Dreams

My dreams last night were of the wild kind. The first included a camp full of gauntlet like tests, only they were visual and mental rather than physical. One had a set of paper doors to break down that led to a room of babies sitting in carrying chairs, each behind their own curtain. Another had to do with a hair stylist and what one should do if one does not like the way the haircut and style is going in the middle of the session. There was also the address of a secret tap dancing party in the basement of an American Apparel that you were meant to remember long after the address had been given at a lecture with a distracting amount of extra shoes around the perimeter of the room.

To get to the camp we had to take a long bus ride. The bus itself was wider than a usual bus and had inside a number of wind chimes that kept the vibe mellow. There was a bus chaperone who liked the bus to be very quiet and who made us quiet down when we got too loud. My best friend was on the bus, chatting away, and my boyfriend was on the bus, listening to another person, a guy, chat away. When I talked, I felt ashamed about what I had to say. About my pregnant body and how it felt to be growing bigger and ever more public and at the same time smaller in the body and shape of myself that I once knew.

At some point in the night I woke up to pee and got tossed into another dream about male strippers and paid sex and a couch full of women waiting for their turn to claim their partner. I was very excited about the prospect and collected my own set of dress up clothes on hangers for the next guy who would be mind for $20 plus a tip. Another pregnant woman, an acquaintance who in real life had asked me about what it was like to get pregnant, showed me her belly as if to say she had taken our discussion to heart. Her little bump was showing and she went off with the first stripper who was Brad Pitt handsome. The next man arrived, all cut with abs and arms and I woke up before the action began.

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Wellness

I kept a food journal for a week and turned it in to my practitioner the Universal Family Wellness Clinic. When she returned the journal to me it was full of yellow highlighting. The two piece of toast plus and occasional daily sweet and a who-cares-just-fuck-it piece of pizza are now off limits. In their place I am to have a protein, a fat and a vegetable or fruit at every meal, and that’s three times a day, plus two snacks – both of which should be relatively carb free.

I failed my first glucose test, and while I passed the second, I had a hint that my diet was contributing to my feelings of, well, bloating, fatigue and acid reflux like symptoms. Only, when I talked to my OBs, and I’ve had a few, I’ve gotten the same response: That’s normal. But when I talked to the acupuncturist at the clinic yesterday she said the magic words: It’s common but not normal.

Of course, I thought. That’s what I’ve been looking for this whole time. Just because a lot of women experience discomfort doesn’t mean that we all should except to go without relief or that it’s any more a natural part of pregnancy as total flatten me out fatigue or mood swings that require two hour retreats away from anyone you know well enough to snap at. It’ll take some effort to change my diet at this point but I’m willing if it means that I get to experience even one bit of the promised prenatal glow.

Remind me to rant: There are two message that pregnant women get at the same time. The first is that you will experience every symptom under the sun, including hemorrhoids and the other is that you should be enjoying this time because it’s the last bit of you that you’re going to feel for a long while. Well, how are you supposed to feel anything like YOU when you’re throwing up cups of acid into the toilet and ending up on the floor in a puddle? 

Same goes for two naps a day, meaning there’s about two hours to accomplish anything for the first six months, until the pressure to get shit ready increases so rapidly that you have to remind yourself to breath, let alone eat every two hours, as necessary. It’s no wonder you end up scarfing down a turkey burger and fries on your way to yoga and then, well, skipping yoga since you have forgotten about the actual baby in your belly. 

And as for that fat chunky feeling in your cheeks every time you eat glutton? Your friend’s are right to say that it’s OK but YOU know that rounding out your stomach is not the same as rounding out your face and it’s OK to wonder whether this isn’t an extra sensitivity to some kind of food. So even if it did take you 25 weeks to get to those two out of three most important pregnancy items on your list [acupuncture, nutrition] you can pat yourself on the back for getting there at all.

Herstories

Every time I’m at the bookstore I feel drawn to women’s stories. There’s one shelf that holds fiction on one side and essays on the other and while I long to spend time on the fiction side I end up on the essay side. Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Sarah Manguso, Maggie Nelson, for example, draw me in every time and each time I open one of their books I feel blasted by the truth.

