The Time I Painted the Living Room in My Underwear, and Other Stories about Marriage and Pregnancy

31 weeks pregnant, advanved maternal age, boys, change, first pregnancy, husbands, pregnancy, third trimester

That’s going to be the title of my memoir.

I want to hear from men about going through this pregnancy process. From finding out, to really grasping the concept, the fears, what it’s like to be on the outside looking at this woman who is carrying your child.

Had an interesting few days with my husband this last week. We’ve been trying to not go more than a week without seeing each other, and the long distance will thankfully soon be coming to end. The last time I was in town, we were the cliché couple at the Sherwin Williams store pouring over paint chips, trying to decide the merits of choosing “accessible beige” over “canvas beige”. The guy behind the counter assumed we were home owners, and gave a true chuckle when he heard that no, just a couple of dumb renters, expecting a baby, who signed a lease too soon and are moving into a fixer-upper.

I guess I expected the apartment to be painted when I returned this week. I mean, if I were there, I would’ve had that stuff slapped on the walls in probably 48 hours. My nesting pistons are firing on full steam. I want to see progress: the nursery looking like a place for a baby and not the break room for the camera crew for Sesame Street, our pictures on the walls, everything in its place so we know what doesn’t have a place, a plant or two – some life, some evidence that a family lives in this space, not a frat house on holiday, or Cindy Lou’s home in Whoville with one little ornament rolling around a bare wood floor.

Long story short, that’s not what I saw. Not much had been done, and my husband, the man I love dearly, was in a bad place. He looked like hell (for him…and he’s really good looking). This man that I adore is a creature who needs routine. Getting sleep, working out, eating well…this magic combo bodes well for the rest of his daily life. Substituting sleep for the internet, working out for post-shift beers and a cigarette, and mornings to work on our home for catching up on zzzzzs as the dull gray cloud of an approaching winter starts to set on Chicago…not. good.

I cried. Like, holding my face in my hands cried. Used words I’ve never said to him like “disappointed”. And I suddenly felt more like a mom than a partner, more like a “Wife” than his love. It was shocking…his inertia, this paralysis, this depression…when we have so much to do. The next day, while he was at work, in an act of rebellion and the fire to get things done while my body still feels pretty normal, I painted the entire living room and kitchen, trim, windows, crown molding, edges, two coats…everything. In four hours. He had been adamant that I not paint because of the fumes, but thanks to VOC-free paint (yeah!), my only obstacle was not having any crappy clothes/shoes to wear and not being able to fit into my husband’s pants. So…

October 29, 2014 became the day I was literally barefoot and pregnant, on a ladder, painting the living room in my underwear.

I had tea the next morning with a friend of ours who listened to what I had observed and with total confidence declared “He’s so scared.” And I started to feel bad for the things he had done that maybe I didn’t acknowledge enough. All these questions started flooding in about expectation, and being so focused on myself that I wonder how much I’ve allowed for his experience to enter into our joint equation, and wondering why he wasn’t as eager to make a home for us, with the same urgency that I feel, and on and on and on…

I read this article today that came across my facebook feed, and the headline was “The Three Sexiest Words a Man Can Say”. Those words were: “I got this”. Those words were exactly the ones I wanted to hear, to feel the result of…but here’s the thing: I feel guilty about that.

I’m a woman who has always fended for herself. I have all these female role models in my family who GET. IT. DONE. when stuff needs to be done, who do not hesitate, who move, act, and are always part of the solution. It’s in my DNA to solve problems, to crave results, to keep trying answers until the problem is solved. I cannot rest until all the little boxes are checked off the list. And I should be fine with me being me, and my husband, who doesn’t move at that same pace, being him. Right? And yet the only message I kept hearing in my little, sad head was “if he really loved me…”

There has to be something to this. Now of course I know plenty of men who’ve been heroes all through this crazy 9 month gestation (according to their wives). And I’m married to a great guy. A great partner. But something is there, some resistance, some inability to even put a paintbrush to a wall that symbolizes something much bigger. I want to talk about it. I don’t want to just wish he was the man in the article that says the three words every woman wants to hear. I don’t want to hear my sister say that he needs to strap on a pair and be all about me and the baby (oh, she was staying with us…adding a little public flair to his shortcomings). I want to know how I can help, what’s really going on. Because the men standing on the sidelines of pregnancy are going through something deep, knowing that it’s “the woman’s time”, and that they aren’t allowed to be tired, or stressed, or this or that, because all their “dude you’re a dad” books tell them it’s nothing compared to what their pregnant partner is going through…

Ugh. I don’t know. I haven’t read too much about this. There is definitely lots of internet space filled with women who have really terrible partners who are totally MIA, and straight up a-holes. And of course lots of pinterest perfect husbands who arrive home after a long day work with the perfect treat and gift certificate to a spa. But I haven’t found the women with great husbands who are struggling with fear, who maybe aren’t living up to the expectations set up in the baby books and blog posts.

