Shedding skin

I put away my maternity clothes today. I finally got to the ironing, a chore I tend to avoid so much I hold an annual Thanksgiving ironing marathon that lasts until dinnertime. I decided it was time to move the maternity wear to the back of the closet, as motivation to lose those last five pounds of baby weight but mostly as bittersweet closure. I’ve spent most of 2008 with child and it’s a part of my identity I won’t soon forget.

There is something magical about carrying someone within your body. What a blessing to share self that way.

The continued adventures of Mujer and her Belly

Once upon a time, I was a suit and pumps wearing career girl, anxious to escape to the City or onto a plane to a different place, living to drink a cocktail, buy more shoes, dance to good music. These days, I’m much more sedentary, a homebody satisfied with feathering my nest and playing Sudoku on the new Nintendo DS Lite Blues got me for my birthday. My days consist of playing a video game)or four), reading both newspapers in their entirety, reading pregnancy books, and carrying on conversation with my daughter. We eat healthy, tidy the house, cook, watch the Food Network. I count kicks. And my blessings.

"The more things change…"

“Sal de mi camino..make way for the funky bilingual…” Latin Lingo, Cypress Hill

Over a decade ago, I had the power of women(or lack thereof) at my mental forefront. A self-proclaimed gritona, I took it as my personal responsibility to be a mouse that roared, to speak for all the women I knew and didn’t know about whatever issue I felt needed some thought. It was a role I embraced proudly and I weathered every criticism and controversy I sparked.

These days, I lead a quiet insurrection, much more personal in some ways, maybe a little more private than my days as a college journalist. My insurrection is still about a woman’s power but my role is now one of the greatest personal duty most humans can have, that of parent. As I make choices about my daughter’s future, I know I will be her guide in how to be a woman and a powerful one at that.

Already I can tell a lot about her personality. She is willful, assertive, energetic, responsive, aware. Whether she’s kicking and punching up a storm on ultrasound or samba dancing across my body, my little girl is her own person. Still she is protected from the world at large, both by my body and by her innocence. I’ll fight this first fight for her.

There are a few people who have cut off all contact with me. Sadly, they are associates I have met through my work in Catholic ministry. Most church friends have been compassionate and understanding. They realize that, dogma aside, I am a mature adult, completely capable of raising a moral child as a single mother. But I am ironically saddened to have been cast aside without so much as a well-intentioned lecture of cliches and warnings. I tend to be very aware of society’s shortcomings and parameters but I thought my friends might be above judging me. Most were. Some are not.

If I were a man, would it be different? Then I’d have the luxury of not telling anyone about this child’s imminent birth. Men don’t get pregnant out of wedlock. But given the choice between a shotgun wedding to save face and my current life, I’d choose my life as it is today. I am happily pregnant, happily looking forward to motherhood, ready to face the challenges of being unmarried and Catholic. No se como ser otra.

Hard knocked up life?

There’s something pathological about giving and giving without promise of reciprocal returns. Child of immigrants who grew up watching my parents support other adults a.k.a. childlike dependents? Check. In the business of helping others? Check. Middle manager pressed by the higher-ups and the masses to do more in eleven hours than time or energy will allow? Check. The only person I don’t begrudge her dependence on me is literally taking up residence in my body. She can take all the food and energy she wants; she is my solace during these hectic days of standardized tests, award ceremonies, end of school year preparation, and stress.

Evenings and weekends have become blissfully domestic and cherished. I get home, eat, watch TV or read, lie on my side so I can feel my baby kick and stretch. I giggle at her movements, smile when she responds to her father’s voice. Blues got in after a midnight run with stories of fellow runners following in step with his Army cadences. Our daughter seemed to enjoy a PT run of her own until we would down with talk about my strange dream of a hyena with a hunchback and crooked teeth. I resented the alarm, my obligatory return to the too-demanding pace of an understaffed office. I resort to to-do lists and thoughts of my comforting womb to get me through the workday.

It could be worse. I make good money, have a new car, should be done paying my school loan in a few months. My daughter and I are maintaining our health. I’m praying the Liturgy of the Hours on weekday mornings. My blessings still outnumber my burdens.

Mothering my daughter

I’m having a baby girl. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings that overwhelmed me Monday afternoon as the Genetics counselor told me my baby was healthy and then revealed that she was a girl. I cried, even sobbed, after I got off the phone and then again when I told my own mother. How wonderful to know more about this little person, to know that a pronouncement I made to someone who has long since disappeared from my life has come true. “I wil bear a daughter and she will be strong.”
Just like her mother and father and all her loved ones before us.