On the fiction side I’m more in awe than in shock. The way that Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff, contains perfect sentences page after page but very little information that is new to me. Even the details of the character, one who has a secret and salacious relationship that she kept from her husband for many years, fails to surprise me. All women have hidden lives, don’t they?

In The Argonaunts, Maggie Nelson talks about her and her partner’s feeling that fiction has failed them. But what have they read? Fiction might have the ability to transform sadness — not into something lighter or more revelatory  — but into something darker and even harder to imagine. This is the boundary I expect contemporary work to press, and yet fiction has gone soft.

Election

The Reluctant Healer is a book about one man’s journey toward his spiritual self. In it he discovers that his many identities travel in orb like circles around his main identity, the content of which can change at any time. Though he has a few different options: healer, father, performer, husband, and writer, the identity of writer was the one that was most central to his life at the moment he was writing the book. This made me think that being a mom doesn’t have to push out the other parts of me for good. In fact, the writer in me, the yogi in me, the person who likes to perform – all of these selves can be just waiting in the wings.

As a woman I feel like age is my prime identifier, which is why I don’t relate to Hilary or Bernie so terribly much. It’s one thing for Bernie to have been at a march in the 70’s and quite another for him to understand what it means to have dissenting ideas in today’s world. And Hilary does, as some people have indicated, seem to be out of touch. The missing piece in her recent campaign flub was the need to rely on established voices which the younger generation doesn’t do and politicians always do. Even Bernie does, since being a white male over 50 himself gives him all the credibility he needs.

It is so much better, if you are not a part of the establishment, to look for the parts of you that don’t fit and let them push against everything you thought was true about yourself to begin with. And really everyone should think of themselves as not established. It would be better for Hilary, it would be better for Bernie and it’s better for me and you. The ability to shift that inner most core from whatever self you assumed was true is the only real reason to keep living. If you know what’s inside already, than the journey is already complete.

Pizza

When I was online for the bathroom at *Casa Bianca Pizza Pie last night, the woman in front of me told me about how she had one child and wanted another, but, after five years, she and her husband called it quits. I think she was talking about their relationship. Then she said she wanted to have a second with her late husband. They tried and she had a number of miscarriages because she had fibroids. This was all while my friend was peeing inside the bathroom, so about five minutes, give or take a minute or two.

So space them every too years, she advised, if you’re young enough. Well, I’m no spring chicken, I said, as I walked out, my friend walking right behind me. Oh, she said as we left, you look young! Good, I said. My friend laughed. Sometimes I don’t know what to say, I said.

How could she have known that I do want two kids? How could she have known that I wonder if having another will be possible, even after only two more years? How could she have known that I had fibroids, although they seemed to have shrunk during these past six months and no longer show up in the sonogram? She couldn’t have, and yet there she was, waiting for me in the bathroom line, to show me one version of my future.

*Recommended for any woman with a craving for mozzarella sticks and a wedge salad with anchovies and ranch dressing.

Swimming

Yesterday I went to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center for a prenatal swim class. We used these floaty devices strapped onto our bellies to keep our heavy bodies buoyant. Instead of swimming we did the equivalent of running in water which meant that we used our cupped hands to move ourselves across the pool.

As soon as I entered the pool I felt great right away. The sun was shining and the pool was just the right temperature and it felt so good to be immediately relieved of all the weight of motherhood that I wasn’t exactly ready to feel. Some of that is in my body: the belly, the expanding hips, the thighs that now touch, and some of that is in my mind: the books I haven’t written, the ones I haven’t read, the lives I haven’t lived, all much heavier than the two pounds that is my newly growing girl.

We gabbed in the pool, the other first time moms and me, mostly about sweets. How many brownies should we eat per day, if any, and how on earth are we to drink the amount of water that we need to drink to stay hydrated? The chores of feeding ourselves somewhat relieved by a husband who made a salad or a boyfriend who looked the other way as another ice cream cone went down the shoot.