Waiting

I don’t want to forget. That’s what I keep thinking when I remember that it’s been a while since I’ve written about this season of life. 

I don’t want to forget how much feeling Pigment move inside of me feels like total magic. How grateful I am that my body loves being pregnant and has responded to these changes better than I could have ever hoped for. How I feel like a pregnant unicorn because I am STILL, at almost 39 weeks, below my pre-pregnancy weight. How my feet aren’t swollen and my face isn’t puffy. How much I just love being pregnant and how fortunate I feel that my biggest complaint in these 10 months is an ache in my right hip and a couple stretch marks circling my belly button. 

I don’t want to forget how eager we are, Pen and I, to meet and know our son. How we talk about it incessantly and how nothing else seems half as important. How completely ordinary but somehow insanely life changing this whole thing really is. 

I really don’t want to forget how serene I am while to lay in bed listening to my husband breathe and  watching my belly shake with each kick. How Pigment likes to move and shake late at night and no matter how late it is I can’t help but stay awake and watch in complete awe because I MADE YOU. 

I don’t want to forget how slowly I get up or walk, compensating for the weight in my middle by hunching and waddling. Or how huge my belly feels, both in girth and importance. 

I don’t want to forget these last few weeks especially. The hours upon hours in the middle of the night have begun to feel like a private vigil for the life I’m leaving behind. Wide awake, I usually crawl out of bed around 1 or 2 AM. There’s no point in fighting the sleep that won’t come and my favorite baby dance show is usually well underway. We move the party to the couch so that I can sip a glass of milk to quell the heartburn that always always finds me around this time. Lately I’ve been painting but I surround myself with a good book, a snack, my iPad and the remote just in case. Having properly built up my little nest Ego usually finds me and buries himself into my side with a hearty purr. He keeps a close watch over me lately, even finding me in the mornings for a good deep snuggle. 

I want to remember who I am today. Will I still be her when I finally lay eyes on the body in my body? He is the soul inside my soul that we made from the best pieces of ourselves. Who will I be then? When our eyes meet will it be everything I imagine or will it feel more like a homecoming? I imagine it to be like finding treasure you didn’t know how to look for. 

These days and nights feel so agonizingly slow. My lists are complete and I’m having to learn to really and truly rest for possibly the first time in my life. Pen reminds me that my worth is not measured by my output. Brene Brown says “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” I choose to own my story and relish this remarkable and fleeting time just before motherhood. I will never again be 39 weeks pregnant with my first child. 

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Carving Out Space

In the Highlander series, when an immortal kills another immortal, they gain the deceased’s memories and all their power. The process, called “the quickening”, leaves them changed. They are burdened with impulses and instincts without necessarily knowing from whence they came. I’ve taken to calling my process of embracing parenthood The Daddening. It is strange and foreign to me, but none the less, real. Which is why, a few days ago I spent hours looking at knives. Well, not just at knives, but for a knife. The perfect knife.

Unfortunately, I’m a respectable, intelligent, computer nerd. If I need to reach for anything, it’s usually a calculator. As a result, I know nothing about knives. My nerd brain couldn’t handle that. In response I deftly compiled a series of guides, forum postings, and user reviews and proceeded to gorge. In a matter of minutes, I knew I needed a knife with a frame lock, sturdy clip, and a sheepsfoot blade made out of American steel.

It wasn’t until I clicked “Buy Now” that I began to question why. 

Apparently, something biological happens to a man when he has a child on the way. Something deep within compels him to make the world safe. A better word might be survivable. That used to mean ensuring there was enough food, that there was shelter, and that it was secure. With the advent of supermarkets and plentiful housing, those conundrums have been solved, but that primal urge still exists. I realize, most dads probably haven’t been in a situation where a knife was key to their child’s survival. (At least not according to the parenting books I’ve picked up… Last I checked, “Childbirth Without Fear” didn’t have a chapter on proper knife handling.) However, this wasn’t a question of logic, it was a question of control: I needed to procure a knife so I could affect and shape the environment around us. Buying that knife helped me feel like maybe… somehow, we could survive the wilderness we live in. No, there aren’t as many wild animals these days, but the world still feels plenty dangerous.

