Very Telling (#224)

No sooner had my husband and I returned from our honeymoon than my Chinese-American father-in-law called, demanding to know where his grandson was.

He called every week. In vain did I explain family planning and birth control to my husband’s parents.

After three years, Jay finally quit calling. Not long after he gave up, I got pregnant. Like many couples, we kept the pregnancy quiet, due to the risk of miscarriage.

Even after we saw the fetal heartbeat, we only told my Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister and a few others.

About two months into the pregnancy, Andy knocked on the bathroom door and asked, “Can we tell my parents yet?”

For once I was spending more time in the bathroom than my husband. So far, pregnancy had been one long vomit-fest. It did not make me cheerful. I yelled back, “You aren’t telling your parents ANYTHING. Until we get the ultrasound that tells us whether it’s a boy or a girl, your parents know nothing. If we tell your father I’m pregnant, he’ll start calling again, asking if it’s a boy. So forget that.”

“What if my aunt figures it out and tells them? We’re supposed to see her and my uncle and cousins tonight and if you’re carrying around your chum bucket, they’re gonna figure it out.”

“Dude. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Yeah, but if I go and tell them you’re sick, they’ll tell my mom and –”

“Tell them I’m off on a girl’s weekend or visiting a sister.”

“Which one?”

“Any of them! Pick one or make up a name. I have so many sisters I can’t even keep track of them. There’s no way your relatives will remember them. Now go away and let me puke in peace!”

When Andy returned from seeing his family, I was on the phone with my father and Current Stepmother. Out of eight kids, I was the only one who lived within driving distance. They were hoping we’d come to visit over the summer.  Their invitation forced me to reveal a) that I felt too awful to travel, b) I din’t know when I’d stop feeling awful, and b) the reason for feeling awful.

Dad was pretty low-key, typical of a man who had eight kids and multiple grandchildren: “That’s wonderful.”

Current Stepmother, who had only 2 kids of her own and no prospects of grandchildren in the near future, was not low-key. Her lengthy shriek of delight had me holding the phone at arm’s length.  Even Andy winced.

“Oh my God, oh my God that’s so exciting!” she gushed. “That’s just the best news!”

I said, “It’s nice that you’re so excited, since this is the sixth grand baby.”

“Yes, but we’re actually going to get to see this one!”

Invitations/ demands for visits at Thanksgiving and Christmas were promptly issued.

“Well, that was gratifying,” I told Andy after I hung up the phone.  “I had no idea Current Stepmother was such a baby hog.”

Andy said, “Huh.”

“How were your cousins?”

“Fine.”

“How was your aunt?”

“Fine.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re mad that I get to tell people and you don’t, right?”

“Maybe.”

“You can tell your friends at work.”

“It’s not the same. And some, like my boss Frank, can’t have kids and that’s awkward, you know?”

“Yeah,” I told him with a sigh. “You really wanna tell your mom, don’t you?”

“I want to tell my grandma,” Andy corrected me.

“Can’t you just wait a little longer? Until we at least know the sex of the baby? Then they don’t get their hopes up and then get all disappointed if it’s not a boy?”

“But Popo’s almost ninety.”

“Okay, how about after the first trimester?” I pleaded.

“But what if something happens and I never get to tell her?” Andy argued, sniffing and wiping away a tear.

My husband’s words hit harder than he knew.

*****

The Christmas I was fourteen, my then Stepfather gave my mother the ugliest, creepiest newborn baby puppet on the planet. He laughed and said, “You said you wanted another baby!”

My older siblings  and I eyed Creepy Baby, said “Ewwwww,” and recoiled in unison.

Baby Singing Sister, who was three, screamed and ran out of the room.

Mom pretended to snuggle Creepy Baby, telling Creepy Baby it was adorable.

She saw my appalled face and said, “Hey, if this is the last baby, I have to make the most of it. You know too much about childcare. I’ll probably never get any grand babies.”

She was right. Mom died unexpectedly the following spring.

*****

Twenty years later, I handed my husband the phone. “Go on,” I said. “Call Popo.”

He did.

