Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Is What A Relationship Looks Like From The Inside

Spiceboy and I are lying on the bed.

Spiceboy: Are you okay?
Me: I don't know. I can't tell if I'm about to have a contraction, or if I just have really bad gas.

Spiceboy looks worried, and places a hand on my belly. We are quiet for a few moments, then I let out a very long, very loud fart.

Me: I guess it was really bad gas.

I can't quite read the expression on Spiceboy's face, but I'm guessing he's never been so happy to hear me fart.

Monday, April 28, 2008

In the Moment

I could torture myself about what I did last week.

Did I walk too much?

Climb too many stairs?

Not drink enough water?

Did I eat too many hot dogs at Gray's Papaya?

I could freak out about what will happen tomorrow.

Or next week.

Or next month.

But that's the funny thing about this situation: I can't control what happens tomorrow or next week or next month. I can only focus on today, and be grateful.

My doctor said, "Your body will go into labor when it wants to go into labor. You could deliver this baby next week, or you could carry this baby full term. We just don't know."

Until then, I'll take each good moment as it comes.

I haven't had any contractions today.

And right now, Spicebaby is kicking me right beneath my bellybutton with such force that my belly is moving up and down with each kick, as if to prove to me that she is so, so strong.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Observation Ward

The women on the observation ward shuffle from their rooms, their eyes tired and red, their pregnant bellies huge under their hospital gowns as they tug their IV poles along with them to the bathroom.

Just a few hours or days ago, they were the glowing pregnant ladies you saw waddling down the street.

In a second, everything changes.

Yesterday, I wore my new green wrap shirt to work, proud to show off my belly. I had a lunch date at my favorite French restaurant. I had a conference call at 4.

Then I went to the bathroom and found blood in my underwear.

"Get down here," said the doctor.

"I'll be back this afternoon," I said to my boss, but as I said it, I was fairly certain it was a lie.

At the doctor's office, they hooked me up to the fetal heart monitor and the froggy-frog sounds of Spicebaby's heart filled the room.

I felt the contractions before I saw them on the monitor. So that's what a contraction feels like, I thought to myself, just before the doctor told me I had to go to the hospital.

Spring Street was bright and sunny. I waddled along next to Spiceboy as he hunted for a cab.

To everyone else on the street, I was just another pregnant lady in a bright green shirt.

My room at NYU looked over the East River, out to Roosevelt Island and the Coca-Cola sign.

The contractions came and went, came and went. I would feel them first, then Spiceboy and I would hold hands and watch the little spikes on the monitor.

When the third round of contractions began, Spiceboy looked at the monitor with despair. "Please stop," he said.

The nurse gave me a shot that stopped the contractions but made my heart race and my hands shake. I tugged my IV pole to the bathroom, trying to keep the back of my hospital gown closed.

"Possible placental abruption," said the doctor. "High risk for pre-term labor. No way to know for sure," she said.

"Bed rest," she said.

So here I am, back at home. The contractions have stopped for now. My green shirt is hanging in the closet. I don't know when I'll get to wear it again.

The panic comes and goes, like clouds passing over the sun.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Pop Quiz

Welcome to your Monday evening pop quiz.

Please review the following conversation between Spiceboy and myself, then venture a guess as to what it is about.

"I've got this one," I say to Spiceboy.

"No, it's okay, I'll get it."

"Are you sure? You've been doing this too much lately," I say.

"S'okay, I've got it," says Spiceboy.

"Wow, what is it, my birthday?"

The conversation is about:

A. Picking up the dinner check.
B. Picking up the laundry.
C. Picking up a prostitute.
D. Picking up dog poop.

Please fill in your answers using only a No. 2. pencil. No cheating!

Good night, and good luck.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Just Stuff

I've recently come to a few decisions that have made me a rather unpopular mother-to-be:

I am not having a baby shower.
I am not registering for baby stuff.

There are many contributing factors to these decisions, and at least some of them have to do with my own personal hang-ups. But personal issues aside, it’s more about the stuff.

