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Well, this is it. I’m 37 weeks pregnant so pretty much any time Charlie wants to come out will be just fine from here on out. The night before last my uncle Norman had a heart attack and we were struggling to get ahold of my mom to let her know (he’s now in stable condition, thank goodness.) She was on vacation with her boyfriend on Orcas Island, where there is patchy reception, but luckily I had the name of the B&B she was staying at. I called them and had them wake her up around midnight, all the while knowing “she probably thinks I’m in labor, haha.” It was a good practice run for what it will be like if I DO go into labor before she makes it down here on the 25th. I’ll be calling, she’ll probably not be answering, my sisters and I will play phone tag trying to come up with unique ideas of how to reach her, and maybe a baby will pop out sometime during.

Our current birthing “plan” is all pretty last minute. I’m currently on day 1/4 of my last work week, after which I will have two days to sell my bed and move out of my shared apartment. After that, my good friends Meena and Evan were nice enough to offer me a place to stay for the 5 days before my mom arrives at her rental house in Oakland. The day after that, we go into Walnut Creek Kaiser to complete the transfer paperwork from the SF Campus to the Walnut Creek Campus, and a couple days after that WE FINALLY TAKE OUR BIRTHING CLASS.

Of course, every day I imagine what any one of those days would look like if I suddenly went into labor. Which, in my head, looks something like, “OH NO, MEENA AND EVAN’S COUCH!!! THEY WILL NEVER LET ME COME OVER AGAIN!” or “SORRY MOM, I KNOW YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF JUDGING THE GOATALYMPICS BUT THESE CONTRACTIONS WIN THE MEDAL FOR ‘MOST PERSISTENT.'”

I don’t know, I guess I have a million ideas of how things could play out, all swirling around in my head. I’m just glad it looks like I’ll be out of my apartment before I go into labor, because I really did not want to have to be there for that. Mom can always hop on a plane and be down to SF in a few hours. My lovely friend Buffy Goodman, who has volunteered her superb photogrphy skills for my birth, will also be attempting to fly down once I go into labor, and since she lives in Canada, that voyage may take a bit more time/elbow grease.  Things may all come together, NOTHING may come together, but as long as we finally get to meet Charlie, I am stoked for what’s to come.

No real signs of pre-labor yet. I’m getting some very, very mild cramping but nothing that makes me think I have entered into the imminent labor zone. I am craving McDonald’s which is weird. I’ve only eaten there 3 times during my pregnancy, which is about 3 times more than I have eaten at McDonald’s in the last 5 years. It’s weird that completely horrific and shitty food can sound so good to me right now. Not sure what to do about it… I really don’t want to give any money to McDonald’s. It may be that I am craving the sentimental comforts McDonald’s gave to me when I was growing up. I used to LOVE eating there, and I’m finding that pregnancy makes me WILDLY nostalgic for all the comforts of my youth. I’ve been listening to so much grunge, eating a ton of cereal and catching up with old friends… so I guess there are a lot of pros and cons of the sensory explorations of yore.

I am now so humungous I can barely move. I give a lot of exasperated sighs and self-deprecating laughs when trying to: put shoes on, plug anything into low outlets, get out of bed, and yanno, just manuver myself into every day situations. Everything is awkwardly ridiculous and I am the brunt of all my own jokes. I am glad I don’t often picture how terrible I must look, or I might feel a lot more self conscious about it than I already do. My brain has decided to assume I look just like everybody else, even when I’m moving at half-speed and all my tops are creeping up my torso, attempting to gather right under my boobs in some sort of trailer-park-tankini look. I pull my skirt up and my shirt down SO often I fear they may eventually fuse into a cumberbund. Ah well, UNPREGNANCY IS IMMINENT, YOU GUYS. I’ll keep you posted.

