Whenever I witness or experience a kind of coincidence, which is often these days, like yet another cardinal (I have this thing for cardinals) flying right by me as I am praying, like a little wink from the universe saying “I hear you”; or just as I’m about to give up on something, a phone call from precisely the right person surprises me with encouragement, my response is a kind of awe-filled disbelief. Then I call my sponsor and say “this thing happened…isn’t that weird“.* She, being the ninja sponsor that she is, sneaky and smart, says to me “What if you replaced the word ‘weird’ with God?” I almost want to punch her as I’m still sorting through my old agnosticism, still, 4 years sober and clearly walking the plank of my new life knowing full well I couldn’t do it without a Higher Power. But the word “God” still kind of stings (so does the word “Jesus”. Don’t know why. I’m working on it). I grew up Catholic in a ‘a lot of my grandmother’s sisters and brothers were nuns and priests’ kind of family. We Catholics can get a bit sideways with the whole God concept at some point.
Today, my God or Higher Power shows up as a mezcla of the cardinals, a bejeweled Ganesh, Patti Smith, my grandmother, Roro, who lived to be 104 and up until a few months before she died was extolling the virtues of reading Proust only in the original French, and either the river or the wind, depending upon the day. I have this friend who has chosen as her higher power a ‘Council of Mermaids’. I love that. Whatever gets you through the day. But the word “God” is hard for me. Put a softened feminine “-dess” after “God” and I may buy it (or her). But yes, it’s all kind of weird to me. Especially that I’m here: pregnant. When most of my friends from college have kids in college. When my younger sister’s oldest, my own Godchild, is in her senior year in high school. I’m about to start the journey surrendering to the Goddess of Parenthood, who takes my plans, my control, my freedom and sleep and throws it all in the rubbish, laughing with glee at my folly for even thinking I could sail through this like I sailed through SAT’s and marathons, without studying or training (not that I did either well). My own personal HP coughs ‘bullshit’ into her lovely henna-painted crone hand and then smiles at me like I’m still 6 years old living in my own personal black and white movie, the heroine of my own wonderland, and waits with open arms for me to fall into hormonal waves of grief and joy that feel sometimes like two sides of the same coin. I grieve where I thought I should be by now and that I’m terrified I’m giving all that up for burping cloths and diapers and that sweet acrid smell of baby poo. Despite all that, I am joyful that I am getting to be who I never thought I deserved to be. A mother. Geriatric as I may be.
20 weeks in and I’m not craving strange foods anymore. I feel actually pretty good. Here’s a list of the foods I desperately needed a few weeks back:
2. Grocery store bought cupcakes, preferably lemon or red velvet. But in a pinch, a good Kroger’s sheet cake would do.
3. Brownies. The Betty Crocker chewy kind.
4. Pizza. A lot of pizza. Pepperoni and black olives.
5. Pineapples. Seriously. And the whole thing. Like the core and all. In our house, we can now laugh at The Pineapple Episode, which is the night I needed pineapple and it was about 9pm and Jamey was studying and was in his sweatpants and I started to cry. I needed pineapple right then and when he said he’d get me a whole pineapple tomorrow, I threw a temper tantrum and screamed, pointing at my pooch, “I’m the one having to create a human being in here; the least you can do is throw shoes on and drive 1/2 mile to get me a freaking pineapple!” Jamey is a saint. He got in the car, bought me 2 pineapples and never complained when a few days later we threw out 1 and 3/4 pineapples, because I only ate a few cored slices. I’m an ass.
6. Coca Cola.
7. Pickles. For reals. And olives.
8. Cheese and bread. Bread and cheese. And honey.
What I couldn’t stomach? Everything else, and most especially any kind of meat like steak or chicken or (makes me gag even thinking about it) the pork loin Jamey made one night. Broccoli. Well, really, any vegetable. Eggs. Practically anything healthy made me sick to my stomach. I never puked but I lived for the first trimester in a constant state of impending nausea. Thankfully, that stage has come and gone and I’m happily eating everything I see.
