He was known as Frank Breech, but after a C-Section and a few days of toiling over his official name, Frank "Buster" Breech became Nathaniel James.
He was born 7.7 pounds, and when he came out, he looked purple like a bunch of grapes held up at a Sunday farmer's market. I don't know who it was - a doctor, a nurse, the anesthesiologist, someone announced, "He's a chunky monkey" and I've never been more excited to hear the first fat joke about my son. I knew no one would be joking if he didn't have all of his fingers and toes and appear to be in good working order. You don't start rhyming and referencing Ben n' Jerry's flavors when things are going awry. Even someone with a spinal block, restraints and a nasty case of Hebrew panic knows this on some visceral level. Especially, maybe.
To say I've never been more relieved is such an understatement it's kind of a shame; I should probably not be allowed to write until I can actually pass a reasonable stool. Maybe normal movement of one's colon is critical to self-expression not involving lame cliches and semi-obvious declarations. Please, humor me until the Colace and prune juice kick in.
So, after he was pronounced a chunky monkey, and the doctor said, "He was definitely breech ... and definitely a boy ..." (guess he presented with a big rump and typically swollen baby balls) I started bawling right there on the table, tears pooling around my oxygen mask, trying not to choke on snot and shock and the weird mucus that collects when you're on your back and pregnant. Until the second they brought him over to me and let me kiss his goopy, red face, I was convinced that setting up a crib, and buying a rug for his nursery and occasionally imagining he would be okay would all have cursed him, and that I would never, ever be lucky enough to get a real live healthy baby.
No matter how many tests told me otherwise and how often I saw his heartbeat, even moments before they removed him and I could hear his heart thudding steady and strong on the fetal heart monitor, I was sure this was all a big mistake and that something would be wrong and everyone had missed it.
All that being said - and I promise to say more once I'm back in business - this C-Section was gnarly. I know some people find them easy, I am not one of those people.
The recovery was and is more difficult than I imagined, the surgery was terrifying and maybe this is just me, but I think I even caught a 24-hour bout of PTSD.
And I'm glad no one really gave me the nuts and bolts of the C, because it would have freaked my shit out. So I feel funny saying too much if anyone has one of these on the horizon, because you will be fine. Again, more to come, but I'm just so grateful to those of you who have followed this blog and sent your well wishes that I wanted to let you know that baby, mom and dad are doing great. Dad has changed every diaper and burped every burp because though I'm up to breast feeding the little guy, I can't do much else with breaking doctor's orders to avoid BLT: bending, lifting and twisting.
Sometimes it's kind of nice to find yourself living a cliche, deliriously happy and deliriously tired mom. That's me. Mom. I'm someone's mom. He is my son.
For someone who wasn't baby crazy, who didn't really get babies at all, I do all the disgusting things like smell his head and take pictures of him incessantly and become convinced that I'm not biased at all, but that my baby actually is extra adorable with fantastic hair.
It's my first day out of the hospital and like I said, I'm feeling pretty wrecked. Haven't even had a chance to check out my new slice but I have run my fingers over it and I will tell you, they need a little extra room to remove the frank breech types. Seems about five inches or so. I'm okay with it, I just don't want to look. And I still appear almost as pregnant as when I went in there. And my legs are swollen. On and on. Hard to wrap up this post which as far as prose goes is kind of a disaster. Time for a feeding, and yes, time for the boy to exploit me, as I have been doing him for the last six months.
Again, thanks for all of your kind words and well wishes and more than that, all of your very specific advice and recollections from everything to car seats to nipple pads to latching to morning sickness.
I read every single thing you wrote, and I often took your counsel and many times I dragged my husband over to read what you posted, because I was touched or consoled, because your experience was just like mine, and that made me feel less lonely. And I know that the sensations I'm having now, the baby "high" and the rubbing his velvety arms and the crying cause I can't poop or sleep and the sad sack thoughts when I catch my bloated reflection and the surreal smacking myself over being his mom, and him not being in my stomach anymore, but instead sitting there in his bouncy seat, I know this has all been said and done and felt. Maybe by you. Instead of that taking away from its value, today, somehow it seems to add to it. Instead of scoffing at the human experience, I'm just giving in.
