My mother has been telling me that I need to try spousal breastfeeding—that it is exciting and awesome. My mother. That’s it—I’m taking a mental health day.
I’ve had a semi-adversarial relationship with my body for as long as I can remember—this occasionally leads me to do stupid things, like refusing to drink water when I’m dehydrated because I don’t feel like it and refuse to be a slave to the meat bag. The body and me, we aren’t friends. I feel like a body can be either your strength or your vulnerability, and this one has always felt like a weakness. It went through puberty, contrary to my explicit wishes; it has never looked the way I’d like; it got pregnant with Cricket and changed my life in a way I wouldn’t have chosen.
Reading Sarah’s blog brought this up for me again; abortion seems to highlight the vulnerability of a woman’s body. (I don’t, by the way, want to imply that men’s bodies are strong and women’s bodies are liabilities. My mother has always liked her body and liked what it can do—she also, in marked contrast to me, never doubted that each of her pregnancies would go well and end in a healthy baby—and they all did. I’m talking about different times in women’s lives and different female experiences, not a gendered binary.) My knowledge of the experience of an abortion is second-hand, but my sister Tammy has talked to me about what it was like have her abortions. In each case, she felt that her body had let her down in a spectacular and faintly shameful way. The procedure itself was for her painful, and the days following were nightmarish. It felt like something terrible was happening to her body that she couldn’t see or control (and these were safe, legal abortions—I have seen pictures of the alternatives, and they are unspeakable. Women die).
Pregnancy only exacerbates this sense that the meat is a handicap; my body really, really isn’t primarily interested in my welfare anymore. Its #1 purpose appears to be nourishing the bean. That’s appropriate, but it’s slightly disturbing that I don’t get a vote—all I can do is either starve my body or not, and that’s not a real choice. I don’t want the bean to die. But I hate feeling like an animal. When I was in labor with Cricket, the worst part (and it went on for days, so I have quite a bit to choose from) was what must have been transition; I was having deep, scary pains that I couldn’t do anything about, I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, and my body was going about its business with no regard for my near-panic. And then I threw up.
Last night, Mr. Book said “Are you genuinely unhappy about being pregnant? Because if you are, there are things we can do.” And I had to explain that that’s not it—I have no faith that my body can get this done correctly (despite previous evidence) and hate the part of pregnancy that is something happening to me rather than me doing something. I’ve started throwing up, which only adds to that feeling. I told him that I want very much to hold and smell our child, and that I look forward to parenting, but that this broody part is weirdly hard for me. He’s able to just be happy about the bean, and I can’t have that pure a feeling about it yet.
I think I maybe ought to write a bit more about why I don’t want to tell Ruth and Nora about the pregnancy, and why I don’t think their primary reaction will be to be happy for us.
I read adoption forums that I often find upsetting. My husband wishes I wouldn’t, but I want to know what adoptive parents are thinking, what they say to each other, what they say when they talk about the birthparents of their kids. I have seen many women (it’s almost overwhelmingly a female population) start threads that go something like this:
Subject: Another One!!!
Well, DD’s BGM gave us a call yesterday: BM is pregnant AGAIN! Frankly, I don’t know whether we can afford to adopt right now, but of course we’d love to have a sibling for DD—we just thought we’d be waiting awhile longer! 😛 I’m not sure how to bring up the fact that we’d love to adopt this next child as well. I was thinking that maybe we’d just send flowers and wait to hear from BM herself? Anyway, let me know what you ladies think!
Subject: How Do I Handle This?!!
I cannot believe it, but DS’s BM has gotten herself pregnant (again!!)! How am I going to explain this to DS? I just can’t believe that she’d do something like this. How is he going to feel knowing that she gave him away and is keeping his little brother or sister? I can’t believe she’d be so selfish, of course this probably wasn’t planned. LOL! Any advice on how to tell my son what his BM has done?
Obviously not all adoptive parents are like this, or feel this way—even in that community, there will sometimes be a response along the lines of “Um, do you have any reason to think she’d want to relinquish this child? Maybe you shouldn’t break out the crib just yet.” But even among the moderate, friendly adoptive parents (on these forums), there is a more subtle response that bothers me: “What are we going to do about this?” Sometimes they’re concerned that their kid’s birthmother won’t be able to care for a child, sometimes they’re more focused on how it will impact their adopted kids—but there’s this idea that the pregnant is a problem, and that it is (at least in part) the adoptive parents’ problem.
I wonder how much of this has to do with the particulars of their adoptive relationships; for example, I know that some of these adoptive parents have continued to provide financial support to their kids’ birthmothers, which might make them feel more invested in a pregnancy. But I think even in cases where no money ever changes hands, many adoptive parents feel that they have a problem-solving role in this situation, and that kind of freaks me out.
