Monday, March 30, 2009

Basically, what I'm feeling is this...

I'm planning some kind of big epic post on birth culture, The Business of Being Born, midwifery, language, hospitals, and judgment (ooo, exciting, right!?) as well as a slew of new photos from our weekend in Nevada with Pa and Gramma Judi, but for now, can I just say how freakin' excited I am to have a baby with Jason?!?!? Arrrrrgggg I could not be happier. Sometimes it's overwhelming, this joy. But always in a wondrous overflowing magical way.

Also, Amrit came this morning: all's looking great. She pricked my finger to check my glucose levels (perfect! spot on! pancreas working fine, no signs of prenatal diabetes!); checked my ph levels (all good, the water drinking is working---no protein in the urine!); checked the baby's position: head down, nestled right on top of my bladder (thanks dear), right where she should be. And though she can still flip around and do her thing, it's a good sign (in terms of not being breech) that she 'knows where she should be' (Amrit called her 'organized' which indicates that, thus far, she is taking after neither of us); gave me a shot of Rhogam in my butt (my blood type is O-, and Jason's +, so as a precaution I got a shot in the butt to ensure that, should Ivy be +, and should our blood mix, my antibodies won't attack her); and generally told me that we are developing and growing and proceeding delightfully apace.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Week in Review

A round-up of Things That Have Happened In the Past Several Days...
  • Spring has sprung, which is so fabulous. Today was warm and sunny, and it's supposed to remain that way. Huzzah! Huzzah to asparagus and artichokes and green garlic and spring onions and baseball and daffodils and little green shoots jumping out of the ground.
  • We met some awesome new pregnant friends on Saturday, thanks to the matchmaking skills of my pal Mei Gee, who mentioned via Gchat that she knows so many women who are pregnant right now. And I was like I want to know some too! And so she connected me Lara and Lisa who are a) my age b) freshly married c) having their first baby d) having girls e) totally cool f) married to totally cool guys. And also they live nearby—Temescal and Alameda, respectively—which is excellent. Tomorrow night I'm having another blind date with a pregnant chick, this one being Kate, the best friend of Rachel's GT, who lives in SF. I'm realizing how much I enjoy talking to other preg women, and really, just being in the same space as them. As I told Kelli when we were talking on the phone tonight, I have many amazingly supportive friends, and I adore them all, but it's nice to spend time with women who are going through and experiencing similar things as I am. Plus, I don't want to bore my non-preg friends with too much of the minutiae of preglife. (Though you guys are wonderfully engaged and curious and receptive thus far, and I super appreciate it!)
  • On that note, last night I started prenatal yoga (with the aforementioned Lara) at Piedmont Yoga Studio, which is a hopskipjump from our house. I've been planning to do some prenatal yoga action, but was being kinda snobby about it, thinking I'd wait until I was bigger and more unwieldy, cuz it might be too easy and wussy for my buff hardcore yogi ass. Ha ha ha. Ego check! Preg body reality check! I could barely hold downward dog for 10 freaking seconds, and a basic cat/cow with a gentle twist and arm stretch was a challenge. I felt good in triangle and tree, but in general, I felt very aware of the new limitations of this body. The class was wonderful, and again, it was so cool to be surrounded by preg women at all different stages—some were 15 weeks, some 38 and ready to go! The teacher, Cynthea Denise, was great, and clearly very focused on the community aspect of the class (which, really, is what I was hoping for). We spent the last 15 minutes in a circle, saying our names, how many weeks, etc. Twas awesome all around.
  • Continuing with the theme of "Doing pregnancy-related things with other pregnant people", Jason and I start our birth class this Thursday, with Laura Todaro. It's a homebirth-oriented class that promises to go over all the basics that a preg-prep class does, but with a focus on the homebirth experience, and without all the how-to-navigate-the-hospital info. Again, another opportunity to hang out with preg women and their partners, and maybe make new friends.
  • Physically, I'm feeling good still. Definitely feeling...bigger. I've had some sleeping trouble lately (thought I slept great last night, until Jason, who rose at 4:30am for some inexplicable reason, decided to come in the room and make me watch a youtube video of a cat licking a baby fox) It's not that my belly is uncomfortable...more like I wake up constantly to pee, and I also just wake up feeling like I wish there were more sleeping positions available to me. My hips fall asleep easily, and I just get kind of...uncomfy. I can't imagine this improving as the months go on, so I'm trying to get used to it. The pee thing is cool in a way—I feel like it's training me to wake up every two hours in order to get up and do something. Granted, nursing a crying baby is a different experience than going pee, but hey, I'll take the prep where I can get it.
  • Today I had some mild heartburn, and some more round ligament pain when walking too fast. I really have to slooooow dooooown. I have to become what I don't like: a slow walker. Agggg. Slow walkers! So annoying! Always in the way, never keeping up. I like to walk at a brisk clip, man. But sometimes, now, said clip hurts. And I must plod on down the halls of Oakland School for the Arts like some old lady, while the agile youths scurry past. Bah. Slow walking.
  • In other news, Henry the cat is insane, and will have his balls snipped as soon as the Oakland SPCA gives me an appointment. He also has the fluffiest tail on earth.
  • And finally, congrats are in order for Jason and all the White Whales, who just scored a sweet new redesign job for Middlebury College (that website will be much cooler eventually). Yay! I look forward to Jason figuring out how to bring Vermont maple syrup home in his carry-on without it getting confiscated by the Burlington Syrup TSA Squad.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