Popo was thrilled. She told him to call his parents.

He did.

Andy’s mother was overjoyed.

Andy’s father? He let out one excited shout, before lapsing into speechlessness.

Which lasted about a week.

Try As You Might (#223)

I lost my mom when I was a teen. It was awful. It was untimely, a tragedy, etc.  She left six kids with a) a mentally unstable father/ stepfather and b) a ton of unresolved issues.

And yet.

I understood that it was better than the reverse. A mother should never outlive her children.

Once I studied history, though, I realized that outliving your children was a thoroughly modern expectation. Before vaccines and modern surgery, a mother would be fortunate if half her children survived — infant mortality rates in the 1800s were almost 50%.

From Lynn Wright’s “19th Century Death Bed Portraiture.”

I wondered, sometimes, if mothers were as attached to their kids back then as mothers are today. Or did they hold back, not wanting to invest too much emotionally or financially when the odds of survival were so low?

Research has always been my ally in outwitting or coping with catastrophe. So, perhaps like mothers in the last millennia, I prepared myself for failure when I got pregnant.  Especially in the first trimester, where pregnancy had a one-third chance of failure. Even with prenatal vitamins. Even eschewing Advil and all medicines.

But even though I didn’t want to become too attached, I’d already decided on a name – Dalton, after Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter and crusader against McCarthyism/ fascism.

Andy was all, “’Dalton?’ What if it’s a girl?”

“She can be a Dalton, too. Look at the proliferation of girl Madisons for chrissakes.”

“I don’t like Dalton for a girl,” Andy objected.

“’You don’t like?!’ Let me remind you who is doing the heavy lifting here,” I began – only to run off to the bathroom and vomit (my new pregnancy normal). Then I tried to brush my teeth. Which made me gag, which made me puke again. By the time I escaped this vicious cycle, Andy was hastily assuring me that I could name our baby whatever I wanted.

“How gracious of you,” I told him as I flopped onto the bed. “But don’t worry, it’s going to be a boy.”

Andy, who’d already said he wanted a girl, scowled, but only said, “Are we calling the baby Dalton, then?”

I shook my head. “Not yet. It isn’t even a baby. Doesn’t have a brain yet. I don’t wanna jinx it. You can call it embryo or fetus.”

“Uh, no. That’s kind of clinical.”

“It’s medically accurate. And it’s nicer than what I’d like to call it when I’m puking my guts out. If this keeps up, ‘Parasite From Hell,’ or ‘Demon Spawn’ is going on that birth certificate.”

******

Not naming “it,” was more difficult than I expected. I’ve always liked naming things, then renaming them, and then giving them nicknames. My childhood blanket was male, and called “Blankey.” My first black car was Bagheera, after the black leopard in the Jungle Book. My houseplant was Fred. Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister and I had so many boyfriends we gave them nicknames to help each other remember them. Who can forget “Tank Lord,” “Divorced Dude,” and “Trolley Tim?”

All of my pets had multiple titles, depending on how they were behaving. The dogs were everything from “Doggums” to “The Excavators.”

I anthropomorphized everything (even subhuman boyfriends). It was hard not to do the same with the collection of cells in my abdomen.

Especially when those cells made my life miserable. “Listen,” I’d begin, trying to psyche myself up and off the bathroom floor. “You just listen up, D–  crap, I mean Baby—ugh, I mean embryo-thing. The doggums need a walk or they’re going to tunnel under the fence. So please could you lay off the making-me-feel-like-shit hormones for like an hour? Please?”

After I threw up in a neighbor’s bush 20 minutes later, I’d mutter, “Contrary already. Thanks a lot, Baby D—ugh! I mean Evil Embryo!”

Andy did better than I did. By cheating. He’d never ask specifically about the status of the fetus. Instead, he asked how I was feeling.

“D—er, fetus thing let me eat half a muffin today.”

“Good job, honey.”

And then came the Sunday night when I realized I was bleeding. As I expected catastrophe and knew the odds, I immediately warned Andy that probably this meant the fetus wasn’t viable and it was common. Then I talked to Dr. Sister, who assured me that a little brown blood from the cervix was normal and no big deal.

