Surprise, Cockbag!

REVERB 14, Day 6: Biting Back. We All occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual. Think back to such a situation: if the gloves were off, how would you REALLY have liked to have dealt with them?


Getting pregnant was something that I never anticipated doing. I was so vehement, in fact, about NOT having children, that more than one close friend texted with condolences, rather than congratulations when I DID decide to take the plunge. (“Oh, Jen! Oh!. You’ll see, sometimes accidents can be the greatest blessings…..”) But that’s not what I’m here to address. Those cats were just reacting genuinely to being blindsided. I only mention that to give you a clear idea of just how sure I was in my decision to move forward. This was a choice born of a complete about-face; months and months of thought went into it. My options were weighed and measured and then weighed and measured again for YEARS before the needle settled at “Let’s Do It.”

By the time I chucked the birth control for good, I was more than reasonably sure I’d considered every con. I was prepared for the sleepless nights and the labor pains. The Old Man and I had discussed in very clear terms what types of parents we wanted to be. I read the blogs and the books and the websites. I’d mentally picked over my friends with kids, and kept a checklist of both good ideas and shit that I would/will never do EVER. If you know me, you know I’m speaking the truth when I tell you, I WAS PREPARED. Even looking back, I’m hard-pressed to find something to point out that was worse, or, more accurately, more difficult than I’d considered.

What I WASN’T ready for, what no one mentioned, is the degree to which I became public property once round with child. The millisecond that my news was no longer secret, my inbox exploded with advice. “You’re going to want to….” “Say goodbye to sleep….” “You’re not going to taste that wine are you?” “I can’t believe you’re still working out….” “Has anyone talked to you about the dangers of vaccinations yet?” “When I was pregnant with little Timmy, I would have NEVER done xxxx….” No topic was off-limits or too private. People lost all boundaries. The judgement was swift and complete. EVERYONE had an opinion, and the more clearly I stated that I wasn’t interested, the more loudly they all spoke, because, well, I just wasn’t experienced and they, of course, KNEW BETTER.

I handled all of that pretty well. I learned quickly that there was no being tactful. People needed to be told clearly, and firmly that their advice was not wanted, and I managed to navigate that space without losing friends or offending anyone too terribly much (unless you WERE offended and kept quiet about it…in which case, I’m sorry that your feelings were hurt, but, you WERE overstepping).

What I didn’t handle well were the multitudes of strangers who felt that my body as a pregnant woman, was something that they could feel free to touch without permission. Somewhere, someone made up a wive’s tale that it is good luck to rub a pregnant woman’s belly, and, as such, you should do that, even if it’s someone you’ve never met before. In total, I would estimate that I was groped by no fewer than fifteen separate times by people I’d never met before; people who would approach me in a store, or in a parking lot, and, with nary a word, lay their hands upon my ample stomach.

It was horrifying. For about the first six times, I was aghast and responded by almost shouting, “Get your fucking hands off of me.” This was never the response that these strangers were expecting, and many told me that there was no reason for me to be so rude. I would expound on the inanity of that logic, but I’m sure you get it. It took me by surprise every time, and through my disgust and mortification, I couldn’t come up with anything better.

I was discussing this with a friend over messenger one night, when she made a suggestion that I would seize upon and run with for the remaining duration of my pregnancy. And so, this prompt turns into, not What Would You Have Rather Done, but How I Put The Best Idea Into Practice.

The Scene: Checkout line number 7, Safeway

The Players: My Very Pregnant Self and Middle-Aged Male Stranger

My Very Pregnant Self: (minding my own business, quietly waiting in line to pay for a cartload of groceries)

Middle-Aged Male Stranger: (creeping up to the side of MVPS, leaning in VERY CLOSE and exclaiming, while placing both of his dirty, hairy, strangery hands on my stomach): OH! You’re pregnant! Do you mind if I touch you?? (already touching)

MVPS: (without saying a word, I look MAMS in the eyes and lay my right hand gently but firmly on the front of his pants where his genitals are located)

MAMS: (eyes POP! open, hands recoil in shock, jumps back two feet and stares at me in disbelief, confusion)

MVPS: (Innocently) “Oh, I’m sorry, are we not doing that thing where we as strangers touch each other inappropriately without permission?”

