Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's real is real

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."                  Kahlil Gibran

Yesterday I was reading Rebecca's post "The Almost Divorce" over on Girls Gone Child. Her blog is one of the few I found during my frenzied Internet search for other unmarried women who found themselves pregnant.  I've taken a lot of comfort from her story, especially her love story. She got pregnant with a man she'd been dating for only four months, and they decided to elope to Vegas and make it work. The key word here being "work." Because apparently the first two years were so rough that they were on the brink of splitting up most of the time.

In my case, David and I were together for a year and living together for four months when we got pregnant. We were also older, and in a more stable financial position. So this should have made it easier on us I suppose. But in reality this pregnancy has been unbelievably hard on our relationship. I have never been more in love with anyone than I was with David before I got pregnant. But somewhere between going off a strong antidepressant, living with radical hormonal changes, and surviving months of uncertainty through a particularly cold and depressing winter, I lost a lot of that feeling I once had. We have had fights so frightening in intensity that they make me feel like I want out. Glaring and seemingly irreconcilable differences between us have appeared from nowhere. We disagree constantly, we bicker endlessly. In fact I've never been in a relationship that has felt this difficult.

So when I hear about Rebecca and her husband now, how they weathered a storm every bit as powerful as the one we're going through, came out the other side, and love each other all the more for it, I feel quite a bit of hope that there is something salvageable here. Because when I'm not concentrating on the negative things about David--a horrible habit I've developed--I can see the wonderful things about him and something vague makes its way into my heart, something like the memory of love that promises to return. I sound awfully melodramatic here, but then melodrama has been part of the problem since I peed on that damn stick. Anyway, the point is, some people are lucky right away. Love comes easily to them, their partnerships are relaxed and tender and easygoing, they wax poetic about how much they love their significant others on blogs much more uplifting than mine. But it's not like that for all of us. Some of us have to fight for it, circle and spit and growl and conquer each other--and ourselves--all at the same time. This is my love story. It's not perfect, but it's mine, and hopefully the fight will lead to love far greater than anything I might have had that came free of struggle.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

All dilated up and nowhere to go

So now I'm four centimeters dilated and eighty percent effaced. That seems like quite a lot to me--should mean he could come anytime now, you'd think. But apparently some women walk around with their cervix wide open for weeks with no results. I fear I may be one of those women. It's gotten to the point where it is difficult to talk about anything else. Try as I may to steer any conversations away from my enormous belly and its contents, people just can't seem to stop staring and asking questions. It's like a train wreck. They can't tear their eyes away. It's just so vulgar, this belly! So blatantly ripe! So impossible to ignore! Ah, pregnancy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I am 32 years old today

I was looking over some of my older posts, and found one from  my 27th birthday back in 2004. I was living in Israel, a poor student with a great set of friends from all over the world and most likely a nominal drinking problem. I was still a born-again Christian. I was still dating dear Jef. I was the same and I was entirely different. In the five years since, I have survived two failed relationships and entered The Relationship, left behind the religion of my childhood and converted to Judaism, lived in New York with another set of wonderful friends from all over the world and a slightly worse-than-nominal drinking problem, lost a job and fled to South America, nurtured The Relationship long distance before finally moving to Scotland, got pregnant unexpectedly, and moved back to my hometown with my love and his child inside of me. All in all I'd say it's been an eventful few years. How did my life bring me here? And where will I be in five years time?

I have always wanted to be a mother, and at 32, surprise or no surprise, I've actually had quite a late start. I wanted to live my life first, do daring and extraordinary things, take risks and make bold and irreversible choices. I wanted to have a life defined by intimacy and adventure, and void of shame and regret. And I feel like I've done a good job so far of living that way. But the problem is I am not done. I want to continue living that way. And as I turn another year older and get closer and closer to being a mother, there's always that fear, a little niggling anxiety, that I won't be able to. Because my old lifestyle, in a way, required a dogged and innate selfishness to achieve. Not in an "I'm more important than you" way, but in an "I'm not going to compromise because people think I should" way. But now it's not just me. Suddenly it's me, and it's David, and it's a little boy, and they matter more than I do, and compromise is inevitable, loving, and necessary. It's natural, and it's a whole new adventure, but it's still scary. It's my birthday and I'm just not ready to give up myself yet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Still no sign

I don't think he has any intention of coming out early. He seems quite comfortable to stay inside me forever. Even though at my last checkup I was 1 or 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced. Even though his head has dropped low and now rests, lovingly, in my pelvis, so that it feels like I'm walking around with a grapefruit between my legs. In spite of these signs, the rest of his little body is clinging tenaciously to my ribs (I think he's wrapped his legs around them) in an effort to Stay. Exactly. Where. He. Is. To be fair, it's a lot to ask for a first baby to come early. But I just want what's left of my body back.

