I found out I was pregnant on June 22, so right after Father’s Day and one day before Roe v. Wade was overturned, yet another example of how life is perpetually and inherently complicated, unless you live in self-imposed exile in a cave on the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan – which probably also has its own challenges, just not of the news-giving-me-agita sort. It came as a complete shock to both of us, albeit the happy kind, and it forced me to come up with the ever so inelegant phrase “unplanned but very wanted” in response to the barrage of family, friends and doctors’ questions that followed, an answer more fitting for when you unexpectedly find a parking spot after driving in circles in downtown Athens for twenty minutes. But hey, they can’t all be zingers.
I am now 29 weeks pregnant (or seven-and-a-half months along, not trying to make you do math here), which means I’ll soon be a tiny dude’s mom, and frankly, I can’t wait to meet the guy who’s been kicking me in the gut for so long. In my case, the cliches ring true – I feel like I’d set the world on fire for him, like a reverse Ellen Ripley of sorts. I was suddenly reminded of all those AskReddit threads, where people would concoct imaginary scenarios like, “you can either save your child or your spouse, who would you choose”, and I marveled at the absurdity of answers along the lines of “I’ve known my partner for ten years, I don’t know this baby, fuck the kid”. I mean, I get it, but I also don’t, and I wouldn’t mind being dropkicked into a pit of hungry hungry hogs to save my son. I don’t understand how the shift happened, because it feels like a switch flipped and overnight, everybody started playing second fiddle to the kid. Maternity truly is a whole different animal, and I’m thankful for it, although I don’t subscribe to the “pregnancy is the most magical time in your life” crunchy mom platitude. My experience has been decent so far, with the odd blip earlier in the pregnancy, but generally along the lines of textbook. Still, I spent the first three months wanting to throw up every single bite of food; my nose has been bleeding for the last couple of weeks every morning like clockwork; the espresso aficionado in me died a slow and painful death after completely cutting out coffee back in the summer; my stomach has temporarily migrated smack dab in the middle of my sternum, which arguably makes simple things I took for granted like breathing and digesting a little adventure of their own, but above all, I am plagued by the constant paralyzing fear of second guessing all of my choices, the terror of the future that lies ahead, the infinite possibilities of the countless ways in which I can fuck this kid up and the preemptive guilt for all of my shortcomings.
Everyday I feel like I want to grab people by the shoulders and yell in their face, “I’m a piece of shit! How do I become someone’s mom? How do I become the protector, confidante, the person with the answers? How do I make sure he won’t be sitting in some therapist’s office twenty years from now, reciting the entire history of me letting him down? How do I make him happy… forever?”
It’s rhetorical. Don’t answer.
If I’m being honest, though, pregnancy has rectified some deep seated issues of mine in the most tender and unexpected of ways, like my relationship with my body. Suddenly, I felt a wave of gratitude for it, and all the ways in which it grew and stretched to accommodate the baby. I remembered how hypercritical of the remnants of my teenage stretch marks I used to be, even though now they were just faint stripes of white mostly covered by tattoos anyway, how I spent absurd amounts of time stressing over my thighs and stomach getting ever so slightly thicker whenever I indulged in ice cream or pasta a little too much, and how I would pinch at excess skin, harshly declaring “this needs to go!”. It all subconsciously went away, because being crappy to my body suddenly felt like calling my baby’s home a dump, when it was anything but, and it also felt weirdly eye opening to realize that maybe talking shit about a healthy, functioning body in the first place was really not okay, but I guess it took a tiny roommate for me to get the memo. Pregnancy also helped me become a lot less precious about my image, which was liberating, in a way, because although you have to do a bajillion self-care things on a daily basis, they are the most unsexy actions you will ever need to perform; it’s way less “one-hour shower and bourbon vanilla scrub, topped off with body mist and lingerie” and a lot more “green soap everything, slathering yourself in aloe and nipple cream and a steady rotation of every old, tent-like t-shirt you’ve had since high school”. Trust me when I say, that shit humbles you.
Anyway, baby is happy and healthy, I’m happy and healthy. Not gonna lie, it’s been lonely (the pandemic is still a thing, so I’m still living the monk life) but I have a ton of help and support. Others aren’t that lucky, and that’s something to be grateful for.
What I’m listening to:
The kid is very particular about the music he likes, whether you believe it or not, and it looks like he’s a synthesizer guy at heart: he responds to Vangelis, without fail, be it the Blade Runner OST, his late 70s stuff, or Aphrodite’s Child, so I’ve been playing some Vangelis deep cuts for him; he also kicks up a storm with Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene. A friend likes to tell me there’s no way he can actually make out the songs and even if he does, it’s their particular frequencies that he enjoys, much like the calming effect white noise has on most babies, or the way kitchen hood sounds put newborns to sleep. I like to think my son is eclectic as fuck, and we shall leave it at that.
I finally got into podcasts. I know I’m seven years late to the game, but I work from home now and I do get stir-crazy from time to time, so something’s gotta give. I really dig Cooking Issues with Dave Arnold, author of Liquid Intelligence and cocktail connoisseur extraordinaire – we also happen to be Twitter mutuals and once had a lil’ back and forth on liver pâté which convinced me to get over my primal disgust of the particular dish, so once the kid’s out, I’m giving it one more shot. Obviously, I haven’t had a drink in a hot minute, so my focus has shifted to culinary content, and Dave, who is delightfully engaging and inquisitive, brings on heavyweights like Wylie Dufresne and David Chang of Ugly Delicious and Momofuku fame. He also talks a fair bunch about cocktails with other legends like David Wondrich and Mashahiro Urushido, so if you’re into alcohol content, you won’t be disappointed.
What I’m reading:
A ton of parenting and baby development books. Mom’s gotta do what mom’s gotta do, right?
Fiction: No Country For Old Men – Cormac McCarthy
Non-fiction: Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse? – McKenzie Wark
Tech/Work: The Product Is Docs: Writing Technical Documentation in a Product Development Group – Christopher Gales
I recently signed up for the print and digital versions of The New Yorker, and actually holding print media that’s light on the ads and heavy on the content has been a breath of fresh air. I’ve also made a little ritual out of the crossword puzzle every day – I’ll curl up on the couch and take my time doing it, and the one small luxury I allow myself is that nobody has permission to distract me until I’m done.
I’m still on Twitter on the downlow, not tweeting but there for DMs and memes – all the fun predictably got sucked out of it once Elon took over, and my spirit was too weak for one more platform like Hive or Cohost or whatever. I’ve kind of given up on the idea of an active social media presence; it’s started to feel like too much work with a hint of resentment, now that we all know more about each other than we ever asked for. There’s real people behind the accounts, and now that the current climate has driven a bunch of them to show their dog-whistling asses, the cake is all spoiled.
I’ve got a couple of pieces I’m super excited about coming out soon, but that will be a separate post of its own. Kid sends his regards.