MAMS: (gets the point, apologizes and fumbles away)



With thanks to Leslie and apologies for using her material. It was just too good not too, and served me well for many months.

Before We Continue…

I’ve got to apologize, at this point, I think, as I’m beginning to realize that most of these posts during this season of Reverb are going to revolve around the fact that I’ve had a baby. And I guess, apologize isn’t really even what I mean. More than that, I mean to acknowledge the fact that there has been a decided change in my trajectory and convictions.

It’s no secret that I never wanted children. More than that, I was incredibly vocal about that decision, and vehement in my answers whenever (rudely) asked when I planned to have children or why I didn’t plan to at all or didn’t I think the Old Man and I had been married long enough to start already. In general, the world at large has very specific ideas about how one should live a life and what milestones should be involved in that life. I openly flouted those stereotypes and took no small pleasure in the confused looks I received as a result.

There’s a Cool Kids’ Club, you see, when it comes to being over 30 and childless by choice. The members feel a little superior to their peers with children and the secret handshake is conveyed through Facebook posts which not-so-subtly demonstrate their status with pictures bulleting the use of discretionary income or group shots taken in distinctly adult situations with fancy dresses and booze on a Wednesday evenings. The Childless By Design are a bit smug and (not) secretly think themselves more sophisticated. They are elitests, tripping the light fantastic through life, gleefully sans responsibility.

I know this, because I was one. I was a member of this club whose only requirements were maintenance of a child-free status and the unspoken air of superiority of having no wrought iron anchor to keep me from saying yes to last minute invitations or road trips or drinking binges and no reason not to punctuate my speech with the Eff Word.

But change of heart came knocking and change my heart did, and knocked up I became.

No sooner had I made this announcement, than I was unceremoniously booted out the door of The Cool Kids’ Club of The Childless By Design. The change was immediate. With no regard for the fact that this decision had not come easily or quickly to me, friends and still members of TCKCOTCBD asked pointed and tactless questions and made many the sarcastic and cutting remarks. “Did your birth control stop working?” “Great, another Mommy Blogger.” “What the fuck were you thinking?” “I’m so disappointed.” “Another one bites the dust.” “Break out the Mom jeans!”

Plainly, it sucked, and I internalized it all. I limited the number of blog posts I wrote and stopped participating in online discussions with certain people. I found myself cut off from a community that I’d identified with for so long that it had become a part of my identity. It took a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was no longer welcome by people with whom I’d for so long shared a camaraderie.

But as I sit here and reflect, I see that though I’ve experienced a life-changing event, and though I took a hairpin turn, I am still much the same person I was. So I’m kind of pissed off.

No, my birth control did not stop working. I made this decision consciously and waited until I was certain to move forward. I own this choice just as much as I previously owned my decision to NOT have children.

Yes, I will be a Mommy and a Blogger, a motherfucking Mommy Blogger. I will continue to write about my experiences and apply my lens to them. More of those experiences will have to do with my kid, sure, but what makes you think they’ll be any less moving/funny/sarcastic than when I recounted the Twat Fatwa? And further, FUCK YOU for diminishing my experience and treating me as if I’d somehow lost all brain cells and were no longer as smart or as worth your time or reader space.

As for what I was thinking? I wasn’t so much thinking as dreaming of the huge blue eyes and tiny hands that I now have the absolute joy to look into and hold. I was imagining impromtu tea parties and hooky days spent at the zoo or the Macy’s One-Day Sale. I was indulging in fantasies of inappropriate questions asked at top volumes in quiet waiting rooms and I was considering the voices and accents I’d use while reading Pippi Longstocking and Harry Potter out loud to a rapt audience all my own. I was musing on the possibilities of wonder in little eyes and indulging big imagination.

Believe me, friend, the disappointment you’re feeling is nothing compared to my own at your reaction

Not So Shabby

REVERB 14, Day Three; Loving What IS. What Can You Love About Where You Are Now?