It's so cliche, but I am loving ice cream. Strawberry in particular.
And really, just strawberries in general. Especially with Grape Nuts and almond milk, or yogurt and honey. Or sliced on top of strawberry ice cream...
Prenatals, vegetarian non-fish derived DHA for baby's brain, and Vitamin E oil for the belly

I can't believe how much I pee. Thus, I love toilet paper.
Check my long-ass nails. They're fun but mildly cumbersome.

Belly Schatz

My cavernous bellybutton.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Classic Rock of Baby Clothes

My dear dear mother likes to save things. Not in a pack-rat hoarder way mind you—it's more of a nostaligia thing. My dear dear father has built attic storage space and a series of backyard sheds to hold the saved things. Sometimes we joke about it, but oh how grateful I am that she saved several boxes of my baby clothes, books, and toys. A few weeks ago I went home and we unearthed it all, and sat on the couch pulling out adorable thing after adorable thing. I remembered so many of the tiny dresses and t-shirts and sweaters, and I pored over my favorite books, recalling each illustration so so vividly. It's amazing how much she saved, and how well most items have held up. Among it all are a ton of dresses and sweaters that my Nana made, complete with little "Handmade by Mary" tags. So, so special and amazing that Ivy Cat gets to wear tiny sweaters knitted by her great-grandma.

Yesterday Ruby (my personal organizer and interior designer) helped me get the baby room more established: we bought a changing table off CL and bought (um, pricey) fabric to make curtains and got paint swatches. And we put tiny tiny baby clothes in the dressers and filled a drawer with tiny tiny socks (all courtesy of Jenn and Arlo, thank you!) and tiny tiny onesies (again, mostly Jenn and Arlo!) and on and on. Pretty much every item of clothing made us swoon and oooh and ahhh, but I do think that my collection of rad baby t-shirts, circa 1978-79, are my faves.
The smallest shoes! Those were my red sneakers. No laces, apparently. Very cool.
A Nana Original.
The partner to the stegosaurus shirt shown below. Batik happy unicorn. LOVE IT.
Not that I'm a Yankees fan or any nonsense like that, but this one's a classic.
My dad brought this one back for me when he went to Cooperstown to see Willie Mays get inducted in 1979 (ask my dad to tell that story sometime. It's a good one.)
This one is perhaps my favorite. It's the tiniest thing ever, and that hippie stegosaurus is so rad. Our dear friend Barbara Rosso gave it to my mom when I was born.
Part I of the Baseball Series. I was SO into this shirt. It's more of a toddler size, but I had to include it. Fun Kate Fact: When I was four I named all my antique dolls after A's players, including Rob Picciolo.
A La Leche League original.
Bwaaaah, Snoopy and Woodstock!
This matching Bert and Ernie set is so freaking sweet.

Monday, March 16, 2009

On Crying

A new development: I feel like crying constantly. It's like the day before my period, but everyday, and no period in sight (for a while). I am not sad—I am the complete opposite of sad. But there's a new hormonal welling up of emotion happening here. I welcome it, I do. I am forgetful, I am teary, I am happy, I am very visibly pregnant, and I still get up to pee at least 3 times a night. This is my status update.

I almost cried at kickboxing last week while I was on the floor, stretching, and "Sweet Child O Mine" came on and I imagined Jason and I singing it to Ivy; and then "We Belong" came on and I almost cried because of that because it reminds me of Jason; and I did cry last night when Jason was talking to my belly, telling Ivy about all of the fun things they're going to do together, and how he's going to read to her and sing to her and clap with her and feed her so mommy can get sleep; I cry or almost cry when I'm trying to express something and am not quite getting it out right; I cry or almost cry thinking about the amazingness of my friends and family, all of Ivy's aunties...when we have dinner with Kim and get psychic dictionary readings from her; and when Julia sends awesome enthusiastic emails; when my mom gives me more cute stuff that she got at the thrift store, and when she has me lift my shirt so she can stare at my belly and do some crying herself; when we spend the day in San Jo with Kirstie and Kayce and all these Willow Glen people who are so wonderfully supportive of their wondrous engagement (well, marriage); when Jenn gives us enormous amazing amounts of baby clothes and barf rags and bibs and socks and hats and convinces us that yes, we are going to need it all (and more!); when Jason is just completely wonderful, which is seriously quite often; and when Anna and Katie and Rachel send me sweet messages about this blog and I realize that people actually read what I'm writing, and enjoy it, and feel close to and connected to this magical process.