The impending introduction of Pigment to the world has changed everything. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The truth is, it has changed me and the rest of the world is the same old shit-show it always has been. Which, is kind of the problem. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it turns out, there’s some really fucked up shit going down on the regs out here. I’ve spent most of my adult life recognizing these things and then determining how to skirt by them without raising too much of a kerfuffle. Confrontation isn’t my thing. It makes my face hot, changes my body chemistry, and leaves me squicky. Much better to go completely invisible and sneak past the gates rather than pounding your knuckles bloody on them while they heat the oil.

But this kid… This tiny, defenseless lump is almost here. In just a few more weeks it will reside in the same world as racism, ignorant Americans, advertising, evangelicalism, Iggy Azalea, and police brutality. It’s my job to help him learn the skills he needs to navigate these minefields by himself, and I’ve got to tell you, that feels like a tall order. The people that run everything are, at large, against us. All of us. Regardless of our religion or our ideals or our race or our gender, they’re looking for ways to exploit us for their own gain. Do I teach my kid to duck and dodge and play it safe, or to point out the injustice with a megaphone and get a target painted on his back?

I’m not entirely sure how to exist in this world anymore, and I’m certainly unsure of how to teach someone to do the same. How do you explain to a child that if they’re ever in danger they can trust a policeman to help them when every week there’s new footage of a police officer shooting an unarmed civilian? How do you tell them that god is all about love when everyone seems so content to use her as an excuse to hate? How do we teach our children to survive in this broken, ugly, fucked up world without allowing them to be destroyed by it, but also, without becoming it?

I don’t have a clue. But I have a knife. And with it, maybe I can teach our son how to reveal the beauty hiding in a piece of wood. Maybe I can teach him how to build new things and create art. Maybe I can show him that the whole world isn’t broken; there are still parts that are beautiful and true. I’m not sure if that’ll be enough, but it seems like a good start.

Avalanches Don’t Have Brakes

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I guess there’s not much to noodle through when you’re deliriously happy. 

I’ll be 30 weeks on Wednesday. The reality of meeting this tiny guy possibly as soon as two months from now feels surreal. Pen and I talk a lot at night when the lights are off and the shadows dance on the walls. We talk about how our weekends of long brunches with friends, matinee movies and Netflix binges are numbered. How our lazy Sunday mornings will soon be replaced by a new rhythm we can’t possibly imagine yet. It feels scary. I am overwhelmed at the most random moments that Pigment ALREADY exists. He lives inside of me, growing stronger with every passing moment. Not much time goes by between his swift kicks that remind me of his unequivocal presence. We will never again be without him and he is changing everything.  

 Every aspect of my daily life is nearing a close. The family I have worked for for nearly three years is looking for my replacement. I have never not had at least one job. I started working at 17, often working two or even three jobs simultaneously to get myself through college. I like hard work. I find value and purpose in doing a job well and being paid for it. The latter part of that equation will take some adjusting as I transition into being a stay at home mama. I’m so grateful that our budget will allow me to stay at home with Pigment for as long as I want to; but what will this look like? I’m a list maker, a busyness lover and an insistent do-er. Will I be fulfilled? Will I be able to be fully present? Will I be able to undo the ingrained belief that my worth is measured by my ability to help provide my family with “things”? I think it’ll be hard for me. Hopefully the value in what I’m giving to Pigment will offset those struggles and the adjustment will go smoothly. 

We start Bradley classes this week. My baby shower is next week. Maternity pictures the following. Then a special weekend with my nanny girls and BOOM… My full time job is over. If they haven’t found my replacement by then I’ll work afternoons until I no longer can. We have a weekend trip planned for early August and then it’s just three weeks till baby. I think I needed to lay all that out. So succinct. It feels less intense if I can line it all up in a row and demand each milestone have its turn. In reality, I feel like I’m in the middle of an avalanche careening into motherhood. There’s a part of me that would like to slow down but avalanches don’t have brakes and really–  does anyone ever feel ready for their whole life to change forever? 