I crawled back into bed and told Andy, “False alarm! Dr. Sis says Baby D is totally fine and not to worry.”

“’Baby D?’ Don’t you mean the fetus?”

“Shut up or I’ll puke on you.”

Andy squeezed my hand and said, “Good night, honey.” Then he whispered, “Good night, Baby D.”

From the night forward, the fetus was known as Baby D. Even though it didn’t have a functioning brain. Even though there was still a 33% chance Baby D wouldn’t make it out of the first trimester.

Which answered my question about the mothers who gave birth centuries ago. You may know the odds. You may know you shouldn’t get attached. But try as you might…

…they suck you in anyway.

Lost & Found: Mom Edition (#221)

Every mother has secrets. Some are dark — a deeply buried history of domestic violence or mental illness. But some are light — generations of wisdom on everything from gardening to cooking.

My mother died before I was fifteen. As a “liberated woman,” she turned her back on domestic wisdom. She had no helpful hints to give me regarding makeup, stain removal, cleaning, sewing, or baking. She was, in fact, terrible at all those things. She had a hell of a green thumb with houseplants. Our neighbors exclaimed over all the hanging baskets of greenery in our D.C. dining room. At the time, I shoved errant leaves out of my hair and glowered. Now I wish I’d asked how she did it.

As she had six children who survived, Mom undoubtedly had a ton of information on pregnancy and child-rearing. She died before she could pass any of it along. Mainly, I learned from her mistakes, vowing to marry later in life and use ALL the birth control.

When you’re in your twenties, you don’t think much about running a household or raising kids. But once I was married, with house and garden, I realized I didn’t know jack about flowers or pregnancy.

I wonder how many other women realize, after their mother is gone, that they’ve lost generations of useful info along with the person who loved them most in the world? A hundred years ago, other women in the community might have come forward to help a bereaved daughter. Now young women tend to leave home and live alone in the city, hanging out with other young women. Without a weekly call home to Mom for advice on some disaster, we’re on our own.

Luckily, we’ve got women bloggers. And sisters.

During one visit, Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister told me that those shoots I was weeding in my new yard were freesia.

Gladioli gone crazy.

I let those shoots sprout and discovered I had fragrant freesia and gorgeous gladioli. They’re perennials, which means they come back every year. (Husband complained about the profusion of pink gladioli until I reminded him that all those flowers are FREE.)

Turns out I also had some narcissus. I cut them and brought them inside. They fell over. I found a post about how a half-shot of gin in the water will keep your paperwhites upright. Apparently grandmas everywhere know this. I sometimes wonder what housewife hastily dumped her gin into her flowers during Prohibition and made this handy discovery. Whoever she was, I salute her.

I was lucky enough to have Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister, too. She’d had children before I did. She warned me I would feel like shit when pregnant. She was right, damn her.

And when I bled vaginally on a Sunday, all the OB’s answering service said was, “Call again tomorrow, go to an ER if it gets really bad.”

I looked in my pregnancy books. All they said was bleeding = miscarriage.

I called Dr. Sis, telling her I was probably losing the fetus, and that it was okay, it was undoubtedly because something was wrong–

She interrupted. “Is the blood bright red?”

“No, more brownish.”

“You’re fine. There’s a lot of extra blood in the cervix at this point. Some is going to leak out. If it isn’t bright red and heavy, it’s totally normal.”

“So the fetus doesn’t have two heads after all?”

“Probably not. Do you still feel like crap?”

“Yes. If I’m not actually throwing up, I feel like throwing up.”

“That’s a good sign.”

“Yeah, thanks, gotta go puke now, bye.”

“Great!”

*****

Yesterday, my husband brought me tulips for Mother’s Day. I cut about an inch off the stems and put them in a vase. They began to droop.

“Maybe you can tie them up with a ribbon?” Andy suggested.

“Do we have any gin?” I asked.

He brought me a bottle and said, “You’re not really going to start drinking over drooping flowers.”

“Watch and learn, buddy.” I poured half a shot of gin into the vase.