And I cry or almost cry for sad reasons too, like when I pass Children's Hospital and think of sick kids and their parents, and today, when I emailed with Louisa about the funeral she went to for a 5-year old boy who was killed by a truck in Berkeley recently—and she gave me the link to the website that has been made for him and I could barely look at it, and I realized that, despite my sense of calm and peace, I am affected in new ways by things relating to children dying or hurting or being harmed. I felt the gorgeous scary weight of this thing that Jason and I are doing, this bringing a life into the world and hoping beyond hope that we can keep it safe and healthy and happy and warm and alive. I'm not afraid of it, I just feel it, deeply. These thoughts in particular have made me cry several times today, and will probably keep me crying on and off for the rest of my life.

I also almost cried when Ellen had Portia DeRossi on her show today and they were really loving and sweet. My sister almost cried too, and she's not pregnant. Fleet Foxes makes me almost cry, and so does Neko Case. And Tom Waits, but that's obvious.

I definitely thought that writing this would make me cry, but it hasn't seemed to. Maybe that's because I just drank a cup of tea and I have to pee super bad and that's kind of dominating my realm of physical sensations right now.

Anyway. To all you awesome friends who are reading this and supporting us and being so kind and present and loving and excited and generous: THANK YOU! I love you guys. Ok, now I'm almost crying...
At Auntie Kim's warmest coziest nicest place in SF---just to the right are big windows with epic view of entire city. I am digesting yummy coconut rice and curried lentils.
Feeling her move. Belly shiny due to application of Auntie Kim's awesome home-made salve.
Aerial view

Check It Out, I Look Pregnant

At Kirstie and Kayce's engagement party in San Jo. I can finally rock the wrap dress (never looked quite right pre-preg. One needs curves for the wrap.)

Me and Auntie Kirstie, the engaged supermodel with magical lustrous hair

The nametag on my belly says IVY CAT, of course

Grandma Barbara with her hot new rhinestone-y glasses and party sweater

Family portrait in bedroom. (Is this inappropriate? I hope not.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Forgot

Just an FYI: My pregnancy brain—pregnesia, I've now heard it called—is so bad, that I was just flossing my teeth and remembered that I'd been meaning to google 'forgetfulness during pregnancy', or something to that effect, in order to find out if there are any actual studies done on this phenomenon of being totally and ridiculously forgetful during pregnancy. And then I walked out of the bathroom, sat down at my laptop, and completely forgot what I was doing there. I knew there was something I wanted to google, but geez, what the hell was it? And then I remembered, and I laughed at myself, and I googled it, and I found some lame articles on lame pregnancy sites and didn't bother reading them. I won't remember what they say anyway.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The F Word

I've been super busy this week, working with my dear friends and co-editors, Tisa Bryant (in from Brooklyn) and Miranda Mellis, to finally finish Vol 2 of The Encyclopedia Project...It's been in the works for something like 3 years now (!!!), and we're finally getting close to completion. So rather than my usual routine of relaxing navel gazing, I've been staring at InDesign, discussing cross-referencing, and loving the opportunity to spend time with these amazing women, and this bad-ass project. Thus, I've been off the blog for a bit...