I’ve had the good fortune, over the past few months, to reconnect with an old friend–like, knew me in junior high, pre-braces, pre-contacts, pre-developing into a person, old—via email. Of course, it was Facebook that facilitated the initial contact, and through a series of messages, which ultimately became letter-like emails, we’ve managed to fill in the spaces of the intervening years for each other and catch up in a leisurely way that I’ve found quite a bit of joy in.

We knew each other and were close during those awkward tween and teen years, so the rhythm that we fell into was quite natural when it came to discussing this place we’ve found ourselves in now, namely, our mid-thirties; a space that in those early years, would have been considered ancient, and purportedly, completely GROWN UP.

As I was replying to one of her responses, I was drawn to admit something that I’d begun mulling over in April, when I turned 35, and that is, I’m kind of okay with where I am.

Weird, right?

I mean, if you’ve been following this blog at all, or know me in any capacity, this year’s Reverb is going to startle you–because this year turned almost everything that I know/knew about myself on its head. Sometime, over the past two-ish years, there was a shift in my thinking. My life, up until this point has been kind of defined by my maniacal search for my own space, every day spent wishing and hoping for something better, for fulfillment, for worth…for a definition of myself and my accomplishments that was worthy of the span of time spent and the potential owned.  I pined incessantly and lamented exhaustively; I was supposed to be SO MUCH MORE. There was supposed to be more money made, more professional accomplishment, more travel, more indulgence in lust for life. Everything was supposed to be BIGGER than it was.

And then, that roar for more and better and grander quieted. I’m not sure when it happened, but I do know, that as I took stock at the marker for my 35th year, I realized, I’m kind of all right…and it stopped me in my tracks. I was unemployed, pregnant, and friendless in a new city. I mean, you look at that picture from the outside, and it’s like Welfare City from an emotional standpoint. It’s literally every life nightmare from my past come to fruition. I was bombarded with messages from friends: “How are you DOING?” “Are you OKAY?” “What are you doing to COPE?”

And yeah, there were for sure moments of despair. The Old Man was traveling every week and I was pretty much alone, sending out resumé after resumé and being rejected interview after interview because, well, no one wants to hire the pregnant chick. There was morning sickness keeping me from the outdoors and then days on end of grey, drizzly rain. Friends were busy working, or, by virtue of time zones, sleeping when I was awake and in most need of a chat. But, in the end, I was doing okay. My life of lament had sort of prepared me for this. Three times before I’d started over in new cities. Three times before I’d changed professional trajectory. Three times before I’d made friends in unlikely places. The prospect of doing it again wasn’t so daunting this time.

And yeah, then there was the little issue of MY issue…the little seed and egg who would become and is now the Littlest Yawps. The biggest and most unbelieveable change of all. And this is where I am writing from now. I am someone’s Mom. Each day I am navigating this space that, years ago, would have been inconceivable. I am turning all past convention on its head. And what’s more? I am enjoying it. I am reveling in this space and taking the time to fold it around me in a way that I’ve never done before. I am working with a calm and assurance that I never believed myself capable of.

Maybe it’s the hormones. I don’t know. But what I do know, is that I have my little job which has the potential to grow for me in the years to come, and I have my little family which HAS grown for me in countless ways, and I have a new store of patience and peace that is as calming as it is surprising. No, I haven’t turned into some Zenmaster Jen floating through life with all the answers. I still have moments of panic and despair. But for the most part, I CAN love where I am right now because for the first time ever, I’m taking it day by day, and living it the way it’s supposed to be lived, up close. I’m squeezing these moments for all that they can give me; it’s really pretty lovely


REVERB 14: DAY TWO: When Did You Feel Beautiful This Year? Why?


It’s no secret that I’ve made an art form of self-loathing. My thighs have never been thin enough, my arms never defined enough. My hair too thin and an ugly combination of neither wavy nor straight. My nose is too big and my teeth are crooked and when I smile, my face looks fat and my chin doubles. I am too short, and, while I don’t mind being small-chested, the tits I DO have are oddly shaped and displeasing. With age, my left eye has begun to cross inward, and so, I must hide my one good feature, my eyes, behind coke bottle glasses. This list goes on and on, and though I’ve made significant strides against negative self-talk, I’d be lying to you if I said that there wasn’t some sort of narrative similar to this constantly playing in the background, even if the volume is low.

