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.

 

Thank God for Wedding Day

Ten Reasons I was in Hell for Two Weeks Prior to the Wedding

I had a really hard couple of weeks leading up until St. Patrick’s Day, which was also our wedding day. I will elucidate the reasons. (1) I began working over an hour’s drive away for a lady who, to put it bluntly, made me feel like I was having a nervous breakdown every time I was around her, such was her anxiety and need for control. Why did I start such a job at 18 weeks pregnant with twins, you ask? Well, because (2) I was broke as ever, freaking out about barely having enough money for my own half of the rent, let alone twins on their way in four months. In addition to that stressful job, I had (Reason 3) about five other odd jobs I had agreed to take on weeks ago when I couldn’t find any work at all. So (4) I was spending every second of every day in my car driving around to these jobs, which meant (5) I had no time for exercise or relaxation or taking care of myself. Thus (6) my body felt like it had been in a trash compactor and all the food I ate was what I packed in lunchboxes for myself through the day or what I bought cheaply from some crappy fast food place along the way. I was changing clothes in my car up to three times a day, depending on auditions or gigs I had. I was meditating in my car, crying in my car, aching in my car. On top of that, I have a writing job (not paying yet, but we have a company interested in funding us) that I actually do want to do. Besides spending time with my man, nesting, doing yoga, eating, and sleeping, this is the only thing I actually give a crap about, and (7) because of all this other shit, I was having to wait til the last possible minute to actually get my writing done, constantly feeling like a mess of a human who was letting my writing partners down. So with all of that, in addition to the (8) standard pregnancy symptoms of exhaustion, brain fog ,and hormonal anger/sadness, it’s not surprising that (9) Kai and I were not getting along. I was a total mess, and I wasn’t ever home, but when I was, he was also exhausted from working so much and just couldn’t be there for me like I needed. It was a lot of struggle. I called every therapist, friend, and family member I could for help. Oh and to put the icing on the cake, I had gotten a callback for a very prestigious national commercial a few days before the wedding. Guess when it was shooting? On our wedding day. So in addition to all the aforementioned stress,  (10) I was terrified I might get the job and have no choice, being so poor, but to take it, and have to reschedule our wedding.

 

…Then the Day Came to Save Us

Needless to say, as stressed and hormonal as I was, my expectations weren’t too high for our wedding day. I was glad to be marrying this wonderful man, the father of my children, but I was sure the day itself would be as stressful as every other day I’d been growing accustomed to lately. By the night before, there was no word from the commercial, so I had dodged that bullet. Our wedding would happen as planned. I had also informed Stressful Lady and all my other gigs that Friday I was not available for anything. Also, Kai and I worked out our arguments, understanding that both of us were going through a lot. The night before, I looked back on all my journals since I’d met him and made him a little book of all the entries where I had said I knew he was the one, or dreamed of marrying him. They dated back to four years ago, after we’d been dating only two months.

When the morning came, instead of waking up at 7, I I left my phone on silent and didn’t check any texts (and, yes, there were some asking “Ginger, can you be here at ___ time to do ___ thing for me?” NO.) I woke up beside the love of my life and the sun was shining in the windows. I made us pancakes and he made coffee, and we played acoustic love songs and enjoyed a lazy morning. His parents arrived as we were getting ready. In our finery, we got our things together and left for the courthouse. On the way I pulled some jasmine off one of the vines on 16th Street and fixed my hair in the car. Kai looked so handsome, and I felt as pretty as I ever have, as if my growing excitement was shining from within. I couldn’t believe how smoothly and stress-free this all was going.

We could only invite twenty people, and those were all family members or our oldest and closest L.A. friends–the ones we’ve shared the good and bad with over the years–and it began to dawn on us how special this getting married thing actually was. Where before, we knew our level of commitment, now, all these people we cared about were so excited for us. Now they knew, too. Even strangers on the street would clap and congratulate us as we passed. It felt like the whole world was rooting for our love, and nothing has ever felt more right.

I was so glad we didn’t have some overblown, shallow wedding with music and bridesmaids’ dresses and a party with a DJ. I really just wanted him, and he wanted me, and it just so happened that there were a few other people who cared to share these moments with us. We ate at a Santa Monica restaurant afterward, and then walked down to Ocean Avenue to our little surf hotel, where the nice guy working there had upgraded us to their largest suite because he was also rooting for our love. Our friends and family drank a little, and I got to have a glass of champagne, and we talked for a couple hours, then they left us to slow dance alone in our room, husband and wife.

In my journal three years ago, I had said that our wedding day would be one of the happiest days of my life. I have never experienced anything like it before, but I was right. Neither of us could stop smiling, and it still feels beautifully surreal to be a “real” family.

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.

 

 

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.