Actual Honest-to-God Email I Sent to My OB

When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted what every sage-burning, moon-cycle-following hippie wants: a med-free home water birth with a midwife and poetry readings. But when I found out it was twins, my insurance and the one-size-fits-all fear mongering that mothers of multiples automatically endure dictated I’d be having a hospital birth and would be taken care of by the High-Risk OB Team. At least I got UCLA, which is among the top 5 best hospitals in the nation. But as time wore on and I found out the potential details of this birth, such as the requirement that I deliver my twins in the operating room “just in case,” I went through a period of stress and fear.

***

Subject: Freaked Out!

Hi Dr. A!

I’ve been trying to deal with this on my own through meditation and such…but ever since my appointment on Wednesday I have been nervous and freaked out about my impending birth experience.

From my perspective, it feels like I keep getting new doctors who don’t know me and whose names I can’t remember, and each new person seems to treat me like a 45-year-old carrying triplets because I’m “high risk.” I know I’m classified as such simply because it’s a multiple birth, but I have di/di twins who are both head-down, average weight, and have perfect heartbeats and fluid levels. I’m only 32, and still either walk a couple miles, swim, or go to yoga class where I kick the butts of the singleton moms…and I am dying to have a normal delivery that won’t cause me to have PTSD and postnatal depression!

You and Dr. S have been the two competent, calm presences I feel I can trust, who make me feel like a healthy, normal woman with a brain, and I am so grateful for you both! …But I’m so afraid that on D-day I’ll end up with someone who looks at me and says in their mind “It’s twins so let’s just plan on a C-Section!”

Sorry I’m flipping out…I know it’s crazy. It’s just that at my last visit, after the new doc talked to me about the “plan,” I came away feeling like

a) there was no way possible these twins would start labor on their own, thus I would have no choice but to endure the pitocin, which I SO hoped to avoid,

b) I would be forced to get an epidural even if I didn’t want one,

and

c) (the clincher) I would have to deliver in the operating room, with fluorescent lights blaring, 15 people present with surgical outfits on, and a table full of sharp instruments just waiting to cut me open.

The first two fears I can bend on if needed…but the third is keeping me awake at night. When I expressed this, the last doc just shooed away my concerns like “it’s not so bad– it’s clean.” But the prospect of delivering in the operating room makes me want to not show up and just hire a midwife or something. I have stayed so natural and meditative this whole pregnancy, but my heart is palpating wildly just thinking of being on that “stage” surrounded by all these strangers, no peace anywhere, scary instruments around, unable to move because of an epidural.

Until Wednesday I’d been really looking forward to my labor. On my hospital tour I was led to believe I’d get my own labor room with dim lighting and an ambience conducive to creating the labor hormones that will guide my babies out gently and naturally. If I am forced to give birth in an operating room, I fear that my body will be filled with panic hormones that will slow my contractions and lead to unnecessary complications. Isn’t the OR just a few doors down from the labor suites anyway? Can I not just be wheeled there in the event of an emergency like the singleton moms who have sudden complications? This is going to be my only birth ever, and I really don’t want to look back on it and shudder with horror, feeling like I wasn’t in control of my fate and was forced to do things I didn’t feel comfortable with.

I know I’m going off the deep end. I just have a phobia of hospitals in the first place, and the only thing keeping me going was the prospect of a private birthing room and staff that was on board with my hopes to deliver vaginally. I am willing to sign a waiver or anything to avoid entering the OR unless medically necessary. Is that a possibility?

Sorry this is so rambly and full of bad vibes. I just want to get back to my peaceful waiting and excitement!

***

I hate hospitals, I’m scarred from having been talked down to by so many doctors and nurses, and I hate that multiple births are automatically medicalized. Luckily, my main doc actually is a cool, with-it lady who treats me like a human possessing a brain. After this, she called and talked to me at length. She said that I would only have to go to the OR when the babies were actually coming out, and that it would not be fluorescent or scalpel-laden, but just a larger room, and I could even play music and light candles if I wanted. She also said that if I absolutely didn’t want an epidural, it was up to me, and most of the other concerns that the less-than-communicative doctor had frightened me with were not, in fact, mandatory. I am at this point just ready to meet the twins, but I hope my doctor is right and that I won’t feel pressured into any procedure that is not medically necessary. 