Looking forward to coming out the other side of this and reporting back.

And to a freshly painted apartment 🙂

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Cows

advanved maternal age, boys, first pregnancy, in-laws, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

So my sister has a new boyfriend. He’s great. I like them together. She’s happy around him and I think they challenge each other in all the right ways.

The boyfriend has a father. Who might be a hoot. In all the right ways…or not.

I met father o’ boyfriend in a coffee shop last week. I was NOT prepared to see anyone I knew. You know those days? When you just run out the door and hope there’s maybe a crumb of concealor somewhere in your bag, or on the steering wheel (I sometimes do my make up in the car…but NO MORE!), and you tell yourself that maybe you’ve pulled off the messy top bun with the glamour of Gisele? It was one of those mornings. I ran in the coffee shop my sis works at to grab a delicious cup of decaf joe, and there they were.

The mom reminded me of a tall Nancy Regan, with a polished, beautiful first lady air about her. The dad was in full out Packer gear, and didn’t have much to say. He grew up on a farm in Central WI, and I looked like the Wrecks of Hesperus, so I didn’t blame him for the stone cold expression on his face. Maybe he was imagining that his son could reproduce with my sister, and genetically, their offspring could come out looking like my hot mess of a self.

Of course the convo turned to my pregnancy, and the awkward talk of where it was going to happen and how I was feeling about birth, and  if I was taking Lamaze and yadayada. Talk that’s maybe a little personal for strangers, and I always get a tad self-conscious, like I have to apologize for doing Bradley Method and going au natural.

Then, out of nowhere, pops pops in. And delivers a monologue of advice and observations. Some gems that are seared into my memory:

“You know cows lay down while they labor and when they are about to give birth, they stand.”

“Cows moan, and moo, and below for hours and hours.”

“You know some cultures they would dig a hole in the ground and (*insert a spitting sort of sound*) squat and have their baby right in that hole.”

“I’ve seen dogs, cats, cows, give birth tons of times.”

And my fav:

“Child birth is the hardest thing you will ever do in your entire life.”

I think I laughed a lot, in effort to help the new boyfriend not look so mortified as he hung on to his mom’s chair for dear life. There was some joke as we said goodbye about me only being able to think of cows now when I deliver, and I think I may have hahahahagreedhahaha through my ohmygodohmygodsmile.

Good to know a midwestern farmer sees all mammals as equal: bovine, human, canine…and that he feels my labor pains. From the farm belt to your ears ladies!

My favorite saying

change, first pregnancy, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

Maybe most of you know this quote already. A quick google search reveals that it’s been attributed to many people, and turned into a million different pics (memes? it that what the kids are callling that…when you put a word and picture together?), so…it’s out there. But I first heard this when I was getting certified to teach yoga this past winter and have found myself coming back to it over the past few days.

My baby shower was today and I’m feeling very grateful. This baby is already so loved. He deserves only my best thoughts…they will be our destiny.

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Path to Amazing

29 weeks, advanved maternal age, change, first pregnancy, third trimester, Uncategorized

“The only path to amazing runs directly through not-yet-amazing. But not-yet-amazing is a great place to start, because that’s where you are. For now. There’s a big difference between not settling and not starting”.

-Seth Godin

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This speaks to me today as an impending sense of FOREVER has started to set into my bones. With us having just moved, myself looking down a path of unpaid maternity leave, it feels like our financial situation will never change. The weather makes me feel like I will never see sunshine or feel warmth on my skin again. My husband reminded me in his birthday note that “this is the last birthday where it will be just the two of us”…

My body will never be the same. My life will never be the same. My marriage will never be the same. My career will never be the same.

Probably all true. And the only reason it feels daunting is because I KNOW it’s coming. So many life changes are gradual. We look back and think: “that was me?” and laugh, cry, mourn, comfort, admire and rejoice in the versions of our selves that have morphed and made choices over the years, astonished that time has passed. We might not feel different, but we can acknowledge that change has occurred.

