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So, one of my honorary aunts died last night, and this morning was pretty rough. Regardless of my emotional state, I had to drive Justin to Burlington for a neck treatment — a steroid injection, took 10 minutes, no big deal, really. But a needle in the neck. And so I’m sitting there in the waiting room, looking at Facebook and reading Rockford’s news stories about Dorothy and the accident and wondering how Ed was… and my brain, all unprompted, thinks, “And Justin’s going to die, because he’s going to have some one-in-a-million allergic reaction to the injection. And then tomorrow at the anatomy ultrasound they’ll tell me the baby’s going to die at birth. And I’ll be a widow with no baby.”

And this is why I’m a control freak: My brain cannot be left unattended.

I promptly snapped myself out of it, watched a stupid video on YouTube to cleanse my mental palate, and Justin came out 5 minutes later. The baby’s been kicking me all day. Is all good.

Except for the part where Dorothy’s dead and Ed’s in critical condition. That’s just fucking tragic, and I haven’t found the words yet.

But my brain isn’t allowed to make it needlessly worse. Controls engaged.

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Private journal again.

August 3.

I woke up with a headache today and desperately want to pound some Excedrin and coffee. Instead, I’ll remember that I heard a heartbeat yesterday at the OB, and make a fruit smoothie and go walk on the treadmill.

It’s just an interesting challenge to consider that my body – which is full of challenges to start with – is now also responsible for another human. I dunno. Can we do this, my brain and my body? I guess we can. We can keep trying, for sure. I started a new, more aggressive blood pressure med yesterday, since mine was high when we got to the OB appointment. I didn’t think to tell the nurse that Justin and I had been arguing on the way over, which was undoubtedly part of it. Now, today, at home, with the first dose of labetalol in my system, I’m good and low – 104/79. So we’ll see. I’d rather not have pre-eclampsia. That thought terrifies me. And today I get to do a 24 hour urine collection for testing, also for pre-eclampsia. Charming. Never say my life isn’t full of new experiences.

August 6

Today I was not nauseated at all. I feel like I won the lottery. 11weeks, 5 days. Ta da!

August 9

Visiting Liza and Betsy and Molly and Mark. Feeling very human, almost normal. Justin says “the parasite has adjusted its environment and settled in.” Pretty much…

I drove the 7 hours alone, and did pretty ok. I stopped for a 15 minute nap, which was both awesome and effective, and got here just fine. Another triumph of normalcy over pregnancy.

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From a private journal.

July 23.

Burlington today to do more tests on Justin’s arm. Inconclusive, still. Frustrating for us both. And I was absolutely exhausted; it was really hard. We went to get Magic Pizza, and they said there was no pizza for 2 more hours, and I nearly cried there on the street. All I could think was that I just wanted to go home and lie down… And then, after struggling for 45 minutes, I suggested going to Starbucks. One iced coffee later, my headache was gone and I felt human. Holy random pregnancy symptoms, Batman.

The pizza was fantastic. So was sitting in the park and talking. Unfortunately I think I’m also starting to get motion sick when we drive around. Bummer. That sucks.

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I have three things on my to-do list that must be done before I leave this building for the day. I am STRUGGLING to get them done, because all I want to do is go home, and pick up my list of Stuff To Pack and put all our things in the car so Justin and I can go camping and then get married. That’s it. That’s all I want.

Budgets? Hiring? Prompt communication to faculty? What are those? Why are those important? Are we sure those are important? They are? Oh. Well. That’s challenging.

So I’m going to buckle down and get this last thing done by 4:00 and then I am leaving. Out. Gone. Done. Going on vacation with my favorite person. Getting married. Having a party. Cool.

Bye.

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July 18, 2013

I woke up this morning, checked my calendar and my email, and thought, “Huh. I don’t feel shitty. That’s interesting. Maybe eating those chocolate chip cookies right before bed wasn’t indulgent, it was strategic.” Then I sat up. Oh. Well. There it is. I now live with a bag of Stacy’s pita crisps in my nightstand drawer. Woohoo simple carbs! And my morning routine now MUST include packing a lunch, and a morning snack, and an afternoon snack, because while it used to be good for me, it’s now essential to my survival. I want to eat all the things, and if I don’t I feel sick. Charming.