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My Pregnant Body

“Woo! You’re carryin’ a lot!”
-Man drinking a 40 who cat-called me while I was taking a walk this week.

Yes. It’s undeniable now, even to bums on the street. Things change about my body every day. My belly button is a half-outie now. My nips are the size of silver dollars. I just saw a photo from a year ago and was astonished at the concave waist I never appreciated enough. I wonder how it will feel to be that svelte again? But first, I have the rest of this journey to finish. And on this journey, life is getting slightly inconvenient.

Body Image
Luckily, my face and the rest of my body haven’t changed much (yet?). A dude flirted with me from behind the other day, and when I turned around to quip back, I could see the surprise on his face. He was no longer interested. It’s okay. I feel like a hippopotamus. I only have about seven pairs of pants and seven shirts I can wear, which I rotate like one of those kids in the math word problems from elementary school. Kai still finds me sexy and we still have a good time in bed. I just close my eyes so I can pretend my belly isn’t obscuring the view of his goods, and try to enjoy the increased sensitivity from all the extra blood. I don’t try very hard when I go somewhere. I feel out of place everywhere, like I’m a spectacle. I feel super old around teenagers, super ugly around pretty people, super ghetto in my maternity clothes when others are dressed nice.

Preggers Exercise
The best thing I can do for my self-image is to get exercise and eat mostly healthily. Every day I do at least a bike ride, walk, or yoga, sometimes pilates or barre, last weekend a “mindful triathlon” with a 5K, aerial yoga, and meditation. But it’s not like I’m going hard when I do work out. When I ride my bike, I’m slow as molasses and even the slightest incline makes me huff and puff, dragging my extra 35 pounds. When I do yoga, I can’t twist, up-dog, lie on my front, or bring my knees to my chest ’cause my belly’s in the way. And anytime I walk for longer than 20 minutes I have to wear one of these big elastic back support things, or the twins start weighing down my womb–it starts stretching, hurting, and feeling like it might break.

After the 5K. I’m the bump on the right.

Peeing
Not to mention, I have to factor in peeing in everything I do. Luckily, I’ve always had tricks that are not for the faint of heart (keeping a Big Gulp cup in the car to pee in when stuck in traffic, digging a hole in the sand at the beach and then strategically placing myself to use the litter box under my towel without anyone knowing), but those aren’t always available. When I take a walk, now I have to plot out the route with the most accessible toilets. Every 8 minutes is preferable, but I can go 15 comfortably if I didn’t just drink a ton of water. Either way, the excruciating urgency always gives way only to a disappointing thimble full of pee, since half my bladder is squished under a baby.

Sleep
Sleep is now uncomfortable in every position. I was making the reclining-on-a-ramp-of-pillows thing work until this (26th!) week, but suddenly, my tailbone feels like it’s on fire after a few hours like that. Side-sleeping is hell, as my bottom leg and both arms begin to tingle/hurt within an hour. Last night, I painstakingly changed positions every few hours, turning on the lamp so I can see how to best rearrange 8-10 pillows, and finally getting an airline donut pillow from under the bed to put my butt on.

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The pillow fort

Who is Moving It?
Beneath my skin, the babies have been making their presence known, and it is reassuring and sweet, even though my belly sometimes feels like a dryer that someone put a few pairs of shoes in and then turned on. It’s such a strange feeling; involuntary movement in my body, like a muscle twitch, but it’s someone else doing it. Sometimes they kick and flutter, other times I can feel them totally changing positions–a little butt sliding against my abdominal wall, changing the shape of my belly. I try to picture who is located where, and I wonder if they’re interacting with each other.

I wonder what other nice surprises I’ll be treated to over the next three months. Three months sounds like a long time, but 12 weeks does not. Soon I will have my body back, but, as my good friend, a mom, recently told me–I will never again have my heart.

 

Feeling Sour about a Baby Shower

I’m not having a baby shower in the traditional sense. I just can’t. My wonderful friend Rebecca was going to throw me one, which is such a selfless and amazing act it brought tears to my eyes, but when she asked me to send her a guest list, I took a few days to figure out who to invite, panicked a little, and realized that I’d rather eat a live scorpion than go through with it. I felt like an ungrateful hag, but I knew that, being the intuitive soul she is, Rebecca would understand if I could articulate myself.