There aren't that many main courses on the menu in this life, when it comes to the big experiences.
So, despite wanting to be terminally unique, at some point you order the chicken or the steak. Maybe the surf and turf. Because there are only so many dinners available at the cosmic table. The real comfort, and the big bombshell, isn't how I felt too good to have what the rest of you were having, but not good enough. And here I am with my baby, like a billion and a half mothers before me, and we all want to hear that our children are chunky monkeys, and that we are not, and that's where I find magic where I least expected it, right in the hackiness. There aren't many offerings for dessert, either, and that's the sweetest part, that we're all telling the same stories and scooping our cold spoon into one infinite pint.
On the way to Vegas, things start to go wrong, as they so often do, at the Mad Greek.
Within a couple of hours, I will be trying to locate the nearest hospital, but now I’m just waiting for the beefy, sunburned guy in front of me to stop yelling at the clerk about his $3, and how it was her mistake, and how he’s going to file a claim with the state. Behind me, a man eats sullenly at a booth with his well-behaved toddler, who silently chews one fry after another.
The place smells of coconut sunscreen, with base notes of diesel and feta.
Soon, I will make my husband promise I won’t end up at Summerlin Hospital, 20 minutes or so from the Strip. My mom – whom I haven’t talked to in a year – lives in Vegas, so I know it’s nearby. I have no idea if what is happening to me is serious, all I know is that I don’t want to end up at Summerlin, because you go there to die, or at least my stepfather did. When he passed (as Hemingway would say “gradually and then suddenly”), his death certificate described him as “white” and his cause of death as leukemia.
Only he was black. And died of congenital heart failure.
Probably an honest mistake, but doesn’t point to great attention to detail. That place reminds me of sloppiness and slipping away, and while I have a long history of being lukewarm on my own existence, the pull to keep this baby safe is tethering me to this world like nothing else has.
Baker, CA is right off the I-15. I’ve broken down here many times. In the past, it was just my car overheating, or my psyche decompressing from a weekend with my mom, and her wall of bird-themed paintings, and her obsessive studying of restaurant menus, and her autistic tuning out. This time, however, it’s my body. I’m 29 weeks pregnant, it’s 110 degrees, I have no business being at the Mad Greek no matter how much I love their greasy pita bread and fresh strawberry shakes, no matter how much I think the me that will show up in Vegas for a last hoorah won’t look like she’s in her sixth trimester, or have trouble breathing, or be sure she’s washed up in show business or be concerned her baby won’t be healthy or his life won’t be perfect.
The third trimester is no time to head into a desert, no less toward Vegas, a city filled with smoke-choked casinos, frat guys who shove you insouciantly on elevators, free booze you can’t drink, mile-long walks to everything, crypto-hookers whose frosted hair and legginess is an attack on your swollen feet and Target maternity maxi dress.
I begged my husband to take me to Vegas, because I was doing what they call in recovery programs “pulling a geographic.” As in, If I just leave Colorado, I won’t wake up in my own vomit anymore because I’m not an alcoholic, I just need to move to Boston. Instead of just going on a normal “babymoon” to say, temperate San Diego, I decide that in Vegas, I’ll be the old me. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you, which is one of the annoyingly true bumper stickers they tell addicts. The same is true of pregnancy, and the crappy mood that has come with it for the last couple of weeks, and the not working and the visions of myself rocking a baby with spit-up on my shoulder staring blankly at a freshly painted yellow wall and asking myself, “Is this how I’m supposed to feel?”
In Vegas, or even en route, I am still big and uncomfortable and scared with a tinge of pre postpartum. Only on I-15, I don’t drink any water because I’m nervous about having to pee.
At the Mad Greek, I order an omelet. When the cashier asks me what kind of toast I want, I hesitate, ask what they have. I mumble “French,” and look backward at my husband as if to ask, “Do I really want French bread toast? Will that taste good to me? Would I prefer wheat? Who am I?”