I've been thinking about many many things this week—this house we're excited about; words beginning with F-K; the new Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket albums; publishing; book design; new business for Jason; the fact that the sun's out...One thing that's been on my mind is my favorite F word: feminism. I find myself pondering what it means to have 'a feminist pregnancy', to be a feminist parent, to raise a feminist child. And broader still: what it means to be a feminist, period. I could go on and on, and probably will at some point, but, for now: Sunday was International Women's Day, and March is Women's History Month. In honor of this, I did a reading at SF State on Monday night with the always awesome Amanda Davidson. Charmingly titled "A Night of Kick-Ass Feminist Readings", it was in the dorms (some kind of lounge that felt like a stand-up comedy club) and was put together by a former student of hers—a charming kid named Tyler. He gave a brief talk before we read, and mentioned how much flack he got for wanting to put on a reading with the word 'Feminist' in the title—that even in oh-so-tolerant-SF, people still express surprise/disdain/indignation/dismissiveness when a man identifies as a feminist. In his endearing awkward manner, he stated what I believe needs to be stated by more men, more of the time: that it's OK to call yourself a feminist. In fact, it's not just men—I can't tell you how many smart, conscious, strong female college students I've encountered who offer that tired old line: I mean, I'm not a feminist, but [I think women should have equal right/the same opportunities as men/the same pay as men/the right to do what they want with their bodies, etc etc etc] And I'm always like, Well sweetie, I hate to break it to you, but it kind of sounds like you are a feminist. And they hem and haw and hedge and say things about not wanting to be all intense and political and (my favorite) angry... The word carries such stigma; these young women fear alienating men (and other women), and/or don't want to be seen as some crazy man-hating militant, and young men don't want to seem 'gay', or too political, or whatever. So it was refreshing to see this skinny college kid proclaim his feminism on a tiny stage to a bunch of freshmen. And then it was fun to get up a read a chapter from my book, my big belly getting kicked and jostled under my grey sweatshirt. Hopefully it meant something to the students in the audience to see a (pretty hot) pregnant chick (thankyouverymuch) and a college dude celebrating the awesomeness of feminism.

All of which leads me to Our President, believe it or not. I'm following closely the recent political developments concerning women's health and reproductive rights—these issues are super important to me in general, and now that I'm about to bring a new tiny woman into the world, they're extra relevant. Today's policies affect her as well as me; today's Supreme Court nominees will be hers; today's health care reforms and funding decisions will be hers; today's sex ed policies will be hers. So this morning when I read Feministing and saw this video of Obama speaking about the new Council on Women and Girls that he's establishing, I was so, so moved and heartened. While he doesn't come out and say the F word, it's there in the speech. It's there in the way he reminds us that women's rights are everyone's right, everyone's concern, everyone's responsibility. It's there in the way he speaks with reverence about his mother and grandmother, and the way he slyly acknowledges the men in the room (second row, ya'll). It's there in his reversal of the Bush administration's devastating "Mexico City" policy, or Global Gag Rule, which denied funding to international family planning/health orgs that provide abortion. Anyway, in watching this clip, I realized that my excitement about this announcement was really not about me—it's about our daughter, and the future that she can grow up in.

Thanks, Mr. President. You big ol feminist, you.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cornflake Girl

Baby baby baby. Something is making me cranky. Irritable. I smell people’s breath and I don’t like it. But soon all I’ll smell is you, your little head, your thin thin skin, in my arms and your smell will bloom everywhere.

I feel you in various ways now—little earthquakes deep within, heavy weight when I bend down, something in the way during stretching, sleeping, being. Looking like a pregnant woman, visibly carrying my round tight future.

5 ½ months. I sleep on my sides and my hips fall asleep. Sheet creases embedded when I wake up to pee two, three, four times a night. Wake warm; feel pressure; sit up; grab robe; dodge cats; pee; return; warm again.

I’m playing music for you everyday; I have an iTunes playlist and I wonder if that concept will be relevant for you when you’re old enough to read this. It has many of my favorite albums on it—538 songs. Joni Mitchell is fading right now, replaced by a spunky jangly Billy Bragg and Wilco. This album—Mermaid Avenue—is perfect for dancing with a baby. We’ll twirl around and bounce and you’ll learn to clap along and bob your head and we’ll show you off to everyone we know.

There are so many people waiting to meet you; you’ll have a slew of aunties, uncles too, but so many aunties. All these women with so much to tell you. Landslides of advice, endless days of stories.

Back to me, because that’s where you are: I want to describe the sensation of your movements. To Jason I said it’s like the briefest private earthquake—a sudden shift in my foundation. And then I said it’s like that feeling when you’re on a plane and the ride is smooth and suddenly there is a blip of turbulence, a quick drop or shake, and you feel it in your gut and then the ride is smooth again. Your big kicks remind me of that. (Now playing: Mirah, and now Ryan Adams) Right now you’re still—sleeping, meditating, relaxing in that hammock that you’ve got there. Other movements are flutters, bumps, hops, hiccups. Sometimes I want so badly to see what you’re doing in there, but I respect your privacy, darling. That’s a wonderful thing about this stage of the relationship—we are so together, but you get to stay hidden. And right now, in moments like this, I’m also hidden. So we’re both alone in this wondrous way. And yet we’re keeping each other alive.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Here’s one I want you to know. We can all sing along. Now Tori Amos singing This is not real, this is not, this is not really happening…You bet your life it is. Sometimes, often, this is how I feel, but not in a bad way you see, but in a very calm and practical and oh my god ok way. As in I am doing something, whatever, standing sitting walking moving and I can—still—forget for a moment that I am pregnant, there is a baby inside me that will emerge fro my body, that will be ours forever, that will alter the course of our every single day and moment. And forget is the wrong word, because it implies some sort of process, some act of un-remembering, and for me, it’s more that the fact is just not in my roiling thought pattern for this one moment of consciousness—and I sit down to pee and I’m thinking of houses and pets and work and the weather and I look down and there is this belly, this round hill, and I think oh whoa. Right. This is…happening.

