What They Left Out of the Manuals

mood: snarky | drinking: water, water, water

flipflop

I hate flip flops.

This is not a style statement or matter of footwear etiquette or anything like that. This is pure and simple personal loathing.

What did these innocent and sparkly summer sandals ever do to me, you want to know? I’ll tell you.

For the last three + months, they have become a permanent part of my anatomy. And I’m sick of them. I want to take them off my feet and burn them in a blazing, melty fire.

I feel just as strongly about sparking the demise of these rubber thongs as I did about burning my nappy blue P.E. culottes when I graduated from the Baptist high school. (And that was a threat I gleefully carried through on.)

‘Round about April, my feet and ankles started puffing up like puffer fish. Cankles had nothing on me. But the swelling was sporadic. It only happened when I sat for long periods (like at work). So I could still squeeze my tootsies into my boots, my Mary Janes, my favorite Tzubos.

And then May came along and the only time I ever see my ankles anymore is when I first wake up, stretch my legs up in the air and say, “Oh, there you are!”

By the time I’m at the sink brushing away the morning breath, my feet have begun to resemble rising bread dough waiting to be popped into the oven.

Before you hurl your wive’s tales and remedies at me, let me say that my ob/gyn knows all about the fat feet, and I’m fine. I don’t have pre-eclampsia or some other hysterical pregnancy problem. I’m just one of those lucky bitches whose feet feel like increasing their circumference for months at a time.

Which brings us back to the flip flops. They’re all I can wear anymore, and I can’t stand it. Even though I’ve purchased myself a few new pairs of the bright and shiny variety. Even though I make sure I maintain my pedicure so my toes don’t have to be embarrassed. Every time I walk down the hall and hear the “flip…flop…flip…” that accompanies my steps, I start looking around for some sort of flame and accelerant.

But this is just one of the things they don’t tell you about until it’s too late.

Everyone has a different childbearing experience, it’s true. So what happens to me probably won’t happen to you. All the same, it would have been great if someone had warned me that…

1. I’d become a shit driver. Call it pregnancy brain or whatever you want, but I noticed recently that whenever we both headed toward the car, Boy would take the keys. Usually we mix it up a bit, so finally I asked, “Do you want me to drive?”

“Hell, no!” he replied. “Haven’t you noticed, ever since you got pregnant, you’re a crazy driver?!”

I hadn’t noticed, actually. But after he said that I realized it was true. Just last week I reversed in the middle of a street to grab a parking spot that was opening up, completely oblivious (until horns started blaring) to the fact that there was a whole line of cars behind me and no room to reverse.

2. My ribs would feel like an alien chest burster was punching its way out. The feeling hasn’t remained constant [insert phew], but there were a few weeks there when I was sure that either my spleen was being slowly pancaked up against my ribs or I might be re-enacting the scene from Alien at the dinner table.

The doctor said it was probably just my rib cage stretching to accomodate my growing uterus. And I was all, “Wait, my RIB CAGE has to get bigger, too?”

3. I would begin to make sound effects for every movement. It’s true. Getting out of a chair? “Euf!” Getting into the car? “Wuf!” Rolling over in bed? “Hurk-eh-uh-hunf!”

And you don’t even want to know what I sound like once I’ve reached the top of a flight of stairs. Boy and I went on a (very slow, shuffling, octagenarian-style) walk the other day and I looked at him and said, “Remember when I could run 13 miles?”

Good times.

Perhaps they don’t tell you all of this ahead of time because if you knew, you’d never conceive. But, as everyone and their brother keeps telling me, “It will all be worth in when you hold that baby in your arms.”

And although it irks me that the people who love to say this the most are people who’ve never popped out a kid, I know it’s true.

So until then, I’ll just keep shuffling along, planning the fiery demise of my footwear and dreaming of the day when my old ankles come back to stay.

-Lo, who doesn’t even want to hear about how your feet went up a shoe size after you gave birth. Don’t give me nightmares!

Sugar and Spice

mood: ebullient | drinking: water
bean_shoes1

…and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of. So they say.

(Although I remember being a little girl and I wasn’t always sugar and spice. There might have been a puppy dog tail or two thrown into my recipe.)

From the moment that plus sign appears, you find yourself wondering who this new creature will turn out to be. And “Boy or Girl?” is right up there at the top of the list of questions. It’s certainly the thing people most want to know, right after they ask you when you’re due.

Finally, we have an answer. The Bean is a bean-ette.

I made the ultrasound technician check, twice, to be sure there were no beans and frank hiding anywhere. She was quite positive in her diagnosis, though. “No suprises,” she assured me, “It’s definitely a girl.”

This whole time, I’ve tried very hard not to want a girl over a boy. Because what if Bean turned out to be sporting a penis, and then later he found out that his mum actually wanted him to be a girl? That would suck.

But let’s be honest. I’ve been stashing away girl stuff for a very long time now, just in case. I really, really wanted to have a daughter. bean_dress

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Bean will turn out to be the kind of girl who will even be interested in the trinkets and goodies I’ve been saving for her. But maybe, someday is good enough to go on for now.

The day before the big reveal, I wrote this poem to capture how I felt before I knew the answer to the gender question. I hope someday Bean will like this, too…

Heirloom Tomato
(week 19)

Wishful thinking will not change
the tint of your eyes
the grain of your hair
the Xs or Ys of chromosomes.

You already are whoever
you are going to be.

In a windowless room at the office
I lay on the graying carpet
and let a woman string a ring
on a strand of my hair.
She held it motionless
above the mound of belly
where you swim.

If it swung in a circle,
you would be a girl.
Perpendicular, a boy.