He snaps. “Yes. French. Good.” Only I would know he’s snapping, because he’s a subtle snapper. My husband has a very long fuse and almost never loses his temper, but when you’re seven months pregnant, you can’t sustain even a small snap.
I slide into a booth as he orders, sip on my fountain drink, eye the kid eating his fries. Feel a kinship with the little dude in his denim overalls, because we both seem lost and like we need our mommies.
My husband returns with our food which we both just stare at until I tell him I didn’t like him snapping at me, and he apologizes, and admits he has spent the last two hours regarding the temperature gauge, worried he was going to break down on the side of the road with his pregnant wife. He’s been worried about lots of things, he admits, being a good enough provider for us, having enough room, having to move back to Koreatown so we can have a nursery, making sure the air conditioning is working and the windows are sealed. I tell him I don’t need much, and that he’s going to be a great dad. I start crying, wiping my eyes with scratchy Mad Greek napkins. He doesn’t touch his food, and his hands are shaking a little bit, which only happens when he’s really upset.
My nose starts to bleed, just a trickle. My stomach starts to cramp, and I figure this must be one of those Braxton-Hicks contractions I’ve heard about. I wipe my bloody nose, wipe my eyes, don’t mention the cramps because I’ve just finished assuring my husband there is nothing to worry about, that we won’t break down in the desert, that we’ll get the windows fixed, that I know he’ll provide us with all we need, that he married a girl who cries and bends but doesn’t really break.
The French bread is toasted on the outside and soft inside, so I eat the entire giant roll. We hit the road.
“This trip is going to be great from now on. I was just worried about getting you there. Now, I’m psyched,” he says chirpily, but most of his food is crusting over on the plate he tosses into the Mad Greek trash.
The cramps abate until we exit the 15 in Vegas. Only now, they are about ten times worse than extreme menstrual cramps. I have to take off my seatbelt. I check the clock, and it’s been 20 minutes or more. I quietly Google “Braxton Hicks” on my iPhone so as not to panic my husband, and from what I can tell, those last a short time, and this isn’t letting up. About a half an hour goes by, which is when I decide to tell my husband just in case I’m having preterm labor.
I’m doubling over now. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to walk through the lobby of the hotel without some help, but I can’t panic the Mr. because this whole stupid Vegas thing was all my idea and it was obviously completely idiotic.
Somehow, we make it to our room at the Palms, call our doctor, who says I’m dehydrated. Drink water, he says, rest, and if things don’t improve in two hours, call.
My husband pours me a bath and I drink four bottles of Smart Water. In two hours, I’m fine. I glance out the window at the Palms pool, where it’s “Ditch Friday,” a packed party the locals call “sweaty ball soup.” Part of me feels like I’m watching children trick or treat from behind a curtain, nursing a case of mono, but most of me feels I’m exactly where I should be, cool and safe, away from the blaring Kanye and the pool-friendly canisters of Miller.
Sometimes I make bad decisions, I drive right into oppressive heat and smoke.
Often, I wonder what’s on the other side of this pregnancy, whether being a parent will be a blissful shuffling of priorities or just something else that’s supposed to come naturally to me, but doesn’t. I’m tired of grubbing for gold stars to justify being alive, and I wonder if caring for another human being and loving him as well as I can will be gold star enough.
Sitting naked at the desk in the room, cramp free, my husband rubbing my shoulders, I think I’m almost ready to qualify as a mom, because I’ve never felt so protective and so relieved. As long as Buster is okay, I don’t care about being a has-been (that barely was), or having kind of a double chin now, or wearing outfits Kate Gosselin would suggest are too “middle America” or gaining 45 pounds. I don’t care that I’m not at the party pool; I don’t dance, I’ve always hated crowds and I burn. I don’t want to be down there, or back home, or in my old body, or anywhere else. My husband demands I drink another bottle of water, and I imagine him with Buster in a Baby Bjorn, holding my hand, and I don’t know how I ever got out of the desert intact.