You bet your life it is.

You bet your life it is.

And how enamored we are of this fact.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tiny Astronaut

My pregnancy-oriented writing has been taking place in three separate modes and spaces: this blog, which I'm now attempting to write on (in?) daily; a Word Doc called "Baby Notes", where I just write and write with no real rules or structure; and a small brown notebook, where I write letters to Ivy, and sometimes to myself. I think I'll start folding the non-blog writing into the blog...

February 12

This. This changes everything. I am new and very much the same. In the mirror my body is mine but I’ve never seen it before—brick-colored nipples at the ends of full real breasts; a gliding swelling curve out in front. And how I think about language—suddenly three letters I know very well that make a word I’ve said who knows how many times, suddenly that is everything, our future: I V Y. Hello.

When she kicks me I imagine her twirling weightless, a tiny astronaut in the footage of the shuttle that they show on the news: flipping around, laughing, floating orange juice escaping from the glass, sailing in bright globs across the room. Bouncing off the walls, the ceiling, her ceiling now is past my bellybutton, two or three fingers above it, and this is all occurring as I sit still in a chair and write this. This is happening within me. She is spinning and spinning with the smallest fingernails one could imagine, with a downy coat of soft soft fur, wee mammal that she is, a face we will soon know.

We’re waiting to know you. The anticipation is wonderful and strange and like most significant new phases you can think and imagine and envision and guess, but you cannot know what it is like until you are absolutely and purely in it. And this time right now is the faraway past, the part where you just didn’t know. The part where you can just sit on your aunt’s comfortable chair and eat cheese and crackers and green apples slices and write and write and wonder. You can lounge in your soft warm bed and ease out when you please and make a leisurely breakfast for one, two if he’s not off to work right away. The part where your breasts were still milkless, your stomach still stretched tight, your instincts still waiting, crouched in the wings, ready to jump in and play themselves out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

All of Your Questions, Answered!

When you’re pregnant, people tend to ask variations on the same series of questions. Not that I’m complaining by any means, as they’re the questions that I’ve asked—and continue to ask—of pregnant women. They're important questions—they help us feel connected to this strange, mysterious, magical process. (Please keep asking me these questions, and more, as my answers will most certainly change as this whole thing progresses.)

What follows is a compendium of my current answers. You can infer what the questions are...

1. 23 weeks. So, almost 6 months. OMG!

2. The end of June. Or beginning of July. Or middle of June. Something like that. They say first babies are usually late, but you never cousin Liza's first baby was a few weeks early. Based on my last period, the date is June 28th, I think.

3.* A Cancer, if it’s late June, a Gemini if it’s before the 23rd, I think.

4.* Yeah, sensitive Cancers.

5.* Yeah, Jason’s a Gemini. I like Geminis. I like Cancers too. Whatever, it’s my baby, I’ll like it regardless of astrological sign.

6. Awesome. I feel awesome. Lots of energy, really happy, calm, peaceful, excited. So far it's been a very easy pregnancy [knocks on wood immediately]. Not much morning sickness during the first trimester, just some nausea for a couple weeks, barfed once. I was super tired and exhausted but that ended once the second trimester started. Now I feel great. Definitely gassy a lot and indigestion-y sometimes, but I have Tums and papaya enzymes for that. Other than that, my gums bleed when I floss, I pee constantly, and I get winded walking up hills and more than one flight of stairs. So far, so good.

7. Not really…I feel pretty mellow and even. I’m not a very moody person, and I don’t tend to be deeply impacted by hormonal changes. Sometimes I do feel more irritable than usual, but I try to keep it in check.

8. It’s a girl. Well, we’re not 100% sure of that, as it’s hard to tell for sure with girls and ultrasounds, but it seemed pretty certain that she doesn’t have a penis or a scrotum. Plus I really feel like she’s a girl…

9. Yes… [and then depending on the person and/or my mood]

a. Oh, we’re still keeping it to ourselves

b. Her name, my dear friend and/or random person who I feel like telling, will be Ivy. Ivy Catherine. We’ll call her Ivy Cat…it’s a name we’ve had picked out for years.

i. Ivy was my Nana’s aunt’s name (though she spelled it Ivie) and I’ve always loved the name. And then one day, years ago, when Jason and I were still in the early throes of dating, the name ‘Ivy Cat’ popped into my head and I loved it. I sent Jason a text message saying something to the effect of Let’s have a baby and name her Ivy Cat, and he replied with an effusive voicemail message, which went something like Oh my god let’s have a baby named Ivy Cat RIGHT NOW! And ever since then it’s been the name we use to refer to our future child…and now it’s the name we’ll give to this one right here.

ii. Ivy Catherine Schatz Pontius. Not hyphenated—my last name will be a second middle name. I hemmed and hawed on this for a bit, and thought a lot about how to negotiate the last name, and in the end decided to keep it simple, and to resist the patriarchy in other ways that don’t concern my kid’s name. Plus I like Jason’s last name a lot.