Little Eyes

Parenthood began as a very ethereal condition. So haunted by our past miscarriage, Paint and I didn’t dare to believe that this would be real. There was no fanfare, no parties, and only tentative celebration. Slowly, over the course of months it began to dawn on us that this is our baby. This is our child. By the time we were recognizing that this baby would stick, it felt like we had already missed our chance to greet this tiny little life with the joy and gratitude it deserved.

So, when we went to the birth center at 19 weeks for the anatomy scan, we opted not to discover the gender immediately in the midwife’s office. Instead, she wrote it down and sealed it in an envelope that we delivered to one of Paint’s friends for safe keeping. That friend then engaged a network of cohorts across the city and sent us on a scavenger hunt straight out of “This is Your Life”. We visited the campus where Paint and I first met, our first apartment, the restaurant I took Paint to on our first date, the spot where I proposed, and finally we found ourselves in Market Square; the heart of Downtown Knoxville. Our poetic clues led us to an illuminated arch. Beneath that arch, was a small box. Inside that box was a custom made blanket emblazoned with Pigment’s real name.

In case you are late to the party, we’re having a boy. Continue reading

On being bashful

Last week Pen and I went on a journey. I awoke that day knowing the world would feel different when my head hit the pillow again. As I pass through this life I’m learning how significantly our perceptions affect our interactions with the world. It’s not often that the world changes, but the way we view it can change completely in an instant. 

I’ve been a nanny for five years. During that time I have struggled and grieved and fought against everything I was taught as a child. I have learned not to yell, to control my emotions and to approach stressful situations with the presence of mind to keep fragile relationships intact. It has not been easy. Children trust us to guide them through the big feelings they don’t know how to navigate. Being a nanny has changed me more than any other job I’ve ever had. It has made me a better person and ultimately given me the experiences that built my confidence in the kind of mother I could be. 

Years ago while nannying for my first family an 18 month old blonde girl showed me that I had it within me to be better than my mother was. I vividly remember sitting with her on the kitchen floor. She, deep in throes of a tantrum. Me, holding her. Swaying and being present. Listening for the transition from anger to sorrow. Whispering love through it all. It was in that moment that I realized I had it in me to be a great mama. I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to be, but the freedom that came with knowing I could do it well was a massive weight off my shoulders. 

From that day on whenever I thought about the mama I might be, I thought about the small blonde body I cradled in my arms. I thought about that little girl. 

Fast forward to the family I work for now and their two buckets of sunshine I call L and M. Both girls. I’ve worked with them since before M was born and my relationships with these girls has fueled endless daydreams about what parenting might be like someday. I’ve had countless wonderful moments that have given me pause as I imagined my own daughter. What I’m saying is this: I KNOW girls. I’ve dedicated my days to loving and knowing and growing little girls. 

As a planner I feel confident in my ability to parent a girl. 

In October of last year amidst my grief I had a dream. It was vivid and gave me such peace that when I found out I was pregnant it was one of the first thoughts that entered my mind. I was so sure. I thought I’d been given the inside scoop from my body. “It’s a girl”, I thought. And I never looked back. 

Then Friday came. 

Oh Friday. 

Pen and I hunted for clues and loved every blissful moment of our gender reveal scavenger hunt. We reminisced as we ventured. It was magical. I even remembered to be present and take it all in; something I overlooked on my engagement scavenger hunt 7 years ago. 

Then came the finale. The big reveal. The great big news that our child is a…

Boy. 

A boy?

Yep. Baby Pigment is a boy!

Now listen. I’m gonna come out a say something that no one says.

I was crushed. Shocked. Flummoxed. Disappointed.

I got into the car and immediately felt myself trying to hide away how I was really feeling. Then Pen had to go and KNOW ME. 