Why do I not want to have a baby shower? 

Well first off, I don’t feel comfortable asking for gifts, which is what a baby shower is actually all about. And yes, I know the gifts are for the babies. And yes, of course we could use them. But the babies are coming because of me, and I remember that episode of Sex and the City called “A Woman’s Right to Shoes” in which Carrie calculates all the money she has spent buying people gifts to celebrate their life choices, and you know what? I just didn’t want to be part of that problem. If I send you an invite, you’re going to feel obligated to come, or at least to send me a gift, and if you don’t do either of those things, you might feel guilty, even if you don’t want to come, or don’t have money for a gift. But also, if I send you an invite, I’m going to feel guilty, because I haven’t actually hung out with you in months, and now I’m asking you for a donation of your money and/or time? Maybe I’m overthinking this…but I hate feeling like I’m getting something for nothing. I want to contribute. When we lived in a house in Malibu, I loved to have dinner parties where people came and just ate our food and drank our drinks. It was a gesture that said, “I love you and want you to have a good time.” I feel like a baby shower is the opposite: “I invite you to love me and take care of me!”

And if I were to “contribute” to my baby shower what would that look like? Well, I’d feel obligated to make sure every person who donated their time and money to me understood how much I appreciated it. Therefore, I’d need to make sure they are getting enough food and champagne and attention from me that they feel special. But if there are more than four people around, there’s no way to actually make everyone feel special. You can’t do more than make small talk around that many people. And I loathe small talk. I want to talk about things that matter, not fake-smile and nod and answer the same question over and over again about whether or not twins run in my family (I AM ADOPTED! AND TWINS ARE NOT ALWAYS GENETIC! STOP ASKING!). Moreover, champagne costs money, and I don’t want my beloved friend who is hosting to have to cough up the amount of money it would cost to provide all my guests enough champagne to enjoy a baby shower. From what I’ve heard, everyone hates baby showers. I’ve enjoyed them in my day, but that’s because there was lots of champagne. And I can barely afford my own life and the two new ones on the way, so champagne is not in my budget. Not to mention, I would be expected to make all this mind-numbing small talk with tipsy people while sober. Meaning, I am not going to have any fun at all. I am going to be a person who is worried about everyone else’s good time, feeling guilty for getting these gifts and putting my friend out, and I am not even going to have a buzz going.

Lastly, baby showers have traditionally been only for females. That grosses me out. Half my friends are men, and I’d feel awkward only inviting the female halves of couples Kai and I have always hung out with together. So there’s the co-ed baby shower idea. But Kai hated that idea, didn’t want to come, and didn’t want us to invite the man friends. So that cuts down my guest list significantly and makes the interactions more awkward and forced. Not to mention, we just got married, so most of the people we’d invite would have just attended our wedding (another of our life choices they must celebrate), and that just makes me feel even more guilty, like a person who thinks we should have a monthly party celebrating me. If I were back home in Kentucky, this would be slightly different, because I could invite a bunch of family who would be happy to come and be bored and give me gifts. But I’m in LA where people must choose between lazy brunch or an awesome movie premiere or day at the beach…or my baby shower.

In the end, I had to tell my precious friend that I’d rather just hang out with her alone, as the prospect of a shower stressed me out beyond belief. I was 100% honest. She understood.

The alternative to a real baby shower?

My cousin Loree threw us an “online baby shower” where my registry is attached to a Facebook page. That’s something I could stomach, because then people can come and go anonymously and only send things to the babies if they actually feel like it. I made a registry on this place called Babylist where whomever feels moved to get us a gift can do so from any online or brick-and-mortar venue they want and then just click “purchased” and have it sent to us. Or heck, if they already have the item from when they had a baby, they can just send us their used version, which I’d rather have anyway, so I’m not one of the consumers contributing to this absurd baby racket in which so much money is being wasted on things that are pointless or only useful for a couple of months.

Maybe I’m an old curmudgeon, but that’s me. I like fun that costs nothing and is genuine and egalitarian and coed and lazy.