Since when did momentous occasions, such as getting married or having babies, become less about family and friends offering love and support to a couple, and more about buying gads of stuff?

The pro-registry masses will argue: “But your family and friends love you! They want to show you that they care!”

I don’t disagree with this. But my issue doesn’t lie with the people who love me and want to support me. My issue lies with the way our society has somehow linked the age-old tradition of love and support to baby registries at Pottery Barn Kids and Buy Buy Baby.

Case in point: I don't remember what any of our friends got us for the wedding.

Why should I? All of it was plucked from the registry that I was coerced into creating in the first place. Of course I appreciate the gifts. Of course I’m grateful. But do I feel a swell of love or emotion every time I look at my Kitchen Aid mixer? Okay, maybe that’s a bad example, because I am entirely bonded to my mixer.

My point is—you can’t feel love through stuff. And you can’t express love through stuff.

I received my favorite wedding present during our reception. Spiceboy surprised me by singing me our song. It was hot, and I was flushed from champagne, and Spiceboy was so adorable in his suit, and there were candles flickering everywhere and when the music started, I was alone and he was singing only to me. And then all of a sudden, I was surrounded by family and friends, and they were all singing along:

I’ll stop the world and melt with you.
You’ve seen the difference and it’s getting better all the time.
There’s nothing you and I won’t do.
I’ll stop the world and melt with you.

And I just stood there, hearing all of their voices together and looking at their faces and in that moment I thought I would explode with happiness and thankfulness for everything I have. I remember thinking: That is my husband. These are my friends. This is my life. I am so blessed.

I’m realistic enough to know that every moment in life can’t be charmed or magical. But it’s those little moments--those perfect pockets of time—which I really live for.

When I look back on my life with Spiceboy and Spicebaby, I won’t remember the bouncy seats and the baby bjorns.

I’ll remember warm moments with friends and family. The kind that don’t involve wrapping paper or plastic toys that were made in China, or supposedly “green” baby clothes-- that are actually made in China.

So don’t freak out about my lack of registry, okay? Just remember: I want to connect with you—person to person. I want you to give me a hug. I want you to kiss Spicebaby on her fat little cheek and tell her you love her.
I want you to help me make memories.

That's what is dear to me.

The rest of it? Well, the rest of it is just stuff.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh, god.

Someone has left a McDonald's cheeseburger in the kitchen.

It's all wrapped up in its golden packaging.

Is there anything more wrong than eating a McDonald's cheeseburger?

Why, yes: Eating an abandoned McDonald's cheeseburger is pretty damn wrong.

And yet I'm seriously contemplating walking into the kitchen, bringing the cheeseburger back to my office, closing the door, and eating it.

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dear Pregnancy Gods...

I know you guys aren't really in the business of granting favors, but I just have to ask:

When this whole growing-a-baby-inside of me-thing is over, can I keep the thick, fabulous, shiny shampoo commercial hair?

Oh--and the boobs! Can I keep the boobs?


East Side Girl

Thursday, April 10, 2008

You Never Stop Worrying

First thing at work this morning, I passed one of my coworkers, looking harried as she rushed down the hall.

“I just found out that my daughter has just been in a terrible accident,” she said to no one in particular, then she disappeared around a corner.

A few minutes later, I stopped by her office to check on her. I asked if I could do anything for her at the office today. She is supposed to leave for the London Book Fair tomorrow, and this is one of her busiest times of the year.

She bustled about her office in that frantic-useless way people tend to do when they’ve just gotten bad news and don’t know what to do with themselves. She told me that early this morning, her daughter had flipped her car over, and that a stranger had stopped to help and call 911, then had accompanied her daughter to the hospital.

As she spoke, she attempted, with shaking hands, to shove a large green file folder into her tote bag. I gently took the folder from her and placed it in her bag, and she started crying outright, and we hugged for a long moment.

Then she gestured to my pregnant belly and looked at me with watery eyes. “You’re having a little girl, right?” she asked.

I nodded.

"My daughter just turned 25 last week,” she said. “And I told myself, ‘Oh, good, maybe now I can stop worrying about her.’”

