I am writing this and I still can’t believe I’m writing this.
No, wait. Yes, I can, and that’s what makes it even sadder.
My daughter and her friends were all abuzz yesterday when I came home from work. I was hoping they were all wildly misinformed, but Moms talk and other kids talk and I guess it’s true.
One of my daughter’s schoolmates is pregnant.
God, one of my eleven year-old daughter’s schoolmates is pregnant. And keeping the baby.
I realize you work in mysterious ways, Lord. But couldn’t this one have been a mystery to my daughter, her friends, and yes, this girl for just a few years longer?
Eleven. I look at my beautiful daughter, who (frighteningly) started developing way too early, and I remember that I’m a single working mother who very soon will be leaving my teenage daughter alone for four hours after school every single weekday and I want to move us all to Antarctica.
Then I remember to breathe. The first words out of my daughter’s mouth yesterday after she told me were “Don’t worry Mom, you know I wouldn’t be that stupid.”
But it isn’t always about stupid, I tell her. Sometimes it’s about careless. And in her classmate’s case, it’s about setting your boundaries at a time in your life that they should be firmly entrenched. I tell her that it isn’t just about the day-to-day care of a new little life (which will be exhausting enough on both her classmate and her classmate’s family). It is that now, and forevermore, every single decision this girl makes will be influenced by her child.
Every. Single. Decision.
At a time in her life when she should be wildly crushing on some fellow sixth grader and wondering if she’ll make the cheer squad next year, this girl will be doing an awful lot of growing up awfully quick.
And it won’t be quick enough, Lord. I know it in my heart and it makes me heartsick for her, and for her mother, and for that baby. I don’t even know them personally, but I feel for them. So much.
Worst of all, God, I look at my daughter through these newly world-weary eyes. She’s not in her elementary school bubble anymore. She’s a middle schooler with friends who have middle school lives and their problems and worries are escalating exponentially. I am reminded now that I can’t always protect her from everything. I can just keep talking, keep reinforcing, keep letting her know I trust her to be the smart, thoughtful girl who tells me she wants to study medicine and mathematics so that she can work in genetic research and find a cure for her brother’s autism. And I pray. Like I’m praying now.
Please God, watch out for her.
And for this other little girl, who’s not so little anymore.
|Dude. I know EXACTLY how you feel.|
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to have any more kids. I have three and they’re awesome and beautiful and healthy. On most days, if I’m being honest, I’m completely over-matched. On a good day, it all works. On a bad day, they are tornadoes and I am a trailer park. Being the mom they need is an ongoing struggle for me. Being the mom they deserve is simply not something I’m able do. At least not every day.
So no more kids for me and Cap’n Coupon. Plus we are both getting really, really old. Even though I won’t be 40 for a very long time (about 12 weeks), lately I feel elderly and fragile and perpetually exhausted. But in the past month there was this one time where we both felt young and frisky and maybe a little careless and maybe something could have happened. And by “something”, I mean possibly one of my last remaining eggos becoming slightly preggo.
But it was statistically completely unlikely. I mean, this had to be nothing. NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT, STUPID. Because nothing is happening.
Then a couple of days after nothing happened I got this weird cramping. Like a tiny little something burrowing it’s way my geriatric uterine lining. And I got a teensy bit scared and I maybe said: “OH SHIT THIS CAN NOT BE HAPPENING.” Then a couple of weeks later, I started having really vivid dreams about the Blue Wiggle and other bizarro things, like having to breastfeed kittens.
And a few days ago I started smelling chicken. Like I could smell it when it was wrapped in plastic inside my fridge. And when I tried to eat it, I couldn’t shake the idea that I was chewing flesh and I would involuntarily gag. Even Chick Fil A.
I do not want to be pregnant. I can’t do this. This has to be nothing.
When that bite of spicy chicken sandwich made me gag, I knew something was up. I mentioned it to the Cap’n. He smiled and said “Let’s get a test, honey” but the look in his eyes was saying “OH SHIT THIS CAN NOT BE HAPPENING.”
So I went to Walmart with Mini. I haven’t bought a pregnancy test in a long time. I walked over to the part of the store that sells things like shampoo, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste and band aids. My kids call this part of the store “The Bathroom Area”. I asked why they call it this when the bathrooms are on the other side of the store, a full football field away. In truth, I was worried that Mini called it that because she had once dropped a deuce there or was currently planning to. Instead she looked at me like I was moron and said: “Momma, all dis stuff is suppose to be in your bafroom.”
