Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tails

Posted: August 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Babies, Birthdays, Husbandry, Kate's Friends, Miss Kate, Preg-o, Sisters, Summer, Travel | 4 Comments »

During my first pregnancy I was convinced I was having a boy. I was of “advanced maternal age” so I had tons of testing, prodding, and scanning. Through it all I never wanted the doctors to tell me the gender of the baby.

Because I knew anyway. I mean, I was having a boy.

If I weren’t so convinced on my own, my notion was confirmed by everyone whose paths I crossed. A coworker accosted me in the office bathroom investigating the color of the veins in my arms (green not blue). My drycleaner clucked over the shape of my belly. And my pulse kept no secrets from my massage therapist. They all agreed: boy, boy, boy.

When that baby finally finally emerged—9 days late, 4 1/2 hours of pushing and one C-section later (though who’s counting)—Mark took one look at it and said, “It’s a… girl?” As if he wasn’t quite sure he could believe it himself.

With Baby #2, same routine. I was at that point an even OLDER mother. I was tested ad nauseum (pun intended). And despite how handy folks insisted it would be for us to know whether we should  let go of or launder all of Kate’s girl clothes, we were steadfast in not knowing the kid’s gender ’til birth.

Besides, we KNEW it was a boy. (Ahem.)

Enter Paige Victoria.

Clearly our daughters were setting us up for a lifetime of pulling fast ones. Yes, the unpredictability of women is something I always reveled in personally, like some license to live impulsively and erratically. Until I became the mother of two girls.

A couple weeks ago while in the car—the setting for ALL awkward questions, right?—Kate said, “So Daddy said he wanted to have a boy.”

Oh, MARK. You and your honesty. Some day, when it’s much too late, I will teach that spouse of mine to lie to the children.

I nervously looked in the rear view mirror at Kate and said, “Well, no. Well… yes, Dad did. Well, I wanted— I mean, you know? When you’re having a baby all you really want is a healthy kiddo. We love having two girls. We couldn’t imagine it any other way.”

In fact, I was scared to death of the thought of a having a boy. Me, the youngest of four girls. What does one DO with boys? How does one play with boys? What do boys even wear? (The first thought that comes to mind is Toughskins, but I’m guessing they don’t even make those any more.)

For a while my oldest sister wiped her toddler-son’s boy parts with toilet paper. This, the innocent mistake of a woman who’d never encountered the task before. Then my brother-in-law passed by the bathroom one day and caught her in the act. He sighed, intercepted, closed the door, and showed my nephew the ropes, boy style.

Later, when my sis would grab T.P. by force of habit my nephew would bellow, “NO! Daddy says SHAKE it!”

Who knew “shaking” was part of the male tinkling process? For all I know, you probably don’t even say “tinkle” when you’re a boy.

One of the best parts of our summer in Rhode Island was spending time with my glorious friend Story. She is as lovely, creative, and unique as that most-excellent name of hers implies. Plus she’s an uh-mazing cook—even with this raw food kick she’s on.

While I was making girl babies on the West Coast, Story was populating the East Coast with boys. With two boys, that is. But when you consider the size of Rhode Island, that’s nearly impressive.

Anyway, one day last month when we were at Story’s hipster house, her boys were outside playing with plastic machetes of some sort while my girls were clinging to us in the kitchen like mewling kittens. After lunch Story promised to show Kate her craft studio, an oasis of fabulous vintage fabrics, various paints and papers, and nests of knitting stuff. A bunch of her tote bags and pillows were lying around and I made a fair number of if-you’re-looking-for-someone-to-give-this-to kinda requests.

Kate was in HEAVEN. She was wide-eyed, running her hand down the project table like it was the fender of a cherry red Porsche. I could’ve left her there for months and she wouldn’t have even noticed I was gone.

In a reverential whisper she asked Story, “Could we—could I—do some watercolor paint?”

Next scene is Kate set up in an adirondack chair in their large lovely yard, painting en plein air. Paige is tootling around the vegetable garden spritzing the veggies and flowers with a spray bottle. And Story is on their heels with her camera, capturing every second.