“It’s okay if you’re feeling sad right now.” He offered tentatively. “It doesn’t mean you don’t love him.”

I got brave for just a second and we locked eyes; mine brimming with tears. Everything I’ve ever looked forward to in parenthood has been framed around girls. I felt ashamed, the way I think society tries to make moms feel when they experience anything but complete joy in relation to parenting. I refuse to fall for the one dimensional lie of motherhood. I am still a whole person with real feelings that extend beyond mindless baby bliss. 

We talked and cried a little as we said goodbye to the child this is not. 

But thankfully that’s not the end of the story. My disappointment had everything to do with my expectations and nothing to do with the beautiful soul growing within my body. Knowing that, I could experience my emotions and say them aloud without too much judgment from my inner critic. The part that says I’m a bad mom or a really terrible person. I’m not. I’m an honest human who has committed herself to a life of transparency and authenticity. I’m also a planner who likes to micromanage my life. 

Having a girl felt safe. Familiar in a way many first time moms don’t get because I have done it all before… But familiar isn’t the name of the game in parenting. In the time since our big reveal I’ve taken a lot of time to process. I’ve said goodbye to the girl I was expecting to parent in order to make room for whoever this baby boy will be.

After clearing away all my expectations I found something else instead. 

Joy. Excitement. Terror mixed with elation at a new journey that is completely and entirely NEW. Oh guys, this is going to be so new. 

And now, on the other side of complete shock and bewilderment… Is awe. I’m in awe of a baby boy who kicks me like he’s wearing sneakers and has dance parties on my spine. 

I’m wrapping my head around being a mom to a boy and how both nothing and everything has changed because he is still the same soul I believe I was always meant to parent. The only difference is me. He hasn’t changed one bit, but boy have I. 

The “and”

A few weeks ago I had a nightmare so disturbing I decided to call my old therapist. Knowing full well that bizarre dreams are par for the course with pregnancy I tried not to make much of it; but it stuck with me for days. Last night was filled with more nightmares. This happens for me during big times of transition. 

I almost always dream that I’m still living at home. I dream that I am the only person who has changed and that I am, as I felt for much of my childhood, completely stuck. Usually these dreams center on the terrible pit in my stomach that I learned to live with when my mom was in a bad mood. In these dreams I’ll perform any number of miscellaneous tasks to make her happy again; only to be met with more anger or frustration. It’s not a game anyone ever wins. 

I awoke this morning irritated at yet another mom dream. I am not 12 years old any more. It always takes me a minute to take stock of reality. I shake off the lingering dread of interacting, even in just my subconscious, with my mother. I haven’t actually seen her in over a year. 

But I’ve realized something, and I think it might be the key to putting the relationship to rest once and for all. I do not let myself miss her. 

Sometimes I hate her. Sometimes I feel guilty for removing myself and my child from her life. Sometimes I feel really terrible about how broken she has allowed herself to become. Sometimes I’m so angry I could spit. But any time I’m reminded of the things that were good; my heart aches so intensely I have to take a breath just to regain my balance. 

I don’t dare miss her. 

I think it’s because I don’t know how to reconcile the two. There exists an “and” that I need to learn to live within. She was emotionally absent AND she worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known. She blamed me for being a single parent AND she could wrap me up in the best hugs. I think it’s because missing her aches in the deepest part of my bones and I don’t know how to make it stop. “Will it stop?” I wonder. I can’t be sure. 

There are parts of me I don’t allow to exist because they remind me of her. There are ways I want to parent that I can’t entertain because I got the idea from her. I want to be more than the opposite of her though. I want to be fully me. 
I wanted to write a beautiful post about being pregnant today and how full my heart feels knowing I’ll not only BE a mother soon; but that I already AM one…

But that’s not what’s in my heart today. Today I’m sad and afraid. I’m afraid of letting go and missing her. I’m sad that this heartache still takes so much room in my soul that it’s all I can think about today. I have a mother in law and a child; both of which fill me with more gratitude and joy than I could ever express. 