I had to get pregnant DESPITE these things. I had to BE pregnant while constantly battling them. The effort that it took for me to grow a child healthfully, while growing bigger everyday, watching my cheeks and face get plumper, and my ass get bigger, to see my skin stretch and my belly button disappear, was a graduate class in how to accept myself As-Is.

I was not a cute pregnant girl. There was no glow. I didn’t get curves in the right places, and I wasn’t able to maintain any shape besides round. Every day, I gave myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that I needed to keep this hatred in check. That I needed to silence it, for I was having a girl, and her needs were and would continue to be primary. I needed to learn to love this body of mine because she would soon be looking at me as an example of how to love oneself.

I kept waiting for it to be easier. Waiting to see the beautiful Almost-Mom in the mirror. Waited to hear truth in the words when passerby told me that pregnancy looked good on me. Waited to feel the goddess within.

I am still waiting, five months after The Girl’s birth. Still hoping that this miraculous change will happen. Hoping that I could be that girl whom motherhood transforms; to be that girl whose beauty shines through .

In all of the moments of the past year, there has been only one in which I’ve felt pretty, and it is so telling. It was the moment when I looked at my girl’s face, and saw a small glimpse of myself along with the rest which is made up almost entirely of her father.

In that small moment, I laughed to myself and then, ultimately, startled. It wasn’t her smile that was mine, or her eyes. It was her knit brow; not crying, but definitely not convinced. In her face was skepticism and consternation, and I fear, that before I’ve even begun to rear her, that the ONE thing she’s inherited is the one I’d like to change in myself.

And so, there I was, par for the course, finding beauty in the wreckage.


Bitchy Resting Face

Bitchy Resting Face


Reverb 14: Day One: What Can You Say Right Now With Certainty?

“…There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.”

-Pope; An Essay on Criticism

What I know with certainty is that I am certain about nothing at all. This year, I turned 35, changed cities again and did my part to repopulate the earth. The first two were inevitable, the third? Not so much.

I can tell you that my 21-year-old self would neither approve of this state of affairs nor be able to fully believe that she was being fed a line of truth regarding this new baby; this being who has become proof positive over and over that nothing said with certitude can be held to interminably. In fact, the very idea of having children was so foreign to me, that even my 30-year-old self would have balked at this now matter of fact.

Certainty is for the young and new. It is for the intrepid spirits who, without experience of windfall or abasement, plow forward with heads clear of doubt or even a Plan B. It is a way of living; overshadowing and complete. Its town is peopled by conviction and sticky guns and it is deaf to your gentle words of wisdom and advice. Certainty is a loudspeaker with no volume control.

Once, I was certain of many things, but the passage of time has softened my edges and sandblasted my very form into something quite different and almost unrecognizable save my caustic tongue and obsessive search for an authentic experience. Down to my most fiercely held confidence, I have said goodbye, one by one, to the things that at one time or another, I KNEW with verity.

Certainty is not my pathway anymore. It has been replaced by an openness that I’m quite happy to let in. instead of shouting my truth loudly, I have begun to listen to the truths of others, and to let in the idea that just like the Pierian Spring, we would do well to drink largely and long for the most clear view of what is and what can be.