This morning, my tulips stood tall.

Boozy. But good.

Wretch (#218)

My mother loved being pregnant. When I was 10 and she was pregnant with Baby Brother, she gave up alcohol and cigarettes without complaint. Same thing when I was 11 and she had Baby Singing Sister. She rarely threw up and was always cheerful.

My older sister, the Judgmental Genius Doctor, had miserable pregnancies. Her nausea was so bad she wore ice packs while operating. She gained 75 pounds because only Dove ice-cream bars were appealing and food had a fifty-fifty chance of preventing her from puking. Once the nausea ended, her cervix became problematic. She spent months on bed rest to avoid an early delivery.

When I told Dr. Sis I was pregnant, she immediately asked how I was feeling.

“Good,” I told her. “I mean, a little cramping where my innards are rearranging themselves, but I don’t feel sick at all.”

“How many weeks are you?”

“No more than five.”

“Hahahaha, enjoy not feeling like shit while you can,” she advised me. “Which will be one more week.”

“You don’t know that,” I argued. “Mom felt great during her pregnancies. Dad’s mom was the one who was sick and miserable when she was pregnant.” Gram had been so sick with her third pregnancy that she’d had an abortion – in the 1950s. Gram only managed this because her father was a doctor with connections. I only learned about this then illegal procedure when I spent the summer with my grandparents and experienced A Summer Night of Too Many Martinis.

“You’re gonna be sick, too,” Dr. Sister predicted. “It’s in the genes.”

“Not necessarily,” I countered. “You’re tiny and built like our little Welsh Grandma. Of course you take after her. But I’m built like Mom, from strapping Germanic peasant stock. I’ll be one of those women who finish threshing a row of wheat, push out a kid, and finish the next row.”

“You can tell yourself that all you want. Don’t you remember high school?” Dr. Sis asked.

“Are you talking about the genetics part of Biology? Of course I don’t remember that. Or Geometry. Never used them again, they were completely useless–“

“I’m not talking about Geometry,” Dr. Sis interrupted. “I’m talking about you. Every morning…” She made a retching noise.

“Oh,” I said, remembering. “Shit.”

*****

I’ve been a night owl since infancy. I was the kid that always snuck out of bed, unable to sleep. Then I’d overhear my parents fighting and have to sneak back into bed. Once I hit adolescence, I rarely slept before midnight.

Our high school started at 7:30 AM. It took almost an hour to get there, either by school bus or driving, thanks to northern Virginia traffic. To manage staggered morning showers with low water pressure, 6 siblings, and 2 working parents, I had to get up at 5:30 AM.

Almost every school day, I either threw up or felt like throwing up until at least 8 AM. Sometimes I threw up waiting for the bus. Sometimes my sister, or friend, or boyfriend had to pull over so I could vomit. I had multiple winter scarves; they were for face-wiping, not fashion. The good news was that on the mornings I did throw up, I only did it once. After that, while I didn’t feel great, I didn’t feel queasy.

The fall of my freshman year, I begged to stay home. My father had no sympathy. “You always feel like crap,” he told me. “Unless you have a fever, you’re going to school.”

So I perfected the art of predicting actual heaves, as opposed to just feeling like I might puke. I learned to immediately assess every venue and vehicle for places I could get to quickly and heave with minimal clean up. Bushes, for example.

I also learned how to chew gum without teachers noticing.

During a particularly nasty morning episode in the kitchen sink as a senior, I heard Dad grouse to my stepmother, “I don’t understand this. I mean, she can’t be pregnant. Not for four years!”

Once I got to college, where the earliest I ever got up was 7:15 AM, my nausea disappeared. Research appeared, showing that adolescents need more sleep, and they need to sleep as late as possible, thanks to the biology of puberty. My body decided that puking was the best way of  punishing me coping with sleep deprivation.

Northern Virginia high schools now start at 8:10 AM — or later. (Thanks for nothing, fuckers.) Like many high school districts, they’ve learned that later classes mean higher test scores and better grades.

And possibly schools that smell less like puke.

