Stories from the front lines of an unplanned pregnancy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And in this corner...

I'm beat. Literally and figuratively. Ian Rhys (née The Squatter) has begun a very rigorous training regimen for what I can only believe will be his intended global takeover following birth. It's either that or he's somehow gotten a hold of a Richard Simmons VHS and is happily sweatin' to the oldies. Whatevs. Regardless of what he's actually up to in there, one thing's for sure-- he's kicking my ass all the while he does.

Yet another thing that I'm quickly learning isn't what all those Clear Blue Easy commercials make it out to be, is the magic of feeling baby kick. Having never been host to a squirming fetus before, I can't tell you how anxiously I awaited feeling those first "flutters"-- that's what all the baby books call them. At thirteen weeks when I was supposed to start feeling the "gentle sensation of butterfly wings", I'd sit for ages with my hands on my stomach, willing the baby to make his presence known. Sure, I wanted to experience the overwhelming, breathtaking surge of maternal warmth that I was sure would overtake me... but mostly I was just thinking, "Don't be dead, don't be dead, don't be dead..." See, one of the hardest parts of the first few months of pregnancy is the fact that you're at your highest risk for miscarriage and unless you were neurotic (and extravagant) enough to buy your own doppler heart monitor, you really have no way of telling what's going on with the wee one floating round in your uterus. So when fifteen weeks rolled by and I still hadn't felt the telltale "quickening" (pregnancy books are full of euphemisms), I started to get a little worried. Little did I know that deep within my womb, Young Master Anglim was alive and well, gathering his strength and waiting patiently for the right moment to unleash the power of the Fetal Ninja. Quickening came, for me, with not a flutter but with a fight. Apparently of the belief that all that gentle butterfly wing shit is for pansies, Ian's first movements were a combination of kicks to the bladder and elbows to the kidney. With a strength, speed, and natural ability that would make Mr. Miyagi weep tears of joy, Ian has declared war on my internal organs. What was the rogue uncomfortable jab a couple of months ago has become an hourly onslaught of tiny limbs jostling for space in my womb.

Some of his favorite moves? The Flying Squirrel, a slow stretching of (what feels like) all his limbs at once, ending with me whimpering, back arched and cursing all those stupid ribs of mine. The Short Man Shuffle, a fast, swishy feeling back and forth across my midsection that may or may not include a three minute pause at one side of my uterus leaving me with a wackily misshapen belly. The Made You Look, a sudden extension of one leg (usually a few inches above my belly button) that's so sharp and intense that I inevitably yank up my shirt, convinced that there will be a tiny foot shape poking out of my stomach. The Low Blow, a sneaky move that involves throwing all of his weight back onto my bladder (totally undetectable to anyone on the outside) , sending me running to the bathroom while onlookers point and laugh at the little woman waddling to the restroom with her hands holding onto her crotch for dear life. And this isn't even counting the Braxton Hicks contractions baby hiccups, and squirmy convulsive fits that have me convinced we're actually having triplets. Basically, I've become home to the one man mosh pit.

But like many things baby related, just when you start to think, "Good God this has got to stop before I lose my mind," something happens that reminds you in a flash just how lucky you are to have every one of those insanity inducing moments. Like a few weeks ago when I noticed a little
après-rapport sexuel spotting and I had one of my increasingly frequent mini panic attacks (complete with guilt-laden sobs) out of terror that we'd somehow hurt the wee man. Let me tell you, I've never been so happy to feel one of his little fists of fury to my liver. Even if this one seemed to say, "Eff y'all bitches, always bothering my ass when I'm napping!" So, when my ribs are getting pummeled and I can't get to sleep because someone's practicing his capoeira on my side, I just remember that it's his only way of letting me know that he's alive and kicking (literally) and I can't help but smile. Well, it's really more of a grimace... but I love it just the same.

With love and a right hook to the gallbladder,

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A T.M.I. fairytale...

Once upon a time, there was a prissy little snot named Alex. Alex lived for the better part of her life believing that she shat vanilla ice cream out of a platinum asshole. Unlike the dreadfully common people with whom she shared this world, Alex knew that she was perfectly unsullied in every way and entirely above the many disgusting practices and behaviors of the average man. Eventually, Alex found herself involved with a young man named Christian who, though wonderful in nearly every way, was extremely open about each and every one of the intimate details of his physical being. Alex was shocked. With frightening regularity and shameless abandon, Christian would belch in her presence. He would scratch and "adjust" himself in broad daylight, oblivious of the passing public. He announced his intestinal distress and would pardon himself for suspiciously long stretches of time in order to seek relief in the men's room. And most disturbingly of all, it wasn't that Christian was simply unaware of how appallingly common his behavior was, but that he simply did not care.