It’s been quite awhile since it last came up that Mr. Book and I have planned all along—even before I gave birth to Cricket—to have and raise a kid within a few years. Ruth and Nora knew that before they adopted their son. But whenever it has come up (infrequently), they’ve been very uncomfortable with the idea, and sometimes suggest that waiting much longer might be a good idea. I have never outright said “We will never place another child, even if we have eighteen we’ll figure something out, don’t wait to adopt a biological sibling ‘cause it ain’t gonna happen,” but I hope that they know. Once they know that I am pregnant and not placing the bean with them, I think that they’ll mainly be worried about the impact of a birth sibling on Cricket—and that’s not unreasonable. But I know that Ruth at least sees in mainly in negative terms. That is why I don’t want them to know. I’m just kicking the problem down the road a ways, but the prospect of having to process with her the ways in which I am hurting Cricket is pretty off-putting.
Just want to get it on the record: Mr. Book thinks the bean is a girl. I don’t have a feeling about it yet—last time it was around twelve weeks that I was pretty sure that I was carrying a boy. We’d be happy with a healthy whichever, but I really want to know which we’re getting. Of course, being as the bean is the size of a raspberry, it’s going to be awhile.
We now have a visit on the books for four weeks from tomorrow, and I badly want to call it off, tell them that we’re not ready to meet until, let me think, perhaps August? There are a couple of problems: they are coming on Birthmother’s Day, which is kind of a weird day for me, since it seems like a mix of “You are not a real mom and should not celebrate on the Sunday” and “Your role is important and deserves a holiday!” I’m (God willing still) going to be pregnant that weekend, and I want to be able to get a card from my husband on real Mother’s Day like a normal pregnant lady—not entertain the adoptive parents on the Quasimother’s Day before. Yes, I know that I can do both, but (hear this in my best childlike whine) I don’t wanna! The other reason that I don’t want the visit is that I’m going to be trying to hide the pregnancy. Oh, I know I have to tell them at some point before the kid arrives, but not during the first trimester. Maybe not during the second. I’ve heard some people talk about how their kids’ birthparents told crazy lies to hide/disguise subsequent pregnancies, or dropped off the map only to reappear with a baby, or refused to tell their raised kids about the child/ren placed for adoption. I understand that these strategies are inappropriate. But I’ll be darned if there isn’t a part of me that wants to not have any more visits this year, just so that I can hide.
Any thoughts on how you’ll refer to futurekid in utero? A lot of people go with “bean” I’ve noticed…anyway, you have time to play with different terms of endearment.
When I was pregnant with Cricket, we called him the bean for the first trimester and the mouse thereafter—that’s why I now have a mouse tattoo. In that first ultrasound, his skull looked very like a mouse’s to me. (Confidentially, Ruth and Nora seemed pretty weirded out by the “mouse” nickname.) That first ultrasound seemed cuter to me than the one I got at twenty-some weeks; in that second one, he kind of looked like a monster. I’ve heard people say that they can see family resemblances when they look at an ultrasound, but I guess I just don’t have the eye for it. I still have one of those ultrasound pictures, and I just confirmed it; he still looks like a monster with a horrible melting nose. Well, it all worked out in the end!
I imagine we’ll follow a similar naming convention this time around: the bean for awhile, and then an animal nickname. I’m currently leaning toward “possum,” but hopefully I’ll be able to see the passenger before making a final call. And then, a year or so later, I’ll be getting another tattoo. We are also pretending that we’ll name the kid Nathan Bedford Forrest, girl or boy, but we are not honestly planning to name a futurekid after the founder of the KKK. My mom does hate the names on our list, though.
During the first pregnancy it seemed really politically important for me to not refer to the fetus as a baby—I think some of this was worry about sounding anti-choice. I am one of those women who always assumed that I’d have an abortion if it came up, and then it came up, and . . . I couldn’t. I was and remain extremely pro-choice, so I tried to signal this by not calling the fetus a baby—except when I forgot. Funnily enough, Ruth and Nora—who are also pro-choice liberal types—just wanted to call him the baby, and thought I was being kind of strange. It’s a fair cop.
First off, thanks to everyone who said something nice yesterday and on Monday—I’m pretty sick, which is I think a good sign for the viability of the creature, which is (according to the internet) now the size of a raspberry. This is kind of terrifying, and Mr. Book has had to give me a couple of “You will be a good mom” pep talks already. I guess we’ll see.
I’m going to talk about my body a bit, so if you’re not into that, consider yourself warned.
I’ve never liked having big breasts, at least in part because I got them in fourth grade, long before that kind of thing seemed appropriate. During puberty, I got stretch marks all over my body: hips, breasts, and even in the middle of my back. Well, they’ve been hurting a lot for the last few weeks, and yesterday I finally realized that they’re bigger. (Mr. Book confirms this . . . and laughed at me!) I also have new stretch marks thereupon. And I’m already producing colostrum, which seems to me super premature. Booo. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised—the boob faerie came to call last time as well—in day 1 pictures of me and Cricket, he is dwarfed by whichever breast he rests on. And he wasn’t a small baby. Guess I need some new bras….