Everyone Was Wrong, It DOES Matter

I woke up at about 2:40am with the vague sense of pain subsiding. Pain intense enough to pull me out of the REM that had been eluding me for months, but not so awful that it couldn’t have just been a dream. I shook the fog from my head and settled back in, dozing, uncharacteristically, once more, when it came back; a slow roll in my lower abdomen, intensifying and then subsiding. It was like a bad period cramp, I told myself, or, more likely given the meal of cased meat I’d just enjoyed hours earlier, gas. I got up to go to the bathroom, and left again, unrewarded. Surely it was the sausages.
But as I lay back down, it kept happening, and began to take definite shape. This couldn’t possibly be IT. COULD IT?!
I wasn’t ready. The baby wasn’t ready, sitting stubbornly with her head in my ribcage. It was early Wednesday. I’d just talked to my doctor who’d okayed me to push things out as far as possible. We’d just agreed to give The Girl all the time she needed to turn on her own in order to avoid a c-section. I’d been laying, inverted on an ironing board and placing frozen peas on my ribs, hoping she’d move away from the cold and down toward my pelvis. On Tuesday I’d been to the chiropractor after reading about the Webster Technique. I had four more visits scheduled to ensure maximum success…I’d paid a not small amount of money for 12 weeks of Bradley Natural Childbirth classes, I had a PLAN…this COULDN’T BE IT….
But the pain, instead of subsiding into a satisfying shit, got worse and more frequent over the next hour. There was no gradual increase, no chance to acclimate. The pains got very serious VERY quickly. As gently as I could to avoid alarm, I woke The Old Man up and let him know that I was pretty sure something was happening. We called the hospital to be safe, but knew that as The Girl was still breeched, we’d be told to come in right away, and that’s exactly what happened. I took 10 last minutes to myself and showered, doubling over three times in that span with what I knew for certain at that point to be contractions.
And then we got in the car, headed straight for the hospital and an anxiety attack.
What’s sad is that I didn’t have an opportunity to get excited. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the way things were going. Not 5 days before I’d learned that The Girl hadn’t turned. I’d gone through the ECV to no avail. My previously uneventful and healthy pregnancy had jarringly turned into something completely opposite. If there was a record, it would have scratched. Everything I’d planned for had turned upside down, and I’d barely had a chance to process the information let alone get used to it when here I was, faced with everything that I DIDN’T want, everything that terrified me.
I was on a freight train toward a panic attack. Instead of smiling with the anticipation and conjuring images of the little girl I was about to meet, I was imagining IVs and incisions, spinal needles and weeks of recovery time. There were night nurses with too sweet voices and endless questions posed to me in singsong. Things were explained to me as if I was slow and a maddening number of people telling me to relax. And then my body started to shake. Uncontrollably. The adrenaline dump. I couldn’t curb it and I couldn’t get in front of it. It had me and it wasn’t letting go. And all the while, the contractions continued, creeping unrelentingly closer together. I tried to focus on The Old Man’s voice as he remembered to coach me, but then there was the nurse with the needles and she couldn’t find a vein in my hand and oh my God the nightmare, then more nurses and the doctor and an exam which showed that time was shorter than they liked and more nurses and an anesthesiologist with no bedside manner and forms to sign with my shaking hands and contractions and that DAMN FUCKING NURSE WHO WAS STILL DIGGING AROUND IN MY HAND FOR A GODDAMNED VEIN and more forms and soothing voices that weren’t at all soothing and all the while this isn’t my plan this isn’t my plan this isn’t my plan and contractions and find the vein and stop digging around please THIS IS ALL TOO MUCH ALL AT ONCE!!!!!! and there is no room for visions of My Sweet Girl Who I Will Meet Soon, and they are wheeling me to the OR and WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE OLD MAN CAN’T COME IN WHEN THEY PLACE THE SPINAL BLOCK THAT’S THE WORST PART and no room for me to argue because I’m through the doors and on my side and now there are sticky things connected to wires and they’re all over me and contraction and I have to hold my knees to my chest and the needle is going in my back and OH GOD IT HURTS and I’m not still enough and he’s yelling at me that he can’t do his job if I don’t hold still and contraction and please let the contraction pass but he can’t because my labor is progressing too fast and HOLY SHIT THAT HURTS and now I’m going numb and what if I’m numb forever and paralyzed and there’s a sheet in front of me and I can’t see anything and my arms are strapped to boards on either side and it’s like I’m crucified and I’m crying now like really crying and this is not how I wanted it and now the Old Man is there and he’s telling me it’ll be all right but it’s not all right and the doctors are talking about vacations and they’re cutting me and there is pressure and pulling and then the wind is knocked out of me
And then there is screaming, but it’s not me. My baby is screaming and nothing is the way I planned it and beyond that sheet there is a gaping bloody hole in my body and the Old Man is telling them to put her on my chest skin to skin because goddamn it, one thing should go the way we talked about and they put her on me but I can’t enjoy it because my arms are still strapped down and with all the nurses in there they can’t get me undone fast enough and, oh yeah, anxiety attack plus whatever is in those IVs and take her take her TAKE HER I’M GOING TO VOMIT and I do and someone is sewing and telling me I have a healthy baby