So instead I’m choosing to practice existing in the “and”. I’m sad and afraid AND grateful and joyous. I accept that it’s okay to feel all of these things today.

Unknown Quantities

For the past week, I’ve found myself strangely nervous about becoming a father. Up until now, I’ve maintained a rather laissez-faire attitude toward the whole thing. I was excited, sure, but not worried. I knew that I had it in me to be a good father. I still do, as a matter of fact, but now I find myself wondering just how naturally it will come to me.

Last night I voiced my concern to Paint, who wisely tried to help me attach a name to my generalized dread.

“Are you nervous about having a baby? The keeping it alive part? Or are you more worried about the developmental stuff?”

After a few moments of pondering, I responded.

“Yes.”

We spoke well beyond when we should have gone to sleep, but still, something was nagging at me. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized what it is.

In just a few days we’re going to find out the gender of our kidlet.

We had an anatomy scan about three weeks ago, and Paint and I opted not to find out in favor of having our doctor write the gender in a sealed envelope that we then delivered to one of our friends. That friend has spent the intervening time setting up a scavenger hunt that will end with Paint and I discovering a piece of who the stow away in her belly will be.

People are always asking if I’m hoping for a boy or a girl. In terms of raw desire, I’ve not felt a pull in one direction over the other. But when I think about it, when I really examine who I am and what I’m about, then it’s clear to me that wanting a girl is the obvious choice.

My entire life, I’ve felt like something of a fraud. I’ve never behaved how boys are supposed to behave. I was never interested in sports. I never chased girls with frogs or caused any kind of mischief. Instead, my mother was training to be a counselor so her friends were constantly coming over at all hours of the day looking for advice. Since I lived there, I was allowed to sit in on those conversations, observing and listening. I learned empathy was something to aspire to. I learned compassion and kindness mattered to people. A premium was placed on intelligence and spirituality, and so those pieces of my psyche were developed early and took root in my loamy soil.

Unfortunately, this emotional intelligence came with a cost. When the news talked about an earthquake, I cried. When I heard about a plane crash I’d cry, then mention it during our pre-meal prayers for months on end. The notion of someone being mean was so foreign to me I literally couldn’t comprehend what was happening when I found myself being shoved off our porch by a neighbor girl.

All of that to say, I was soft. My mother encouraged this trait. My dad… Well, he wasn’t sure what to do with me. He loved me, but I think my sensitivity threw him for a loop. When he was a lad, he was rough and tumble; I was soft and stationary. He wasn’t sure what to do with a little boy who raided his mother’s craft supplies to super glue a tea-stained doily to the top of a potpourri filled mason jar to spruce up the living room. Similarly, I wasn’t sure how to handle a mustachioed man who came home from work covered in carbon black and insisted that the cartoon was called “Duck Butts”, rather than “Duck Tales”. (Fun fact: When he would sing “Duck Butts, wooo-oooo”, I would fly into a rage. To this day, I’m not entirely sure why.)

Don’t get me wrong, there was never a day in which I didn’t feel loved. Eventually, we found ways to connect and now we’re thick as thieves. But when I was young? It was a little touch and go at times. I was always aware that there was something about me that was an unknown quantity to my father.

What I’m just now realizing, is that my relationship with my dad shaped my understanding of masculinity.

Real men work in factories and get dirty and take cars apart and fix their houses and own tools and and live near their extended families.

I’m thirty-one years old, and I still feel that “unknown quantity” residing somewhere within me. Only now, instead of projecting it onto my father, I’ve begun projecting it onto the entire notion of manhood.

I don’t do any of those things. If that’s what a man does, and I do none of those things, then what am I?

I’m something else.

An unknown quantity.

Having a daughter would be easy because I would only be demonstrating to her what men could look like.

But if I have a boy? He’s going to look to me for an explanation on how to be a man, but I’m not a man, I’m an unknown quantity. How can I teach him something I’ve never learned?