But I got up and did yoga for 20 minutes anyway, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is all going to hurt, a lot. My collagen is already defective, and my joints are already loose, so relaxin is going to do me no favors. I spent an hour with my bodywork chiropractor yesterday and he said “I’ve seen you tight, but nothing like this.” My entire right shoulder and arm were in spasm, from the scalenes in my neck down to my fingers. I’ve also nearly fallen three times in the last 24 hours alone — losing my balance, my foot not being stable, whatever. So that sucks, and reinforces the need for me to stay strong and active so that my body doesn’t tense into one giant muscle spasm in its attempts to hold my joints stable. Crunches and corework and lots of front-body stretching, that’s my new life… very similar to my old life except with more nausea.

I had my first doctor’s appointment on Monday, and met with the nurse in the practice because my OB is out on maternity leave. She’ll be back in 2 months. Okay. The nurse was great, very chill, very “you know we do this all the time, right? and mostly there are no crises?” which was great. I said “culturally, we tell women to be afraid of babies and pregnancy.” She said “And it’s dumb.”

Also, I would like a nap.

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From emails I sent during the “it’s a still a secret” phase.

July 8, 2013

So, last night, as I was staring sort of helplessly at the unmade bed, saying, “We never remade the bed and I’m TIRED right now”, Justin started to laugh and said “I like you so much right now” before he retrieved the clean sheets and helped me make the bed. I am, apparently, in my a) exhaustion and b) queasiness, a much nicer human. I replied with a smile, because I knew what he meant. I can’t control any of this. Not how I feel, not what I can and can’t do or deal with, and I shouldn’t even try. So I can only control how I respond, and I’m trying to be pretty zen about it. I feel like crap, but my body’s really busy. I need help and to reset my expectations of myself, and it’s Justin’s responsibility to respond well when I do. Me? I’m gonna read a book, accidentally nap on the cat, do the essential household paperwork, and cook when I feel like it. I can be busy later.

It’s kind of lovely, really. Except for the queasy parts.

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Today I was a giant ball of hormones. I started to cry when I told Justin how stressed out I was by, get this, going to get gas for both cars at the same time. Yes, some logistics involved, but not a crisis worthy of tears. And I was nauseated and my back ached and ohpleaseIjustwanttofeelfunctional. Too much to ask? Too much to ask.

Fortunately Justin gets it. He kissed me, took the SUV for gas, turned in the recycling, and suggested we reschedule our trip to Massena until tomorrow. Then he put the XBox controller in my hand and left me alone. I played video games, took a shower, and sprawled on the couch to work, feeling miserable.  It worked. I can cope with miserable if I also feel supported and loved, and I can cope with my own feelings of useless if I know no one minds.

But seriously, dude. Hormones. What the hell.

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This morning, on Facebook, I wrote,

I’m not sure why pregnant women are suddenly public social property, but I’m not taking it. I’m not the punchline in a social joke (“better sleep now! hahahaha!”) and I’m not in need of endless fearmongering ‘advice’. On a more positive note, feel free to ask how we’re feeling, if we’re excited, or scared, or tired, or inquire about our future plans, or share your experiences. But also accept that we may change the subject and protect our privacy. As we are entitled to do as autonomous human beings.

All of that was prompted by my friend Mary writing elsewhere that her sleep habits during her (difficult; hyperemetic) pregnancy aren’t really making her all that happy, and a couple of well-meaning and kind people immediately responding with variants on “sleep now! You’ll need it!”

First, I know those people don’t mean any harm. I know that. I believe that. But more than that, I’m pretty sure there’s not a pregnant woman in America who doesn’t know that having babies equals getting very little sleep. Because we aren’t stupid. We aren’t so hormone addled (though we are hormone addled) that we missed that particular memo. So you don’t actually need to say it as the reply to every single thing we say about being pregnant.

Because here’s the thing: when the default conversation around being pregnant comes back to trite and jokey comments about how shitty and hard having an infant is, it ignores and belittles the experience of being pregnant. A coworker said to me yesterday “I don’t know what happened to the Goddess cultures, but if we had it still we’d all acknowledge that you are doing and amazing and powerful thing right now”. She’s right. This being pregnant thing? Totally amazing. Fascinating. My body is constructing another human being while also maintaining all my life functions. And I can still think, walk, talk, love, live while it does it. Absolutely amazing. Also, exhausting.