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Holy shit I’m 35 weeks pregnant today. How did a pregnancy that seemed to go by so slow end up so close to being over? I guess that’s how they get ya! I vacillate between moments of feeling like a normal, functional personal and moments of wondering how I will possibly survive these last few weeks. Throughout all this I have maintained what I can only describe as a low-level refrigerator-like buzzing undertone of zen, knowing that everything is a Fonzy-type-cool and will all just happen how it’s supposed to happen and we can all have a beer and watch a movie afterwards. Even when I’m super irritated with the world (and it really does seem like the entire world transforms into a mass of infuriating morons just to spite me some days) that weird buzzing zen is still there, waiting for rational thinking to return to me. It’s the strangest thing to feel both at once, but it definitely feels like my survival installed them both, knowingly.

My birthing plan has changed a lot in the past few weeks, just due to family circumstances. The basics are the same: try to achieve as natural a birth as possible (ix-nay on the pidural-eay, itocin-pay and ee-section say,) labor at home as long as possible and retain my sanity and energy as much as possible. The Dream Team I had originally assembled is being reinvented due to more realistic scheduling as my due date approaches. I had originally wanted two of my aunts to fly down (Sandra & Shelly) and my grandmother had planned to drive down with my mother at the end of June to stay in a rental house in Oakland before my August 5th due date arrived. She’s been dealing with ovarian and lymph node cancer this year, had just finished chemotherapy but now her doctors are recommending she do radiation so she has to stay to do that before she can travel. My aunts are bound to their own employment and financial restraints in Seattle, and I think the general feeling is that we don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen for this thing, so they may end up staying put. Who does that leave? Well, my mom will for sure be there. She seems to be almost as excited as I am at this point, verging on more so. She’s driving down on the 24th to be here on the 25th of July with her two pugs (doulas!) My sister Conny, who lives in Seattle, will probably pass on the birthing part but fly down afterwards… and my other sister, Aurora, who lives in SF, maaaay come to the birth, but she says she doesn’t want to look at my vagina. I told her that is not mandatory.

So, I may potentially only have my mother to help me through the birth, but that may be a good way to avoid an uncomfortable power struggle and make decisions more quickly. I’ve scheduled our birthing class pretty much at the latest possible date (7/28), because she won’t be here until 10 days before my due date anyway and I don’t want to go without her. So who knows if we’ll even complete the class before I go into labor, or if my water will break during the class and we can give the students a live demo.

Until then, I continue to be monsterously huge and waddling about hither and there, mostly to work, MUNI, Rara’s house, Whole Foods and home again. Did you know Whole Foods carries “healthy” cocoa pebbles? (Real COCOA!) Well they do, and I will probably eat all of them before you can buy any, so forget I said anything. I still go through a half gallon of milk every few days, that’s been a pretty consistent craving throughout the whole pregnancy… and now that my due date and moving date are within reach, I’m really trying to eat as many Mission-style burritos as I possibly can before I go back to Seattle. I wish I could take them all with me, they may just be what I miss most about San Francisco.

So yeah, I’m huge, I just keep eating and sleeping and rewatching IT Crowd and really growing to appreciate Al Pacino and Meryl Streep’s 80’s performances. The two positions I can sleep “comfortably” in (left-side or RIGHT side!) are now barely comfortable at all, and I have to switch sides about every ten minutes or so or I start to ache and my arm loses feeling. These are the things that make you THINK you MUST almost be done. “My body wouldn’t do this to itself for much longer!” “I surely can’t grow any larger than this!” “Is that how birth is triggered? When your body is just completely fed-up with its own discomforts?” It seems to make sense to me!

So I’m selling my furniture, packing up my clothes and knick-knacks and it feels really good to know I’m getting closer and closer to leaving SF. Sorry San Fran, you’re beautiful, but I can’t fucking imagine raising a kid in you. I’d be so broke, short-handed and stressed, I may hold it against you for life. Seattle just FEELS like an awesome place to raise kids in (I may be biased since I had a great time growing up there) and I think I just need that slower, more laid-back pace (and lower rent!) to really thrive as a mom. Picnics in the park seem much less stressful (yet more moist) to pull off there, and I can’t wait to visit Alki Beach, the Children’s Science Center, New Moon Goat Rescue and all the local library storytelling hours. Life just seems a lot more simple and serene back home. It’s everything I would want it to be, just wish I could bring the sunshine with me.