I only know as sure as I can take a wrong turn, I can right myself, usually by just sitting still.
Being pregnant for the first time I’m scared and I want my mommy. I just don’t want my mommy.
My mom hates babies and kids, always has. She didn’t put her cigarette out on my arm or throw me in a pit of snakes, but having kids just wasn’t her diaper bag, and it showed.
I’m not here to trash my mother, only to worry that I’ll become her.
While most people say having children gives them new compassion for their parents, I’m not having that experience so far. Instead, I’m filled with a renewed, fuming and bottomless disquietude about the mom hand I was dealt, which consisted of one truly evil, now fortunately dead stepmother, and a wildly superior though still problematic biological mom, who raised me with a combination of ambivalence and benign neglect.
For her part, it was nothing personal against me, she just found all babies to be life-snatching bummers.
The syllogism was as impossible to ignore as a tot shrieking in a high chair, spitting noodles: Mom hates children. I am a child. Therefore, mom hates me. I must also be an irritating burden. In fact, I grew up thinking that everyone hates babies. It was all I knew.
Don’t get me wrong. My mom is a fun person, and people genuinely like her. If Auntie Mame were less chirpy, more medicated, and prone to dating angry, homeless Berkeley poets or leaving her kids for a month to chop trees in Vermont, that would be my mom. Part Mame, part maimed, all out of her element when it came to lullabies and hugs.
To this day, if a baby cries in a restaurant with my mom around, we all have to bail immediately, but not before she shoots the family several piercing, withering looks. Long looks. She doesn’t look away until she has properly shamed the parents for ruining her meal and her day. Even when she hears a baby laugh, she fixes her face in an expression to communicate to the world that she is being put upon, that the sounds coming from your child are no less than a knife in her brain.
I am not her, or she, or however you say it. I know it, but there are tinges of her infirmity, her intolerance, times I notice my head involuntarily snapping toward a wailing baby in a restaurant, a vestige of that sticky notion that babies are serenity-piercing killjoys.
I’m terrified that just as I have her broad shoulders and freckled skin, I may inherit her lackluster mothering skills. How can I be sure I won’t resent my baby? My therapist assures me I won’t, that true maternal detachment of my mother’s sort is very rare, that even though my baby is only half-cooked, I’m already bonded to the kid, and that seems true. Still, when I think about how much the whole experience sucked for my mom, I worry.
My mother’s exasperation with me started even before I was born.
She bought “It’s a Boy” cards when she was pregnant, just trying to sway the gender gods. Her desire for a second boy was based on this chestnut, “A boy would be your father’s problem.” This card story isn’t one she tried to hide. In fact, it was in heavy rotation on the “mom’s hilarious anecdote Top 40,” staying there for an unprecedented 20 years.
Mom’s particular bouquet of crazy sometimes has top notes of mean with a strong insensitivity finish.
“If you look at pictures, your mom holds you like a sack of potatoes, like she didn’t connect, I think she must have had that postpartum thing,” says my dad, trying to explain some of this, trying to defend her even though they have been divorced since I was three. He argues that it wasn’t her fault; she just wasn’t cut out for motherhood. In one old snapshot taken in a park somewhere, she holds me as I hold my stuffed bunny. My older brother is down at her feet, and she is looking away, yellow headband in her black hair, squinting. If there was a caption it might read, “How can I get out of this?”
When I was a baby, she got a job as a Los Angeles County school bus driver so she could afford to pay a nanny named Inez to baby-sit me for the first couple years of my life. Let that sink in for a sec: my mother, a college graduate with an above-genius IQ, preferred spending her days driving a Diesel school bus through the smog-choked San Fernando Valley to staying home with her kids, me and brother, who is a year and a half older.
When I was three, she decided she needed a break from the whole married-with-kids endeavor and left the family for six months to take a job in Chicago. By the time she got back, she was starting to get that “you’re not such a good mom” look from people, including the judge, who awarded custody of my brother and me to my dad.
My new stepmother suggested I would be better off with my mom and that’s how I ended up with her, most of the time anyway.