Me? I’m on the hammock with Story’s two boys. Not ON it, necessarily—more like hanging on it. We’re taking turns pushing each other, wicked hard. We’re giving that hammock a work-out, cushions flying, stomachs churning, and shouting, “HARDER!” as we clutched the rope mesh (and each other) for dear life. Every once and a while a plastic light saber gets in on the action causing Story to look up from Kate’s butterfly painting to yell cautions to her youngest.

But we are FINE. Better than fine. In fact, I’m making a mental note to schedule more roughhousing in my life.

Last week was my friend Mary’s son’s b-day. You know, Mary who did the awesome guest post on her summers in Maine. I am SO BAD at buying presents for boys. I have no idea what boys like. All I know is Star Wars and Legos, but any Legos set that seems worth giving is far outside my birthday budget.

Mary’s son was turning seven. Seven, seven, seven, I thought. The fake electric guitar we got him last year will be hard to top.

Then it struck me–what every young boy wants and every mother fears: a SKATEBOARD. As we picked it out at the store I texted Mary. “Don’t be mad at me for what I’m getting Will.”

And thankfully, she wasn’t. Which is good because, for the record, I really only ever wanted to have girls, but every once and I while I still like to invoke my role in the village and pitch in on raising my friends’ sons. Or at the very least, do some roughhousing with them.


Depends on How You Look at It

Posted: April 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Discoveries, Doctors, Miss Kate, My Body, My Temple, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Preg-o | 3 Comments »

When I was pregnant with Paige—and with Kate too—my right eye went on temporary hiatus. I have a strange neurological wiring problem that flares up now and then. My own rare medical malady. Like the fact that I’ve never seen Star Wars, it’s one of the few things that set me apart from most of humanity.

And desperate as I was to land impossible-to-get appointments with specialists, once I got in to see them they all just patted my hand and told me to wait it out. There ain’t much you can do about this thing. ‘Specially when you’re pregnant.

But sitting around waiting for something to happen is my personal brand of hell. So I took up with a well-respected mad genius-type Chinese acupuncturist. Or rather, put myself in his care.

The Bay Area’s alternate-health gurus all claimed this guy was The Best. Despite his ramshackle office, located deep in San Francisco’s foggy Avenues. almost out out by the beach, I was supposedly in the care of a world-class healer. Plus, tacked to the wall in the waiting room was a picture of Robin Williams mugging with the good doctor. To a long-time People subscriber, there’s no better testament to a doctor’s competence than his having a celebrity patient.

During my visits, Dr. Q would look at my tongue, take my pulse, and inform me that my gall bladder was grumpy. Other times he’d say my liver was woody, or my blood sluggish. At least those were the kinds of things I remember him saying.

In fact, I understood nearly nothing about his assessments, and that had little to do with his limited English. His form of healing was just damn different from anything I’d known before. Despite that, I gave myself over to his needle wielding wholeheartedly and in good faith. I was desperate, helpless, and more than anything, bored. There’s not much one can do with one eye. Reading is tiring. TV is depressing. And computer work is out of the question.

One can eat. And one can worry. So my visits to his office were in large part a hopefully-helpful distraction. One that my insurance didn’t cover.

Aside from my bizarre eye issue—which, granted, most people would trade for several months of gut-churning nausea—my pregnancies were marked by almost no other symptoms. I never barfed, had swollen feet, or ran from rooms at the smell of broccoli. Much of the time I forgot I was even knocked up.

But a little thing started interrupting my sleep at night. (And sleep, as you may know, is my super power.) It was minor, but just pesky enough to torment me. The inside of my right elbow was—well it seems silly now to even mention—but it felt kinda tickly. Like someone was ever so lightly touching it, brushing a feather across it. And of course, there was nothing there.

To make things worse, it was only on the right side. The first rule of hypochondria is if it’s asymmetrical, it’s probably cancer.

Okay, so I didn’t really think it was that. But still, it was maddening.

I’d wake Mark up over it. “Honey? I can’t sleep. My elbow pit. It’s Driving. Me. Crazy.”

It was, I decided, the perfect symptom to relay to my acupuncturist. If the leg bone’s connected to the kidney, and the gall bladder’s connected to the pinky toe—or if not quite that, at least I’d come to trust that there was some interconnectedness between what I’d previously thought of as unrelated parts—if that was the case, then this tickly inner elbow thang may be the key to unlocking my eye problem.