In my impatience to meet you
I have imagined a whole wardrobe
of bright cotton dresses. I have drawn up lists
of names. (The page for girls is longer.)

Your aunt has entered birth dates
into gender calculators,
all of which predicted
you will be my daughter.

But today the ring swung
in a line, not a circle.

I want you to know, now,
before we inspect you
with sound waves,
that you are loved
exactly as you are.

-Lo, amazed.

About What Was Lost

mood: transparent | drinking: liquids

test

Positive

I take the test on Thursday night.

I already know what the answer will be
but I need more than intuition
and swollen ankles
to prove it.

I place the stick on the sink,
peel off my clothes.
The purple plus sign begins to form
before I can unbutton my jeans.

I avert my eyes and turn on the water.

I stay in the shower much longer than necessary
draw the razor up to my knee
shampoo my hair a second time.
The katoush of my heart is louder than plumbing.

I want to be delighted. I want to be ecstatic.
I want to be something other than terrified.

***

I watch him as I walk down the stairs—
he only has a few seconds of ignorance left.
It seems cruel not to warn him.

But I carry no words,
only a positive plus
on a plastic wand,
which I deliver with unsteady hands.

The seconds it takes him to get it
stretch on for a hundred years.
But then
he grins.

We walk in the dark with the dog to the store
and buy two more tests.

At midnight, we lay three purple plus signs
in a row on the table and stare
until one of us starts to giggle,
and then the other.

We are giddy. We are hysterical.
We can’t go to sleep.

***

The next Tuesday, I begin to bleed.

It takes three days of doctors
to confirm what I already know,

and more than a week
for my body to expel
the tiny ruby bits
of a person I had barely begun to believe in.

When I am finally empty,
we grieve in separate rooms.

*****

The statistics say that 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and that more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks.

I am a statistic now.

On Thursday, October 22nd, Boy and I found out we were pregnant. Our best guess put us at about 5-6 weeks along. On Tuesday, October 27, the day we got the keys to our new house, I began to miscarry. It took 8 days.

Just two weeks before that, one of my very best friends suffered a miscarriage when she was nearly 7 weeks pregnant. When it happened to her, I didn’t even know that I was pregnant, and of course had no inkling that I would undergo the same loss myself just days later.

I didn’t know how common miscarriage is, until it happened to me. For some reason, we tend to suffer the loss silently, perhaps out of some sense of shame that it was somehow our fault, or just the need to curl into ourselves during a confusing, frightening and painful time.

But what I have found as I have slowly begun to speak about what I lost, is that so many women around me have gone through the same loss. One woman told me she had seven miscarriages in the space of two years before ultimately carrying her baby to term. My own mother had two miscarriages before I was born.

As lonely as it feels when you’re in the middle of it, there are thousand and hundreds of thousands of women who bleed like you. Who know exactly how you feel. I wish their voices were louder.

I usually keep the most personal aspects of my life off the internet, but in this I do not want to stay silent.

It has taken me some time to process what has happened–I had barely begun to even believe I was pregnant at all. I know I’m not finished dealing with the repercussions of this loss. Neither is Boy. And we will deal with it together, privately.

But in the meantime I want to put this poem out there, so that somewhere, someone knows she is not the only one.

-Lo, breaking the silence.

Pink Strip

Mood: Over it
Drinking: Diet Coke with a dash of that magical vanilla

Pink Strip

Blame it on the genes.
They’ve betrayed you.

Curvaceous Helix Traitors.
Deoxyribonucleic Renegades.

And if you think proteins and
sugar phosphates
can’t have an
ulterior motive, a
sinister agenda, the
last laugh, you
have not done your homework.

It’s a biochemical mutiny,
and you’re walking the plank.

Blame it on the boy, if you want.
He double-crossed you, too.

Malefic Civilian Informer.
Treacherous Morrissey Fanboy.

You should know by now
that you can’t trust a man
with magnets for eyes. He
carves your initials
into his arm
just to infiltrate the psych ward
to find you. It’s so bloody, it’s almost
romantic. But then he doesn’t just
push your buttons, he
threads a needle and sews them
right into your skin. He’s a card
carrying member of Nicole’s
Black Cotton Mafia and you
are his heroin moll.

It’s a Dark Boy conspiracy
and you need witness protection.

Blame it on Jesus. Everyone does.
Isn’t silence a breach of good faith?

Deficient Deity.
Inadequate Savior.

Just when you’re ready to seek
and to find, that’s when
he goes into hiding.
He goes into stealth mode,
radio silent.
He goes incognito.
He goes away.
(It’s almost like he wants you
to beg for it.)

So you do.
You get down on your knees
in the bedraggled back bathroom
of Andy’s Chinese.
You assume the position
and you say “Our Father,
pretty please.”

Then you wait for heaven
to crack wide open
and spit out an angel
but you’d settle for something
smaller and less brilliant.
You’d settle for an answer.
But all you see is the ceiling
the white paint falling in flakes
to reveal a yellow sheen
circa 1973
hidden underneath.

You start to think
the colors in this room
have formed an alliance against you.
White is never as innocent as it
first appears. There’s always a secret
seeping through like a yellow disease.
And this pink in your hand,
so nauseating
so Pepto Bismol
so far from pretty.
You never did like the pastels.

So you’re left with the pink strip
and the absolute absence of
divine intervention.

Jesus
is busy.
Boy is oblivious.
And your genes, well,
they’re just too dangerous.

So you blame it on yourself, finally.
You make such a good villain.

And villains don’t make good mothers.
(The defects are hereditary.)

-Lo, who knows that not all poems can be taken at face value and not all Morrissey fanboys are treacherous.