10. He’s thrilled. Supportive and excited and involved and all those good adjectives. He’s really an incredible partner. I’m super super seriously lucky. And he doesn’t complain about my gas.

11. Nothing too crazy…I definitely am way more into dessert that I normally am. I usually like salty foods, but I’m liking sweets. I ate like eight cupcakes this week, and I’m really feeling ice cream. I’m loving ice cream. And cookies. My mom's cookies, and her neighbor Donna's cookies. Oh, and Snickers. Snickers Dark in particular. I have no qualms about indulging since I'm otherwise very healthy, though I don't like the aftertaste of sugar very much. But while it's in my mouth, I'm into it.

12. I’m not crazy about raw onions, which is weird because I normally am a big fan, but they leave this aftertaste that I can’t quite handle. But that’s it, I think. Jason got some garlic fries a few months ago and the smell made me nauseous, and I ordinarily love that smell.

13. Not really. I definitely eat a lot more than usual, though lately I’m trying to eat smaller meals to avoid indigestion and heartburn. But in general, I’m eating the same types of foods. Lots of greens and grains and dried apricots and nuts and protein—eggs and cheese and quinoa and all that good stuff. Smoothies, yogurt, fruit. Prenatal vitamin. Epic amounts of water and juice. Tea. Tons of tea.

14. Yeah, I have a cup here and there. I didn’t drink it for the first trimester, even though it’s quite fine to do so. But I mostly drink tea. Some black, lots of peppermint and ginger and a pregnancy blend that I got from Elephant Pharmacy but they went out of business so I have to find it elsewhere. It has nettles—good iron source—and red raspberry leaf—good for the uterus—and, oh I don’t know, a bunch of good herbs in it.

15. No, I don't really miss it. I’m definitely having the occasional glass of wine or beer. No hard alcohol, but wine and beer, yes. I really believe that it’s not a big deal, and it relaxes me and tastes great and millions of pregnant wine-and-beer-drinking European women can't be too wrong. What’s interesting is that I have no desire to have more than just one glass (which is, um, highly unusual for me). It’s like my body knows its limit, and after one it’s just like ok, that’s fine.

16. Yes, she’s definitely really active. It’s the craziest feeling, so private and surreal and nice. Like she’s reminding me that she’s there. I can feel her getting stronger, too, especially in the last few weeks. Jason has felt many a kick.

17. I don’t really know. 15 pounds? I don’t have a scale, and I don’t really care. As long as I feel good.

18. I’m still kickboxing, and walking, and doing yoga at home.

19. Yes, kickboxing. I’m not sparring or doing any contact stuff—it’s a lot of cardio and strength training, and bag work. I’m modifying it all and going much slower and easier, but it feels great to go to class and it’s especially great to keep boxing. I’m going very easy on kicks, as I don’t want to strain or pull anything—during pregnancy you become much more flexible (your body starts producing a hormone called relaxin that, among other functions, loosens your pelvic joints and ligaments to facilitate birth) so you have to be careful not to overdo it with stretching, etc. I’m already very flexible, so I have to be careful not to overextend myself. But yes, kickboxing, I love it. I don’t do any jumpy or bouncy stuff, and I don’t do hardcore ab work, and I just listen to my body and don’t push myself. Once it’s nicer out, I’ll start swimming too. I just have to get a new suit. I figure one of those two-piece Speedos will work. Or I can cut a big hole in my current suit…

20. Yes. Yes I am. So, so, so excited. It''s just amazing. I love it. [Shrugs, smiles. What else is there to say?]

*This series of questions generally only occurs with, you know, astrologically-mined individuals. But it does occur more frequently than you might think (depending, of course, on who you are. I don't actually know who reads this thing.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

"For I have never felt this way before..."

