I wanted to have a baby in April 2011. I didn’t want to talk about it with Robert or be pregnant or watch a child grow into an adult. I just wanted a baby in my arms. This desire burned like a fever all summer and then it started to fade. By November all my maternal instincts froze or went into hibernation or paled next to all the more interesting things I had to do. I attributed all of this to hormones and decided to decide on babies with my brain, and my partner. I think this was a good decision.
The day after we looked at a positive pregnancy test and Robert screamed into a pillow and I spent all day on the computer reading miscarriage statistics and symptoms, we hesitantly celebrated by driving to our favorite coffee shop in Evanston where I ordered a lox bagel, even though I knew that smoked fish was high on the list of things that pregnant women don’t get to do. I swapped my usual caffeinated beverage for an herbal tea, though, because pregnant women make sacrifices and I’m telling you that I did this because I want you to think I am a good person.
At my first doctor’s appointment the nurse with the clinical tone asked for the date of my last period and then asked if we were keeping the fetus. I said yes, because there was no question, but I was so glad she asked. Later, the nurse practitioner with the shiny hair and smiley teeth came into and said, “Congratulations!” I didn’t know what to say back, but I was so glad for her warmth. I went home and thought about how pregnancy, even early pregnancy with all it’s horrifying risk of loss, made me even more ardently pro choice than I was before, and I never posted about it on this blog, even though I wanted to.
We heard the heart beat at 11 weeks. At 14 the heartbeat went missing and my OB sent us to the hospital for an emergency ultrasound. I got a plastic hospital bracelet and prescription slip that said “No FHB. Confirm viability.” and I sobbed heavy heaving sobs until suddenly I stopped and knew I needed to show Robert that everything would be okay, even if it wasn’t. I still quake before every appointment. I still worry every day.
At 18 weeks we switched practices and the new OB told me that I could eat sushi and smoked fish and runny eggs and stinky cheese and artificial sugars and so I did.
At 18 weeks we found out we’re having a girl.
At 19 weeks I spent too much money on maternity clothes and breathed a sigh of comfort and relief.
Robert felt the baby move at 24 weeks and breathed his own sigh of relief.
At 27 weeks I started to panic about raising a little girl by myself in a patriarchal religion. I don’t know who will bless or baptize her. I don’t know how to tell her that I don’t believe the things her religious leaders will say about girls and women are right or good. I don’t know how I will impress upon her that God loves girls as much as boys, or how I will explain that not all people do.
At 29 weeks people keep asking me how I’m feeling, which feels momentarily strange because I feel happy and healthy and fine, but it also feels really, really nice.
I spent seven months not writing here or anywhere about being pregnant because I don’t know how to give these events meaning yet. I’m a storyteller, and it’s hard to tell a story without reason or understanding or lessons learned. I think the stories will unfold one of these days or months or years and I don’t want to ruin them by writing them down prematurely all half-formed and short on joy. I don’t want to ruin them by sharing them with the world. But I also know that the best way to ruin a story is not to tell it at all.