Once a month, starting at age four, she put me on a plane alone to see my dad. That isn’t even legal anymore; kids that young can’t fly unaccompanied. Summers and holidays, she put me on a Greyhound Bus to stay with my grandparents in Santa Barbara. Those were ten-hour bus rides, just one little girl reading Mad Magazine eating Twizzlers with an assortment of vagrants, fugitives and visitors to the California Men’s Colony. When I confronted my mom about it, she asked, “What was I supposed to do? Drive you myself all those times?” Um … yes?
Still, she is not and was not a bad person. In the end, she was simply lazy, not malicious. Here’s where I struggle to say something positive so I don’t come across like a horrible, slandering, ungrateful daughter just for telling the truth; the more self-reliant we became, the more tolerant she was, and I can say she did have some sparkling mom moments, reading us Steinbeck by flashlight when she took us to Yosemite, taking us to great grown up movies and revivals. She also encouraged me to write, something she probably regrets right about now. It was really just the baby thing.
I have been told I am at “high risk” for postpartum depression. My husband will have to look for “signs” and be prepared to toss some Prozac down my gullet if I get all withdrawn and affectless. If this happens, I’m assured that it will pass quickly. Before going ahead with the baby making, I talked about it for months with my therapist, who once offered me a million dollars if I have a baby and don’t love it. She’s positive I’m going to be fine, but she wants me to be prepared.
The plan is to get some help for the first few weeks so I don’t get too sleep-deprived. The rest is just faith. Yesterday, I was working on this column at a coffee shop when a baby started crying into his baggie of Cheerio’s. It’s not a beautiful sound to me, but I forced myself to question whether it’s the worst, or whether an even more festering sound is my mother’s voice in my head.
(This piece appears in the current edition of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.)
If you’re thinking about conceiving, or certainly if you are already pregnant, there is some pretty convincing evidence that instead of just swallowing, say, folic acid, you might want to swallow something else.
Let me be delicate about this, if I can.
As far as I can tell, not only should you be having lots of oral sex with the father of your baby – even up to a year before conceiving – you should also make sure to ingest his seminal fluid. Listen to what I’m telling you: the international medical community is giving you an Rx for oral. Sure, they say frequent intercourse is good, too, but oral is better. So, if you care about having a healthy baby and not potentially unleashing what scientists call a “destructive attack on the foreign tissues” of your fetus, if you want to avoid immunological disorders during pregnancy, and I’m sure you do, get to work. Or to pleasure, depends how you feel about it.
Basically, the research says you need to be able to tolerate your baby’s foreign, paternal DNA, need to get your body accustomed to the stuff, need to cozy up to some daddy double helix for awhile so your body doesn’t reject it.
I’m no doctor, just a pregnant lady with Google, so maybe I’m horribly confused, but here is what I found excerpted online, from the Journal of Reproductive Immunology.
“While any exposure to a partner's semen during sexual activity appears to decrease a woman's chances for the various immunological disorders that can occur during pregnancy, immunological tolerance could be most quickly established through oral introduction and gastrointestinal absorption of semen.”
I could not make this up. Gastrointestinal absorption of semen. I know. For the man in your life, this news should not be hard to swallow. Sorry.
According to a group of Dutch researchers, “exposure to semen provides protection against developing preeclampsia.” That’s from a paper with the catchy title, “Immune Maladaptation in the Etiology of Preeclampsia: a Review of Corroborative Epidemiologic Studies.” Or you could use the subtitle: “Semen is Your Friend.”
I just can’t figure out why the whole “blue balls” thing has gotten so much traction with men, but they haven’t gotten a hold of this medical morsel.
One of my favorite pregnancy hobbies is obsessively researching dangerous pregnancy related conditions. I know, I know, I could knit, but that would be relaxing, whereas this is more congruent with my other pastimes, which include worrying about the future and raking over the past. That’s how I happened to look up preeclampsia, specifically because I interviewed actress Jane Seymour and she said she got it during one of her pregnancies, and I figured I needed a new worry charm for my shiny bracelet of maternal concerns.