Despite his awful lack of modesty, Alex fell in love with Christian and promptly moved in with him. With great effort, she managed to maintain her facade of perfect hygiene and total control over bodily functions for months. She would excuse herself from the room in order to blow her nose, she ran the faucet in the bathroom sink whenever she needed to relieve herself (lest he hear the tinkling noise of her stream), she brushed her teeth religiously before daring to speak in the morning, and she exerted every bit of control to hold off on all other bodily functions and releases until he was away at work for the day. But Alex was pregnant, and with each passing month the facade became more and more difficult to keep up. The mounting pressure of a growing fetus on her bladder forced her to make frequent, sudden dashes to the bathroom. The soaring amounts of progesterone coursing through her body caused her digestive system to slow down, resulting in mortifying bouts of uncontrollable gas. Mucus membranes in her sinus cavities began to swell and cause her to snore noisily through the night only stopping after a liberal squirt of decongestant up her nose. The fluctuation of hormones in her system led to excess saliva, which she inadvertently sprayed at everyone with whom she spoke. With alarming speed and growing intensity, the list of vile side effects grew and grew until Alex's modesty had all but evaporated into thin air, in exchange for the comfort that can only be given when one's truest discomforts are brought to light.

But nothing at all could prepare Alex for the final blow to her ego that came in her 26th week of pregnancy. This coup de grâce came with deadly accuracy, forever removing Alex from her ivory tower of carefully constructed modesty and throwing her onto the streets of the common man, at the mercy of Christian and the entire staff of the local CVS. Evil mistress that she is, pregnancy- once responsible for Alex's bountiful bosom and beautiful nails- bestowed upon Alex her most humiliatingly uncomfortable gift yet. Alex... got--

-- wait, did you really think I was going to tell you? Come on now, drooly, hairy, and gassy as I may be, I've still got a little modesty left. Suffice it to say, I've been suffering something awful these past couple of days and I finally had to break down and tell Christian so that he could go and get me the miracle cure that I've been dying for. Unfortunately, in exchange for this, I now get to suffer an even worse injustice... his mocking. Oh, the relish with which the mister has been enjoying my agony. Denied the pleasure of watching me battle constipation (another common pregnancy woe, which I've so far avoided with a healthy diet of high fiber foods), he's taken this opportunity to really let me have it. Prissy little Alex is human?! Hooray! Let the games begin! To celebrate the occasion, the mister has given me a nickname, taken to answering the phone as a drug company spokesperson when I call, used my ailment as an excuse for being late to work, and spent the better part of the last 24 hours making me want to curl up in the fetal position and die of shame. And the worst part of all? I'm feeling too damn wretched to fight back. God forbid he decides against going to CVS for me tonight! So, here I am, sucking it up, six shades of miserable and anxiously awaiting salvation-- served up with a side of humble pie.

With love and woe,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Anyone want to take in a family of three?

Revenge: A Haiku.
Just cleaned the kitchen
Scrubbed up his big, greasy mess
Then peed on his shoes

- a. grizzle

Okay, fine, I didn't really pee on his shoes. But I certainly should have. Let's just add it to the list of things that I am tempted to do to our roommate on a daily basis. Also on the list: Pee in his closet, pee in the pile of dirty laundry he's left in the laundry room for the past three weeks, pee on his car, pee in his car... and it goes on like this for another three pages. Besides my bizarre obsession with soaking his things in my urine, I'm seriously troubled by the behavior of our thoughtless-inconsiderate-good-for-nothing-lying-cheating-toilet-paper-snatching-
son-of-a-bitch roommate. Now, granted, I've never had the extreme displeasure of having a roommate before, but I'm pretty sure that the number one rule in The Common Sense Guide to Peaceful Coexistence is something along the lines of "Thou shalt not maketh thy roommate want piss all over thy stuff." Or in other words, don't be a douche bag.

