23 weeks 3 days

The good thing about a big flash on the camera? Undereye bags disappear! Also, pants pockets pull out.

Can I give some hard-earned maternity fashion advice?  It’s not enough to try to avoid the “precious” clothing (Peter Pan collars, bows, hearts, unicorns farting rainbows over your bump), but you need shape, too.  Avoid at all costs the shapeless maternity t-shirt (as seen on left).  That v-neck doesn’t compensate for the slope by the excess boobage, stopping only at the bump.  Also, there comes a point in every pregnancy that the “under the bump” waist band ceases to be effective. That point for me was five weeks ago.

Learn from me, people. 

It has been a very difficult week physically. Varicose veins, which I bitched about mentioned earlier this week still throbbing. Now one newish vein is red and starting to create little spidery spin-offs.  My veins seem to think they are Happy Days.  The back of my knees look like the lava flows on Kauai…and yes, it feels like it, too.  Compression stockings did nothing but ramp up my glamour factor.  The knee-highs, which on a shorty like me are mid mid-thigh highs, rolled down, tightening the elastic at the exact place the veins seem to be exploding.  Elevating my feet (higher and higher each day until I was nearly upside down…although on the upside, I still have feet!!!) actually seemed to make things worse once I stood up.  So a call to the doctor will be in order, or I’m going to have to decline the plethora of offers I get to play Tina Turner in her next biopic.

Baby names continue to elude us.  Girl names, that is. A boy name is ready just in case Baby is a prankster and hid some junk from us at the ultrasound.  There have been lengthy mocks  explanations to Huzzy why “Katrina” may not be a useable name in the near future (although some friends have assured me that naming a girl after a destructive force of nature may be right on target. I have since stopped talking to these people.)

Baby kicks, while still present, are diminishing due to baby having less room to play Jackie Chan in my gut.  This surprises me, as in the last week I’ve put on three pounds.  This is distressing on so many levels.  My body sucks up and clings to weight in the base case. Look at a donut, gain a pound, take three days to take it off again.  3 pounds in a week during pregnancy is unhealthy. I’m supposed to gain 4-5 pounds a month. Max.  I know, logically, that weight fluctuates, and I know that I’ve eaten some salty foods (curse you, delicious soup!) in the last three days. Emotionally, though, it triggers a lot of feelings of being out of control…not eating out of control, but being out of control of my body. Calories in and calories out do not work for me. Never have. Some days I can eat 2000-2400 calories and maintain or even lose. Some days I can eat 1200-1500 calories and gain.  I am not dieting at all, of course, during pregnancy, so all progress is tending to tilt towards bigger numbers.

I have a darling friend in Scotland who says that unless there is medical reason, they don’t weigh women at all during pregnancy.  I want to live there.

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And now…continuing from last week (here and then here)

I started to feel like I was in an underwater film. Slow-moving, murky, strange and yet familiar.  Even reflecting on it now, several weeks later, I find myself holding my breath, every muscle in my back and neck and shoulders hugging itself for protection.

I heard it was a girl, and, like so many things in my life the last six years, this became about my mother.

Memories of my mother have usually included her stressed, angry, lashing out, sarcastic, insecure. She analyzed motivations, strategized to the point of creating conversational flow charts for her interactions, mostly with women. Women are not to be trusted. Women are jealous. Women are catty. Women are bitches.

Had the word “frenemy” existed in the 80s, my mother would have used it. I didn’t realize at the time, of course, that she also exemplified it.  Every interaction had layers. Nothing was as it seemed. No one taken at their word.  Everyone out to hurt and protect themselves. Even (especially?) female friends. Those were exhausting.

“I wasn’t always like this,” she explained frequently. “It was just when I moved to the East Coast and [insert name of apparently cunning, cutting, out-for-herself friend] told me that everyone does this, that everyone is out for themselves. Everyone has undertones.”

In her world, there was no disagreement. There was no agreeing to disagree. You agreed with her or else you were attacking her, not supporting her, calling her stupid, or, worst…undermining her…and it wasn’t like she hadn’t been on 300 committees with this exact same argument before.  She’d lived it, so she always knew the right way to go.

I have memories of being verbally battered down for not living up to expectations. If I tried to pre-emptively wash the floors to help my mom, who worked 12 hours a day and constantly complained about the state of the house, I was scolded for using the wrong sponge.  My room was not a sanctuary. My privacy was a myth.

But I didn’t realize this wasn’t how it is in the real world.  Once we left the house, my mother turned on the charm and grace. She volunteered (and still does) more than any other person I know. Between work and volunteering…well, we heard a lot about what a really amazing woman she was.  Giving. Kind. Harder working than anyone ever. Indispensible. Unforgettable. Wonderful. She never missed big events at school: concerts, plays, games. But it was expected that we understood that the day-to-day smaller stuff had to get in line behind everything else. We were guilted into that.  Day-to-day Mom was unhappy if she was around.  And when she was, she was boss.  Ok, even when she wasn’t. There were always lists…long tedious lists laying out hours of chores (and, eventually, which sponges to use), certain words angrily underlined if we’d messed up the task last time. Homework also had to be done, of course, and laid out for her to look at.  This went on well into high school.

I always cringed when I had a paper due in high school.  She would insist on letting her see it (“I did get my Masters in English in one year! Most people took three! I was reading a Shakespeare play a night!”) and she would sit with her scissors and tape and pen and mark it all up.  And I would get A’s. And hate it. I hated that her version was (seemingly) better than mine.

I came up with two strategies for that, of course. I would either start papers very late the night before they were due so that there was no time for her to look at them, or I would write them twice and hand in the unMomed ones.

I still got A’s.

The most lasting childhood memory I have, the sharpest (and most have dulled to a level I’d expect a fairly senile 80-year-old to have. I marvel always at the vivid recall most people have of at least certain moments of their youth. Mine has quieted, faded, turned into wisps) was being in tears, again, at about age 14. My mother was upset about something I’d done. Or something I had not done. She was a master at shrinking we kids into nothingness with her sarcasm.

She stuck her angry, reddened, the-rest-of-the-world-would-never-believe-this-is-what-she-is-like face in mine and sneered at my tears. Pulling back a few inches, she pointed a veined finger in my face and screamed, “Never forget, I AM YOUR BEST FRIEND!

This replayed in my mind the entire ride home from the ultrasound. This and the last six years…

4 thoughts on “23 weeks 3 days

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