I'm currently reading the book that my former teacher and thesis advisor, Carole Maso, published after the birth of her daughter Rose. A Room Lit By Roses: A Journal of Pregnancy and Birth is, well, a journal of pregnancy and birth. The title does not lie. It's enjoyable to read, as it's very recognizably Carole, and it's comforting and familiar to be in her lilting sentences and fragments of honest, forthright thought. This passage that I read yesterday really struck me; it so beautifully and honestly echoes what I'm feeling about my own process and practice of writing and being and experiencing right now:

"I have never felt compelled to keep a journal. On occasion I have with all good intentions attempted to record the flow of my life---only after a few weeks to leave it behind...Far too many hours were spent composing fiction...I must say the idea of keeping an ongoing record of my life exhausted me, bored me, even appalled me a little...I feel suspicious of that earnest attempt at explanation---it always seemed oddly reductive...

But it is different with this. The perception of time, ordinarily fuzzy for me---I worked vaguely by seasons or semesters---had in an instant changed. I moved out of the blur of my life and was placed in the crucible of time. Suddenly I was counting---week four, week five---and noticing the daily changes. Meanwhile there were all sorts of little books to keep me company---what was happening exactly, and how I was feeling probably and was going to feel. I've never felt so---well---narrated, so attended to, accompanied...And wanting to chronicle it, hold it all, keep it somehow. How strange to feel the explicit workings of time on the psyche and on the body. The dramatic workings of tie: to be inside it---intimate with it like never before. To be able to feel its accomplishments.

This will all disappear, will fall eventually back into abstraction, or remain forever in my heat unarticulated and then, after a while, lost altogether. This book is a chalice. And my body is now a chalice---holding the most sacred, most precious...Keep this. Memorize this. Hold this time close, regardless of the outcome. I don't want to lose this. For I have never felt this way before and will never feel this way again."

Thank you Carole. Thank you.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Calendar Has Spoken




I love my Nikki McClure calendar, and will buy one every year for as long as she creates them. Each month has a word, one powerful word, and a cut-from-paper-with-an-Exacto-knife illustration to go with it. I find them to be horoscopic, if that’s even a word (oh good, it is).

February was EXCAVATE: a blue and black image of a heap of dark matter with two hands, arms, and shovel emerging from the top. Specks of dirt fling back and away from the shovel. Someone is digging deep; someone is immersed. Burrowed away in herself for February, this short strange cold month, over so quick, suddenly dropping you in the third month of the year, and New Year’s Eve still seems like something that happened a few weeks ago.


Inward, in depth, gazing down and unearthing. And I realize that is what I’ve been doing for the past 28 days. When people ask me what I’ve been up to, I get a bit tongue-tied, unsure—what to say?

Have I just been sitting around on the couch, staring out the window, drinking tea, looking at the cats and the internet and sometimes the TV and walking the dog and eating?

Writing letters to my baby, writing about being pregnant. Reading vampire novels and baby blogs, searching Craigslist, napping, being sick, enjoying the rain. Reading Ina May Gaskin's Guide To Childbirth and Beth Ann Fennelly's Great With Child and various other books.

Watching reality TV shows about cooks, bachelors breakdancers and fat people. Gchatting and Facebooking and texting and playing music on the iPod for the baby, listening to music constantly. Beatles and Joni Mitchell and Joanna Newsom and Alela Diane and the Smiths and Yo La Tengo and Nina Simone and Bonnie Prince Billy and Iron and Wine and Bob Dylan and Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos and Stevie Wonder and all these classics, old favorites.

Talking to friends near and far, describing how I’m feeling, what’s going on, how’s the midwife, what’s the latest. Wanting to hug them all, these future Aunties, hoping that I get to see them soon. Talking to and Skyping with the soon-to-be grandparents, our excited and thrilled and wonderful parents, the women who once carried us around in their wombs, who felt our little kicks, who grew and stretched and marveled at this all. Kickboxing and stretching and rubbing my belly, oil and cocoa butter and shining and big.

Going to my parents’ house and reclaiming my baby clothes, my Fisher Price toys, my tiny baby shoes and favorite books. Going for walks with Aubs, hearing about her waitress adventures.

Teaching once a week, going out on occasion, saving money, eating in.

Feeling guilty for not writing more, not being more productive, then looking down at my round belly-buttoned moon and reminding myself that I am in fact producing a human, and that’s a pretty big deal.

But still: write more.

Looking at houses, thinking about houses, searching the internet for houses, talking endlessly with Jason about home-buying and owning and money-saving and money-spending, exploring new neighborhoods, considering Oakland, homebuying, mortgages, home, home, home, own rent own.

Feeling her twitch a bit, then feeling her kick, now feeling her thump and roil and rock out. Finding out it's a her. Utilizing feminine pronouns, buying pink things, picturing girl. Saying the word daughter. Our daughter.

Spending my days alone but not alone, imagining and contemplating and envisioning this new life in all its phases and forms. Spending my evenings with Jason on the couch, in bed, eating dinner, gazing at each other with big eyes and sometimes giddy smiles, constantly amazed by what we’re doing, what is happening. Buoyed by love and endlessly excited for the challenges and difficulties and wonders on the way. Understanding what this means, what we’re doing, becoming.

