You know what a really good cure for baby fever is? Getting pregnant. I think it takes about two years for the previous pregnancy to wear off, and you forget completely how sick you were, and start day-dreaming about that baby smell, those tiny little feet, that smooshy, warm snuggly bear that sleeps against your chest as you wear them in a sling. Then the first trimester hits and you drop all of that, you drop everything really, because you’re reeling with morning sickness and strange aches and in my case, a deep sense that you had done this before.
When we got pregnant with Cole, we got pregnant on the first try. Which amazed us because we had been together for almost nine years at that point and our birth control habits had been laid back, to say the least. In fact we were kind of convinced that nine years without an accidental pregnancy meant that we were definitely going to need some medical intervention to get pregnant now that we were trying. Nope.
Getting pregnant this quickly meant that I wasn’t really convinced it was real. The first pregnancy test had the faintest of blue lines and Drew asked, “Well, what does it say?” I responded with, “it’s inconclusive.”
Friends, let me let you in on a little secret: you can’t be a little pregnant.
Still, there I was, 32 years old, Googling my test results and finding myself reading teenage girls’ desperate Yahoo Answers queries, “Um, so like do you think that means I’m pregnant, cuz it’s barely there?” with the sage older woman responding, “Honey, you are so pregnant.”
That was me. I was deeply ambivalent and feeling that I shouldn’t get too excited because THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS REALLY PREGNANT.
Weeks later when I heard the heartbeat, all of that vanished. Still, I didn’t feel truly pregnant until the baby kicked, and I didn’t know if I would cry when he was born, and I worried that my lack of giggly-joy was an indicator of my future as a mother. It wasn’t. I sobbed when I first saw him and I’ve been in love ever since.
This time around, I spent the better part of the last year lusting over my friend’s baby pics on Facebook. Drew and I knew we wanted another one, the issue was just timing. Finally when we arrived in Beirut, we figured we could start trying, in preparation for the months it would take to get pregnant. You see how our brains work? We learn nothing. Ever. After the first try? Pregnant.
Yet this time was different. The pharmacy gave us a pregnancy test that was off-label, sort of like one of those pH sticks you use to test your pool water. I took a few of those over several days and I wasn’t pregnant. Not even a little.
Drew was convinced I couldn’t be pregnant so he said, “stop wasting money on those” or something equally grumpy and we dropped it. I think we just forgot. It wasn’t until weeks later when I had been increasingly sick that I suddenly remember something. A feeling I had when I was pregnant the first time. This sensation I can’t even describe, like having a head cold and food poisoning and taking too much Theraflu. Everything smelled weird and I was woozy. When I gagged at the moist smell of ripe fruits and vegetables in our kitchen, a smell that Drew said he couldn’t detect, I had this scent memory and everything flooded back. I remembered. Oh right, this is what it feels like to be pregnant.
“Drew I think I’m pregnant. You have to go first thing tomorrow and get a test.”
Then I ran to the bathroom and threw up.
This time, Drew bought the expensive Clear Blue tests, even though he was sure I just had food poisoning. When the test turned positive, I just laughed. This time Drew didn’t have to ask what the test said.
Drew and I had our giddy, ‘yay we’re pregnant’ moment, then I collapsed back in bed.
Everything I had forgotten about pregnancy beyond morning sickness — the achy feeling, the sore lower back, the constant mild cramping, the headaches, the allergies (my allergies really act up when I’m pregnant, which I COMPLETELY blocked out) and my god, my poor breasts, I mean seriously, this is just cruel — all of it has come back to me. I even caught myself thinking, “Christine, you can just make it through the next few weeks, the rest of the pregnancy will be easier” but with a certain feeling of déjà vu, I’m sure I thought that the first time, only to have the rest of the pregnancy be uncomfortable, slightly nauseous if I didn’t constantly eat, and woozy. I play the same tricks on myself each time. I think it’s called hope. Or deep, deep denial. In either case, it’s keeping the world populated with little Gilberts, so at least it’s working.
The big question now, is where to have this child. Drew and I talked about having the baby in Mexico or Buenos Aires, but now that I’m knocked up and miserable (sorry, I’m a big baby about feeling crappy, I can’t pretend I love the first trimester) I’m fantasizing about a lovely Thai birth, in a calm and soothing Thai hospital, and spending the last months of this pregnancy eating Thai food and getting $3 foot rubs. I have no idea what that would mean for me professionally, because I also have nothing new to say about Thailand. What would I write about? “Hey guys, have you heard of Chiang Mai? OH RIGHT I WROTE ABOUT IT A MILLION TIMES.”
Maybe I can’t really think clearly about this yet. I’m somewhat amazed at how completely this pregnancy has derailed me. Drew asks me something simple like, “Do you want pancakes or muesli with bananas for breakfast” and my head literally hurts. It’s kicking my ass.
Meanwhile, Cole and I have been on an extended date together, long snuggles in bed with his sicky mommy. He’s never had such unlimited access to me, and I think he loves it. We have this secret language now, his little ‘mmm hmmm’ whispered to me beneath the covers, I tickle him, but know when to stop, he wraps his arms around my neck and squeezes. He’s so long, his feet stretch past my knees when he lays at chest level, and he rubs his feet together, like I do, as he’s falling asleep. It’s our last hoorah together as a solo baby-mama act, and it feels almost as important as the first.
So Thailand? Buenos Aires? Mexico? Spain? I have no idea. Right now, I’m just being patient, enjoying Cole and waiting to see what happens next.