Endive

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I am not adulting well today.  I’m just going to admit that before I write another word here.  I’m pretty sure anything I’m going to type/write/vent in today’s piece is not at all proprietary to the late 40-something experience being pregnant. In fact, it’s just about surviving being a human. And maybe that’s the point of this whole thing. That, regardless that I’m way past the usual age of walking down this path, in the end I’m a fallable, normal, flawed, beautifully alive human with a fallable, normal*, flawed, beautifully alive human kicking around inside my swollen belly.

We are 21 ½ weeks into this journey. All the books and blogs name my little dude a vegetable or a fruit of the week, a rough barometer of size.  This is the Endive week. Which I find strange and very very snooty. An endive? That’s not an average person’s vegetable. In fact, I’m pretty sure my mother never ever used an endive once during my childhood. Endives didn’t show up in my life until I moved to NYC after college and ate at fancy restaurants. Lovely purple and white swirly lettuces, leaves cupped around the center like a rose unbloomed, stretching tall up to the stars. A bitter thing, a cup that holds vinaigrettes of balsamic and herbs.  French, even. Very white.  He’s an endive. Next week he’ll be a coconut. They say he should be about 10.5 inches, but he was larger than that 2 weeks ago at our anatomy scan, where I got to see a video of his hands and legs and arms and feet wriggling and kicking. Where his spine was a clear skeleton ghost outline. Where the ultrasound tech outlined his heart, beating, his kidneys, his brain, his penis, which I didn’t see but my husband swears he did.  I have a video of the little guy, swirling around in that cozy space inside me that I watch when I get anxious that he’s disappeared. 2 weeks ago I couldn’t feel him yet. I thought I could, but it was gas. Painful bubbles at the top of my stomach after I ate too much Indian food.  Last week the real movement started, though, and I knew it. Little flutters. Bubbles, almost.  This week, at night, when I lay on my back, I feel soft kicks. Last night, Jamey put his hand on my belly and I hummed to the little guy, cooing, egging his kicking on until a soft bump happened and Jamey’s eyes lit up, ‘I felt it!’, he said, a red blush over his cheeks. I almost cried. Then I had to pee.

I am not adulting today. I want to play hooky and crawl into the corner of a womb with a blankie and my thumb firmly in my mouth. I want to sleep. I haven’t been sleeping. And I know the real Sleepwalking Days are ahead of me, so I’d like to not waste my complaints on small time no-sleeping.  Jamey brought me a breakfast sandwich this morning from Sonic, with bacon and cheese, and then got up to prepare for our meeting with our bank and I burst into a crying jag. “Would you just sit with me?” I blubbered over the bacon and egg toaster. Jamey’s been running at full speed, God bless him, as he works full time, researches his Master’s thesis, reading and writing in every spare second. And did I mention we are selling a house and buying one at the same time? And he’s handling all this for us. And all I’m doing is making a human inside my body. Things are moving fast right now and this morning, in the midst of my freak out, I said a piece of truth I hadn’t even thought to myself yet:

“Can we just slow down and sit in THIS moment. Just for a moment?”

We are moving.  And we love our house that we live in. It was Jamey’s and it was the place he first cooked me dinner and the place his beloved German Shepherd Gus protected me (until he protected me so much he bit a few people and we had to say goodbye to him, scratching his ears as his eyes closed forever in a Vet’s office).  It was a bachelor pad and he made it warm and inviting and I moved in with him and we had our “friends and neighbors” wedding in our backyard with our friends playing music for us and dancing and singing and eating hot chicken and ending in a circle, passing a guitar around.  And we are selling it because we need more space, not only for the baby, but because we both need more rooms to write, to think, to read. Separately.  We found a good house and we are in the buying process, which is scary and nerve-wracking, and there are potential pit falls (what if the inspection turns up Radon? What if that fireplace isn’t working? What if it’s a crappy house and we were fooled?), so we are spending a lot of time in the “What If’s” and it’s starting to make me crazy.  I get in trouble if I live in the What Ifs, if I “future trip” too much, because I can future trip myself back to the past, out of sobriety and clarity and sanity.  If something crazy turns up, we will just walk away and find something else. It’s simple. It’s not. I’m pregnant. He’s trying to do the right thing.  We are both trying to take care of each other and ourselves and it’s a lot of work.  And so I want to cry “uncle” and have someone else take care of it all right now.

Also: we love our neighborhood of musicians and families and artists and liberals and hipsters and the Tall Skinnies (we don’t love them) and the train that comes a few times a day and we hear it’s wail echo from a mile away.  We love that the high school marching band rehearses in the late afternoon and we know by the tuba bleating at first and then the trumpets fan-faring and the snares tip tapping and the leaves of the large Hackberry trees turn yellow and red and the air turns from humid Tennessee sweet grass to the dusky smoke from our neighbor’s chimneys and our best friends live quite literally a stone’s throw from us.  We live in bohemia here. And we are moving to a new neighborhood. And for both of us that is hard.  Not that anything isn’t close around here in Nashville, but I just watched a woman push open the door here at the Starbucks here on the West Side of town with a diaper bag that matched her own purse wearing overpriced Lululemon yoga pants and a cute, brightly colored jacket and I thought: “these are not my people” …or are they? Am I going to be that woman?  I’ve written about this, haven’t I? The fear of letting go of my own identity, aggressively independent and artistic. To become something I hadn’t planned on: my mother. These women have perfectly plucked eyebrows. They wear a lot of makeup. Their foreheads are tight. They look like they have money.  All the things I am not. I am still living a kind of post-collegiate style: slightly disheveled, semi-hippie, semi-vintage/rocker/oversized shirts and sweaters. Dresses over jeans with combat boots.  My hair is long and my jewelry is cheap and I don’t wear makeup. I don’t have stocks and bonds and a 401K plan. I’m not concerned that I haven’t picked out a pediatrician or a Lamaze class yet. I’m pretty sure, like everything else in my life, I’ll figure it out. And I’m sure I’ll be wearing mismatched socks and fail to brush my hair for a while. I’m ok with that. But I like living in a neighborhood where others do the same. Where I feel like I belong. And we are moving out of that neighborhood.