Change. It’s a little harder the older you get eh?

And pregnacy is so crazy because you just don’t know. Put ten pregnant women in a room and you’ll have ten different conception, pregnancy, and birth stories. I don’t know what kind of a mother I will be, how my husband will change, what opportunities will open up and which ones may be closed. I don’t know that Chicago will be the place we raise our family…we could hate it. We could love it and find ourselves thriving.

I know you are probably reading this like “Duh advancedmaternalblahblah…everything changes. Deal.”.

Maybe it’s that the leaves have fallen, the days are getting shorter, and this baby is shoving my lungs up into my throat. And this is where I am…for now. On a path to amazing.

Complications

29 weeks, advanved maternal age, first pregnancy, health, husbands, pregnancy

I noticed when I went to check the results of my glucose test on-line that there was a red flag on my cyber chart under “Complications”, and it said “Elderly Multigravida”.

Elderly Multigravida.

They couldn’t think of a better name? And are they still really using Latin mashup to make medical jargon sound more official? Come to think of it, who even IS “they”? Are a bunch of people sitting around a board room table pitching ideas MAD MEN style? I imagine a kind of Roger Sterling coming up with “elderly multigravida” while Don shakes his head, looks down and laughs while tapping his ash, Joan with a resigned pursed lip, her resting bitch face in full effect, silently disapproving…

And yet the “gravida” part of it almost sounds like a compliment. Grand. Gravitous. Bravo. All words that come to mind. “Gravida”: a mix of letters, scrambled together to take the sting off the fact they use the word “elderly” to describe a female pro-creator over the age 35.

Anyway it made me laugh, not just the term (or medical diagnosis, rather), but the way it was all sneaky on my cyber chart. Just kind of thrown up there, outta sight, outta mind, something the majority of nurses and my amazing doctor (who was 39 when she had her first baby), HAD to write down, but will never speak of.

There really aren’t any physical rewards to growing older are there? My husband reminds me that a woman is supposedly in her cardiovascular prime around her late 30s and cites Dara Torres as a prime example of what a body in the stages of Elderly Gravida is capable of. So I guess there’s that. But it’s a brutal business, this aging thing. The body just betrays you, slowly. And maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we, oh, didn’t have mirrors, and botox, and medi-spas, and magazines, and eggs that we are born with…not to mention cancer causing EVERYTHINGS and toxins and medicines and crap food that is made to be so cheap and tasty by chemical companies that could give two F’s about how it’ll affect us years from now…

So I go for long walks in the woods, do lots of yoga, eat kale and sunflower seeds and dried apricots and kiwi and bananas, throw cacao and chia seeds into my smoothie, worry about how I’m going to get an organic apple in Door Co., WI, and then stay up too late, and sneak string cheese and Halloween candy at the end of the day…

And I feel pretty dang good. This baby boy loves to just rest his little 2 lb. body on my sciatic nerve, and my walk is starting to resemble the tiniest of waddle, but in my 29th week, I’ve gained 19 lbs and last week, in Evanston, this sweet, sweet babe of a college girl working the juice bar asked me if I had a Wildcard (the Northwestern student ID).So there Elderly Gravida…stick that in your peace pipe and smoke it 🙂photo-23

 

Things that don’t suck

first pregnancy, pregnancy, third trimester

1. Being the last one to have kids and getting hand me downs. It’s insane. Good friends, friends of friends, old sorority sisters I haven’t seen since 1998, the sister of an old castmate who was a total stranger…I can’t wait to pay it all forward and return the gesture when the time comes. I mean, the relief and happiness with which these women are clearing their baby clutter makes me utterly aware of the enormous amount of STUFF that gets accumulated from making a new human. So friends who have mothered before me, thank you for being amazing and being something that doesn’t suck!!

2. Pregnancy hair. We all know this, but it bears mention. Someone said I had a Farrah Fawcett 70’s thing going on the other day. Pretty sure that’s a good thing. I haven’t technically been going for the feathered look, but my hair does have some curl to it and it has been raining a lot, so…

3. Yoga clothes are also maternity clothes now. Yoga pants save my belly and ass from feeling like they are sausage stuffing, and can transform a simple top and cardigan into a cute pregnant lady outfit. Period. Leggings, boots, a cardigan, scarf = autumn uniform. Do any of you get little looks from older women when you wear tighter clothes? I meet ladies who are from a different generation (50’s moms) and they congratulate me on what I wear: “Good for you for showing off that bump”, “When I was pregnant, they put us in smocks” 😦

Lululemon, your prices make me sick, and I know your main dude made a really dumb comment about breast cancer (so he sucks), but you offer me 15% off as a certified yoga instructor, have helped me feel like something in this world fits and make me feel almost pregnansexy…so thank you for not sucking.