So, if all goes according to plan, I should have a baby here in the next 5 weeks or so. Both of my cousins were just a couple days off from their due date so I’m hoping to have the same luck! We’ll see how it goes, and I will try and write more if there’s anything interesting to write about!

I am such a pansy-ass. I don’t write in my blog because all I can think to do is complain anymore. I know I have a batrillion things to be thankful for, that are going well and that are undeniably promising… but it’s hard to ignore the constant undercurrent of discomfort and worry that come along with being 32 weeks pregnant with your first child.

I don’t know who this kid is! So far, all I know about him is that he doesn’t like it when I fold my hands/arms on top of my belly… he likes to try and kick them off. He’s more of a roley-poley shift-arounder than a puncher/kicker which makes me think he may be either mellow or just very indecisive. He seems to like to listen to David Bowie, because when I played it for him on headphones he started kicking up a storm once I took it away. He either loved or hated Cabin In The Woods and Prometheus because he kicked the shit out of me through both those movies… I think he was probably just reacting to the adrenaline rush from watching them but that’s the point… WHO THE HELL KNOWS?

I have no idea who will be careening out of me in a couple months and the closer I get to my due date, the more terrifying that is. With all these We Need To Talk About Kevin nightmare child scenarios, and with how extraordinarily willful and difficult I was as a child, I can’t help but worry. I suppose I should realize this is how being put in a situation I have very little control over can make me feel. I feel very helpless when all I have to do is wait and hope and think positively… that is so difficult for me! My brain has been concocting every nightmare scenario possible and still seems to come up with more every day. Then I feel guilty for the ways in which these worries may be causing stress to the baby and I feel even more like a hopeless idiot. What the hell kind of self-defeating cognitive loop have I been sucked into?

My cousins Alexis and Emily have both recently made it through pregnancy, childbirth and the first stages of parenting with two lovely little boys that I’m already very fond of. This should be encouraging, right?! I mean, everything went well for them, the babies are healthy, mellow, happy, currently not murdering anyone… and they seem to believe I can do what they did and that there is no need to be worried. Instead of drawing strength from their strength, I oftentimes look at their successes as good karma that will most likely run out when it comes to me. Like, they hit the jackpot on a baby-slot-machine that will inevitably turn cold for me. Why? Why does it feel this way?

I worry I will experience every part of being a parent this way. Instead of being mindful and able to enjoy each moment as it comes, I will constantly be worrying about the future… concerned that terrible things MIGHT happen instead of enjoying that they are currently not happening. Yesterday I spent most of the day imagining how exhausted and defeated I would become, as a mother who does nothing but fret about the next obstacle and never surrenders to the immediate euphoria of simply existing with child.

I have enjoyed parts of pregnancy. I enjoy the challenges and immense onslaught of new information every new day brings. I enjoy growing closer to the women around me, especially the mothers. I enjoy cultivating more respect for the experience of growing from a girl to a woman to a mother… all the while learning to value a more selfless existence. It is all valuable in an abstract yet voluminous quantity you only really grasp by being involved in the process. I enjoy the idea that I am changing into something I have never been before. I enjoy seeing my family and friends so excited to meet a brand new person, who is an extension of me, and to share this new life with us. All of these things are exciting, but equally as terrifying in their uncertainty.

Sometimes I have visions of the build-up to my due date, all the anticipation, hope and expectation… and not getting to bring home a baby afterall. I really try not to think about this one, and I’m sure it has something to do with some repressed fear of being a disappiontment to those around me… but this idea has been surfacing a lot. I imagine that I go to the hospital, I make it through an epic struggle through birth in some horrific cascade of unfortunate health crises, and at the end… my baby is taken away from me in a lifeless state and everyone looks at me like a failure. I have this same feeling associated with the fear that I may be made to have a c-section instead of a natural birth, and that everyone will look at me as a failure… so perhaps it is just a free-floating, ominous feeling that takes the shape of many potential fears.