Which is why I’m not adulting well today. The truth is: our little slice of bohemia has been ‘gentrified’ and taken over by the weathy from LA and Brooklyn thanks to the NY Times and other media outlets who proclaimed East Nashville an “It” place, haunted by the likes of Jack White and Gillian Welch and no state income tax and low cost of living and cheap housing — well, cheap until the entire East Coast moved here about 3 years ago and brought artisanal oatmeal shoppes (spelling intentional). It’s a good time to sell in East Nashville. It’s not a great time to buy. So we are moving to another area.  And I want to stomp my feet and cry and stay where we are.  AND I can’t wait to move and further dig my feet into this new life I didn’t plan on having, this family thing, this baby, this husband, this ‘my own room to write in’, this house with a guest room (a real guest room!).

Change is a bitch when you’ve dug your heels into your own defined terra firma, no matter how low-rent it is.  I’ve been on this ground for a long time now. Almost 50 years. So I’m re-learning the skill of adaptability and spontaneity.  I have been letting go of the old expectations and allowing a new radical acceptance to take over. It’s just, well, uncomfortable. Kind of like how my feet feel today in the one pair of non-sneaker shoes that fit.  But last night I meditated and prayed and coo’d at the kicking human living inside me (I still can’t believe it’s real) and I played him the lullabye I wrote for him and sang my songs and then I got online and ordered a pair of soft leather boots in a larger size on Zappos that will arrive today, just in time.

Everything is just in time. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it is that: everything is right on time.

*…crossing fingers and very aware that the word ‘normal’ is charged with subjectivity and so ‘normal’ simply means ‘normal in all it’s abnormality’ in this case for me without judgment of any kind, or at least doing my best to open up to that in myself and others so that whatever kind of ‘boy’ pops out of me I will love fiercely and protectively and with permission for that being to create ‘boy’ the way they feel ‘boy’ arise…ok, this was a huge parenthetical, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this, considering I have more than a handful of people in my life who are not gender binary – hoping that’s the right term – and I’m learning (fast) from them about what it meant for them to grow up in between in a ridigly boy/girl world and I want to bring that awareness to my child and I know this sounds very much like I’m a heterowhitemiddleclassfemaleliberalsnowflake, but fuck it, I was once a very rigid, scared-of-otherness small town GIRL and I’d like to create a more fearlessly inquisitive world for my son, and it has taken me until I reached my late 40’s to be that myself, so I’m grateful for late-age-motherhood.

4 Comments

Amy, the subject of this blog is about as far away from my typical interests as could be…but since it’s YOU, I had to read and catch up. And your writing was so engaging and pulled me in so quickly that I just read ALL of your entries in one sitting. 🙂

First, I’m ecstatic for you and your husband, that you’re able to take this journey together, at any age…despite what you’re feeling physically or emotionally right now, you’ll never regret it.

Second, as the father of 22- and 20-year old sons who are struggling to find their way in the world right now, I cracked a smile several times reading recollections of your 20s. I’m convinced the experiences, and the feelings, you describe are universal to all generations.

Finally, I’m a dude (obvi) — but I learned this the hard way when MY wife was pregnant: whenever possible, take the expectant mother blogs/books (e.g., “What To Expect When You’re ______”) with a big, fat grain of salt. I remember that if, for example, one of our sons was NOT the size of an endive at 21.5 weeks, it would send my wife into a tailspin of panic that SHE wasn’t doing something right. Your mileage may vary…and I wouldn’t presume to tell ANY pregnant woman what to do (I know better now!)…just passing along our experience.

I hope that you and your husband consciously pause throughout the remaining days of your pregnancy and TRY to enjoy this experience as much as you can, and to savor the “us” time that you have…I wish we had done that more often back in the day. 😉

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Lots of luck to you Amy, you are a wonderful writer!
I can’t imagine the challenges you face at this age being pregnant, never having traveled that road myself. I admire your courage and determination. It will have a great ending in a few months. You have the support of a wonderful husband, family and friends. Hugs

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“I am still living a kind of post-collegiate style: slightly disheveled, semi-hippie, semi-vintage/rocker/oversized shirts and sweaters. Dresses over jeans with combat boots. My hair is long and my jewelry is cheap and I don’t wear makeup. I don’t have stocks and bonds and a 401K plan. I’m not concerned that I haven’t picked out a pediatrician or a Lamaze class yet. I’m pretty sure, like everything else in my life, I’ll figure it out. And I’m sure I’ll be wearing mismatched socks and fail to brush my hair for a while.”

My kind of girl!

I’ve always loved this little bit of Ben Jonson’s poetry:
Give me a look, give me a face,
That makes simplicity a grace ;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free :
Such sweet neglect more taketh me,
Than all the adulteries of Art ;
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.

You have struck my heart – and I’m not talking about the way you look here (although I think you look beautiful, for what it’s worth). Your work has really spoken to me at times, and I’ve really liked you at our few brief meetings at your shows here in London. (And you played Left Me Hanging (beautifully) for me at The Green Note – I can’t tell you what that meant!)

I love this blog (or whatever it is), too. Humane, thoughtful and honest – three qualities we really need to nurture and treasure at the moment.

Another little quote from Mother Julian of Norwich I hang on to in rough times:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
I hope my genuine, warm good wishes are some small reciprocation of what your work has given me. They are yours.

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