Tag: Pregnancy



Ovaries are dangerous, folks. They sit quietly in the background while you explain to your husband-to-be that you only want two kids, no exceptions, and certainly none until you’re well settled into marriage. You are sure of this. That is, until The Ovaries don their black ski masks and sneak into your cerebral cortex in the dead of night. An adjustment here, an alteration there, and you suddenly find yourself thumbing through Anne Geddes albums at the book store and wondering if two weeks of marriage could count as “settled.”

I mean, look!

Anne Geddes Pure Photo credit: Anne Geddes

You go through your two pregnancies with mixed feelings, most of them worthy of Chandler Bing: “Could I BE any more uncomfortable?” and “Stick a fork in me; I’m done.” Gestating feels neither gorgeous nor idyllic, and you feel unprecedented relief once your secondborn is… well, born. You have certain “married people” talks that cause the other party in question to cringe. You give away your maternity clothes and, eventually, burn your nursing bras at the stake. To deal with two children, who together have twice as many arms as you and about seventeen times your vocal capacity, you develop coping strategies like fantasizing about the very distant future and chugging sipping vodka for breakfast before bed. You are done.

But The Ovaries, they are evil. They swap out your memories of pregnancy with Angelina Jolie’s. Nausea, exhaustion, and the unfortunate side-effect of labor? No big deal. Not even sleepless nights or financial concerns or the fact that you already burned your nursing bras matter. The Ovaries have spoken; you want another baby. Except that it’s more like need than want—true desperation for those tiny dimpled fingers, that soft, milky newborn smell. It’s a craving. An obsession.

I suppose it’s unfair to say ovaries are evil when what they really are is inconvenient. I don’t know if all women go through this, but my body is the type to hold onto the vast magic of baby-having that my mind only recalls in traces. My mind latches onto practicality; my body lets itself be enchanted. And even though my husband is likely to ship me off to an asylum after reading this post, I’m so glad to be back thinking in “oooohs” and “awwwws” and giddy delight over humanity’s most delicate form. (As opposed to “How much vodka can I slip in her bottle before someone notices?” Ahem.)


How to Be a Parent

When I was a teenager, I babysat several times a week. I loved every minute, and if I had written an essay called “How to Be a Parent” at age fifteen, it would have said this:

First, you play princess Barbies with your adorable four-year-old, then put her in her princess jammies to read princess stories before tucking her into her princess blankets for the night. Then you feed the baby his bottle while watching a romantic comedy and eating sugar by the spoonful dinner. Once the baby is asleep, you’re free to spend the next several hours taking sexy bubble baths, or whatever adults do with their copious spare time. The end.

In the 1,141 days that I have actually been a parent, I have taken exactly three bubble baths (none of them particularly sexy) and learned a few things. Like, the moms of the children I babysat were probably cleaning frantically for seven hours before I came over. Also, the parents had probably lost a cumulative year of sleep training that adorable four-year-old to stay in her princess bed all night. And normal adults, those with actual responsibilities during the day, don’t stay up until 2 a.m. drinking wine in their lingerie by candlelight. At least not often.

The relative who came to visit us when we brought Natalie home from the hospital was just trying to help, I know. But everything about her help got under my skin, crawled around, and gnawed at me like a swarm of chiggers. I scratched back pretty hard, I’m afraid.

I felt like all those years of babysitting had earned me a PhD in childcare, but I had no idea what to do with my own daughter. My mind boggled at the fact that this tiny person was completely dependent on me. What if I didn’t dress her warmly enough? How could I know if she was eating well? What was making her so miserable that she had to cry? I felt like I should be confident and relaxed, but I doubted myself at every turn, and my relative’s comments further prevented me from finding my own way of mothering. They made me feel 200% a failure.

The “I would nevers” started innocently enough: I would never leave my baby strapped into a swing all day. I would never use the television as a babysitter. I would never ignore my children. I wasn’t trying to be supercilious at all. I just knew I loved my little girl and wanted to learn from all the parenting mistakes I’d seen.

But then, the third trimester of my pregnancy with Sophie lumbered down and squished out my energy overnight. My energetic two-year-old was suddenly a pig-tailed tornado, and I kept falling asleep three words into story time. “Sesame Street” and “The Backyardigans” became very, very important to our survival. I started falling asleep at night under a palpable cloud of mother-guilt.

Natalie and I went out on a mommy-daughter date this week. We walked through a park, Natalie chatting incessantly about everything she saw (“Look, there’s a flower! And a bird! And another flower! Ooo, look, there’s grass! Did you see the grass, Mommy? The grass, over there? Did you see it?”), and then shared a cup of ice cream. It was perfect. I hadn’t paid attention lately to what an amazing little girl she is, bubbling over with sweetness and enthusiasm, and I was blown away.

I wish so much that I could do more for her. Maybe if Sophie cleaned the house for me, I could give Natalie the one-on-one time she deserves, but you know babies–too busy lying around, being cute. But despite my imperfections as a mother, my daughter has a vast, beautiful heart. She is happy and creative, and she knows I love her with everything I have. She knows, and that is enough for now.

We’re on the journey back into the sunlight, but this time, I’m not looking at other families for validation (At least our daughter eats her vegetables, yada yada yada). Instead, I’m deeply humbled by the other moms and dads who are struggling to be the right parents for their children. I’m encouraged to see other families who, through their aching, ache for one other. I’m so grateful to know I’m not alone in this shaky business of being human.

Things change. Children learn their way in life as parents temporarily lose theirs. “I would never” becomes “I’ll do my best,” and we fumble our way through apologies. We learn honesty and grace. Our rose-tinted glasses crack; we see our children for who they are. And through each struggle, each fight for the relationships most precious to us, we dive deeper into the mystery of unconditional love.