While all of this is going on (and there is a lot more than this) I am impressed every day that I have made it this far, by myself… noticeably discontent to be living where I’m living, yet somehow arriving at 32 weeks pregnant, healthy, well-read, supported and with a good deal of savings nestled away in the last 8 months. I do feel stronger for that. I guess it makes me realize I may be making progress and becoming stronger while not feeling the sensation of growing stronger along the way. I see that it is possible to grow more resilient from fear, and by admitting and acknowledging these feelings, they have less potency and seem less real.

The mental struggle is just one of the hard parts, there are plenty more struggles ahead… but it’s how we navigate through them, leaning, listening and learning from each other on the way, that will determine what level of success we perceive ourselves to have had. That, and all the tiny faces that make up this new generation… their smiles, their tears, THEIR struggles and how they learn to cope with them from us.

I haven’t been writing many blog entries because all I want to do is complain lately and nobody wants to read my whiny bullshit. These last 29 weeks have been some of the least comfortable weeks of my life and all I seem to hear from people is “OH JUST WAIT!” Like I should be thankful for how uncomfortable I am now because I can look forward to being even more uncomfortable in the weeks to come. I HATE THIS ILLOGICAL UNEMPATHETIC NON-CONSOLATORY BULLCRAP! If you don’t care that I’m suffering then keep it to yourself, don’t tell me it’s going to get worse! That’s the fucking last thing I need to hear. Who the hell do you think you’re helping by adding more fear and stress to an already panicking, anxious, hormonal disaster of a woman? Seriously, get off it.

I have very little patience for people who have not been pregnant giving me advice on my pregnancy… but even WORSE are the women who HAVE been pregnant telling me how AWFUL being pregnant was/is/is going to be. HI, HELLO, I ALREADY KNOW, I’VE BEEN LIVING IT THE LAST 7 MONTHS. Do people not understand the concept of support? That when someone is bitching about how fucking intolerable pregnancy is all they want is a little bit of optimism, understanding and encouragement? It’s not like I can tap-out of this condition prematurely, I’m fucking stuck here until nature dictates otherwise. The only thing I can hope for is a little bit of support and warmth from those that are rooting for me.

It doesn’t help that I’m hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the people I draw the most support from. All of my family and closest friends can only do so much when we’re separated by telephone wires and state lines. I’ve never felt more isolated or helpless being stuck in San Francisco until Charlie is born. When you’re physically uncomfortable, while being far from home, every even remotely stressful thing seems like a monumentally stressful thing and I just can’t seem to cope with things that may not have bothered me 7 months ago.

I know there may not be any “solution” to feeling this agitated, other than all the hippie conceptual bullshit like yoga, deep breaths and making sure I exercise/rest a lot. I try to rest all the time but I never wake up feeling any more refreshed or full of energy than I did before I slept. I wake up feeling sore, tense, agitated and ready to go back to sleep again and it is SO FRUSTRATING.

Maybe the only cure is waiting… developing little coping tools just to get you through to the next day so that I’m just closer and closer to giving birth and starting to heal and regain the strength and use of my own body. I don’t need people telling me there will be a million new struggles to replace these old ones, I am quite aware. I don’t expect things to get “easier” per se, but I am ready to move on to the next step… I am frustrated by not being able to nest and build us a home while I’m down here, anticipating a huge impending move back home to Seattle. In the situation I’m in now, I am unable to feel like I’m making progress, like I have support, like I’m not flailing around directionless, alone. I feel like I’m fighting a war all by myself which makes everything more frightening and sometimes causes me to lose sight of all the impending joy.