Racing Thoughts And Running Time

Well, it is almost 10pm here, and though I’ve slept fewer than 10 hours since last Thursday, it’s apparent that there will be no dozing for me this evening either. I am, you see, in a state of disrepair, and my mind will not quiet. “But this is regular life, for you, Yawps!” you exclaim, and with reason. It is not out of the ordinary for me to go days without sleeping, but this, this is something else. There is pressure here, pressure of a sort I’ve never encountered, and a kind of hopeless helplessness that is devouring me and precluding any easeful moments. Peace has left me and that old familiar anxiety has taken residence in the pit of my stomach again, churning out the jitters like a crafter with a thriving Etsy shop.

This morning I underwent an ECV in an attempt to get the Littlest Yawps pointed in the right direction for the natural and unmedicated birth that I’d been preparing for since that October day I was assured of her existence and imminent arrival. I braved the necessary IV (it would require an entire post to describe what the practice of having needles stuck into my body does to me) and signed the informed consent paperwork, and then submitted bravely to the almost barbaric process of trying to externally rotate a baby into a head down position. It took extreme concentration to relax into the pressure exerted upon me by the doctor, who used her full body weight to attempt this task. I was breathing as well as I could through the ‘discomfort’ when I caught a fleeting look of sheer fear at the violence of the procedure on the Old Man’s face. There but for an instant, it told me everything I needed to validate the fact that I was enduring something quite unreal.

It was, goddamn it, all for naught. The Girl refused to turn.

And so, here I am, at 38 weeks, running out of time, and expected to show up to a doctor’s appointment tomorrow to schedule a day and hour to have her surgically removed.

I am a person of words, and yet my words fail me. The overabundance of feeling is drowning me and I can’t seem to get ahead of it.

My community has been so supportive, but the outpouring of love and platitude has left me hollow and somewhat irritated-not because I don’t appreciate the concern and effort, and not because it isn’t all heartfelt, but because I am who I am, good or bad.

Yes, I am healthy and so is The Girl. Neither of us is in imminent danger, and this is not an emergent situation. YES, I AM THANKFUL FOR THAT, and yes, I recognize it for its rightful power and truth and LUCK for not being otherwise. But to hear over and over that BECAUSE THAT IS SO, every other feeling and disappointment is nullified and “won’t matter once I hold that sweet baby in my arms” is a platitude that I cannot abide and makes me wonder, “Don’t you KNOW ME?”

So much in my life is based on the process and road it takes to get somewhere. I form ideas of how things SHOULD BE and make plans to ensure that they ARE. I attach value to the journey and, in the end, the shape of the experience, and so, IT MATTERS how I get there. The blow of blown plans affects me ways much different, I suspect, from everyone else around me, and I can see it in the visceral reaction I have when confronted with knowing looks and matter-of-fact statements like, “Just you wait” and “Oh, you’ll see” or “You say that NOW….”

Yes, I say that now, because it is the TRUTH. Yes, the important thing is that we are both healthy and not endangered, but that DOES NOT MEAN that I will forget about the fact that I wanted so badly for it to happen in a certain way, and circumstances beyond my control prevented that from being a possibility. A medicated, surgical birth IS a big deal, and it is mutually exclusive from the fact that we are both healthy.

I can be thankful and relieved by one AND completely devastated by the other. It’s allowed, and I don’t feel especially guilty for saying so.

Beyond this, I am feeling rushed into a decision that I don’t yet feel comfortable making. There is still time and some recourse, albeit little and a longshot. There is a chiropractic technique that I can avail myself of that has indicated some success, but after numerous unreturned phone calls this afternoon, and a doctor’s appointment tomorrow where I will be asked to set a B-Day, I am feeling pressed and pressured to a point I never felt possible.