And wasn’t I so clever, so in tune with my body, to make note of it? (I had a lot of time on my hands to be self-congratulatory too.)

At my next appointment, as the doctor was readying my needles, I laid the news of my latest symptom on him. I awaited his chin-rubbing contemplation. The “aha!” moment in which he connected my ocular issue with my tickly elbow pit.

Instead, he looked up and said, “Oh… Okaaaay.” The way you might talk to someone who you think is a touch crazy. Someone you may even feel a little bit afraid of. But then, so as not to appear rude, he quickly added, “Sorry if that bother you.”

Then he started sticking needles in me. And I never brought it up again.

The other day I drew a hopscotch in front of our house for Kate. Years back, this was the kind of thing I enjoyed harassing our realtor about. I was waddling around to tour houses 8 months pregnant and once-again one-eyed, but whenever I’d see some cute crap chalked onto the sidewalk I knew not to fall for it. Not to buy into the, “Oh honey, look! What a nice family neighborhood this must be!”

No, instead I’d turn to Charlie, the Bay Area’s most patient realtor, and ask, “So what time did you have to get here this morning to draw this?”

So here I was last week, playing outside with Kate and realizing that my hopscotch skillz have lost some of their bououncy since my youth. Though it might have had to do with the clogs I was wearing.

Anyway, when Paige got up from her nap, she was all fired up about joining the game. I adore that kid-sister fearlessness. That her default setting is to get in on whatever big-kid action is underway. I mean, Kate could have some pals over for a few friendly rounds of mumblety peg, and Paige would be all, “Cool. I’m in. Where’s the knife?”

But as it turns out, with hopscotch Paige lacks some fundamental know-how. She still hasn’t mastered the simple act of jumping. But she doesn’t let on about it. It’s like the best-kept out-in-the-open secret ever.

Here’s Paige: She sizes up the hopscotch squares, bends her knees, thrusts both arms into the air, and calls out, “DUMP!” (This being her closest approximation to the word “jump.”) Then she takes a step forward.

This delights her, and she appears to have no reservations about her ability to play being any different than anyone else’s. If it weren’t so obvious that she wasn’t really jumping, you’d swear that she was.

Recently when we pulled up to the house after getting Kate from school, Paige ran out of the car to the corner where the hopscotch squares had been. Days of rain had washed the chalk away, but that was no deterrent.

Bend knees. Arms up. “DUMP!” And a step forward.

There was no hopscotch court there. But hey, Paige also wasn’t really jumping.

But from her perspective? Miss Paigey Wigs was radiating the fierce confidence of an Olympic long jumper. She sold those not-really jumps. And it was so damn endearing I bought up every last one of them. I mean, sure, I AM her Mama. But it got me thinking that sometimes what ain’t really there, can sometimes kinda of spring to life, if you pretend hard enough.

And sometimes, what IS there–what’s taking up every last drop of your mental energy—turns out to be of little consequence at all. You don’t need two workin’ eyeballs to see that some things are just what they are, and nothing more.

And on that note, I think I’ll turn on the TV.


The Waiting is Over

Posted: February 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Daddio, Firsts, Little Rhody, Milestones, Miss Kate, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Parenting, Preg-o, Sisters, Travel, Walking | 1 Comment »

My mother hated when my sisters referred to me as their “little” sister.

It was one of a number of random terms she dramatically voiced her opposition to. Like how she hated the word ‘condo.’ I always suspected her condo issue had to do with the word’s affinity to the word ‘condom’—that it was terrifyingly close to sounding like something that had to do with penises.

But I never really knew for sure.

Anyway, she’d mutter “She’s not little, she’s an adult for God’s sake. She’s your ‘younger sister.’”

But growing up in a small town, the youngest (by far) of four girls—”the Bruno girls” as we were known—my mother was fighting a battle she was bound to lose. If my siblings weren’t calling me their little—or kid—sister, everyone else in town had me pegged as “the baby.”

Frrrrrrred!” old women would screech, lunging toward my father and I in the aisle of Almacs grocery store. “How aaaarrrrre you?” Then turning to me. “And this? NO! This isn’t your BABY is it?!”