Fortified by her preschool logic, it occurred to me that I had no idea where the tests were (within the bounds of the bathroom area). So I headed for tampons. And I began looking carefully up and down the aisle. There were no tests anywhere. I started to get nervous because it was becoming apparent that I might have to ask someone where the pregnancy tests were. I would have to ask them that out loud.
To avoid that horrible fate, I began to look more carefully all over the tampon aisle. My inner monologue began: “COME ON, WALMART. Where are the pregnancy tests? WHY AREN’T THEY HERE IN THE AISLE THAT HAS TO DO WITH VAGINAS? This is the damn vagina aisle, is it not?”
I started sweating a little. I walked over to where there were vitamins and supplements and other things that had nothing whatsoever to do with vaginas. Not surprisingly, there were no pregnancy tests there either. I saw an old man in a blue vest and I started to feel faint because I was going to have to ask him using my mouth. And dear Lord. My dear sweet baby lemur. He was talking to my daughter’s third grade teacher.
So I ran away and hid in the corner where the vagina aisle intersects with body wash. There is douche in between those sections, in case you were wondering.
I waited five minutes and looked again, but I couldn’t see the teacher or the man in vest. I started to get worried because the only thing worse than having to ask him with my mouthhole was for him not to be there. And for me to never, ever find the pregnancy tests. I started to feel light-headed. I walked to the next aisle and looked up. There he was, the man in the vest. He smiled at me. His face seemed kind and understanding, so I opened my mouth to speak but before any words came out, my eyes flicked over to his nametag.
It said “HO”. I slowly blinked. It still said “HO”. It flashed at me as if written in lights. I closed my eyes, counted to five and opened them again. No change, still “HO”. I walked closer to him, staring at his name tag, to make sure that I was seeing it right. He started to back away, very slowly, while conspicuously avoiding eye contact. Mini looked at me from her perch in the shopping cart and said: “Momma. What. Are. You. Even. Doing?”
It was a suitable wake-up call. I decided it might be best to avoid asking Ho where the pregnancy tests were, given that he may have just called security. I quickly spun around to make a break for it and right there at eye level was an enormous bottle of lube. Inner monologue: “GAH! What the hell, Walmart? That is A LOT of lube for this time of day.”
Below the lube were many, many boxes of condoms and above it? Pregnancy tests. BINGO.
|Hello there, Lube.|
My inner monologue began again: “I don’t get it. I mean – I understand why you would put pregnancy tests with lube and condoms in the sex aisle. But really? It’s more of a vag item. Am I wrong?” Then I saw that the only other things in the aisle were antacids and hemorrhoid treatments and I was like: “That’s why they’re here. Because pregnant women totally need Rolaids and Tucks wipes. They should put ice cream over here, too. And non-alcoholic beer.”
I nodded to myself in satisfaction that finally something was making sense and then I realized that I’d said that last part out loud. Mini was looking at me with one small eyebrow raised and Ho was peering around the corner looking concerned. This has happened to me before. Thankfully, no one was filming me for People of Walmart this time.
I quickly scooted my boot to the register and paid for my purchases. The woman checking us out was wearing a nametag that said “Noneya” and I was like WALMART, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH YOU TODAY?
I went home and when I pulled in the driveway, I noticed that Mini had just fallen asleep. GAH! The dreaded 5 Minute Car Nap was going to wreck whatever chance at a reasonable bedtime and/or evening I had hoped for. I carefully picked her up and carried my ginormous three year old inside. I felt her chubby hands go around my neck, her little face nuzzle into my neck, and I smelled her sweet head.
I plopped her down on the couch and watched her sleep for a moment. Her little toes scrunched up and I bent down and kissed them. These were the only kid toes in my house that were kissable anymore. The other ones were now all too big and stinky.
I decided to take advantage of these few minutes of quiet and quickly ran upstairs. I took the test. I should’ve waited 2 minutes but I knew right away. It was negative. I expected to feel relief. I expected that I would want to go back to Walmart and high five Ho and Noneya after shotgunning a victory beer with the Cap’n. But I cried in the bathroom for what seemed like a very long time. And I tried to stop myself from feeling like I’d lost something. Because I’d lost nothing. It was always nothing.