It is hard to say NO to doctors, because really, WHAT DO I KNOW? What part of the information that I am receiving is just a practiced norm and what part is a genuine risk? These people are well-educated and experienced but it is MY BODY AND EXPERIENCE. We are both healthy and doing well, so why would I not give her every opportunity to turn on her own, up until the last minute? Why must I choose a day when, in the end, I could have a surgical birth all the way through the moment she decides that it’s time on her own? None of the answers I’ve been given have answered these questions to my contentment, and they’re all still bouncing around my head with the aggravation and sadness and disappointment.

So here I am, listening to the quiet of the night roar in my ears, with no action to take until a tomorrow whose arrival is delayed by sleep’s absence. The Girl is playing quietly but with fervor down there, unaware of the turmoil she’s already causing as she gives the Nurture portion of the argument a run for its money. This is the first of many boundaries she and I will explore together.

Make Like A Fetus, Please; A Prayer

Dear Baby Girl,

I knew when I first learned of you, that the lessons in patience I’d that far learned were to be but little dots of color in a broader work; the fuzz of a Monet up close. I wasn’t so naïve as to think that I was prepared for all you, all your existence, entailed. I have passed these months in silent preparation for your arrival, quietly opening myself to the change following soon upon your heels.

But your heels, my beautiful girl, are faced in the wrong direction. So while I know that I am sent to you to open the doors of the world, and you to me as graduate work in patience and flexibility, there is one last thing that I would like to plan to a T, and that is your grand entrance.

So please, sweet girl, know that I have spent these months caring for you the way I will always care for you and do not make this the first exertion of your inevitably stubborn will.

I need you to turn around.

Turn around so that we can begin your life together free and unclouded. Turn around so that I may hit the ground running with you and not waste time in sluggish recovery. Turn around so that I may nurse you and not myself.

You will have plenty of opportunity to teach me how to handle plans gone awry and unexpected U-turns; how to go with the flow and follow detour signs. Plenty of chances to drive me crazy and dye your hair blue for school pictures. But on this, I plead with you; turntuRNTURN. A little flip so that I may bring you into the world in the way I had planned; in the way that is best for you.

Just a little turn. Please.

Beyond Borders

So, when I got pregnant, I was totally unprepared for just about everything.  The Armchair Mommies and other assorted backseat parenters, the completely overwhelming task of creating a gift registry and the equally daunting job of finding a nice way to tell all gift-givers to PLEASE NOT VEER FROM IT, the nightmare that is maternitywear to any self-respecting clothes horse.  Everything is a goddamned process and the entire world looks at you with a knowing smile while they shake their heads smugly and tell you with a condescending sneer “Oh, you’ll see…” or “Not what you expected, IS it?” 

Most of those things, I can handle, because thankfully I still have a mouth that functions much as it did pre-parasite, though perhaps a bit LESS filtered due to hormonal tempest.  I have no problem being clear with people who cross a line and I’m completely past worrying if telling people to stick to a registry lacks etiquette (If Emily Post disagrees, then she obviously never played host to an unruly passenger), and if I’m honest, the prospect of wearing stretchy black pants and oversized tunics for the next 5 months isn’t exactly a poke in the eye with a sharp stick; I can do a lot with accessories and shoes. 

But what I can’t handle, what is proving to be THE WORST, the sand in my vagina, is the complete malfunction of every bodily system of my corporeal being.  My body is no longer my own.  At all.  In the slightest.  Yet with each new malady, my physical form rebels against my nature and shouts at the sky: “THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?!”           

At the beginning, the nausea came riding in on a bile-colored steed, an evil harbinger of things that would never be the same.  It took my appetite and energy and will to live, and, sustained on a couple of saltines and some flattened ginger ale, I crawled through the weeks, cursing the Sacred Mother and the womb she rode in on. 

It eventually released its stranglehold, but with the dawn of the 4th month, the instant I relaxed into a good meal of solid food, the constipation descended, and the hits keep on coming.  I can move and exercise, but only so much before my heart starts pounding and the blood rushes to my head.  My balance is shot and while before, I approximated a baby deer just getting its sea legs whenever treading uneven ground, I must find a stable seat to even put on socks. 

I can no longer enjoy cheese without intense discomfort and I can feel my organs being squeezed into a smaller space, hip-checked out of the way by the mannerless thug(ette?) that has taken residence.  There is cramping in my lower abdomen as my uterus explodes out of its rightful place, a roommate with shit overflowing, heedless of personal bubble.  Pants are abandoned and meals cut to a third of their rightful size lest reflux rear its acid-head to chew holes through stomach and esophagus. 