 

Glowing? and Other Body Issues

I must have been glowing today, or else people feel sorry for me because my belly is huge. But I think I was glowing, because I was wearing a tank top and Venice Beach souvenir sweatpants, with no makeup and my hair in a pile on my head. I had just done laundry and was pumping gas when a duo of twenty-something guys in the car next to me (who could only see my head above the car, and not my Rubenesque bod), kept checking me out and smiling at me. They continued to do so, the way I remember guys doing back when I was “hot,” and then as they got into their car, they said, “Have a good night,” and watched me as they drove away. I wondered if they could spot my carry-on luggage when they got the full view. Or maybe they saw it all along and just have a fetish for round women?

Strangely, though, right after they left, a car from Minnesota pulled up with a young woman, a young man, and a dog. I was almost done pumping my gas, and the woman, a cute red-haired gal, went in to grab a soda, and when she came back, she just yelled, “You’re pretty!” to me and then got into her car. I blushed and said, “Thank you!” and then her man said, “She really means that, because she only says it a couple times a year.” It was the oddest, sweetest thing, and I must say it made a heavy woman feel good.

Not that I don’t feel beautiful anymore; it’s just different. I mean, this pregnancy experience is like going through puberty in fast-forward. Every day there’s a new surprise, and I won’t lie, some of them gross me out. Every pink part of my body is now swollen and dark. I could give you more details, but it might embarrass you. I feel lucky that my face, arms, and legs still resemble their old selves, and I fear the next few months when they might also become unrecognizable.

At least my husband (who every few days is still saying, “You’re my wife!”) is still into me. In fact, he is more into me than he has been since, like, we started dating. I suppose it’s because I’m a living manifestation of his potency as a man, but he maintains that’s not it and that I’m just “beautiful.” I catch him looking at me in this proud haze, as if in disbelief that he nabbed me, and touching me as much as he can (and not just my formerly tiny boobs, which have now doubled in size!)

I’ve so far kept the stretch marks at bay by slathering sweet almond oil all over my belly every time I remember, which is at least once a day, sometimes twice. Here’s hoping it keeps working. My hair is a mane that rivals Fabio’s. People comment on it all the time. My skin is still remarkably clear, while my belly button is halfway to an outtie. My feet don’t seem swollen yet, nor do my hands. My walk is slowly becoming a bit of a waddle, and I actually have been wearing one of those elastic belts to support my heavy womb if I go on a long walk, or else I can feel them in there, stretching ligaments–it feels like a side stitch, right in the gut.

At 22 Weeks, I’m my own science experiment. I’ve been through more extreme ups and downs in the past four months than ever in my whole life (and that’s saying a lot for me). But I’m more than halfway through now, and hope I can continue to watch with interest instead of letting the abruptness of these changes scare the Venice Beach sweatpants off me.

RIP Hand-Eye Coordination

so don’t want to become a pregnancy cliche who uses annoying terms like “pregnancy brain,” but I have no choice. Pregnancy brain is real.  I have to constantly stop mid-sentence to remember what the end of the sentence was supposed to be. It hurts my brain. I commit so many scheduling snafus that I’m verging on just saying “no” to everything so I can maintain my dignity. But let’s be honest: my dignity is gone. Either I forgot to flush the toilet last week, or some ill-humored reverse-burglar snuck in and left poo in our bathroom. Twice.

And it’s not just my mental game that’s being affected. I drop everything I touch. I pour a cup of water and then immediately knock it over. I burn my face with the curling iron so that my cheek turns brown and people think I’m being abused. I lose my earrings under the car seat. I break the egg yolks when I’m trying to do sunny side up, and end up having to scramble them. Luckily, my stability on my feet hasn’t been affected yet, but my hands are as clumsy as my mind.

I am becoming an invalid.

To-Do: Just Be Pregnant and Try to Stay Sane

Though the flat-dead depression of the first trimester is over and I have more energy, I haven’t been writing because I feel like I am being crushed under the weight of a never-ending to-do list. I can’t quite pinpoint what is making me so slow. Is it just a) pregnancy exhaustion and brain-mush, b) this strange post-holiday time of year that is filled with gloom and sluggishness, c) the political horror show that daily stink-bombs the entire world with fart clouds of negativity, d) the urgent feeling that I have to perfect myself and my surroundings before the babies arrive, or e) all of the above?