Reading through old notebooks and journals, cleaning out my files, throwing away and shredding and recycling years of receipts and bank statements and papers and ephemera and making new files and cleaning out the office, moving it to the back room. Buying a lovely blue crib from a sweet rich Rockridge family with two girls and getting that tiny glimpse of future (minus the rich and Rockridge parts) and setting up the crib and putting my baby blankets and stuffed animals in it and beginning to make the baby room, moving furniture and hundreds of books and hanging up the tiniest beautiful baby clothes on the little mini hangers.

And sometimes yes just sitting there staring out the window, doing nothing, eating popcorn watching Oprah walking the dog letting time pass and pass and suddenly it’s 5, 6, and Jason’s home and it’s time to workout, make dinner, watch TV, sleep. Sometimes, yes, doing nothing. But usually aware and feeling and thinking. But sometimes I suppose, just wonderful nothing.

Feeling clumsy, butter-fingered, beautiful, strong, supported, loved. Proud and confident. Yes, sometimes freaked out, in brief moments that feel good and necessary. Feeling bigger and heavier but not necessarily big or heavy and looking long-nailed and blood-filled and clear-skinned. Finally feeling pregnant, noticing it when I get up from sitting or lying down, just a bit more challenging, feeling it when I work out, slower, gentler, plank position so much harder. Actually looking pregnant, showing, noticing it in every reflective surface, every time I get dressed, pull my beloved BellaBand over my belly and over my unbuttoned jeans so that I can still wear my ‘normal’ clothes. My friends who haven’t seen me in a few months, weeks, days even and they say You’re even bigger than you were last Friday! Showing everyone, now, that this is a thing we are doing, is happening, everyday.

That’s a lot of excavation.

And then realized that today is March 1. Time to turn the page.



And a woven nest with one single white egg sitting in the middle.

On this rainy lovely Sunday, as I sit in my newly relocated office in the back of the house looking out the windows at our lush, wet, green yard, the grey sky, the wild trees and weeds and growing things, feeling inspired and calm and finally uncluttered, clear, productive, ready to write more, write more—this seems the perfect word, the perfect image to accompany this month.

I now resume.

Twilight of My Succubus

I spent last night—wild Saturday night—on the couch with that damn Bella Cullen (nee Swan) and her irritating vampires travails. I’m on the fourth book of the Twilight “saga”, and feel compelled to finish because, shit, I need to know if the girl goes immortal or not. Louisa warned me of some strange and questionable happenings in this book, and I was definitely not expecting the fragile and wimpy Bella to seduce her new 300-year old husband on their romantic island honeymoon and then get knocked up by a succubus/incubus (we don’t yet know the sex) that is like draining the life from her. Yet she loves her baby, loves feeling it “nudge” her from within, and she valiantly resists the aborting desires of everyone around her (these books are Mormon morality tales masking as sexy teen vamp stories). That’s as far as I got—page 208—and then I went to bed.

Coincidentally (or not) yesterday was also the day that I realized I could see my belly moving when she kicks. And it was also the day when Jason was really able to feel big, obvious movements, not just tiny flicks and flutters. Serious thumps and jolts. His hand on my belly waiting and I don’t have to say to him There, did you feel that? And him vaguely nodding, I think so. Now we both feel it, and grin, and say hello back.

Before we went to sleep he asked whether I feel her movements in my dreams—Not yet I said, and then I went to sleep.

And then of course I had a totally intense dream about my tiny moving bulging succubus. I was in a body of water with Erica, one of my kickboxing instructors, and I was supposed to do some sort of competitive diving exercise—there was a treasure at the bottom of this ocean-that-then-became-a-pool, and she towed me around on a Wave Runner until we reached the edge of the pool and she was giving me instructions and the baby began to move in this intense way, where I could feel her as this huge ball in my belly, and it was poking out and moving so intensely and really kind of going nuts. I was afraid to look down or touch it, because I was afraid that I would see her, that her shape and form would be terrifyingly recognizable. It felt dangerous but not threatening—I wasn’t panicked, but I did wonder if diving to the bottom of the huge pool was OK, if it would be too much pressure. I told Erica that my baby was kicking a lot, and didn’t mention anything more.

And then my roiling succubus and I tried to dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve green belts with small attached treasures. But I was unable to get to the bottom, and I don’t recall what happened after that.

I think she knows that I’m writing about her—she’s thumping me as I type, like Hello, I’m right here! I know you’re writing about me!

Sorry kid. I’m probably always going to be writing about you. And I'm sorry to refer to you as a succubus---you're totally not a succubus. It was just a dream.