4. Somedays, it’s totally ok for everything to be about whether or not you pooped. Maybe this is inaprops? But I can’t help it, it’s the truth: every day I’m not constipated is a day that I WIN. Digestive system…you lately haven’t sucked one bit. ***TIP*** I attribute this to eating a kiwi a day! LADIES GET THEE TO THE PRODUCE SECTION of your grocery store and load up on this green globule of vitamin C and intestine relaxing goodness! It WORKS!

5. Craigslist. This kind of relates to #1, but things like the chicco caddy I was told not to register for because it’s a waste of a $100 gift…something only to be used for a short time that I should just buy used. I found one on craigslist and the woman was also like “oh you’re having a boy? I will throw in a bunch of boy baby clothes.” So, ladies of craigslist, I thank you. You do not suck.

6. Hearing the heartbeat. Had my 28 week monthly appointment today 145 bpm never sounded so sweet xoxoxox

Insomnia

first pregnancy, money, pregnancy

My goal was to write for a little every day. A fine plan.

Instead of writing, I’m basically dinking around on-line, looking at craigslist for used furniture finds, signing up for every home good on-line store for their deals and discounts, trying to find a sofa that is decent and stylish and comfy that doesn’t cost as much as labor and delivery or a nice shag rug that doesn’t equal a month of baby supplies. Last night I couldn’t stop until almost 5am.

Moving and having a baby. Not a good combo. Having a baby and moving into an apartment that looked amazing when you saw it furnished by the prior tenants, and then realizing, once the place is empty, that they were really just masters of disguise and you are moving into a semi-crappy place with no kitchen lighting, a barking dog, very young neighbors who you hear tromping up the stairs at 1am (or 4am) and then blasting rock music…yuck. I’ve never felt more in need of STUFF, and my seasonal job comes to a close soon. I’m staring down the barrel of almost 4 months with no income (unless there’s a huge job demand for women who are 7 months pregnant?), and there could be so much to cover up and paint, and sew, and hang up and decorate, and install and buy and buy and buy. You get the point, and I’m getting that lump in my throat and pukey feeling in my gut…

I hate to complain. I do. I really do. Things could be so much worse. And I keep telling myself and husband “look at our parents! Their stories of when they were a new family and the shitholes and circumstances they lived in when they had their first kids, and how fondly they look back and laugh at that time in their life, and how hard they worked and how far they have come!” Then I remember my parents were TWENTY FIVE when they had me. We are almost 40.

I thought 40 was the new 30. Mmmmmmmm, nope. I feel like almost 40. I’m feeling like I SHOULD be 30 with these problems.

I think about how when my parents were my age, I was in the 7th grade and we were taking vacations to Florida in the winter and getting big loots from Santa at Christmas and an underground pool put in the backyard for summer. I’m 37, couldn’t find my sunglasses today, slept from 5am-11am, then cried into my cereal while my mom scrambled to give me sheets from her linen closet so I didn’t have to buy them.

My husband and I both went to prestigious universities. Universities that win awards, universities that, when I mention where I received my undergraduate degree, people say “Ohhhh, you must be really smart”. We met in graduate school, getting MFAs from a top acting program in the US of A. And I can’t sleep because part of me feels like we have no business having a kid. We are actors who gamble with jobs. With $150,000 in student debt between the two of us, and a little bit of savings in the bank (because my husband had a Taco Bell commercial recently run (i.e. LUCK), and I sold a bunch of diamond jewelry from an old admirer (i.e. more luck), why did we decide to breed?

Oh, because I’m getting older. And we want a family.

My mom has trouble sleeping sometimes, but I’m sure it’s mostly because she worries about her two daughters who were privileged enough to pursue their dreams and choose artistic lives in the theatre, and subsequently make poverty wages.

Anyone else out there feel like they are failing miserably at this life thing? That it should’ve gotten a little better by now? That the white picket fence and grass yard should be the view from the front living room? The college fund began? Like they might not be able to provide for their kids like we were provided for?