The fact that I couldn’t stop worrying about pregnancy was driving Mr. Book a bit crazy, so finally he just said “Why don’t you just go ahead and take a pregnancy test?” Somehow “I took one several days ago, and it was positive” didn’t seem like the right answer to that question—so I agreed that the next morning I’d test. And I did. It’s still strongly positive, which made my false positive/chemical pregnancy concerns less valid. Then I waited for the Mr. to wake up.
I’m not great at handling these moments, so it’s a good thing they don’t come along that often. I told him that I’d taken the test, he asked what the result was, and I handed it to him. He said that he didn’t know what it meant. (This threw me off my game slightly—it’s not as though it’s our first time to this rodeo, and I know I’ve explained it before.) So I said (and here we have a golden moment): “It’s positive, but it doesn’t matter, because I bet it’s going to die anyway.” I’m wincing a bit just typing this. So I told the Mr. that there’s no reason to take it seriously because, you know, the aforementioned, and that we shouldn’t worry about it.
Over the next couple of hours, I’m waiting for him to say something about how he feels, and he’s growing increasingly annoyed that I’m being twitchy and spooky. Finally I explain that the “It will probably die” thing isn’t science speaking, it’s me assuming that terrible things will happen, and that it’s actually more likely than not that the human bean will not die. He asks what that means. I say that I’m probably pregnant for real. Things are awkward, and then he goes to work. Before he leaves, though, he asks whether I’m going to tell my mom—I’m undecided, and he says that I should, with an unspoken “You really need to get it together on this issue, and I think she’s better equipped to help.”
So I called my mom, and she talked for a long time about how my Gramma is doing, and the trips they have planned, and I’m waiting for her to ask me “What’s new?” as she usually does, and finally I just blurt it out after an hour on the phone, and she is ecstatic. “Honey! Susie’s pregnant!” She wants to work out my due date, although I tell her that I’ve used a due date calculator already—she has an app on her iPhone, and wants to do it herself. She gets the same result that I did. I tell her that I worry that it’s going to die, and she says that she doesn’t think it will die, which makes me feel better. She asks whether she can tell people, and graciously agrees to hold off. She wants to know about names. She said “I’m finally going to be a grandma!” and I felt like I had a split second to decide whether to be hurt and opted not to. It’s just not worth it. She asked whether my husband and I had celebrated, and I suddenly wanted to cry. I mishandled that part pretty badly, and maybe telling him before work was the wrong thing to do. We both want a child, but he worries about money quite a bit, not unreasonably. After I hung up the phone, I put a bottle of sparkling apple juice in the fridge to drink out of champagne flutes when the Mr. Came home.
I wrote this entry just over a week ago, and have been sitting on it, waiting to see whether it would become obsolete. It . . . hasn’t. I have since told the Mr., and will write about how that went tomorrow.
So, ha, funny thing . . .
I seriously considered not mentioning this in the blog, especially since I’m not telling anyone in real life for months or possibly years. Two reasons: first of all, I had a chemical pregnancy last summer, tested positive on the day my period was due (I usually wake up with it, so wanted to check), then got the period a week later. This is a darker line than that one, although I feel the scan washed it out a bit (don’t worry, I cut off the bit with the pee before I put it on the scanner! 😛 ) But honestly, I’m not taking it that seriously yet–we’ll see whether it sticks. I should go ahead and mention that while this is a bit sooner than we were planning a pregnancy, this will be a pleasant surprise, if scary the way I assume it is always scary. I’ve already been taking prenatal vitamins, I may drink a little more water and take protein more seriously–but otherwise, I’m just going to assume that I’m going to bleed out in a week or a month.
I know that sounds grim and blunt, but honestly, that’s how I tend to be when I’m faced with either hoping for something or assuming that it won’t work out. If I get excited about being pregnant and then lose it, I’ll be crushed. If I assume that it’s not going to stick and then it doesn’t, I’ll still be sad, but it won’t be nearly as bad. If this isn’t going to work out, I want it to be as little like losing a child as possible.
Anyway, reason two: when I was pregnant with Cricket, it didn’t really feel like the pregnancy belonged to me. It was Ruth and Nora’s kid, and so everything that happened in the pregnancy was their business, and I was willing to be open in a way that I wouldn’t have been if I had ever thought of that child as mine. So this time around, I want there to be a period of time when I’m the only one in my life who knows. As soon as other people know, it’s not only mine anymore–it’s my parents’ grandchild and my husband’s bub and Ruth and Nora’s complication.
Of course, telling the internet alters that a bit, but when it comes right down to it, this blog is for me, a place where I can talk about what’s going on and then brood endlessly about it. This is on my mind in a bit way, and if it sticks I’ll want to talk about it, and if it doesn’t stick–I’ll want to talk about that, too. And I need to be able to tell someone the weirdest part; by my calculations, if this sticks, my due date will be within a week or two of Cricket’s second birthday.