Tomorrow I will hit 29 weeks. The Bump app tells me my son will be the size of an acorn squash. Today I am still at 28 weeks and he is, supposedly, the size of an eggplant. Now, maybe I’ve got my vegetables wrong here, but it seems to me that an eggplant is larger than an acorn squash. Just a few weeks ago he was a pumpkin and then he went from that large and heavy thing to a bunch of kale, which is completely confusing because the bunch of kale I have in my refrigerator is light and small and certainly smaller than a pumpkin. I listen to podcasts about pregnancy from the women at Parents Magazine and the information is really informative and helpful but they have this intro that’s kind of annoying, that does the thing where everyone gets cutesy cutesy, calling it a lovely baby bump (I swear, I’m gonna punch someone if they call it a bump again) and comparing the size to cute things like bunnies and pompoms and pink things. I’m not a girly girl, although I guess partly I am, in that I played with Barbies when I was little (granted: I chopped off their hair into asymetrical mohawk styles and had Barbie and Ken have sex a lot, all ways, bumping their plastic parts against each other while Skipper watched — and sometimes participated — from the sidelines). I don’t match my purse to my shoes. I don’t even carry a purse. I have a bag. A big bag that will hold my laptop and book, a few scattered pens and lost Ricola and two dozen half used Kleenex (if I ask you to get something from my purse for me, you’ve been warned). So this cutesy pie way of talking about pregnancy is growing old. I love the straight talk. The ‘how does an epidural feel’ kind of podcast. Or the ‘seriously, will my vagaygay ever work the same again if this boy comes out through it’? Last night I was scrolling through Pinterest and found the list of Post Natal Necessities for the New Mom and grew cold and shaky when the first thing I saw was Depends. Depends? Because I’m literally the only pregnant woman in the history of middle class American privileged pregnant women to have not scoured the information before getting pregnant. I winged it. I saw the deep end, didn’t take the swimming lessons, and held my nose and jumped in. I kind of just found out about the fact that they might have to rip a seam from my anus to my vagina to get this boy out of me. All of a sudden a C-Section is looking good.
Seriously. I didn’t think this through. I mean, of course I did. In most ways. In the BIG ways. I thought it through and came to the conclusion that I was about as ill prepared as any woman for a human to be growing inside me, and thought, well, I’ve run 2 marathons and not died; I’ve escaped a pretty harrowing potential guerrilla situation in rural Cambodia pre-Angelina Jolie, when there were no roads or sanitation or easy border crossings or Hiltons and Hyatts and I didn’t die; I got sober and I didn’t die. So what the heck – let’s try this parenting thing. Of course I knew it would throw a huge wrench in my well-thought-out-life-plans, and I concluded: bring it on! I also knew I’d have to buy some new clothes. Would have to stop doing hot yoga. Would have to stop touring for a while. May have to figure out a way to make some money not being on the road. And I thought, bring it on!
But. Nobody told me about the heartburn. The kind that rips a burning knife through your flesh under the right ribcage, a slow burn around the diaphragm, to your back. The kind that feels like a severely pulled muscle, so that it hurts to the touch. And if I eat, like anything, no matter how many Tums I’ve downed, or Prilesec I take, or try to eat a low fat meal, nothing works. It just burns and throbs and makes me dizzy and sometimes sick to my stomach and it gets worse at night and makes it really hard to roll over as those muscles I use are burning and searing through me with little stabbing pains like I’ve ripped something. I think sometimes Jamey thinks I’m just exaggerating for a back rub.
I’ve had my gall bladder ultrasounded and blood-tested 3 times. My pancreas is fine. All my organs are fine. The baby is fine. I don’t need advice, thank you. I have heartburn. Which sounds wussy. But this feels like dying. I’ve been told, ‘oh the baby must have a full head of hair’, which I think he does, but that doesn’t help. And so I try to meditate on gratitude to get my mind off the searing pain. It goes away after a while, there’s that. I know this and count on this like a prayer. It’s the one most important gift of being a meditator. Knowing that everything changes, the ability to sit with the discomfort long enough without reacting to it to watch it change. See: it’s taken me 3 paragraphs to write the pain away. It started when I wrote “Seriously” above, from the morning protein shake I made from kale, bananas, berries, vegetable based nutritional supplement, local honey, almond milk and ice. And now it’s just a slight ache in my back. Soon, it will be gone until I eat again. If Jamey were here, though, I might have feigned tears to get some sympathy. And, truth be told, a back rub.