Yes, I Worry

It amazes me how I can be only a few months away from labor and still have no idea what to buy someone else for their baby shower. I should be familiar with “baby stuff” by now, I’ve read about 13 books on prenatal health, pregnancy, childbirth and parenting… yet I can’t think of anything to buy, other than baby wipes and children’s books. Sure, these may turn out to be satisfactory gifts, but the general feeling of unpreparedness is haunting. I find myself filtering through every day actions with thoughts of, “Could I still do this as a mother / with Charlie?” “Would this be something a ‘good parent’ would do/think/say?”… and a lot of the time I don’t have an answer.

I realize I may compare myself to other parents in an unfair way, interpreting their decisions as somehow more informed or reliable than my own, but I’m not sure why. I consider myself a competent person who is able to pick up new information quickly, but I simply have no basis for comparison to estimate what sort of parent I will be.

I was riding the train today, looked out on Dolores Park and thought, “Man, the world just hands babies over to anyone.” I could be drinking lemonade in the park today, alone, an independent and still largely care-free twenty-something, or hauling an infinitely impressionable and vulnerable life through the park three months from now. These two realities are so close together yet so qualitatively distinct, it’s hard to grasp what this impending change really means, or what it will feel like.

I fear impending moments of hostility, aggression, loneliness, resentment, failure… and that Charlie will smell this weakness on me like a bloodhound. Or worse yet, that when he becomes literate he will read this blog and think, “what person more unequipped for parenthood could there possibly have been?” I recognize how challenging it is to try and become the kind of parent a child can be proud of. I understand the desire, and how devastating the idea of failure is… but more importantly, I recognize the utter futility of worrying.

Believing in our own strength is what allows us to grow stronger. I refuse to steer myself into self-doubt or over-analysis of circumstances that have not yet presented themselves. I may not make all the right decisions right away, but these are opportunities for us to learn together… and humility is valuable for both of us.

I just wanted to acknowledge that the fear is there. Sometimes I feel it in the pit of my stomach and have to will it away with the conscious acknowledgement of its uselessness. It looms, but I believe the only mistakes in life are the things people decide to label mistakes. We have made an infinite amount or none at all, according to who you ask. The mistakes and proud moments weave themselves together to create you where you are now, so are there really any mistakes at all?

Mistakes are all progress.

Perhaps most women don’t recognize the great opportunities inherent to pregnancy. Now I’m not talking about creating a brilliant new life, becoming a more wonderful and selfless person in the course of parenthood, or any of those cliche bullshit life-affirming experiences everybody tells you will “change you forever.” Sure, that may all happen in due time, but while you’re pregnant and as uncomfortable as you have ever been, why not take advantage of the hideousness of the situation and really embrace 9 months of personal exemption from all womanly standards of beauty, grooming and perfection. Men may wince at the idea of women “letting themselves go” during pregnancy, but let’s face it, we’re just getting fatter, less comfortable, wearing more pairs of sweats and less bras than we ever have before, so why not take advantage of this time and really maximize our care-free nature in the meantime?

I’ve been trying to grow my hair out for YEARS! It seems an impossible feat because there is inevitably that period where my bangs start to get in my eye, yet are too short to tuck behind my ear and I just look like that girl from Welcome To The Dollhouse if I attempt to just pin them all back with a bobby pin… so I feel helpless. I feel that I am driven to trim my hair so that it is manageable and thusly the cycle of short hair continues. Today, it dawned on me that I have been given the perfect opportunity to power through the awkward hair length: pregnancy. I am miles away from the majority of people whose opinion of me I value; all I ever do is work, eat and sleep, so who am I trying to impress? I already look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow woman in anything I wear, so how much more ridiculous will I look if my hair is in my eyes and I’m wearing stretchy pants instead of underwear?

This is a temporary phase, of course. The main goal is saving up money for my new life with Charlie, anyway. I’m saving money by not buying cute new dresses, make-up, going out schmoozing and getting cute haircuts. This “anti-grooming” phase is a perfect part of my master plan, which may also allow for more cute dress buying when the baby weight is coming off and I may have some semblance of my good looks shifting back into place.