First, I found this description on the Mayo Clinic’s website:
“Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy.”
This merited a trip to Wikipedia, where I found all sorts of links to academic papers on the subject and buried therein, the dryly worded but unmistakable information about oral.
After I did some digesting about ingesting, I had to stand up from my desk chair and say to no one in particular, “Really?” If I’ve heard about a new mother eating her own placenta in a panini, if I’ve scoured sights like this for every possible detail about pregnancy, how have I missed this gem? Some of the studies I read weren’t all that new, but you’d think they would have made a bigger and more long-lasting splash.
Maybe penises need a new publicist.
Now, to be fair, the Dutch researchers do warn that with a new partner, condoms should be used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, “However, a certain period of sperm exposure within a stable relation, when pregnancy is aimed for, is associated with a partial protection against preeclampsia,” they insist.
As far as I can tell, there seem to be myriad causes of preeclampsia and similar conditions, and it’s too complicated a medical issue for anyone, least of all me, to fully understand. Still, while some of these hypotheses have been challenged, they don’t seem to have been debunked. So to conclude, I will fall back on the medical opinion I always have about things that are either Suzanne Somers-y or reeking of placebo-ness, but obviously benign: It can’t hurt, right? At the very least, your baby will have a happy, relaxed father and parents who are intimate.
And suddenly, you wonder if the phrase “going Dutch” might acquire new meaning.
* In case you're interested, an actual doctor responds to this on MomLogic.com.
If I'm going to exploit my baby, why not start now, by exploiting my pregnancy-related emotional problems?
In this video, my husband tapes me freaking out during my first trimester. Someone told us to keep a video diary. Self absorption meets hormone surge and they get along great!
The Mr. is just a regular guy who works for a computer company, which is why he adorably, but unknowingly, shoots right into a mirror. Still, he does a decent job tamping down the tears. I'd like to say we're kind of Sonny and Cher, but more like Sonny and Overshare.
I know from that stupidly catchy viral “Pregnant Women are Smug” song that pregnant women don’t usually share the names they’ve chosen for their babies.
That may be a smug choice, sure, but I think I get it now. You let the name cat out of the bag, and everyone judges the cat, they swing the cat around by the tail, they project their own issues onto the cat and now you want to put the whole incident in your emotional litter box and bury it so you can still like the cat as much as you used to.
And of course there is the danger of getting name napped. My friends just had a baby boy and named it Laszlo, and I am madly in love with that name. It’s Hungarian, as am I. Victor Laszlo is a character in the movie “Casablanca,” and my surname is also featured in that film. Who doesn’t remember the line, “Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects?” Okay, that Strasser dude was a Nazi, but I still enjoy the classic movie name tie-in, and when you’re looking for magical name signs, anything seems to scream, “This is the one.”
Still, you don’t nap a name.
So we had to let Laszlo go, like Bogey did. And now I have four more months to come up with something.
The first dozen people we told we were thinking of the name “James” were dazzled. “It’s classy and simple,” they said, “It’s not like one of these new fangled Jayden, Aiden, Caden names,” they added. So James shot to the top of the list, but if you tell enough people, someone is going to hate on your name, which is what happened when a former colleague told me that anyone named James would become Jim, and there was nothing I could do about it. Jim. Jims are nice people, they coach girls’ soccer without inappropriately touching anyone, they do your taxes without massaging the numbers too much, they walk your dog when you have to leave town suddenly. I like Jims. I just don’t want one.
The “Jim hater” loved our only other name option so far: Shane.
After we got pregnant, we happened to go to the cell phone store and the guy who helped us had a shiny blue nametag with that moniker. And it seemed right with my husband’s crazy long, consonant rich Polish name. Shane would ride into kindergarten like a Polish cowboy. And all Shanes are hot. But so are Gabes. And Nates. And most Erics.
