosen this, but something else might have.

Summary and FAQs:
Do I want to be pregnant? No. Could I have ended a pregnancy that came under these circumstances and within the circle of this marriage? It appears the answer is no. Do I want to have a baby? This question is still hard for me to answer. That's partly because most days it is virtually impossible for me to separate my fears about having a child from my desire to have or not have one. Will I have one? Looks that way. Will I learn a shitload in the process? Clearly. Am I scared? Deathly.

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