As a teen, being in public with my dad caused me no end of aggravation. A big personality still living in the small town he was born in, he knew absolutely everyone. And they all seemed to want a piece of him.

We’d walk ten steps, then stop to hear about someone’s gall bladder operation. Another 15 paces and Dad’d be doling out legal advice about a property lien. We were never anonymous, never just able to run in somewhere quickly.

And brutal as it may sound, the people who rotated in Dad’s orbit registered no social value to me. Many were older and smelled of talcum. They unloaded their legal woes, or talked about recently-operated-upon people I didn’t know. Worst of all, they never had cute teen-aged boys with them.

In my self-centered adolescent universe, waiting through my dad’s conversations with these people was some form of heinous torture that seemed custom-made to heighten my teen-aged malaise.

But Dad was—is—a world-class extrovert. He’ll talk to anyone. And he’s always proud to show us girls off. Decades later, nothing has changed. “Yes, that’s her,” he’ll still say, putting his hands on my shoulders. “The baby.”

I have to admit. At age 42, there’s something nice about there being a place where I’m still considered a baby.

MY baby, the delectable Miss Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop (that’s her champion dog name), turned two a week ago. TWO fingers old! What a big big girl.

The night before her birthday I got all nostalgic with Mark. “It was two years ago tonight that I sat on the couch sobbing that I thought the baby may never be born.”

Paige was—how should I say it?—resistant to emerging from the womb. She got the process underway 12 endless days after she was supposed to. Then, after more than four hours of eye-popping pushing, she still refused to budge. Finally a group of medical professionals went in after her.

The expression on her face when she finally emerged was one of abject dismay. It’d make me really sad if it wasn’t so damn funny and cute. (“My God, I’ve given birth to Ed Asner!”)


Anyway, it’s too bad some sort of Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be didn’t visit me during those agonizing post-due-date days, to whisper in my ear that Paige would so totally be worth the wait.

And it turns out our waiting didn’t end then. After waiting for her to be born, we waited for her baby acne and scaly eczema to subside. We waited for her to sit up on her own. Some time after that, we waited for her to walk. And waited. And waited. And eventually, blessedly, all the things we’d been waiting for finally happened.

Her birthday party last weekend was like a kind of a coming out party. At least to this proud Mama. She walks! She talks! She does everything every other two-year-old does, damn it! And she does it dazzlingly.

You’ve come a long way, Paigey. And I know you’ve only just gotten started.

I am so madly in love with that girl. I’m already fretting about how quickly she (and her sister) will grow up and will no longer be little barnacles attached to my legs.

At what point will it be creepy for me to still be chomping on Paigey’s thighs and doing raspberries on her tummy? And is it so wrong to want to bunk with her in her dorm room when she goes away to college? The really pathetic thing is, I’ve spent so much time mercilessly mocking people who wait forever to cut their kids’ hair because they can’t bear to lop off the baby curls. But now, now I understand their plight. I too am weak, like them. May Paigey’s hair never be cut! (There. I’ve said it.)

Next week I’m heading home to Rhode Island for a visit. My dad is turning a youthful 81, and he has a new dog we’re overdue to meet. Us Californians are hoping to score some snowy weather to frolic in. And I plan to spend a lot of time parading the girls around Stop & Shop, and hoping I bump into some people I know.

1 Comment »

9 Days Late Now

Posted: January 28th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Preg-o | 3 Comments »

Perhaps this baby will never come out? Or I will give birth to a teenager years from now?

The best way I can describe how I feel is that it’s like when you get really hungry, but can’t get something to eat. You get hungrier and hungrier and you’re totally focused on food, then eventually you get over it and you’re not even hungry any more.

I went from being so anxious about the pain of labor that I had no desire to start the process, to the point of wanting to do it just to get it over with. And in that brief period I was trying to get myself pretty pumped up about it. But now my I-am-woman-hear-me-birth motivation has been depleted by the endless waiting. I feel oddly unconvinced that I’ll be having a baby soon, even though everyone’s been great about assuring me that I will.

What’s a gal to do? Well, considering that at this juncture my pre-labor manicure and pedicure is looking quite shabby, I’m going to the nail salon while Kate’s at school.

Maybe the baby doesn’t want to emerge to this horrible shade of pink I somehow settled on for my toenails last? At least he/she has good taste. His/her lateness is pushing the boundaries of fashionableness though.


