Tag Archives: pregnancy

We Have a New Mantra, Ladies…

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You know the scientific symbol for female, the one that’s the circle with a cross coming down from the bottom.  And then, there’s the male symbol, the slightly more wonky circle with an arrow flying out of the top.  The female one is steady, anchored down, because our reproducing tidbits stay put.  It’s the male bits that leave and fly all over the place, hence, the wonky arrow.

This is how they define male and female in organisms with different more unrecognizable features.  The male flower spreads, the female flower stays, anchored and waiting, in fish, in mosses, in humans.

In some ways I feel like this is accurate.  I stay … at home.  Daily life mostly revolves outside me, kids leave for school, husband leaves for work and I am anchored somewhere in the middle.  People return to me.

But in most other ways I feel that this is highly inaccurate.

Because if there is one thing we women do, it’s change.

We get our periods.  And we keep getting them. Then we have babies.  Our bodies change and our bodies go back, or don’t quite, as the case may be.  Then we lose our periods and, according to many trusted sources, continue to deal with ebb and flow of hormones … FOREVER.

We change. And most of this volatility is within us.

Pregnancy for me is pervaded by a sense of betrayal.  My body becomes a mysterious stranger waiting to sabotage me with a heavy club of nausea around any appropriately smelling corner.  Three times now have I been amazed anew at the way my body stretches, the way it opens, and stunned at how stinking long it takes to get back to normal!

I say it when I’m pregnant.  I say it at least once a month, “What is happening to me?!”

I’m a woman.  I change.

Perhaps this is why men are known for their distinct mid-life crises and women are not.  We do it by bits.  We aren’t overthrown by time all at once.   We get it in phases.

Phases!  Everything since my first son was born has been a “phase”.  Sleepless nights, clinging babies, teeth razoring their way to the surface have all been “phases”.  I have been beset by so many phases that I don’t think I’ve had a lick of normal in six years.  Do we talk of phases to make each other believe that there is a normal somewhere?  Thinking that there’s a normal somewhere that I’m missing is rather depressing. Do we want to believe that things will go back?

I can never go back to many things, my old bra size, my ability to sleep through anything, my ignorance of four other peoples’ bowel movements.   I am more efficient, more ambitious, and I’ve learned how to work.  I don’t want to go back.

I, then, hereby vow that I will not utter the deceptive phrase “It’s a phase” to any Momma, anymore.  I will instead choose to believe that we are in a boot camp of the most intense kind.

I will learn to duck and weave and roll.  I will become a delicate ballerina.  I will let it make me a master of change.  Like anything else in life that’s well practiced it will become a habit with me.  So, when the gray hairs come and I find my shirt still clean at the end of the day; when it’s finally time to get off this crazy monthly roller coaster of fertility, I will not be overcome.  I will be anchored in something steadier than myself.

It’s what we’ve been given to practice, Ladies.  Let’s do it well so our sisters, daughters, and daughters-in-law can do it better.

Our new mantra can be, “Normal is not a thing!”

I’ll Drink to That…

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There are a lot of pregnant women in my life right now.

So, it’s not really a surprise that I would begin to find symptoms of pregnancy in myself.

Over the years I have probably taken fifty, well, at least twenty, maybe as high as thirty, negative pregnancy tests. I am notorious for thinking I’m pregnant when I’m not. The rule is that when I start feeling the glimmerings of certainty to the point that I start forsaking the coffee or alcohol it’s time to take the test. Yesterday morning I forsook a cup of coffee. It was time to take the test.

There are very few things more awkward than purchasing a pregnancy test, except maybe, purchasing one while your three children are knocking down the store shelves around you. You should’ve seen the look on the clerk’s face yesterday when I asked if he had any behind the counter. I saw a whole lot of condoms, but no pregnancy tests.

He blanched. He counted my children. He then made a thorough search to no avail.

“I thought I had some,” he said.

“Well, they are the ones everyone steals, right?” I joked.

He laughed halfheartedly. He’s probably still worried about me.

So, this afternoon I tried again at a different store. I surreptitiously tossed the box between the bread and the bananas on the conveyor belt. The checker boy passed it over the scanner quickly. I snagged the box before my son could read it only to realize it was empty.

“Um, is it okay if I grab another since this one is empty?” I asked.

The boy blanched and poked his finger into the empty box.

“Uh, yeah, that’s odd…” he said.

“They’re the ones everyone steals, right?” I joked.

He laughed halfheartedly. I am nothing if not original.

I then dragged my three children and three bags of groceries home through an ocean of whining and a growing storm of my own emotional turbulence. Four?!?!!? One way or another I had to find out soon.

I took the test and waited as my all-knowing urine climbed the uncompromising stick of certainty.

I have often thought it would be amusing for a pregnancy test company to change its indicators from “pregnant” and “not pregnant” to “sorry” and “congratulations”. What face would the women of America make when faced with this ambiguous empathy?

I, for one, would’ve breathed a little easier as my “not pregnant” today meant “congratulations”. I mean, sure, I would have been glowing tomorrow. After all, I do love my babies. But, I also might have shed a few tears tonight.

This means that now it’s time for my post-negative-pregnancy-test tradition, because after twenty, maybe thirty tests you know I have one, that is, a stiff drink.

So, huzzah! Pregnant ladies I drink to you!

Farewell my Nalgene…

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Glass Mug

When we moved into my Mom’s house my favorite glass mug got packed. It doesn’t match any other cup or dish I own; I think it might have been my grandmother’s. I like it because it’s exactly the right shape and weight in my hand, and holds the perfect amount of milk to go with waffles. At any rate, I’ve been without it for a year and a half.

Meanwhile, at the time of the move I had one of those tall plastic cups with the hard plastic straw. It came with me because I was at that very thirsty point of pregnancy, every point, and it was attached. It was there cutting a tall clear figure, practical yet chic.

Then it broke while I was on a three-week road trip. And Momma was thirsty.

There were two or three days of trying to suck enough water out of drinking fountains and refilling plastic bottles in gas station bathrooms before I got fed up. The inner estuaries of my growing abdomen demanded floods, not these piddly rains! I asked a friend on my trip if she had an old extra bottle maybe?

She did and for the next, well, year I drank out of an old scratched wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle that looked eminently functional and tired. As I was very pregnant and uncomfortable I couldn’t help but see the resemblance. The reflection wasn’t a pleasant one.  But it was an accurate one, even the wide-mouthed bit.

And then today I abruptly noticed I wasn’t drinking out of the Nalgene anymore. I looked around for it. Could it be? Yes! It was still sitting next to my bed where I had left it two days ago. And what was I doing? Drinking little sips from my favorite glass mug.

Ha!

I’m no longer a camel carrying water around on his back in quantity sufficient to make it to the next oasis. I am here. No nomad, I! And my oasis before me allows small glass mugs and the reliability of tiny sips.

So, fare thee well, my Nalgene. I send thee on with the help of the great karabiner in the sky where you shall lie in peace, forever resting in the shadow of the eternal Jansport. Amen.