And limiting our discussions with responses like “don’t forget your prenatal vitamins”, “stay away from deli meat!”, and “sleep now, the baby won’t let you later!” belittles and ignores the realities of pregnancy. It’s hard. It’s amazing. It’s exhausting. It’s wondrous. It’s terrifying. It’s exhilarating. It’s real, and messy, and true, and necessary, and interesting. It’s more than trite jokes at the expense of new mothers, and warnings about all the ways we might fuck up our children by eating a bite of the wrong food. Give us the respect of responding to what we’re saying with honest reactions, meaningful conversation, and useful stories, and we might have a really heartfelt and interesting conversation about this thing that some women experience, and the unique and personal things that make each woman’s experience different.

But whatever you do, skip the jokes at our expense.

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So, hey. I’m getting married in 6 weeks.

Again.

I read this essay this morning before I got out of bed, and it totally made me settle a little bit on this front. Because, hey, look at that. Nothing we ever feel is unique. I am, expectably, not alone in this ambivalence. I am not a special snowflake who finds it strange to be contemplating a second wedding when the first failed so spectacularly.

“You cannot think of one marriage without the other, or at least I can’t. I squint at other second-time brides, wondering if they’re experiencing the same duality, as if they’ve walked all the way around the world only to arrive in familiar territory as completely different people. It’s hard for me to believe they can put on a white dress and stand up there and make those promises while thinking, ‘Nope, none of this reminds me of anything in particular’, but if they’re thinking anything else, they’re too polite to say so.” From Once More With Feeling.

And this is absolutely part of my challenge in talking openly about getting married to Justin: I can’t talk about it without thinking that I’m getting married AGAIN. Which means saying out loud “I’m getting married in August!” while finishing the sentence mentally “…AGAIN.” Part of that frustration and instinctive reaction comes from the fact that I never really wanted to get married once, let alone twice. When I was in college I said to my mom that I was pretty sure I’d have kids, but I was positive I wouldn’t ever get married. (We see how well that’s worked out so far.)

But consider: The long-term marrieds in my family are the most traditional and conservative people I know, and are representative of the part of my upbringing I was most adamant about walking away from. I’m not that kind of woman, and I don’t want that kind of life. (There’s no judgement of my family in that; I just wanted something different, and have walked a different path by choice.) The people to whom I feel the most emotional kinship — my parents — were married for 10 years, divorced, got back together for 10 more years, and then split again. So I say my parents divorced when I was 17, but I mean “their relationship ended”. They were divorced when I was 7. And the commitment and love of the 2nd round of 10 years was no more or less meaningful for the lack of a ceremony. Right up until they weren’t, I always believed my parents were committed to each other and our family, and I never stopped believing that they loved each other deeply. So why would I believe that a wedding was somehow the important thing? I have no evidence of that. The love and commitment, yes. The wedding, not so much. Not to mention that it is, in so many ways, something I rail against: Government intrusion in a truly personal thing. Why does the State get to approve my choices and validate them with laws? Fuck off, State.

And yet here it is. I’m doing it. AGAIN.

But above all else, I don’t want to flavor my relationship to Justin and our choice to get married with the baggage of the last one — not any more than our relationship is already colored by all of our past choices and loves. It deserves to be separate. We deserve that. But for me, it’s still THERE. Always.

So there are jokes I only tell to a small group of people. Comments I only make to the people who won’t judge me too harshly. And I do my very best to smile past my discomfort and talk openly and cheerfully about our plans for this party. I try to let go of my own hesitations about ceremony and formality and legality and repetitions, and just enjoy this moment in my life with him by my side. I try to enjoy this man, and the life we’re building. To appreciate my joy. Because the joy is real. The joy is meaningful. The man is mine, and I intend to keep him forever. I want this life. I love these choices. I want to give him as much as he gives me.

I just, deep down, struggle to see what “marriage” has to do with any of that, and wish my own experiences didn’t already leave me feeling slightly distasteful about the whole concept.

Again.

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I’m going through my address book, looking up information for family and friends for wedding invitations. I’ve had the same book since college — a Griffen and Sabine spiral bound lie-flat desk book. It’s full of cross-outs and additions, and I rarely look at it, but when I do, it’s like looking at history.

My college boyfriend’s mother’s address.

My now-deceased college adviser.

My now-deceased great aunt.

My ex-husband’s cousins.

Friends I lost in the divorce.

My dad.

And also some consistency: Aunt Karen’s address. Betsy’s. Liza’s. Christian’s.

It’s a walk through my life, as much as a tour of someone’s bookshelves or their music collection is.