What was once a strong and defined shape is now rounded and overflowing; the cup runneth and runneth, expanding beyond boundaries, turning soft and pliant where once it knew angles and borders.  Even my mind is full to bursting, overripe with the effort of remaining contained, exhausted and split beyond its skin. 

There is nothing, I contend, that is beautiful about this process, and I am apt to call a liar the girl who beams beatifically saying that she LOVED being pregnant.  I can smell the smoke of her pants from here, aflame from the fib as I lie awake writhing from stomach cramps because I haven’t shit in 3 days.  I shake my head at her in disbelief as I finish yet another novel in the wee hours because sleep won’t come despite my exhaustion, and is only to be interrupted anyway when some tiny foot trods blithely on my bladder. 

This body, no longer mine, is instead the domain of its yet-to-be issue, and while I relish the future and envision the tiny hands and eyes, I cannot glory in or express joy for the nerve it has to so completely usurp that which it doesn’t have the voice to ask for kindly.  I have been taken over, and there is nothing pleasant about it.  There is no miracle here, only discomfort and unease with the promise of more in hoards.  Each morning I shower and run the loofah over an alien landscape, distended and misshapen, veiny, plump and awkward.  With these new dimensions my self is shed and every inch becomes less my own. 

Where is that beauty?  That miracle?  That reason for being?  As my waist disappears, so does that idea.  It was a myth.  A misty legend meant to lure strong wills into the depths, to sugar-coat and make palatable a less convenient and infinitely more lurid and unseemly truth.  I am hijacked.  And my body, apparently, negotiates with terrorists. 

Building Castles In The Sky

So there you are down there, all snug in the armor that is the soft tissue of my body, nuzzled in for the long haul.  You are so tiny, but the havoc you have wreaked has already brought me quite literally to my knees.   I had asserted, quite matter-of-factly, that I would avoid sickness simply by deciding to forego it, by denying its existence and continuing to live with my customary vigor.  I realize now the error in that logic.  So tiny, and already pointing out my limitations. 

If we are to make this work, you and I, we must start off on the right foot, and for me, that requires full disclosure.  You’re only just growing feet, so you’ll have to let me decide how this is to be done for the both of us. 

What you should know first, is that you nearly weren’t.  You’ll learn this in the years we spend together, as I’m sure the people I surround myself with will delight in telling you.  You’ll also hear some “Well, I knew all along,” but those people are full of shit and you heard that here first.  You very nearly weren’t, and truth be told, though you were planned, I find myself wondering what in the fuck I’ve done and what could have possessed me to make this choice.  I’ve even seen you on a screen once, and I’m thankful I was alone, because to share that moment with someone else, would have meant to pretend to feelings that were conspicuously absent.  I cannot feel you yet, or see your marks on my body and so, in a sense, I am in denial of your existence. 

You are there and not there and that is how I am learning to live with you. 

I will not pretend to maternal instinct.  You will not be born to a mother with a soft heart and milk-and-cookies demeanor.  I’ve spent tens of years denying you existence, so, though I’ve chosen you, you will be a product born despite that past conviction.  You will puzzle before you delight and who you are will invariably be coloured by the fact that your very being is confounding. 

You terrify me. 

So for now, I concentrate on the delight in the eyes of your grandparents Sciolino and Moore when they learned of your imminent arrival. I think of the return of King Farglebargle stories and the fact that little feet keep old souls young.  I think of you with a book in your hands and a too-smart-for-your-own-good comment on your lips as I remember that I am paying for my raising.  I think of your hand in your father’s and our laughter as we realize that you’ve grown taller than me so swiftly.  I think of all these things because the reality is still a little bit too much. 

So here we sit, you and I; a little stand-off that I have no hope of winning.  I could apologize now, I know what I’ve had to say isn’t very reassuring.  But I’m certain there will be many apologies in our future so I won’t start prematurely.  Instead, let’s agree that we’re on this road together, just the two of us, picking our way as we go.