Adding Insult to Injury

Posted: January 26th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Preg-o | No Comments »

I just got an email from entitled “Your One Week Old.” Yeah, not so much.

Still pregnant here…

I went for “antenatal tests” today that showed that the baby is moving around well and isn’t all cramped up in there (despite how things might feel from my perspective).

Last night I was actually starting to get the impression that this baby was mistaking itself for a bird. The way it was stretching and pushing at every possible angle of my uterus was like a bird tapping away from inside a shell looking for a weak spot to crack its way free. It made me daydream a bit about how much easier birds have it–just sitting on an egg for a while to keep it nice and toasty, then letting the kid do all the work when it’s time for it to emerge.

Anyway, another test today showed that he/she also has plenty of amniotic fluid. I guess that’s what helps keeps babies nice and fresh.

So the outcome of our visit to the hospital was a pat on the back and a directive to go home for more waiting. Of course it’s always best when medical tests reveal that you’re doing well. The Achiever part of me always wants to excel, even when it comes to an ulstrasound. But at this rate I’m fearful that I’ll be giving birth to a one-month old.

I just hope BabyCenter has an email newsletter called “Your Newborn One-Month Old.”

No Comments »

Signs from the Beyond

Posted: January 24th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Mom, Preg-o | No Comments »

Ellen called today as I was lounging in the bath tub. It was one of those 30-second-long FYI kinda calls that she and I are good at. She said that out of the blue she had this thought that Mom was “coming around” and that the baby would be here soon.

She realized that this was a somewhat offbeat idea–seeing as it’s not like Mom would be coming ’round on a flight from New Jersey or something, but would be paying a visiting from some kind of cosmic beyond-the-grave locale. So before hanging up she offered, “I know it’s a kinda hippie idea, but I thought I’d mention it.”

What the heck. I’m happy she did and I’m even willing to buy it. It’s comforting (even flattering actually) to think that my mother would “come around” from wherever she is. That may be hard to do, and only reserved for special occasions. And as an added benefit, at this juncture it’s also nice to hear that this baby is coming soon.

Of course, I couldn’t help but consider some practical matters as part of this supernatural notion. I’ve moved a couple times since my mom came to California last. I just hope she knows where to find me.

No Comments »

All Quiet on the Western Front

Posted: January 24th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Preg-o | No Comments »

Here’s what happens when you are 5 days past your due date. At least if you’re me.

The phone utterly stops ringing. I haven’t had such a lifeless phone since I, well, I can’t seem to remember.

It’s too bad that all those women who complain about getting lots of inquiring calls around their due date wreck it for the rest of us. Sure, it’s kinda funny when you’re just in the bathroom and can’t grab the phone and the message that you get is one where someone grows much more frantic as they go.

“Hello? Hello? You aren’t there? Oh wow, so that probably means you guys are at the hospital right? OH MY GOD! This is sooooo exciting! Puleeeeze let us know when the baby is born!! Wait, I wonder if I should call you on your cell phone? No, no. I don’t want to bother you. You might be, like, pushing RIGHT NOW! Okay, well, congrats you guys!! We are so happy for you!”

So yeah, it’s kinda funny having to call that friend or family member back three minutes later to let them know that no, even though you are some 23 days past your due date there is still no action and you couldn’t grab the phone because you were really just peeing (again).

Apparently, for most women, these calls are annoying. I’m not sure why. Is it that they don’t want to be reminded that they are waiting for a baby to come? Are they spending all that pre-labor time doing a reclusive yogic ritual that doesn’t allow them to use the telephone? Or maybe they’re super busy regrouting their bathrooms in a manic last-minute nesting surge? And answering the phone interrupts the self-imposed HGTV-like deadline they’ve given themselves?

For the record, I’m always happy to chat on the phone. My mother is not here to attest to it, but, believe me, I did some stellar phone work in my teen years. And my cell phone bills as an adult attest to the fact that I’ve managed to maintain some world-class phone-talkin’ endurance.