That’s it in a nutshell. I feel “less than” my own idea of masculinity, and as a result, I am damning my son to being “less than” as well. This “dread” I’ve been feeling isn’t actually fear, it’s guilt for not being able to be the man my hypothetical son needs me to be.

Now, here’s the crazy part. I don’t actually believe any of that. Do men have to be mechanics and good with a band saw to be considered a man? Absolutely not. I know that. In my head.

But my heart?

My heart believes something else. My heart believes that because I’d rather be sitting at a computer than in a tent, because I’m more interested in grabbing a cup of coffee than watching “the game”, I’m somehow doing manhood wrong. As if the choices I’ve made, the path I followed isn’t a truly valid option. Like somehow I’ve just been skating by, and at any time the world is going to wake up and notice that I can’t grow a mustache to save my life and revoke my testicles.

My heart is wrong you guys.

While I was in the midst of sorting all of this out, I came across this fantastic article from the Good Men Project.  Its author, Mark Greene has the right idea:

If we want our freedom from the oppressive rules of the Man Box, we need to take away its control over how we define manhood. We need to create a world where being a man can mean being anything. Any work. Any play. Any love. Any life. And just to be clear, the options we’ll need to topple the Man Box will have to be so wide-ranging that being a man can even look just like being a women. And I don’t mean doing the dishes instead of mowing the lawn, I mean a man with a woman’s body.

He goes on to say that men can be anything. Period. There are no rules, no roles one must adhere to in order to be a man.

Men can work in factories, sure. But they can also work in offices and theaters and hair salons and preschools. They can like taking cars apart, but they can also love art or chemistry or dancing.

Should I have a son, when he looks at me to see what a man is, I hope he sees a man who is brave enough to carve out his own definition of masculinity.

 

Three hearts

Sunday was a day like any other. Pen and I lazily slept in, wallowing in the comfort of our king sized haven. I laid with a cat perched on one appendage or another. Ego purred loudly in my ear. We chatted about breakfast until lunch was more appropriate; finally surrendering to whatever was handy in favor of getting dressed. 

Not much time had passed when a trip to the bathroom left my heart in my throat. There wasn’t room for logic, immediately my body filled to the brim with fear. In that instant I was brought back to the agonizing 8 hours I spent in that very spot– miscarrying. 

Briefly I regained my composure and managed to dial my doula and yell to Pen to get dressed as I put pants on backwards and only hooked one clasp on my bra before forgetting what I was doing completely. Pen actually put my shirt on me as I talked to my doula, shaking like a leaf. His eyes were filled with questions and fear.

“I’m bleeding.” 

We were told the fastest way to check on the baby was to go to the Emergency Room; and within minutes we were out the door. 

I kept thinking about how much stronger this baby is at 22 weeks than last time at 11. About how I felt this child kick just a few hours earlier. How quickly everything could change. As Pen drove he became alarmed by my breathing and reminded me to even my breaths. 

“Deep breath in,” he said. With our hands clasped tight I used my other hand to stroke my belly in a fervent prayer to whatever god would listen. 

“Please be okay.” I begged. 

Drives to the emergency room never go the way you expect them to. You still have to stop at infuriating red lights and use your signal. The indignity of a world that keeps on moving at a leisurely pace while our lives come crashing down could be felt with each tap of the brake. 

Our arrival and visit came without fanfare. It quickly became apparent that I may have overreacted. 

No, I’m not wearing a pad. No, there isn’t any blood on my panties. Yes, I’m sure. It appears to have stopped. Sure, you can have some of my pee. 

A quick swipe of the doppler revealed a strong and steady heartbeat. 

It seems my body remembers the agony of miscarriage far better than my mind. I’m grateful to have had an experience that showed me where this life has left scars that may take longer to heal. I am a logical and level headed person to my very core… But with that swipe of blood I stopped reacting with logic. The only thing I could think with any real cognition was “Protect this baby at ANY cost”. It was, I believe, my first real experience being a mother. 