Family snapshot

We fall asleep with his hand on my belly, daddy reaching out to his unborn child. We are curled up together, breathe in the same rhythm as I hum contentedly and the winds blow through the slightly open window. We are heartbeat and warmth and peace.

Why a belly matters

In the last few weeks, my blog has received hits from all over North America, from the US to Canada, because I mentioned the physical changes in a Degrassi star. She’s been wearing baggy clothes and looks very pale and tired despite the hours in makeup. All over Google and Yahoo, folks are wondering if she’s pregnant. Why all the fuss?

True, she is only 20. But she is an adult and a real person. Why should we care about her pregnancy or lack thereof? It’s our continued cult of celebrity. I’m guilty of it. I admit I’ve become intrigued by fellow moms to be Jessica Alba and Halle Berry. I’m happy about J Lo’s new twins. And yes I’m curious about the actress too. Maybe it’s reassuring. Maybe it makes our fave celebs seem more real.

So is she or isn’t she? Her people aren’t commenting. I take that as a sign that we should respect her privacy. Having a baby, after all, is the most natural thing in the world, even for a TV actress.

Woe is we

My mom has warned me that I will continue to have days like this. This is day 3 after a relapse of severe morning sickness. I’ve been violently ill for two days in a row, limited to a diet of graham crackers, saltines, apples, and water. The baby has been deprived of his prenatal vitamins for nearly a week but I suspect he’s living off the stores of nutrients and extra pounds I have carried. I look forward to rosy cheeks and chipper moods, to eating real meals and leaving my house for something other than work, medical appointments and errands.

The media and pop culture makes pregnancy all about bellies and cravings. Except for the vomiting in Knocked Up and Miranda’s complaints about gas on Sex and the City, we get a sanitized version of a real life challenge. What I’m experiencing, in all its miraculousness, is the greatest physical challenge I’ve undertaken. Besides the perpetual queasiness and upchuck antics, there is leg and back pain, an ever expanding waistline, chapped lips, fatigue, mood swings, and paleness. I suppose the one plus, besides knowing my little one is growing, is my ever increasing bust, as described in Look Who’s Talking as the Russ Meyer effect. As my first trimester nears completion, I know this journey will continue to include challenges.

So woe is me. My pity party is done for now. Meanwhile, my half Peruvian, half Mexican little one is living the life, sleeping, eating, dancing in his warm cozy home.

Belated Valentine

I am in love with a stranger. I have never seen this person. I don’t know much about my new love except family history. I am his (or her)mother. I love the new life within me.

I am approximately 3 months pregnant. My baby is developing well though his presence has challenged me physically and emotionally as progesterone and estrogen course through my body. I have a baby bump(so my mom is convinced I’m having a boy) but I haven’t gained too much weight. My morning sickness has been terrible though it’s made me appreciate fresh air, popsicles, and Blues’ patient affection. Now that my parents know, my journey should go much more smoothly. Meanwhile, my baby and I grow closer despite the months and body parts between us.

For the first time in my life, I feel truly whole. It’s funny how I did all this work to recover my mental and physical health, to heal my relationship with my mother, to get myself together, not knowing my greatest love was about to emerge. Everything has been preparing me for this miracle. And nothing can compare in terms of joy, contentment, and wonder.

The night I found out, I had taken part in an evening Mass downtown. It was the Feast of the Holy Family and I prayed to God to do his will. I didn’t know what to expect though a part of me knew. I was filled with so much awe when I saw that test result. The conversations began the next morning.

I tell the baby my thoughts and feelings. I sing early Beatles songs. I include the baby in my daily prayers. I wonder and wait. I love.

Mujer Becoming a Mujer

I’m not usually good with secrets. I’m not the best at keeping them for others. Most of my own have become poems, newspaper columns, therapy discussions, blogs, books. But I have a few, mostly from my parents. They don’t know I got a third tattoo. They don’t know I signed for my estranged cousin’s car and have to wait three more years until the repo gets cleared off my credit record(or that the little ingrate owes me at least $11k.) They don’t know I’m pregnant.

I am a mujer in the deepest sense now. I am an adult. I am a mother. I am carrying a new life. It’s time my folks realize who I really am.

Its scary. I got comfortable being the family success story as well as the odd girl out. Now I’m just a woman, a new mom, a parent to be. If I can accept this change, my parents eventually will.