So I went downstairs and held my littlest until she got too squirmy. And I fervently thanked my lucky stars for the somethings I already have.
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 – 2012
by Jessica Stewart
The past six weeks have been reminiscent of my teen journaling years, with emotions ranging from unstoppable tears to fits of rage with a lead time of zero point five seconds. My boobs are growing so fast I can practically feel the stretch marks forming and the zits, holy crap!
Thankfully these pesky little whiteheads have not gone to my face, yet, instead they continuously pop up on my chest, gross. The only good news is that my Tom’s all-natural deodorant is finally working. Either that or my husband has decided telling me my pits stink again may not be in his best interest.
The problem is this: I am 29 years old and did I mention I am 11 weeks pregnant? What have I gotten myself info?
Pregnancy is chock full of the most irrational feelings a person could ever experience. At eight weeks my husband and I had a scare. My OB, whom I absolutely adore, was not able to find a heartbeat. She was concerned the pregnancy was not progressing. We were set to leave soon after for a two-week cruise, leaving us just a few days to figure out what was going on in there.
Mind you, this was not a planned pregnancy. I actually cried when I found out, and not from happiness. My husband and I had only been married nine months and I was just not ready yet. Add to that a rare uterine abnormality that renders my pregnancy higher risk and there you have the perfect recipe for a confused, scared and fearful mother-to-be.
My husband, on the other hand, had complete confidence from day one. He began to tell his closest friends immediately. So when the news of potential miscarriage came, it was literally my worst fear come true. Not only am I overwhelmed with grief, I now have people I’ll have to explain the whole situation to.
I sat on my couch for two days and ate chocolate cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream with tears streaming down my cheeks.
How could I, the most non-emotional person I know (besides my mom of course) be this upset about a pregnancy I wasn’t even ready for? The only bright side was the unlimited booze package on the cruise ship that was just five days away. In the meantime, I could distract myself from worrying about the pregnancy by instead worrying that I hadn’t been pooping.
I have always been somewhat irregular, but this was something else again. I realized that it had been nearly a week since my last movement and according to my husband that was just not right. He forced me to drink two cups of his organic peppermint Smooth Move tea. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty but it was a necessity at this point.
I woke up in the middle of the night with horrid cramps. It felt like my period with vengeance. I thought to myself, “This is the miscarriage.” The pain was just as bad as my vile periods: knees tucked into my abdomen, sweat beading off my chest, and lower back pain.
The cramps lasted thirty minutes before I hit the bathroom. I spent another forty-five on the toilet. It was horrible but no blood. I even made my husband get out the heat pad to help relieve the cramps. I was done for.
With my husband in tow, I headed to the doctor’s for what I feared would be the final ultrasound. At least it seemed my body had picked up on the failing pregnancy and was going to take care of things naturally. There would be one more ultrasound, just to be sure. But nothing had changed. My husband then asked, “Are you absolutely sure nothing is there?”
My doc gently rammed the wand a little further into the depths of my ailing region and suddenly the tiny sac looked a little bigger. She turned on the Doppler and a steady heartbeat emerged.
We all sat in silence. There it was. The tiny little sac had a heartbeat. We did some math. It turned out I’d ovulated late and was only just over six weeks pregnant. That’s why no heartbeat was found prior. All those cramps, you guessed it, the Smooth Move tea in action.
The moral of my story is this: No one wants to talk about their bowel movements. But this experience has taught me a lesson that will stay with me the rest of my pregnancy: stay regular. I have stocked up on peppermint tea and it has been incorporated into my daily routine. In small doses the tea keeps me regular and I pray it keeps me that way the entire pregnancy.
Don’t ask me what I plan to do about the teenage emotions and irrational feelings though. Like those ladies suffering through the first trimester with me, I guess I’ll figure it out as I go.
Jessica Stewart is a newly married, first-time mom born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Raised riding horses, collecting fresh chicken eggs, living sustainably (before the fad), and spending many of summers in Grandma’s kitchen she has passion for the “simple life.” Jessica loves to cook, shop the local farmers markets, and take a serious interest in nutrition and a holistic approach to health. In her free time you can find her with her husband on their boat, wakeboarding (when not pregnant) and traveling as much as possible.