Feeling so good today with my tea and the cool air through the screen. The baby’s sleep patterns are regulating: every three hours or so, she kicks and kicks. At two, she woke me, and I padded barefoot around the house, but then we slept again, and five o’clock came, and we stayed in bed staring at the corner where wall meets ceiling before finally getting up and wandering into the kitchen. I thought of the way the light used to look in my Grandpa’s kitchen. It seemed always early morning in his house, and he worked with the light on while the sun crept up into the sky. I remember most the smell of carbon paper and the color of his coffee and that sometimes when we stayed there he fed us ice cream for breakfast. In this early light, I miss him. I wish he could be around to meet the little one when she makes her way into the world.
One of my favorite things about weddings (beside, of course, the eternal promises of amor and the two slices of cake) is finding my seat and discovering who the bride has decided to seat me next to. My wedding was easy: Mom, you remember dad? You two were married in 1973. You’ll be at Table 1.
Then there are the more tenuous connections: C. works with technology software, and X. once Googled his high school girlfriend; you’ll get along smashingly! or…You’re from the south, Nicole, and Y. gets a real kick out of Tennessee Williams; you’ll have a humdinger of a time!
This weekend in Maine the connection was obvious within moments of finding our place cards: fellow Brooklyn homeowners. Yes, we talked about Lowe’s, about tiling, about gutter work and sump-pumps, and then, oh lordy, my stories caught up with me. We like to call it the Great Flood of July 5th, I said, in that way you say things you always say. Wait, fellow homeowner female said, was your garden just featured on http://www.brownstoner.com?
The thing is we had sent our garden in to brownstoner but didn’t know it made the cut. Read the riveting renovation story: here.
In the meantime, I’ll try to come up with a few new stories lest, dear reader, I end up in a silent moment across the table from you as we sup on chicken a la king and bang our glasses to witness a kiss.
A woman knocked on the door. Her feet were dirty from having walked around the city all day in sandals. If you need to urinate, she said, let me know. She was from the insurance company; I didn’t need to urinate. I offered her a glass of water that she didn’t want, and we pulled out chairs.
Can you do it now? she asked. I nodded blankly. She handed me a cup and two small test tubes. Pee in the cup, she said, then pour into the test tubes.
C. was in the backyard, not smoking, just watering plants. Afterwards, she wired me up to take a look at my ticker. C. came in to get a picture (notice our newly painted walls: Sag Harbor Gray). The machine was uncomfortably silent. Does it look normal? I asked when she was done.
You’re pregnant, she said. It shouldn’t look normal. Looking normal would be abnormal.
When she left, she gave me a bag labeled MEDICAL WASTE to throw away. Don’t worry, she said. It’s nothing. I sat it in the trash among Popsicle sticks and peach pits then went and washed my own feet in the basin of the shower. They too were filthy.
No, this is not my new age…though I must admit besides the painful relationships and crappy jobs, 25.5 wasn’t a bad age to be. 25.5: weeks into pregnancy; 34: new age. The birthday was wonderful: a long walk on the beach with my love, sea air, fried shrimp, sunflowers in Mason jars, two slices of lemon cake with fresh blueberry sauce, and then, poof, another year older.
Over the past two days, I have become number and size obsessed. My mind is a third grade math class. If Nicole’s uterus is the size of a soccer ball and will only grow larger, how big will it be in seven weeks? Fourteen weeks? After another slice of cake?
It is, it seems, all relative. Yesterday, traveling home, I complained for the first several hours how LARGE I was feeling, and then suddenly it struck me how small the baby will be.
What if we crush it? How will we take care of something so tiny? Why do I need to get so BIG to birth something so small? If the baby weighs 1.5 pounds (about the size of a rutabaga) and the woman has gained XX pounds, what accounts for all the other rutabagas? (Hint: the answer is not rutabaga.)
Now, I will move on to other numbers. School starts in eight (8!) days. C. has been smoke-free for seven (7!) weeks. If the room is very quiet I can feel the second (2!) heart beating in my body. I have just polished off a (1!) delicious peach. I may soon have another.
Dreamed I held a baby last night which is good since the number of times I’ve held a baby in my life can be counted on both hands. I didn’t drop it, just held it and wouldn’t let go. I whispered down into its head, towards its ears, but I couldn’t hear myself speak.
Leaving again. To Maine this time. Trying to get all my running around done before the doctor puts the bolt on the door. When I return I’ll be a hundred and four. Or thirty-four, really. Cake will have been had; a little song will have been sung.
Enjoy dwindling summer.
One of my favorite things about our trip to Italy (besides, of course, the requisite shot at the Leaning Tower of Pisa) is that now C. wants to name our daughter: “Luciana Allesandra Bonifacia Camila Caprice Ellenora Fiorella Gabriella Giuseppina Jacobela Letizia Mariola Michelina Severina Stella Violetta Zoila” Callihan. Sort of rolls off the tongue, huh? And so, after all the magic and pasta and magic and pasta, we’re home, and it seems there is much to think about: where to put cribs and desks and blankets and aprons, what to buy, what to beg for, what to dismiss as totally unnecessary.
And then–and this is the one that’s preoccupying me the most–there is the actual birthing process. Even though I know on the grand scale of time it’s a blip, it’s becoming increasingly important to me. My mind’s been in a total whirl since the plane ride yesterday when, during the almost-nine hour flight, I read and re-read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I’m feeling torn about having so quickly chosen a doctor and a hospital birth. I feel like if I could have it my way (I can’t–that whole marriage negotiation thing comes in), I’d have little Luciana Stella in a hot tub in the backyard, but maybe that’s just something I want because I’m pretty sure I can’t have it. (The ole nonsmoking hubs is a BIG believer in hospitals.)
I’m struck, though, by how little I know about how anyone was born. I was premature; my mom asked for no drugs but the doctor gave them to her anyway; I looked funny. That’s about all I know. I felt ridiculous on the plane yesterday because I covered the birthing pictures as if they were porn anytime I heard anyone coming down the aisle. It just amazes me how little I know about birth, how everyone in the world has been born and how I’m (almost) completely clueless as to the process.
So, today, I ask for your stories. Tell me how you were born, how your kids were born, how the two-headed turtle in the pet shop up the street was born. Really, I need as much information as possible. Apparently, all these kicks I’m feeling will result in a very real thing before I can gather up enough breath to say “Luciana Allesandra Bonifacia Camila Caprice Ellenora Fiorella Gabriella Giuseppina Jacobela Letizia Mariola Michelina Severina Stella Violetta Zoila” Callihan.