Not that we're actually ready for him. The changing table is in a million pieces on the nursery floor. The crib is on back order until May. The name situation remains unresolved. Margot and Shannon are pushing for Henry, David's choice, and while I admit it grows on me, I stil have my feet firmly planted in a different camp. (A SECRET camp! Sorry). A mother knows her child! I know what he wants to be named! But anyway, there's that. Plus we haven't organized the diapers (apparently this is an important task), ordered a breast pump, or finished packing the damn bag. Most importantly, we haven't found a mohel. 

Ah, the mohel. For those of you who don't know, this is the guy who snips the Jewish baby boys on the eighth day. It has to be on the eighth day, so planning is critical. But there's a little glitch in my planning. You see, I never picked up my conversion papers from my Rabbi in New York. Don't ask me why, I just was always afraid to, as if in obtaining them I would have to go through another session with the beit din, asking about my commitment to Judaism. This means I have no proof of my Jewishness to give to a Mohel, who normally simply asks for your parents' Jewish names. Which mine obviously don't have. So I called my Rabbi (I was shaking) to ask for them. He was terribly surprised that I didn't have them, but agreed to look for them without so much as an "Are you still keeping kosher?" This is good, as I didn't want to mention the fact that I am having a baby out of wedlock with a man who is only half Jewish (the wrong half).

Unfortunately, my papers appear to be lost. To remedy this I had to call the other Rabbis on my beit din, the original signers of the Declaration of Rebecca's Jewishness, and get them all to sign it again. They agreed to, but getting three Rabbis together is, oy vey, quite a struggle. It took me two months to organize my mikveh! So now I am waiting for my papers to be faxed, at which time I can go for an orthodox mohel. If I don't get them in time, I'll have to go reform. Not that I have anything against reform, but when you're a convert you want your life events to be as kosher as possible lest anyone question you (or in this case, my son). More on this "who is a Jew" stuff later. For now, suffice it to say that this is a pretty big stress on me, and pretty much the only good thing about my son staying put for now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I am ready for this baby to come out now

So I have managed thus far to avoid stretch marks, but now, at almost 37 weeks, tiny little lines are starting to appear around my belly button. Which itself has admirably refused to pop out. However it appears to have done so with considerable effort, as the area around it is purple. Purple. The same color as my linea negra. Which, by the way, is crooked. A normal linea negra is straight as an arrow, a permanent but at least symmetrical reminder of childbearing. Mine is rebellious. Punk rock. It looks ridiculous. In fact, everything about the way I look is ridiculous. People constantly tell me, as they have told pregnant women from the beginning of time, how wonderful I look. I do not look wonderful. I fear I will never look wonderful again. Or maybe I will, but I will never be the same. This is nothing new. I am not the first to sit and moan about it. But it is new to me, and the fact that it is entirely out of my control, in spite of the gallons of tummy rub butter and truckloads of fish oil, is hard to deal with.

But of course I know it is worth it, he will be worth it. But perhaps he could be worth it in the next couple days? Before the stretch marks turn as purple as the war zone that once was my navel? Before my hips FALL OFF in the middle of the night? I swear they are hanging on by one small but very determined nerve. But the number one incentive for him making an early debut: My sisters are all in town. They came for my nephew's first birthday, and all has been chaos. So much so that I am actually not prepared at all for the baby coming early. But I'm not as against it as poor David, who turns white as a sheet at the though and starts insisting that he's not ready, that he hasn't even packed the hospital bag yet (he is FIXATED on this bag, as if it represents All That Is Fatherhood), that he hasn't read any of the books, that we don't have enough diapers. All of this is true, but I sincerely doubt it will be less true in three weeks. There is just too much to do, and he works too hard and I have too little energy or actual ability to move to get it done. I make endless lists in an effort to feel less overwhelmed, but every time I cross one thing off I add three more.