*****

“All that high school heaving means it’s your body’s go-to response for biological stress. And pregnancy is NOTHING but physical stressors,” Dr. Sis said.

“You don’t have to sound so damned gleeful,” I muttered.

“I am not being gleeful. I’m just preparing you for the fact that you’re gonna start puking soon. Just like I did. Get ready.”

“No way. I already spent 4 years puking, that’s enough! I did way more vomit time than you. You only had six months, you poseur!”

The conversation deteriorated after that.

But my appetite did not. I passed the 6 week mark.

“Ha!” I gloated to Andy between bites of an In-n-Out burger. “Six weeks and I still feel great! I was right and I got the good pregnancy genes!”

My high lasted 12 hours. I woke up queasy the next day. I ate little oatmeal. It didn’t help.

I gagged brushing my teeth.

When I walked the dogs, I threw up in a neighbor’s yard.

“Goddamn it,” I said to the dogs. Sitting nicely, they cocked their heads at me as I dabbed my mouth with the precautionary wipe I’d stuck in Fey’s pack. “Dr. Sis was right. And now I’m gonna feel like shit for the next three months.”

I tried to look on the bright side. I hadn’t puked on my shoes. I’d at least avoided puking in the yards of my close neighbors. In fact, I’d made it to the yard of the jerk who shot raccoons (and ate them, but that’s another post, this one has enough nausea in it already). The vomit had missed my shoes and landed in a nice, concealing bush.

The dogs needed a walk. We forged ahead. I ignored the nausea when it returned, but I was ready with one of the dog’s plastic bags when I did have to heave again.

I used five bags on that walk. Only two of them were for dog poop. But we made it several miles that day, and almost every other day of my first trimester.

Various girlfriends and family members told me to stop being masochistic and make my husband walk the dogs. Sometimes I did. But mostly I kept trudging along.

I may never have used Geometry or Chemistry again, but at least there was one high school skill that proved useful later in life:

How to keep functioning while puking.

 

Not Your Ordinary Magic Wand (#217)

Finding out I was pregnant was anticlimactic. Because here’s the rule: you can’t tell anyone until you know it’s a viable pregnancy.

Actually, you can tell people, sure, but since 1 out of every 3 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, you run the risk of having to un-tell them later. Possibly while sobbing incoherently.

So I was stuck in this no-man’s-land of being pregnant – maybe – for two weeks while I waited for my obstetrician to officially confirm that a) my pregnancy tests weren’t liars and b) the embryo had a heartbeat.

Normally the only people you’d tell that early are the girlfriends or family members you’d tell you miscarried. Like your mom. Except my mother was dead.

My BFF, M, had already had five heartbreaking miscarriages of her own. I was too chicken to tell her I’d gotten pregnant easily. Of course she’d be happy for me. And yet…how would I feel if I’d wanted a baby for years and someone who’d  been pretty ambivalent about having kids got pregnant right away? I’d be happy for my friend, but I’d also be bitter enough to flip off the universe. And maybe my fertile friend, too, while she was looking in the opposite direction.

It’s kind of how I feel about writers who get their first book or screenplay published or sold immediately. Happy for them while also screaming “why not me?!” at a smirking universe.

I stayed quiet, waiting. Waiting for the moment you see in all movies, TV shows, and commercials, where the doctor holds the ultrasound wand on a pregnant belly and announces, “There it is!”

Or, alternatively, turns white and runs out the room to get a specialist because something is very wrong. (Since I’m always imagining scenarios with my close friend catastrophe, I was sure we were headed for that second scenario.)

Only my husband Andy knew about my pregnancy.

I didn’t feel sick and I don’t drink alcohol. No one suspected a thing.

Six weeks after my last menstrual cycle, we visited the OB.

It’s not like TV. Turns out, when the embryo is barely 4 weeks old, it’s hard to pick them up on a regular abdominal ultrasound.

Enter the wand. Yes, the transvaginal wand, which goes exactly where you think. The transvaginal wand even gets covered in a condom and lubed up before insertion. Maybe someday it’ll vibrate, but until then, Mr. Wand feels about as good as you’d expect, which is to say, not good at all.