I’ve had some items on the to-do list for months now. I’m wondering at this point if I should just rename the list “To Don’t.”

Call Toyota and schedule recall appoinment
Write episode of series (DUE TUESDAY)
Call and schedule baby classes
Plan honeymoon thingie
Get dress altered
Do laundry
Back up computer
Apply for grant  (crossed out because the deadline passed, not because I did it)
Switch blog over to fancy self-hosted interface (been working on this for weeks)
Call friend who you said you’d call back two weeks ago
Fix up baby registry (been researching the products I’ll need in all “spare” time)
Write vows (just found out my romantic fiancé wants to go above and beyond)
Meditate (every day, but still must put it on to-do list)
Go to yoga
Do taxes
(these are half done, but I’m waiting for an outstanding w2)
Organize closets and storage to make room (been on list for two months)
Write proposal for yoga/writing class
Join parents of multiples group
*Make money

What I actually do most days:

  1. Work if I can get it
    I’ve been broke as hell, and my gigs were mostly unavailable all through February, so the “make money” one is a constant that takes precedence over everything else. Thus, today I worked the farmers market and last week I babysat and ran errands all over the place, and this week I’m doing a catering gig and more babysitting. Kai is working so often, I can’t stand the thought of his extra money just going toward my half of the rent. So every day, if I can get it, I spend most the day doing some job to make a few sheckles when I’d rather be tackling the rest of this list.
  2. Meditate
    I have to, for 20-25 minutes. Or I will turn into a crunched-up, negative energy monster. I prefer to do it when I first wake up, but a lot of times it doesn’t happen until evening.
  3. Get some exercise
    Whether it’s yoga, a long walk, prenatal pilates, or barre, I try to get some blood flowing every day so my body doesn’t buckle under the weight of my belly.
  4. Clean house until it is livable
    Which means, I do the dishes a lot, sweep the floor, make the bed, and put away clothes and things that are lying around just so I can stand the place.
  5. Select ONE thing from the rest of the list to accomplish
    So yeah, I only get one thing done per day. And sometimes that thing is just making a phone call to schedule a car service, or adding a few items to my baby registry. What I really need to do is write that episode of the series so the rest of the writer’s room doesn’t kill me. But due to the exhaustion that takes precedence, that will not happen until the day before, I guarantee, and I will continue to feel bad about myself until then.

I have friends who call, concerned, because they haven’t seen or heard from me in months. But I am just trying to hold it together and keep relatively stable and sane. Since Kai is gone so often lately, I try to spend every minute with him that I can. And our time together lately consists of crashing out on the couch with popcorn and Netflix, just recovering. Being social is barely on my radar. It’s not going to help me feel calmer or more prepared.

I know my friends would love to hear that I’ll be back to my old self again, but I know I never will. Once my body is my own again, my life will belong for a time to two others. And that feels okay to me right now. I just hope I can see past this to-do list enough to enjoy the quiet and watch with interest as my body becomes unrecognizable.

 

 

Live Reactions to an Unplanned Pregnancy

I’m 15-and-a-half weeks pregnant now, and we’ve sent out little twin announcements to family and friends, though we haven’t told the world at large yet. (I’m planning on doing that this week, after my next ultrasound.)

My belly popped out a little this week. It’s only noticeable if I wear something tight, but I’m showing just enough to merit the “is she or isn’t she” stares, especially from people I haven’t seen in a while. So I’ve been telling the news to all the gawkers, partly because I’m excited, partly because I hate pity-looks from those who think I’ve “let myself go.” This means I’ve told all different kinds of people by word-of-mouth. And I’ve received all different kinds of reactions.

Here are the types of reactions I welcome:
-“Congratulations! You’re going to be such a great mom!” (Aw. Thank you. I am reading all the books.)
-“Do you know if they’re fraternal or identical? Do you know the genders?” (Not yet, but they’re in two separate sacs with separate placentas. Hopefully we will know the genders soon.)
-“Those are going to be some gorgeous babies.” (My fiancé is breathtakingly handsome. Thank you.)
-“When did you find out? When are you due?” (We found out about the pregnancy in December, the twins in February. We’re due in August.)
-“Is your family excited?” (So excited. My parents are going to go from having zero grandchildren to three!)
-“I’ve always wanted twins. Or to be a twin.” (I’ve never thought about that, but it does sound pretty cool.)