Granted, I might not have much to say other than what I thought of the dowdy dress Meredith Viera wore on The Today Show. (What up with the matronly navy dress with the vampish patten leather stiletto boots?) But I’m sure you’ve got something new or interesting to tell me about. I’d love to hear all about the mundane details of your day! Hey, I’ve got TiVo here, so a phone call from you will barely impact the 24/7 Law & Order-watching vigil that I’ve been keeping. I can just hit ‘pause.’ No harm done!

This is your time people. I’m all ears! I’m here for you! The phone lines are open.

No Comments »


Posted: January 21st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Preg-o | No Comments »

So the truth is that I’ve been tweaking out a bit at the prospect of going into labor. Even though I can’t remember what it felt like per se, I do remember that it REALLY HURT. And it was relentless. And it took a long time.

Unfortunately, when I was at this same point with Kate–waiting for labor to kick in–I had the benefit of blissful ignorance about what labor would be like. I mean, how bad could it be?

Then, 9 days past my due date when she finally decided to make a fashionable entrance, I remember thinking, “How in the world is it that people ever elect to do this twice? If we want another kid, we’ll adopt.”

Then that mind-eraser thing happens that deletes your memory of what labor felt like. And then that absolute head over heels love you feel for the one kid you have, and suddenly the thought of going it again doesn’t seem so unreasonable after all.

That is, until now. Two days past due and staring down the barrel of more labor agony. And this time, trying to not only have an un-medicated birth, but to also have a vaginal delivery after Kate’s C-section. Is it too late to decide I don’t want to do this any more?

Where a few days ago I was patiently enjoying where I was–not too terribly uncomfortable in my body and savoring our last days as a family of three–today I’m in a different place. It’s not exactly impatience to have the baby, since I’ve been spending some good middle-of-the-night time stressing over labor. I mean, I’d love to be able to roll over without a system of levers and pulleys to hoist this large baby-filled belly up and over to the other side without bouncing Mark out of the bed and slamming him against the far bedroom wall. And I’d love to meet this small being. Boy? Girl? Look like Kate or a whole new person?

I’ve just been a bit hesitant about the physical passage between the here and there.

But tonight I think I just need to slap myself upside the head. Whatever happens will happen and I will get through it. If I opt for the epidural and don’t fulfill the ultimate groovy natural birth, so be it. All of us got here from this whole birth process, and there have to be plenty more women out there who are wimpier than me, right?

This thing is, being this anxious is not only frustrating, it’s exhausting too. And I’m kind of getting sick of it. So earlier tonight I decided to just shake it off and stop worrying that all hell will break loose at my first contraction. I’m going to butch up and have a bit more faith in myself.

I can do this. It’ll be okay. So don’t you worry about me one bit.

No Comments »

Kate’s First Words Today

Posted: January 17th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Miss Kate, Preg-o | No Comments »

Of course, on days when Kate has preschool she decides to sleep in like a depressed teenager, and on weekends she springs from bed at 7:15AM.

This morning when Mark went in to rouse her the first thing she said was, “Did the baby come out?”

“No,” Mark assured her. “No baby yet.”

Perhaps it’s the four library books we got yesterday about being a big sister/having a new baby in the house that are breeding Kate’s impatience for her new sibling.

No, no baby yet. But I am starting to get on bodily alert. It’s kind of like the first time you smoke pot. (Well, what I hear from other people that that’s like.) Your mind races through a physical check list of sorts. “Am I high yet? Is it working? Did I just feel something?”

That’s kinda the mode I’m in now. Lying in bed this morning half awake I feel some kicks and some little pang of something rattling through my Buddha belly and think, “Yeah? What’s that there? Could something be starting?” And then I realize it’s just last night’s Taco Fiesta dinner making its way through my system. The hyper activated System Alert picked nothing up out of the ordinary, and I am left to use my arms to push off against the mattress and heave my big Mama self upright to launch into the day.

So, I am not high. (Though a Chips Ahoy cookie doesn’t sound half bad right now.) I am not in labor. And no, no baby yet. At least no external baby.

Thanks to all for the calls, emails, and smoke signals. We’ll shoot up a flare when there is news to share.

No Comments »

Not Impatient Yet

Posted: January 15th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Preg-o | No Comments »

I’m at the point in this pregnancy–the very end–where just seeing me can’t help but illicit comments from people.