Though not as bad as the curling iron/ vise the OB uses for your annual pap smear and woman’s wellness exam, at least. (Yes, I know it’s technically called a speculum, but that’s not remotely descriptive enough for that particular instrument of torture.)

But back to the exam room where a paper sheet covers my lower half and allows Andy, me, and the OB to pretend there’s no wand up my vaginal canal as we stare at the ultrasound monitor.

Nothing.

“Relax,” the OB tells me, moving the wand.

I glare at her, because never in the history of women being penetrated by a foreign object has ANY WOMAN EVER managed to relax just because the twerp initiating penetration simply suggested it. I settle for taking a deep breath and imagining shoving a wand in some of her bodily orifices. And maybe Andy’s too, since I know this is just the first of hundreds of poking and prodding indignities that I will endure while being pregnant.

“Good,” she says.

Apparently, I find images of violence relaxing. I file that away for the next appointment. Then I stare at the screen, willing an image to appear.

It does.  A tiny blob, smaller than a pinto bean, vibrates on the screen.

“That’s it,” says the doctor. “There’s the heartbeat.”

At that age, the barely-an-embryo is nothing but a heartbeat, beating almost twice a second. It’s not as complex as an earthworm, let alone an ant.

“That’s it?” Andy asks the OB.

I take immediate offense, answering, “Of course that’s it! It’s not even a fetus yet! What did you expect, a wave? It doesn’t even have arms! Or a brain!”

Andy asks again, “I meant, there’s only one, right?”

The OB says, “Yes. Just one. Were you hoping for more?”

Andy and I respond together: “NO!”

The OB looks startled, and so I explain, “My mom’s second pregnancy was triplets, but she lost them.”

“Ah. No, just one here.”

“Dodged that bullet,” Andy murmurs.

“Seen enough?” asks the doctor.

Andy, entranced by the vibrating bean on the screen, doesn’t answer. I tell the doctor yes, and breathe a sigh of relief when the wand withdraws.

I scowl at the vaginal violator as the doctor strips off its condom and ask, “Are you going to be using that thing for the next ultrasound?”

The doctor laughs. “No, no, as long as there are no complications, next we’ll listen to the heartbeat, then regular abdominal ultrasounds.”

And eventually, there’d be a baby.

Maybe.

I am sure this image is upside-down and equally sure my Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister will explain why. At some point. At length.

Braced for Catastrophe (#214)

The cat asks, “Is the glass half-empty or half-full?”

Growing up amidst divorce, minimal resources, and tragedy, I learned not to be optimistic. I was always awaiting the next crisis. If my husband didn’t answer his phone, I was certain he’d been in a fatal car wreck. I sniffled as I planned that man’s funeral at least weekly.

When my husband and I agreed to try to get pregnant, I worried constantly about both having a child and raising one.

My husband had none of these fears. I wouldn’t say his life as a first generation Chinese-American was an easy one, but it wasn’t as chronically traumatic as mine.

If I mentioned that certain medications might decrease male fertility, he pooh-poohed my fears. “My guys are fine,” he insisted.

“You don’t know that,” I argued. “Look at Stevie Hollywood and JM – her whole life, she knew bearing children would be iffy. And then it was Stevie Hollywood turned out to have sperm that were dead in the water!”

“My guys are up to the job,” Andy told me.

“Okay, but are you? Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister said that even though Georgia Boy was the one hankering for a baby, he folded under the pressure of constant sex.”

“Wait. I thought we were only supposed to have sex every other day. We’re supposed to have it constantly?!” Andy scooped me up and shouted, “To the bedroom!”

I pounded on him until he put me down. “Every other day IS constantly!”

“I know you’re a writer,” Andy said, before adopting Inigo Montoya’s accent and telling me, “But I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

“Dude. I know what the connotations of ‘constant sex’ are to most women and I’m pretty sure every other day qualifies.”

“Huh. Well, I do not fold under the pressure of this so-called constant sex. I relish it. Want another demonstration?”

Clearly my husband did not lack confidence in his sexual prowess or his sperm.