I guess Ty (that would be his name) has not yet cracked open his copy. So, instead, a good portion of my day is devoted to coming up with clever solutions to deal with his increasingly obnoxious behavior. When I first moved in, this meant just sucking it up and washing one more sink full of slimy dishes, folding one more dryer full of clothes, or learning one more dirty ho's name when she knocked on the door at one am for an impromptu booty call. My logic was, he'll notice my stepping in to handle his shit, appreciate it, and then make an effort to pick up his slack. HA! Not exactly. Instead, Ty simply chose to believe that if he came home to find a stack of neatly folded shirts on his bed, or found the onions that he'd left in the fridge for three months (a study on micro-organisms?) disposed of and the goopy puddle they left on the shelf cleaned up, it was the work of magical helper fairies. Or maybe a troupe of bored forest gnomes. I don't know if thinks he's the second coming of Snow White or what, but the one thing he sure as hell didn't think was that it was necessary to toss so much as a thank you in my direction. So after a couple weeks of that masochism, I moved on to Strategy no. Two: Just let it go.

Okay, you've got to figure that any rational person will only wallow in their own filth for so long before they start to gross themselves out (or run out of clean undies) and have to do something about it. So I figured I'd just wait him out. Maybe, in my neurotic, lysol obsessed haste to keep things up to my particular standards, I had simply been beating him to the punch and cleaning up after him before he had the chance. So, the next time he made a big dinner for him and one of the skanks and couldn't be bothered to clean up after himself, I didn't fret, and assumed he'd get to it in the morning. Jump ahead four days. The stove is still a Jackson Pollock of splattered grease and hot sauce, all but two forks and a wine glass are piled into a tepid pool of dishwater in the sink, and various pots and pans full of that dinner's leftovers are sitting abandoned on their burners (and the counter tops, and lidless in the middle of the refrigerator...). Four. Days. Later. Who knows, maybe his gross out epiphany would've come at day five. But there's a good chance that it might have actually come at day thirteen, and quite frankly, I didn't feel like waiting around to find out. My personal gross out point had long passed, and I was terrified that left there any longer, the whole kitchen would become a bio-hazard and be taken over by the Mold Creatures of the deep. Or something. So, I rolled up my sleeves, pulled on my gloves, and scrubbed the hell out of that kitchen. Then I sat down and attempted Strategy no. Three: The Passive-Aggressive Note.

this note is for visitors and residents alike:

If you make a mess, clean it up. If you use it, put it away.

I promise that it will save us all a lot of time and frustration.

Now that worked. In fact, it worked so well that Ty stopped using the kitchen for more than two minutes at a clip altogether. Sure he may have been extra surly with me for the next few weeks and one of the hos gave me the stank eye whenever she came over... but it was worth it. For about a month I could use the fridge without having to shove past entire pizza boxes that held only one slice of pizza and half a container of garlic sauce (hand to God, that was in there once), my dishes were as clean and usable as I'd left them, and the whole apartment stopped smelling like a garbage can. Mostly. But go flippin figure, eventually Ty stopped giving a rat's ass and now I'm back at the start, grouchy and forever slipping on little puddles of raw chicken juice (helloooo salmonella!) So now what, you ask? With a baby on the way and but a teensy scrap of patience left in me? Well I took a page from the Brady Bunch book of space sharing and have started up with the whole "line-down-the-middle-of-the-room" thing. (Didn't Marsha and Jan do that at some point?) The only thing missing from this increasingly elaborate scheme (which has grown to include separate couches, dish drying racks, silverware, dishes, hidden supplies of paper towels and toilet paper... oh yeah, it's gone there) is the actual tape line running through the apartment. But, alas, I know that this too is only a temporary solution. Eventually I'm going to get tired of hiding my lotion (he once snatched a bottle right off our bathroom counter top and decided it would be better off in his room. No, seriously.), and a kitchen that's only half clean is still kind of grody. But until the mister sits him down for the talk that we should've had back when I first moved in about what we expect of each other as roommates, besides a check for the rent, it will have to do.

Well, it's either that or I start getting used to living with the smell of my own stale urine.

With love and a leak,

Monday, January 14, 2008

What the fuzz?