Once you rule out any names of ex-boyfriends, or names you would be napping from your immediate circle, or names recently used by celebrity moms or names you associate with high school bullies or former evil bosses, the well runs a bit dry. Trust me, when it comes to girl names, the well of adorably androgynous designations bubbles over, but this boy thing is tough.
I’ve been thinking that most parents have a few names in the running before choosing the one. What happens to those perfectly good runner-up names? Can I have them? If you loved your second choice but didn’t use it and feel it shouldn’t go to waste, or if you thought of it only after you screwed your kid with an average name, help a mom-to-be out with a name-me-down you no longer need.
Sometimes, other pregnant women work my nerves.
Mainly, I love them. I am collecting pregnant women right now because together we share what some might call “acquired situational narcissism,” but what I prefer to think of as “it’s all about us!” Who else would even bother pretending to give a crap about sonograms, nuchal fold measurements and leg cramps?
So, I really hate to turn on my own kind, but some of them have made my list of people I want to punch.
It seems kind of petty, I know, but I just want to punch pregnant ladies who get all bent out of shape when people rub their stomachs. Get. Over. Yourselves. It’s not like strangers are walking up to you for an ambush fisting. That would be rude, and unsanitary. No, they are just grazing your shirt.
And generally, it is not some belly molesting evil-doer trying to attack you, but rather a well-meaning and curious person experiencing the magnetic pull of your irresistible, giant bump. If you don’t see why that mesmerizes people, you just don’t understand the miracle of childbirth. Have you not seen TLC lately? C’mon. A baby grows in your stomach and comes out of your vagina and then goes to nursery school and becomes a full-fledged human being. If you think about it as if for the first time, and I don’t suggest you do this high, it’s mind blowing.
I get it. You don’t think people should invade your body bubble just because you’re pregnant. Yes, your body is still your own, absolutely. I just don’t quite grasp the near religious fervor that seems to screech, “Don’t touch me, because I’m so special that if your grubby hand goes anywhere near my Jesus child, I’m going to get regular people cooties!”
Do you really need the righteously indignant and borderline sanctimonious “Hands Off My Bump” maternity t-shirts and others like it available online and also in hell, where ironic maternity t-shirts are very popular? Talk about literally wearing your aggression and smugness on your sleeve.
If you want to hear a chorus of pregnant women shout “Hallelujah,” just start going off about strangers or even relatives touching your stomach, which is why I really wish I could relate or at least fake agree; I’d love that chorus behind me and I think it’s patently obvious I need validation like my fetus needs fucking Folic Acid. I just can’t.
I understand the pregnancy anger and discomfort and hormonal moods – I’m sitting here chugging Mylanta out of the bottle as I type this – but it’s really not the worst thing that’s ever happened. My specialty is whining about high quality problems, and this annoys even me. So kindly endure the four seconds of bad touch on your stomach or I’ll secretly fantasize about coming after your face.
Even someone like me who isn’t particularly good with babies, who looks at them and says things like “Hey, buddy. Look at your little face,” before resorting to peek-a-boo and than running of out material, even I try to err on the side of caution when it comes to most chemicals. After years of wondering if I was cut out to be a mother, I’m relieved that the instinct to protect this baby is so strong, or at least the image of me smoking a Camel while sipping a Jameson’s as hair dye sets in and self-tanner absorbs is so shameful, that I figure all of my favorite chemicals can wait.
And I really love chemicals. I had no idea how much I took them for granted until now. I miss you, toxins.
Being pregnant has made me feel toward booze and Xanax and Retin-A the way Emily from “Our Town” felt about food, new ironed dresses, hot baths and milk delivered to your door. She didn’t appreciate the simple things in life until she returned as a ghost to Grover’s Corners, lived one day as her 12 year old self, and asked the question all pre-teen girls agonize over while performing Emily’s big monologue at theatre camp: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it?”
What I mean is that I never appreciated safe and guilt-free drug use until it was gone. Did I just compare not using Klonopin to dying? Is that overblown? Someone get me to Samuel French because I’m feeling dramatic.
I knew nicotine was bad. I quit smoking my two after-dinner puffy treats at 10 weeks or so. Though I was never John Wayne with the smokes, we went way back together, and I always thought letting go of one or two cigarettes would be easy.