After a month of trying, I didn’t get pregnant. “See?” I told Andy. “There’s something wrong. We’ll probably never get pregnant.”

“We’re gonna get pregnant. Stop worrying.”

“You know, I bet it’s your sperm. Because my mom got pregnant while on every form of birth control and we haven’t even had a single pregnancy scare and we’ve had sex for years.”

Andy rolled his eyes. “You told me your mom wanted to get pregnant and sabotaged her birth control methods. You’re gonna get pregnant. Stop worrying.”

“But what if it is your sperm? I guess we could use your brother’s sperm instead?”

“NO!” roared Andy. “It’s only been a month, it’s going to be fine. My guys are good.” Andy stomped to the refrigerator and pulled out a beer.

I cleared my throat and said, “You know, alcohol can have a detrimental impact on sperm count and sexual performance.”

Andy opened his beer bottle and took a deep, pointed swig.

*****

I envied my husband his optimism (and his alcohol). For all that I came from the most fertile of mothers, I became certain I’d never get pregnant. I knew the universe had a sense of irony and it liked to fuck with me. Now that I was finally okay with having a kid, of course I wouldn’t be able to conceive. I tossed and turned every night for the next month.

“Trick question,” laughs the cat. “The glass is about to SHATTER ON THE FLOOR!” Because catastrophe is inevitable. Right?

Meanwhile, Andy snored blissfully away next to me. He was secure in his knowledge that things would turn out fine.

I wanted to beat his obviously misguided optimism out of him with a pillow. I settled for punching his arm and telling him to roll over when his snores got too loud.

At the end of the next month, right about the time my period was supposed to arrive, I started cramping while Andy was at work.

“Ha,” I grumbled. “I knew it. Not pregnant again.” Before I started popping Advil, though, I figured I’d better be sure there was no chance there was an embryo that could be damaged by medications.

I took a pregnancy test. Then I took another one, because I am the queen of overkill.

I left the pregnancy tests in the bathroom.

When Andy used the bathroom that evening, he came out holding the pregnancy tests in his hand and said, “Really?”

I said, “Yeah.”

And that’s when I realized that maybe, just maybe, my husband hadn’t been so optimistic about conception after all. Because as he gave me a hug, Andy also said:

“My guys made it!”

 

Like a Pill (#208)

I had headaches most of my childhood. Maybe it was my poor eyesight. Maybe it was bad nutrition. Maybe it was the stress of divorces, remarrying parents, and more siblings. I tried all the drugs in various parents’ medicine cabinets, to no avail. I learned to power through head-pounding misery.

I worked as a cashier in high school. An assistant manager noticed one night that I was more sullen than usual. She asked if I was okay. I explained that I had a headache.

She said, “I have something that will fix that right up.”

“It won’t work,” I told her. “I’ve tried aspirin, Tylenol, Excedrin. Nothing helps.”

“Give it a shot,” she said, handing me a maroonish, brownish pill with “Advil” written on it.

Twenty minutes later, my headache was gone. I turned cartwheels and called it a miracle. Continue reading Like a Pill (#208)

Spun (#206)

You may have noticed some outrage on my page these days. And those are only the public messages, not the private ones. Some people are seriously pissed at me for writing posts that do not laud childbearing.

To which I say, why? Why is it so important that we revere pregnancy and procreation?

I’m gonna go with the marketing of Big Religion. Continue reading Spun (#206)

Baby Battle (#205)

My parents procreated like rabbits. Then they got divorced and procreated some more. Given that having children is pretty much the worst thing a regular person – not an Exxon Executive or a Donald Trump – can do to the environment, I figured someone in my family owed it to Mother Earth to NOT have children.

There was just one problem. My husband wanted a kid. Continue reading Baby Battle (#205)

Top 10 Reasons To Have Babies…Refuted (#204)

My husband wanted a baby.

Meanwhile, I literally had a whole list of reasons NOT to have a baby.

But in the interests of fairness, I interviewed and studied various parents. I came up a list of reasons why (other) people want children…along with reasons why those reasons are screwed up. Continue reading Top 10 Reasons To Have Babies…Refuted (#204)