As I stepped out of the hospital and into the bright spring sunshine I was overcome with how differently this day could have gone. Thankful for three safe and healthy bodies; Pen and I enveloped baby Pigment in a long heavy hug. 

We sighed. 

We breathed. 

Three hearts beat. 

Enough

Once, during Paint’s first trimester we had to flee our home. She called me on her way home from work and asked me to get some mushrooms prepped and sauteed. I did as she asked. Rinse the mushrooms. Pad of butter. Let them brown but not burn. I knew the routine. We’ve done this countless times over the years; mushrooms are one of Paint’s favorite foods. I took the mushrooms off the heat just as she arrived. From my post in the kitchen I couldn’t see Paint enter, but I could hear her. The door swung open. Paint stepped inside, exclaimed “Oh God!”, and the door closed again. After a moment of absolute silence, I I turned and found no one.

Perplexed, I poked my head outside to find Paint gasping for air over the railing of our porch.

She had been unprepared for the way the thick wall of steamy fungal odor would affect her in her newly smell-sensitive state. She walked right into it, and now her stomach was threatening to turn inside out. She remained outside as I sentenced her mushrooms to their Tupperware prison and opened every window in our home.

It turns out Tommy Wolf was right; you can’t go home again. At least not immediately anyway. We proceeded to catch a movie, do some shopping, and eventually, when the idea didn’t nauseate her, grab some dinner. (You know, like you do on a Tuesday night.)

For the past nineteen weeks, I have been in some way, shape, or form affected by the tiny human growing inside Paint’s belly. Whether it’s watching my wife sate a specific craving by ordering food only to realize she’s nauseous before it can arrive at our table, or by finding myself watching youtube videos on how to properly dye polyester glider cushion covers, this baby is already changing things. Changing me. 

And yet… I have spent a significant amount of Paint’s pregnancy feeling vaguely guilty and useless. Continue reading

Hope Creeping In

This wasn’t how I wanted it to be.

When I daydreamed about what it would look like when Paint was pregnant, I was supposed to be writing constantly. Observing, reporting. Making interesting connections, concocting amusing turns of phrase, discussing the realities of day to day life while making inferences toward the Life Beyond.

As you can see, that has not been the case.

The first trimester was really difficult. Paint and I were constantly haunted by our miscarriage. What if this went the same way? What if we lost this one too? We were scared to love this kid. We were scared to believe in it.

It was easier to keep our heads down and barrel through until we knew for sure, so that’s what we did. We didn’t let our thoughts linger on tiny fingernails and big eyes. We didn’t buy clothes. We didn’t do any reading or research.

No one tells you how fragile embryos are. Your temperature changes. Your hormones become imbalanced. Tiny little adjustments in your brain chemistry that you’re not even aware are taking place could completely alter the tiny human growing inside.

So we hid from it. Until such a time that it was strong enough, we hid.  We treated Paint like she was ill. She spent the first trimester nauseous and barely able to eat. We weren’t so much grocery shopping as we were offering to take the grocery store’s food home so we could let it go rotten for them.

Nausea and exhaustion were the rule of the day. The baby was ravaging Paint’s body, and still we were scared to believe it was real. Every week, we’d read up on the baby’s development. Most of that stuff was a blur; what we were really after was the percentage. Each week, Paint’s phone would tell us the likelihood of the baby’s survival.

14%. 29%. 42%. 64%. 86%. 99~%.

I’d like to say the day we got to 99, was the day we finally relaxed, but that is not the case. By that point, it had been weeks, and living in terror was all we had known. We lived in constant fear that the baby would just stop. Stop growing. Stop living. Stop being. Paint went to three doctors appointments in the course of two weeks and made them take a sonogram each time. We’re going to have a photo album of the baby before it even gets here.

It was hard, but slowly we began to take off the armor we had built around our hearts. Little by little, we allowed hope to creep in. We began to imagine the future. We dared to imagine life as parents. Eventually, we realized that we don’t have to imagine… We already are parents. And while we can’t say with absolute certainty that everything will be fine, we’re beginning to believe it anyway.