Right now, I don’t want to smoke just a couple.
I want to sit in bed and chain-smoke high on half a Vicodin and watch a couple of documentaries from Netflix like I used to do on a Friday night when the mood struck. If smoking calms nerves, I’ve never been more nervous than I am about this baby, how he’s doing in there, how he is going to get out, when I’m going to ascertain the meaning of the word “layette” or make myself care about the best brand of disposable nipple pads. However, it’s comforting to know my first maternal instincts outweigh nicotine addiction and habit and several bassinets full of anxiety.
Chemicals, I can’t wait to return to you. Until then, here is a list of the top ten chemicals I miss:
Vicodin - Narcotics are bad. Except for the fact they produce a little something called euphoria. Listen, this drug is a highly addictive opioid that should be used only to manage severe pain. However, my definition of "pain" is a loose one.
Nicotine – C’mon. Smoking sucks. I get it. But how else are you supposed to know when dinner is over?
Booze – Nursing is going to mean something totally different, I know, but it used to be what I did to my glass of whiskey or single malt Scotch. What rounds out the edges now? Anyone who suggests a hot bath or meditating or chamomile tea is going to get punched in the face.
Retin-A – Who knows if this crap works, but they say it staves off breakouts and wrinkles and I have both right now as my prescription tube sits in the drawer, expiring.
Hair Color – I know, some say it’s okay to use, others say just get highlights, but let’s face it, who wants to sit in the salon all pregnant while women judge you for caring more about your roots than your spawn?
Klonopin – Relaxes muscles, reduces anxiety, helps you sleep, features a nice long half-life so you wake up fresh as a daisy and worry free. My favorite drug seemed so harmless until I read that when taken during pregnancy it may cause “floppy infant syndrome.” I don’t know what that is, and I don’t want to know.
Mystic Tan – Again, lots of pregnant girls do it and it’s probably fine. If you search long enough, you’ll find some Dr. Buzzkill to dissuade you from most delicious chemicals, as does OB/GYN Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz who says, “I tell my patients to avoid chemical tanning at the very least in the first trimester, when the majority of fetal organ formation occurs.” Ha, lady! I’m second trimester. Not so fast, she also adds that brain development continues throughout pregnancy and the skin is the largest organ in the body. Fine.
If there is a better way to gloss over the physical unpleasantries of being both pregnant and just generally over 30, I haven’t found it. DHA, IOU. And I miss you.
Advil – I never used this much, but now that I can’t I realize it was nice to have the option.
Artificial sweeteners – Equal, Splenda, Nutrasweet, saccharine, I don’t know what’s in you or which of you is better, but you all taste so chemical-y now. Half a Splenda in my decaf is my sweetener threshold before the guilt sets in, and that’s not like the three packs I used to enjoy in my cereal just for the fuck of it.
Caffeine – I have a decaf now and again, but some scary article I read when I was trying to get pregnant linked excessive coffee drinking with an increased rate of miscarriage. As losing the baby is the most non-stop, obsessive worry I’ve ever had, it seems like every caffeinated beverage is just a Miscarriage-a-ccino.
Almost every idiotic thing I do can be traced back to one basic flaw: trying too hard. This explains how I ended up calling Nancy O’Dell a “stupid c-word.”
That’s right. I called America’s sweetheart a “c-word” on the Adam Carolla Podcast and I may have done it more than once, although it’s all a bit of a blur now, except oniTunes, where it screeches out at you with perfect clarity.
A few years ago, my evil stepmother died. Almost every single day, it dawns on me that she is still dead, and I find that delightful.
If one more mom tells me, “Go to the movies now, because after you have the baby, you’ll never get to go to the movies again,” or “Go on a trip now, because once you have the baby, you’ll never leave town again,” or “Have a date night now, because you will never see your husband again,” I am going to punch her right in her tired, defeated face.
Hey, how about you shut your rude, projecting, bitter soup coolers and let me be? [...]