You know, in the early days of my pregnancy, I was just so happy about my new long, strong nails and thick, lustrous locks. But then things took a turn for the sci-fi and now, where once was smooth, innocent skin, now lies a carpet of fine, silky hair. Now this would be one thing if I was referring to somewhere that normally gets covered in hair say, around the same time you sprout a pair of tits and meet your dear auntie flo. But oh no... the gods of fertility giveth and, oh baby, do they taketh away. And in this instance they have seen it fit to take away my sublime femininity and replace it with unnecessary patches of... chest hair. Yeah, you heard me... chest hair. And belly hair. And nipple hair. And lower back hair. I'd blame them for the mustache, too, but I've been working that since back in the day and my puerto rican genes are taking all the credit for that insult to my girlishness. Seriously though, what the hell?! It all started innocently enough, too. First a couple of rogue black hairs sprouting up around my nipples-- a few yanks of the tweezer and I was good to go. But now, it seems like every time I step out of the shower I happen upon a new soft, downy spot on my body that makes me question my gender for the first time since I saw The Notebook and realized I was the only woman in that theater dry eyed. Granted, it's not the wiry sort of hair that's on the mister's chest and it certainly won't ever puff my shirt up under the collar or get tangled in my jewelry, but the fact remains that it's hair. And it's on my chest. More accurately, it's just below each of my boobs and in a faint, patternless swirl across my belly, but does it matter?

Besides the fact that it's bizarre and, in my opinion, kind of gross, my biggest problem with it is removal. At first I figured, as Priscilla Queen of the Desert as it was, I would just shave it all off. But two days later when it was growing back with a vengeance, I realized the only thing that could make me feel more like a full fledged transvestite than shaving my hairy chest in the shower, was having a stubbly chest in bed. And I'm sure the mister agrees. So, for the next three months just call me Mr. Williams (as in Robin, not those tennis playing brothers Venus & Serena... although, i bet they're some hairy bitches, too) because I'm officially giving up the good fight. That's right, kids. I'm gonna let it g(r)o(w). Okay, okay, not all of it-- pain in the ass as it's become to shave my legs, I still make the effort to deal with it at least once a week. And much as I've been feeling the urge to burn these too tiny bras recently, I'm not enough of a women's libber to give up on my underarms-- but definitely the new stuff. I figure, you can't really see it and as long as it doesn't start feeling like the mister's... what's the harm?

Pregnancy Sucks, reason. no. 52: Unwanted Body Hair
Pregnancy Rocks, reason no. 43: Not having to give a shit.

With love and tweezers,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Life's A Bitch: An abridged list of why I'm grumpy...

1. My back hurts. Sure it was cool when he was a wild and swingin' bachelor living in a teensy studio, but the whole bed on the floor thing is just not working anymore. And because, in an effort to go all Ty Pennington, Mr. A decided to build a bed frame (of sorts) and nail it into the box-spring, when it came time to move into our new digs, he figured it would be easier to scrap the whole thing and just bring the mattress. The mattress that then fell off the pickup truck in transit and now bends at an alarming 15 degree angle on one corner. The very mattress I now have to twist, roll, drag, and wobble off of every morning and gracelessly squat and tumble onto every night.

2. Laundry. We are only two people with only four arms and four legs between us. So where the hell are all of these clothes coming from? How can one man run through an average of eight articles of clothing every day? And that's not counting the handful of pieces I find myself discovering under couches and between the closet door and the hamper, daily. Or the endless bath towels. Or my own rotating wardrobe of fat pants and oversized t-shirts. This, coupled with the fact that both our washing machine and dryer are preciously miniaturized versions of proper appliances, means that I spend at least a couple of hours every day in our laundry room just to keep Mr. A in clean work shirts. This isn't to say that I'm any good at it. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to rewash a load because I forgot them all day in the washing machine, or how often I open the dryer only to realize that I never even turned it on.

3. The Postal Service. As you read this, at least three known packages addressed to me are collecting dust on a shelf somewhere in Orlando, Florida. Apparently, my address might as well be somewhere within the Bermuda triangle. Either that, or the only qualification for becoming a Winter Park postal worker is having a pulse. Make sense out of this one: "As of today, your package is currently in transit out of Jacksonville and is scheduled to arrive in Orlando on December 24th" Today is January 11th.

4. This excerpt from an email from my mother. Re: the flowers for her upcoming third wedding: "As far as flowers are concerned, I'm looking for THE simplest bouquet...pretty much anyone can make what I want. Salmon and Gold roses, surrounding a heart shaped cluster (or not) of the Peachy Pink roses Glenn gave me for my birthday. I want that with Ivy vines and crystals (tiny, like dewdrops). No baby's breath." Explanation 100% unnecessary.