My feet have swollen and are sore all the time. My ankles swell up if I stand for too long. I am a woman with an unhealthy attachment to shoes and I’ve had to box up my entire collection but for a few pair. It breaks my fashion-whoreish heart. My boobs were already quite large but they got bigger (and sorer) and I’m pretty sure my hips are much larger. I’m not really looking too closely. I don’t fit into most of my jeans and I’m grateful to the fashion gods for good black leggings that don’t show my ass crack. Most of them do, you know. If the woman stands in the light in the right way. It’s mortifying. I’d pay top dollar for a good thick pair of black leggings that don’t show my ass. A few weeks ago, I went through a really selfish, vain phase where I was freaked out because I didn’t look pregnant, I just looked chubby. And I admit that I have a body image problem – have had one my whole life. I lost 20 pounds when I got sober and started getting Hot Yoga obsessive. I ran and yoga’d my body out of the extra “Sad Amy” fat, got biceps and muscular thighs, and my stomach was, if not 6 pack flat, it wasn’t poofing out over the top of my few size-smaller jeans. I would look in the mirror and love what I saw, imperfections and all. Then I got pregnant and ate an entire box of Crispie Creams in one sitting and was told I couldn’t exercise the way I had before to decrease the chances of miscarriage at my age and with my history (Hot Yoga was out completely), and my body began to change. And as much as, theoretically, I was 100% on board with this whole deal, once I saw what was actually going on physically, miracle that it was, I wanted out. I wanted my skinny jeans and flat stomach back. I freaked. Oh, also: the hormones. They are real. Like, stupid real. Like PMS on crack.
Now that I’m in my 5th month and completely comfortable in my overalls and leggings and mumu dresses, carrying around 16 pounds more than I had in July, I’m enjoying the ride. I had to let go of that fear of change. See, I thought I couldn’t talk about this: that it was pure vanity to want to cry in grief over my thighs. I mean, it was, don’t get me wrong. I know. But I also had to admit that this is what I was feeling, admit it on paper and out loud, cry until I laughed and, finally, move on from it. It’s how to let go. Not by NOT feeling the feelings but by abandoned into the feelings (with a timer set so you don’t wallow) and then really experiencing that “everything changes”. Someone once told me that a real feeling only lasts 90 seconds. Everything after that is the memory of the feeling (good to know when you find yourself hanging onto a gripe from 9am well into your day. The feeling of anger passes in 90 seconds — by 3pm you’re just indulging in the memory, rubbing around in it like my dog who likes to rub her back on her own pee spot in the yard — it’s gross). Now I love this bigger belly, not quite obviously pregnant, still at that stage where people are probably thinking, ‘she’s maybe had a few too many beers’. I don’t care. I love it. I’m dressing for it, wearing comfortable, flat shoes with Dr. Scholl’s cushiony insoles and eating bagels with cream cheese.
Faith and surrender are what got me here and I guess that’s what I’m writing about today. I know that like I know a storm is coming when my knee, long ago sprained, creaks. I know it like I know that when I pass through a waft of perfume that smells a bit like rosewater and talcum that my long-gone grandmother has shown up again, a spirit in between, to say wordlessly ‘pay attention’. I know it like I know that the bubbles in my stomach I’m feeling every night after I eat dinner are my little boy, 20 weeks old, inside me moving around, getting comfortable in my hardening, melon belly.
* I go to these church basement meetings and work certain steps to stay sober and sane-ish, and though I’ll be true to the anonymity of the program I work by being indirect about that group, I have no qualms making my sober journey part of this blog, as it’s honestly one the reasons I’m able to be here, pregnant, and married and facing all of it with honesty, hopefully some humility and definitely a lot of humor. The only reason I’m standing today is because there was a day about 4 years ago that I found myself on my knees in another crying fit over another man and another bottle of wine saying to a God to whom I had said a big ‘fuck you’, since I was convinced that God had long ago walked away from my lying, cheating, sorry, drunk ass, “I give up. Please help me.”