I don’t have a problem admitting that I’m choosing not to conform to feminine beauty standards during pregnancy because I find it offensive that women are made to alter themselves to be considered beautiful in the first place. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me NOT wearing makeup, NOT spending large sums of money on clothing & accessories and NOT paying someone to cut my hair into some style that is considered more attractive than the way it grows naturally. I don’t understand how this is considered such a fundamental offense for women to commit, especially during such a transformative and unbalanced time. It seems natural to me to embrace all the changes as they come, and not try to mask what is going on with primping and artificial conditioning.

My cousin linked me to this site yesterday which I admit I found very romantic and captivating. It’s called TheGlow.com and it features waifish female New York designers and their children in fashion-magazine style photo spreads. The idea of these women existing, managing their high profile jobs in such a busy, competitive city while gestating, giving birth and then parenting, was blowing my mind. One of the women said she didn’t know why women fretted so much about losing their baby weight because she lost all of hers through the stress of having to meet her hectic schedule of daily meetings after she gave birth.

This lifestyle looks beautiful. They are mothers who managed to prioritize and accomplish the demands of childbirth while maintaining the success of their business lives, and look at them! They all look like cover girls while they’re doing it. But the reality of their situation seems very plastic and tainted to me, and in the photo shoots their children seem like glorified accessories to their fashion lines. I can’t imagine prioritizing fashion and my figure over the healthy weight gain inherent to pregnancy, and that glorious period of gestation not being seized as a time of education and reflection on one’s own life and goals for the future of the new family. A cluttered schedule during pregnancy just seems counter-intuitive to me.

I just finished reading Origins by Annie Murphy Paul which reviews a handful of studies regarding the experience of stress by a pregnant mother and the subsequent physiological effects experienced by their offspring. In the book, the author herself is a freelance writer bouncing around to meetings in Manhattan and attempting to make deadlines during her first and second trimesters. It’s interesting to observe what some mothers consider adaptive and others consider maladaptive behaviors during their own pregnancies. She’s doing research on the detrimental effects of stress on the fetus, yet she’s rushing to meetings and experiencing the turmoil of deadline crunches. I see that in the lives of the mothers of TheGlow.com as well. How do they manage to center themselves and their bodies while they are bending to the whims of their clientele and the superficial expectations of fashion culture? How will their children interpret their lust for beauty and success? Or their waifish frames and schedules filled with meetings and deadlines?

I see these things as unnecessary sacrifices, and I know that is a reflection of who I am, how I was raised and where I come from. I watched a documentary the other day on the formation and subsequent success of Pearl Jam and it made me so incredibly nostalgic for the casual atmosphere I was raised in in Seattle. I never felt the pressures of wearing name brands or being a size 2 in Seattle (not to say those aren’t there, but when I was growing up grunge was the trend and it was a very anti-establishment trend indeed.) I see myself as someone not at all defined by what I wear or how I look. I see myself as someone that defines herself by her ideas, her writing, and how she relates to and treats others. That is how I feel most comfortable, so I suppose seeing people who choose to define themselves by what they wear and how they look seems very foreign and off-putting to me. Beautiful people have always seemed like aliens to me. I just imagine the amount of time they invest in trying to look that beautiful and the ways in which that time, if given to me, would be better spent.

I know this blog entry is a splatter of thoughts and feelings, many of which are unrelated and pieced together by the whims of my pregnant mind, but this is an essential fragment of a shifting identity. The parts of who I am that I really want to be for that time when my child is first getting to know me, are becoming more clear with every book, blog and article I read… and every day I wake up and decide I’m not going to cut my hair, it all seems to mean something. I may not belong on TheGlow.com but that makes me happy. My child and I may not strive to be hoodlums or street-rats, but I feel alright that we may never end up at NY fashion week, because we have many other places to be.