5. My bladder. More accurately, the wee child resting on top of it so that his slightest kick or jab sends me running to the bathroom. I've been keeping count, and today I've already gone to pee six times. Six. I'm like that leaky pipe guy from those incontinence commercials, only fat and wobbly and cursing all the way to the toilet.

6. No, seriously, did you read number four?! And let me point out that this will be her third wedding. Which she has asked me to plan. Completely oblivious to the possibility that I might be just a little bit bitter considering the fact that she's flitting around like a schoolgirl in heat, gushing over wedding dresses and flower arrangements for a wedding to a guy she hasn't even known a year-- while I'm six months pregnant and about to get married for the first time in a stinking courthouse. They are in their forties and she is a two time divorcee. They should be the ones having a quiet, simple ceremony that reflects their situation, if they are so desperate to go bolting down the aisle. But hey, let's not let Debbie Downer get in the way of their dream wedding.

7. Being wrong. Apparently my lost packages are only lost because, genius that I am, I never bothered to update the shipping address on my baby registry when I moved. So my packages got here all right, only to sit around for a few weeks at my old apartment and get shipped right back. So now I'm on hold for the seventeenth time with these crazy cats at Target Bombay (sorry, Mumbai) trying to convince them to please, for the love of all that is good and right, just send me my flipping Boppy Bouncer!!! Which reminds me: what the hell is with bad hold music? It's bad enough being on hold for 22 minutes, 39 seconds and counting without having to listen to some scratchy, halting nine minute long recording of "Electric Dreamers (Jillian's Theme)" on flute and Casio keyboard. Make that number 8. Really Shitty Hold Music.

...You know, I thought that somehow having a bit of a vent would do me a world of good. But now I'm just double pissed off and feeling dangerously close to murdering the next person who so much as looks at me without first offering a snack. Oh yeah, and I'm STILL on hold.

With love and what is that, Kenny G?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy New Year!

...Now bust out the snowboards and ice skates, my friends... Hell has frozen over.

I am absolutely, blindingly, sickeningly, maddeningly, and overwhelmingly in love. Usually, this would be the part where I turn from the computer, overcome with sudden intestinal distress and puke my brains out into the wastebasket. But, hand to God, I haven't so much as gagged, let alone let loose the vomitous flow that would usually follow such a nauseatingly sentimental statement. I'm tempted to blame my raging hormones... but something tells me that this may run a bit deeper than that. This isn't me bursting into tears because I can't fit my pants over my thighs anymore or flying into a rage because, "How many more days are you going to walk by the kitchen sink before you remember that that stinking pile of dirty dishes is yours and wash them already you self obsessed, inconsiderate, oblivious, slob?!" No, this is me about to sign my freedom and last name away under the belief that, unlike countless couples before us, we will make this work. Come hell, high water, a fat ass, or a receding hairline, we will stick it out. We can do better than our parents, our grandparents, and Pam Anderson. We... are obviously batshit insane. Anyone who gets married would have to be.

But we owe it to ourselves and to that rapidly growing bump in my maternity jeans that will one day be our legacy to at least try. And not try until something better comes along, or until it gets to be too much work, but really try. When after four sleepless months of being at the beck and call of a ten pound tyrant, the reality of what it means to be a stay at home mom hits and bitterness creeps in when I see Christian heading out the door to work and a few hours of freedom... When a few years from now I look around at all my friends and feel a heart wrenching ache for the newness of their adult lives, the freshness of their marriages, the endless possibilities still spread out in front of them... When we're at wit's end and it seems like the only way out is by with a liberal sprinkling of rat poison in the mashed potatoes. That's when we'll have our work cut out for us. That's when we will have to remember all of the reasons we're together to begin with and step back far enough to see the big picture. But I think we've got it in us. Enough love, determination, and hope to do it right. It's also very comforting to see that his father still has almost all of his hair.

So yeah. This month, Mr. A and I are going down to city hall to make an honest woman out of me. I should be terrified. Without the fanfare and distraction of a big, fouffy wedding, you'd think I would be reeling from the seriousness of it all. The commitment. But the truth of the matter is, I've already made the biggest commitment of my life. One that no amount of time, number of screwups, or team of lawyers can ever truly break. So marrying his father, well that just seems like a no-brainer.

The other day, I pulled a fortune from a cookie that said, "You will stumble into the path that will lead your life to happiness." ...Talk about a smart cookie.

With love and marriage,