Here are the types of comments that are pretty irritating: 
-“Congratulations. I think. You’re keeping them, right?” (Dude, if I wasn’t keeping them, why would I be announcing this to you?)
-*Blank stare* (Well, you suck.)
-“Did you get in-vitro?” (Nope. The whole pregnancy was unplanned. But thanks for your concern about my possible infertility.)
-“Don’t even think about lifting that! Put that down!” (I’m pregnant; I’m not an invalid for God’s sake! If this thing I’m lifting was too heavy for me, trust me: I wouldn’t be lifting it.)
-“Kai must be one potent guy.” (Yes, he is. But I drop two eggs and you don’t give me any credit for potency?)
-“I thought that’s why you might have gotten engaged.” (Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence. You’re right: Kai would definitely never marry me unless he was forced to at shotgun.)
-“Get ready to never sleep again!” (Get ready for my fist in your face!)
-“Well, get ready for your stomach to be sliced open.” (Actually, 56 percent of twin moms deliver both twins vaginally.)
-“You’re going to gain so much weight!” (Yeah, and I’m going to lose it when I’m burning 1,000 calories a day breastfeeding TWINS.)

Pregnancy as Crappy Air Travel (Extended Metaphor)

To me, being pregnant feels like being stuck on a commercial airline, on an 40-week one-way flight, in coach, in the middle seat, sitting between my partner and a very large person. Damn, this ride is uncomfortable.

For one, there’s that fog of fatigue that set in as soon as the hum of the jet engine started, back in December. No matter how much caffeine I ingest (and I’m only allowed up to 200 mg per day!), every time I lift my head off the headrest, it feels like it weighs 30 pounds. I’ve brought my computer, hopeful to get some work done, but I can barely hold my eyes open. I stow my computer under the seat and berate myself about the to-do list I’ve abandoned.

All I want to do is sleep. The problem is, I can’t for longer than an hour. There’s no leg room. And this fat man to my right is crowding me. I fall asleep in one contorted position until my neck aches and I wake up and have to readjust. I try again and wake up because my butt’s asleep. I lean forward and put my head on the tray table, but after an hour of that, my back is killing me. I’m trapped and growing increasingly cranky.

Also, it doesn’t help that I need to pee every 45 minutes. I have to squeeze past my zaftig neighbor and do the whole bladder-emptying routine so many times that I’m considering just peeing my pants. And when I arrive at the toilet, it turns out to be only about two tablespoons of urine that was making me so uncomfortable.

It’s getting difficult to remember what it was like to enjoy life as I knew it, to run around free in the sunshine, in total control. I hate the feeling of being a passenger, having to play by rules that aren’t mine. On this flight, I am allowed no wine or champagne, no fine cheese or sushi or even deli meat (though I see others around me enjoying all of the above). The flight attendants tell me I can eat as much as I want barring those items, but I don’t want anything. It’s a constant state of yuck in my tummy, like a bad hangover. I’ve opened my barf bag so many times, but I never manage to vomit. I’m starving, but all the options sound disgusting. I only munch on the carbohydrate-laden snacks to settle my poor stomach.

Since I’ve lost all my joy in food and drink and work and activities, since I can’t sleep and I can’t stay awake even long enough to enjoy the in-flight TV, I am losing touch with reality. The recycled air is pumping a certain amount of negativity into my brain, and because of where I sit, I can’t even look out the window to remind myself the sky exists. Luckily, my partner is sitting by the window and is willing to describe to me what he sees from there: a clear sky, a sunset, stars, a moon, pink and purple clouds. But sometimes even his descriptions aren’t enough for me. I want to see it too.

Because of my fragile mental state, I worry about every single bump or patch of turbulence. I sit and fret and ask the people around me if it’s going to be okay, if I’m still going to get there, and some tell me it’s fine. Others try to scare me.

All I have to keep me going is the promise of the destination. My groom-to-be and I are going to live here forever. Where are we headed anyway? Well, I don’t even know its name. All I know is that people who have been there tell me it’s the most rewarding place to live. Which is weird, because the brochures I’ve seen show mostly bleak areas. I realize this is an insane decision to have made, to commit to someplace sight-unseen, and I’m scared, but also excited…because why else would so many people never want to come back?