Prepartum Depression

Is it possible to contract postpartum depression before one’s baby is born?

I feel like I was handed a “Get Out of Jail Free” card when Natalie was born. The depression I was expecting, due to both my mother’s lifelong misery and my own pessimistic streak, never materialized. I never felt trapped in an impossible life, resentful of my baby, overwhelmed by the minute hand. I never had to measure the success of a day by how few irrational crying sessions I managed. I never battled fatigue that pinned me down with almost-physical force. I never felt unthinkable thoughts like I don’t want to be a mother anymore.

Until now. Yesterday was our due date according to my first ultrasound, and I can’t fathom why I’m still pregnant… not when the baby is big enough to be a two-month-old, not when her sister was born four weeks early, not when I’ve spent every day of the last month analyzing contractions. It feels like punishment, especially since my mind and body no longer cooperate with the simple task of surviving. And no, realizing that she will be here soon no longer makes me excited.

I already want to delete this post because I don’t want to admit that this October has sucked, tremendously, and because I don’t want to give people the impression that I’m imperfect (Pastor’s Kid Syndrome) or–heaven forbid–neurotic. That’s why I haven’t written much lately and why I haven’t posted most of what I’ve written.

This morning, however, I was reading some of Dooce’s archives about depression as well as journal entries from a friend whose newborn daughter was born crippled, and their honesty loosened the straightjacket I’ve shoved over my struggling brain. I have plenty of relatives who cope with problems by stuffing them into a sealed vault that eventually corrodes and leaks acid over everyone around, and I don’t want to do that to myself or my family. Ever.

So this post has no point except to say I’m having a hard October, which feels a lot like admitting I’m an alcoholic or a serial killer or possibly a combination of the two. But I’m glad to open the vault. It’s my grown-up way of rebelling against my parents and also a pretty good way to actively unregret myself. Call it therapy.


Apologius Gestationus

I’ve been drifting somewhere off the coast of Reality for the last… week? decade? I have little sense of time anymore. I often find myself clinging to delirious excitement until my emotive muscles shake from the effort, then falling perilously low into hatred of life, love, and all things cute. Only 38 weeks, yet I feel like I will be pregnant forevermore.

I do apologize for the gestational theme of the few blog entries I’ve managed to eke out lately. This site is not a mommyblog, and if it ever becomes such, you have permission to hate-mail me into obscurity. My only excuse for solely pregnancy-related entries is that my brain has been replaced by Britney Spears’s voice whining “Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby.” (Even worse than you’re imagining right now.)

I will be human again eventually. Promise.



When Natalie comes padding, bright-eyed, into my room, I am still curled in a fetal position, my breaths overlapping like a newborn’s. My body, my mind, and my motherly instincts are cemented to the bed. Not. enough. sleep.

I find the energy to put her back in her room simply because I have to. I hug her wearily and stumble back to bed with the image of her crumpling face superimposed on my mind. Pressed back against my pillow, I remember the dirty dishes sprawling across the kitchen, the editing work my brain just can’t focus on, the pastry crust in the fridge waiting for a pie I’m too exhausted to make. I realize that waking up is the most tiring chore on my growing daily list. I think about the years of therapy I’m carving out for Natalie by this third-trimester abandonment. She’s still sobbing in her room, and I simultaneously want to shake her until she stops and to cradle her in the kind of hug that absorbs every tear. But I’m too tired for either. It’s the lowest point of my week.

(I need this baby to come soon.)



I feel like I’m holding miracles–this thin sheet of paper with smudgy blue stamps that says I’m a legal resident, this printed green postcard that says I have health coverage. I can’t help feeling like somebody else’s name should be written across the top or that some saw-toothed disclaimer is waiting to jump out and bite me. My ability to relax is wobbly from months of disuse.

But, as reluctant as I am to believe, everything is OK now. I can breathe deeply without fear of triggering uninsured contractions. I can stop plugging each moment of my daughter’s upcoming birth into a mental cash register. I can read Baby, Come Out! to Natalie with the kind of giddy excitement our littlest girl should be greeted with.

::Relaxation (which sounds exactly like the marshmallowy steam swirling up from a mug of hot chocolate)::


No Week’s Too Hard For Chocolate

This has been a hard week, though I don’t exactly know why. Alien mind probes in the middle of the night? Psychotic ninth-month hormones sabotaging my sense of happy? Mental leprosy™? Of course, hard weeks wouldn’t be doing their evil duty unless they hit me over the head each time I tried to write or smile or do anything more enjoyable than laundry, so I started the weekend with a house full of clean clothes, no blog entries to show for it, and a headache. Woe.

But then this morning dawned with the perfect mix of blue-sky radiance and glittering breeze that makes me lust for October. And though we couldn’t go downtown to elbow our way through the huddled masses at EuroChocolate*, we spent a relaxing morning with a lovely friend at one of Tuscany’s rare outlet malls. Which included a Lindt store. Which served Varesino. Which is what coffee would be if it died of too much happiness, went to chocolate heaven, and resurrected in a tiny glass with frothy milk. ::Dying of happiness at the memory::

Chocolate spoon lovin'

Plus, we finally got a set of glass espresso cups so we can trick our guests into thinking we are 1) grown-up and 2) cool. Plus, Natalie got to expend weeks’ worth of energy and giggles on the playground. Plus, the Italian hills along our drive were the kind of beautiful I can sink into like a Jacuzzi.

So, this week in summary? Not so very hard at all.

*Due to Operation No-More-Contractions-Until-I-Get-Health-Insurance-On-Tuesday-That’s-Right-I’m-Talking-To-YOU-Uterus!

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