Today at Baby Gap a woman with a toddler in a stroller and I walked up to the door at the same moment, leaving her to kindly try to reach around her stroller and fumble to get the door for me. “Oh wow. Any day now, huh?,” she said.

“Yes. Due date’s Saturday!” I offered. “But of course, who knows when it’ll happen.”

“Oh wow. I feel for you! I remember those last days!”

And later in the day as I sat in a spa waiting room with a bunch of other women, a massage therapist came around the corner and walked up to me. “Let me guess,” she said smirking, knowing her next client was in for a prenatal massage. “You’re Kristen.”

“Yeah,” I said as I scrambled to put down an Us Magazine and heave myself up off the padded bench. “What gave it away?”

Later, walking—okay, waddling—down the street, two men were looking me up and down. “You got twins in there?” one said. Thankfully I was too relaxed from my massage to run up to him and belly-bump him into traffic like a tsumo wrestler in a ‘roid rage.

Of course, I could also go into the comments from the other parents picking up kids at preschool, or the teachers, or Kate’s intermittent, “You pregnant, Mama” remarks. But it’s as boring repeating it all as it is for me to hear it.

Hey, everyone. I know I’m pregnant! Very pregnant! And yes, the baby is coming soon!

Perhaps I need to wear a t-shirt (or a sandwich board, if they’d make one that could accommodate my girth) with all the information that I need to convey throughout the day when I’m simply trying to order a hot chocolate, check books out of the library, or buy groceries.

It’d say:
Yes, I am pregnant! Good for you for noticing and thanks for filling me in, lest I were one of those women who shows up at the emergency room with stomach cramps and leaves with an unexpected bundle of newborn joy. [And don't even get me started on how that sub-plot has marred an otherwise perfect season of Mad Men.]

Due soon? In fact I am! Saturday!

No. Second child. I have a two year old.

We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. [This receives all manner of comments and often spins off into another diatribe from either the stranger, or, admittedly, myself.]

Of course, many people are asking because they are sharing our excitement in a way that is very sweet. And heck, I’m not someone who’s ever scoffed at receiving attention. It’s just the ones who act as if they need to reinforce their seismic retrofitting when I daintily thunder into their stores that I can do without. As well as the endless sea of holiday party goers who seemed after a glass of eggnog or two to make their way over to me, grazing at the food table, and bellow, “What! Were you due yesterday or something?”

I spent a lot of sober time at drunk holiday parties chanting an internal mantra that my red maternity dress from Target really was slimming, and delighting in the thoughts of the miserable headaches and dehydration awaiting those who made ungracious comments to me about my largess.

Of course, when asked in mid-December I had to admit that I still had a month to go. But towards the end of the party circuit I just started lying. “Yeah,” I’d say, beaming a sprightly smile into the face of the person panting booze all over me and my mini peeled carrot stick. “Any day now!” I’d saying looking down and patting my belly.

And to all those women who’ve done this before who have tried to empathize by suggesting that I must “really be ready” and “they remember how hard those last days of waiting were” I feel kinda bad for letting them down by saying, “I’m actually doing okay.” I mean, having done this before I know that the trade-off for no longer having maternity shirts sufficiently cover my belly without having to wrench them down, and for having to get up and pee in the middle of the night (something I’ve felt superior to other mortals for never having had to do before), and, sure, for often feeling like a turtle on my shell when I’m utterly baffled by how to hoist myself off the floor—the trade-off for all that is labor (ouch!), followed by the exhaustion and intensity of caring for a newborn. It’s not like once this mild physical discomfort is over I’m being sent on a 2-week paid Hawaiian vacation with no one else to care for but myself and my tanning and mai tai needs.

Don’t get me wrong. I really want to meet this wee one. I’m curious about whether Kate will have a sister or a brother to push around. And the planner in me doesn’t like not knowing when “it’s going to happen” so “it happening” will of course eradicate that.

It’s just that in the home stretch I’m staying grateful for the nice little life our family of three has. I’m cherishing being able to indulge Kate in only-child-level attention, and enjoying the amount of sleep I’m getting at night, even if I do need to get up to tinkle a couple times. When it’s time for me to trade this in for gratefulness about having a family of four, I’ll happily go to the front of the line to do so. At least today, I just don’t see any reason to begrudge the here-and-now for the soon-to-be.

No Comments »