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The Mom-to-Be Identity Shift

At 13 Weeks I’m not really showing, and we aren’t going to make a public announcement of our future babies for another week or so, after we send out these cutesy postcards to our families and close friends. So only our immediate families and the people we see in everyday life know about the babies. But I know. I know I am a different person already. Now that I’m pregnant, I have a new identity whether I like it or not.

In L.A. I have friends for all occasions and purposes thanks to the many interesting and inspiring people here. But with my new priorities, not all my former friends are going to make the cut for being friends with “Mom” me. And for some friends, I’m not going to make their cut, now that I’m a matronly old bag.

Below is a table of my friend categories and how our relationships have (or will) change since I’ve taken on this new identity.

Friend Type Pre-Preggers Relationship Post-Preggers Relationship
 Go-Out Friends These are twenty-somethings who are full of energy and always searching for something in life. I only see them in groups when we go together to a bar or party. I usually attend the get-together for a couple of hours and slip out quietly, alone. I’m not interested in being part of any kind of rowdy group these days. I can’t drink, I have no energy for boisterous conversation, noise gives me a headache, and I’m too tired to stay up past 8 most nights. Not to mention these friends constantly take photos of their fun times for social media, and I’m looking a bit chubby since I’ve gained ten pounds and have no visible “baby bump.” Verdict: Count me out.
Hot Mess Friends Much like the the Go-Out friends, my Hot Mess friends are twenty-something, searching, and constantly in a state of personal turmoil. But I’m closer to these friends. Instead of going somewhere in a group, I hang out with these friends one-on-one. They usually come over to my place. I give them food, wine, and weed, and we get slightly cross-faded while I act as their drunk therapist and give them nuggets of hope. They listen to my stories, too, and sometimes we break into song until my neighbors yell at us. These are lovely people I care about muchly. I do enjoy their company, but often after hanging out with them, I’ve found I feel depleted, just from all the existential angst they are carrying around. These friends really care about shit that doesn’t matter, but they won’t realize how much it doesn’t matter for another 4-7 years, so all I can do is listen and say, “I’ve been there.” Verdict: I am not equipped to hang out with these friends while sober, and I don’t want to soak in any unnecessary negative energy. I am putting these friendships on indefinite pause.
 

Productive Activity friends

These are either the artist friends I mostly see when we are working on a writing or movie-making project together, or the people I go to fitness classes or movies or community events with. We do go deep and get personal, but only for a couple of hours at a time. We get along great but have our own lives that don’t necessarily intersect. We have dinner occasionally, but most the time we’re too busy working on art or doing activities. I’m still yearning to be productive, and with my pregnant mush-brain, these guys are almost my only hope of staying on track. They keep me writing, keep me active, keep me engaged. They are mature 30-somethings, so they at least pretend to understand my struggles and even share theirs for creative fodder. Verdict: I’ll take as many of these friends as I can get.
 Soulmates These friends come in all ages, from 20-something to 60-something. They are the friends who have seen me sad, happy, angry, and crazy. They’re the ones I can be around whatever the circumstance, sober as a nun. We have a spiritual connection and we talk about matters of the spirit. Our friendships are 50-50; we give as much as we get from them. These are strong, unique humans who are committed to growing better all the time. They know the real me and we don’t have to try to impress each other or find activities to make our time together less awkward. We can just “be,” and being with them replenishes me rather than depletes me. Verdict: I can’t do without these friends. They make pregnancy (and life) easier.
New Friends / Friends I Haven’t Seen in Years  These are people I liked from the beginning. Some I just met a few months ago and hoped we could become friends. Some are people I’ve considered “close friends” at some point, but for L.A. reasons, we’ve had to postpone our plans so often that I only physically see them once a year. We liked each other when I was not pregnant. It’s safe to assume that we’ll still like each other now that I am. However, without the normal buffers of drinks or dangerous sporting activities that mark the beginnings of relationships in my world, it may be difficult to get this friendship off the ground. Verdict: It’s up to them. If they can see the real me beneath the boring, farting, teetotaling geezer I’ve become, then I’m open.