So having my sisters here, while it has been a huge distraction and I've basically accomplished nothing in Project house nor Project Baby since their arrival, is a good thing. Because if we don't manage to pack that bag? We can just call them and tell them to rustle things up and bring 'em to us. If we don't get that bedroom painted? We can hand them some rollers and leave them to it. If we don't have enough diapers? Why, they won't sleep until they've stocked us up. They are whirling dervishes entirely prepared to be at our beck and call IF ONLY THIS LITTLE PERSON WOULD COME OUT SO THEY COULD MEET HIM.  Before they fly home next week. So I am ready. More than ready. Nearly desperate.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Snow in April. Lovely.

After a few weeks of almost Spring, winter has of course come out with one last dying gasp. Outside there is what is hopefully the last blanket of snow I will see for a long time. I am ready for some sunshine.

I am also ready for this baby to be out. Pregnancy is a magical time, but it would be just as magical if it were, oh, one or two months shorter. More magical, I submit. Because there is so much I want to do, and I just can't. I am not, not have I ever been, comfortable with the word can't. I'm more than happy to throw the word won't around, but can't? As in, am unable? No, no, no. And right now I can't go more than a few hours without a serious rest. I can't make it through an entire night actually sleeping. I can't  fid the energy to clean my house, let alone paint and finish furnishing. I can't do everything. 

David is being wonderful, however, at picking up my slack. Over the weekend he surprised me with a trip to the spa for a manicure and pedicure, which felt so good on my swollen feet I almost fell in love with him again. He also routinely carries anything and everything that must be carried, does all the dishes, keeps the house clean, and forces me to lie down and take it easy--albeit a bit more angrily than tenderly--but I suppose I can be a bit stubborn.

Things are better between us. At least they're stable. It's a whole other post to explain the strange dynamics of this the most important and currently most infuriating relationship in my life. Best summed up right now by this little example: The other night we got in a huge fight over the baby's name. For a long time we were hovering around James Kerry for the baby, James for my grandfather and Kerry for David's dad, but even then we were just hovering and couldn't quite attach ourselves to it. Then we get the family phone-chain call that my cousin Marne had finally produced her week-late son... and his name, dear friends, was James Gary. JAMES GARY. Which pretty much cancels out our plans. At first I was pretty upset, but seeing as I was having doubts it may have just been the sign I was looking for. So after much soul searching, I thought I had landed on the perfect name. I shared it with David, who not only point-blank refused, but who laughed in my face. This made me (hormones, people) very angry, and resulted in a large screaming match that went something like this:

Me: You just hate it because I like it!

Him: No, I hate it because it's a stupid American name.

Me: You suggested it originally! You just forgot and now that it's MY idea, you think it's stupid! Because you hate everything I like!

Him: This is because you have horrible taste!

(Unintelligible screaming, declarations of "you poop on everything I love" and "we're so incompatible" and "how can we bring a child into this world", etc)

Me: I wish you weren't so terrible.

Him: I wish you weren't acting like such a cow.

Me: You're calling me a cow now?

Him: No, I said you're acting like a cow.

Suddenly I found myself struggling not to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Struggling, and failing, and then we were both laughing, and he was chasing me around the house saying "come here, I love you," and I was all "(snort) no, I'm still mad (hiccup), I hate you (guffaw)" and the like. Yeah. So that's pretty much us right now.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

One April Fool

It's now been nearly five months since I've written anything on this blog. For those of you who don't know, the dark days of October and November were due to the unexpected arrival of an embryo in my womb, lovingly placed there by my boyfriend the day I arrived back to Scotland. Those dark days turned into even darker days as we moved back to Cleveland--more specifically, moved in with my parents--and settled in for four months of terrible winter. We were pregnant, unemployed, living with my parents, and cold ALL THE TIME. It was very, very unpleasant and not much worth documenting. But we have made it through to Spring, and things are looking up. Coming back to this blog is, in  a way, like coming back to myself after a long and painful absence. Where have I been the past several months? What have I been doing? Surviving, I suppose. But that's just not enough to satisfy me anymore. I'm done with surviving. I'm ready to live again.

Here goes nothing.