She reached toward my belly as if to touch it, then pulled her hands away, wringing them together. “But, oh, honey, when you’re a mother, you never stop worrying. You just never stop.”

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


It’s the first place I lived when I moved to Manhattan.

It’s tiny, so I can keep only the things that I love the most.

It’s a 20 minute walk to work, 10 minutes to Central Park.

On summer mornings, the light shines across the floor just so.

In the winter, it’s warm and cozy, like a cocoon.

It’s where I was living when I married Spiceboy.

It’s where I was living when we got the puppy.

When I think of bringing the baby “home,” the only place I can imagine is our building, with the crazy lady in her black leggings hanging out on the front steps and the mean woman who looks just like her Chihuahua wandering up and down the street, and our neighbor from down the hall, who kind of sounds like Kermit the Frog when she talks.

I want us to take the baby over to First Avenue to buy flowers from the shop on the corner, or avocados from the Pervy Fruit Guy, or fresh jams from the 67th Street market. I want to wake up early and get coffees from our favorite coffee shop, then walk to Central Park and watch the ducks on the water.

That’s why we’re staying. For one more year, with one small change: We’re moving from the fourth floor to the second. It’s slightly larger—maybe 375 square feet instead of 350.

So that’s it: One couple. One dog. One baby. One 375 square foot apartment. One unfashionable Upper East Side neighborhood.

It may sound like sheer craziness to you.

But to me, it's home. And it's absolute perfection.

Monday, April 07, 2008


It's a phantom thing at first; a strange fluttering as you fall asleep, a nervous sensation in the pit of your belly, as if you're about to give a speech.

But then it comes more often, and you realize just what it is--the baby is moving. At first, it's only an inside feeling--you cannot feel it yet from the outside. You cannot prove it exists.

You feel as though you are carrying great secret inside of you: A spinning planet, a shifting ocean.

And then one night, you rest your hands on your belly, and there it is--a nudge against your palm. Before you can react, it comes again, quick and definite. Small, gentle, and sweet.

If you can feel her moving, that means she's growing. And after the news from last week, growth is of utmost concern and importance.

Your whole body sighs with happiness and relief, and you are struck by a wave of emotion toward your baby. You try to think of a word to describe it: Fierce.

And then the baby moves again.

You allow yourself to imagine a tiny foot, a waving hand.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Baby Fat

The scene: The office kitchen. I’m getting hot water when two ladies from accounting walk in.

Accounting Lady #1: Hey, mama, how are you doing today?

Me: I’m doing great thanks!

Accounting Lady #1: Your belly is really starting to show now. How cute!

Accounting Lady #2 (to her friend as if I’m not even in the room): Really? You think she’s showing? I think she’s gained more weight in her backside than in her belly.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


The panic doesn’t take hold of you all at once. At first, it’s just a numbness, a lack of understanding, as if someone has just spoken to you in a foreign language.

You are on an exam table in a dim room. On the ultrasound screen, your baby floats and kicks and sucks her thumb.

The doctor speaks, and you try to process the words and possible outcomes: Single umbilical artery. Kidney problems. Fetal growth restriction. Pre-term labor. 1 in 100 babies.

You glance at your husband. His face is carefully blank. He squeezes your hand.

The panic finally sets in a few days later, when you’re sitting at your desk at work. The feeling is swift, absolute, terrible.

What if the baby is not okay?

You call your husband and cry a little bit, and the tone in his voice makes you cry a little more. This is the first time that, as a couple, you’ve had the occasion to be scared about something that is this big, this real.

You comfort each other with the facts. Statistics are on your side, but the situation is something you can’t control or predict. There will be more ultrasounds and measuring and monitoring. And all you can do is wait for the next test. The weeks stretch out before you.

For better or worse, this is the strange process of becoming a family. You are more bonded now to your husband and child than you have ever been. You will hold hands and move forward, because that’s what families do.

Your husband whispers secrets to his little girl, his lips moving against your belly.

You know what he is telling her. It’s the same thing you whisper to her every night before you fall asleep:

Be strong, little girl. Be strong.