The old rolled into the new and we are in 2018. 2017 was rough and beautiful. Broken and bountiful. I’m worried about the universal energy out there right now and I know how hippy dippy that sounds, and no offense to my family and friends who are Republicans, but there is some negative shit out there coming from your side of the fence and it’s narcissistic and selfish and mean and it feels like the bullies grabbed their ball, kicked everyone off the field but their gang and are hoarding the prizes. But I work everyday to make room for the new. I spent the last 2 days of 2017 moving from our home in East Nashville to our new home in Hendersonville, TN. About 15 miles away from our old home, but I feel like I’ve moved to a different world. East Nashville is all tattoos and nose rings, high waisted jeans on girls with oversized thick glasses and bearded guys in skinny jeans and suspenders, sometimes on unicycles. Many of them play ukuleles. Out here, in the ‘burbs’, the people I’ve run into so far seem, well, normal. Middle class white normal. I’m missing the colorfield of East Nashville. Here – it’s so white. So far. It’s middle-aged. So far. But the houses are way more affordable and we are able to buy one that will fit our growing family and we love it. It’s a 1965 ranch house, not unlike those in the neighborhood we just left, but with bigger lots and significantly less over-priced. But I freaked a bit at first when we decided to move here – leaving bohemia for the first time in my adult life. I left college and moved into a ranch house with a rock band, mushroom parties every weekend and shag carpets with cigarette stains. A year later I moved to NYC after having dreamt about it my entire life, following the poets and the actors and the gypsies. Found my way to the West Village in a building not far from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s home, near Robert Pinskey’s flat. Two years later to the East Village, then Brooklyn, then Hoboken, then Jersey City. Then, in 2009, I packed up everything I owned in my white minivan and drove south to East Nashville, the year before everyone from Brooklyn and Los Angeles followed, and found a 1918 cottage house for $700 a month with a huge front porch and swing. My neighbors were creatives: artists, musicians, home owners, restauranteurs, gay, jewish, buddhist, episcopalian, progressive, hipsters, rockers, punks, black, white, hispanic, arabic, asian, single, married, with roosters in their back yards and more guitars than guest rooms. There were others too, and I met them too and loved them. The Trump voters from across the street with their large Trump/Pence signs in the front yard. The older couples who’d bought their homes here in the 1960s and 1970s and were sitting on property they could sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars now because of the “It” city status of our little neighborhood. The trailers and tenements and tract housing and low income villages. The gunshots at night. The homeless population, hidden under underpasses and along the banks of the river. I know it’s out here too. But then there were the hipsters who moved, like us, out of bohemia to Madison, Donelson, Hendersonville, when they started having babies. They moved for bigger, more affordable homes, a good school system, the lake. To be out of the bar scene. To change it up. Change it up. That’s what is scary to me. Not my new neighborhood. I met my neighbors and they are lovely people. We have 2 adjacent neighbors with 3 dogs each, so each morning Flo bounds out into our backyard, tail wagging, to say hi to her new friends and sniff each other through the chain link fence. I love watching this, watching her happy. We have a sturdy tree with an arm-like branch that juts out at a horizontal angle straight enough to hang a swing on it and I imagine our son kicking his feet in the air to get higher and higher as I watch him through the kitchen window, or sit on the screened in porch reading. I imagine the summer days watching Jamey out there with him throwing a baseball mitt to mitt. I imagine the fire-pit picking parties we will have when our East Nashville tribe makes their way out to our house during the summer nights to swap songs in our backyard.
I have moved, on average, every 2 years since I was 21 years old. House to house. State to State. It feels nice to know my name is on this house as owner and that I do not have to move in 2 years. That I could stay in this house for years to come. Building something tangible. Not building a fairy tale, but building a foundation.
In a way, it reminds me of my son, moving inside me, kicking and twisting. I love that he’s safe in there, inside my belly, miracle of miracles. That he’s all mine right now. He hears me breathe, he hears my voice when I talk to him. He is safe inside my large basketball of a belly. There’s nothing like learning to stay in the moment than being pregnant. I can’t wait to meet him, to have him outside my belly, carved out or pushed out or ripped out or however he comes, I’ll take him, hold him in my arms, feed him from my breast, smell his smell and sleep next to him for a while. But I will miss this time. This 7th month where I am swollen and uncomfortable, suffering from heartburn and back pain and sleepless nights and restless leg and midnight leg cramps and having to pee every 5 minutes. This 7th month where my baby boy is sleeping and moving inside me, tangibly as part of me. I will miss this time: when he is all mine. For right now. Because right now is the only moment I want right now. Today he is an eggplant. Tomorrow he is an acorn squash. And in a few months, as the frost will melt off the grass and give way to Spring, he will be a human boy, in my arms, not just mine, but mine and Jamey’s.