MIA: Crazy Pregnant Lady

It’s been over a month-and-a-half since I’ve written. That’s pregnancy, I guess.Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 2.57.54 PM

I used the last few weeks of my energetic second trimester to finish writing, producing, and acting in a web series, while also working here and there as a personal assistant to for two different people and trying to maintain my fitness and sleep.

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A month into third trimester: working on 1970s series, despite swollen feet.

THEN CAME THE THIRD TRIMESTER. I died. My energy was gone, much like it had been during the first trimester. My attitude was back to bad. My entire body hurt. But I still had stuff to do. I still had another web series to act in. I still had work I had already scheduled for my personal assistant gigs. And the babies are so close. I’m 33 weeks pregnant with twins! I have friends who had twins at 27 weeks! Gotta pack my hospital bag! Make sure the doula and the breast pump and the gear is all lined up! Sometime, it might be nice to get a list of names together that don’t make us retch! I better curate a “Giving Birth” playlist and write down my labor and delivery wish list! And I still haven’t researched hypnobirthing or baby sign language or best sleep practices for twins! But there are days, like yesterday, when I can do nothing but lie on the couch.

Luckily, the third trimester is not a complete repeat of the first. Though I’m back to feeling mostly awful, the one thing I do have is some perspective by now. Not full perspective, mind you, but enough to know that this is a damn hard job I’m doing, and therefore I must go easy on myself. Unlike during the first trimester, it is very clear on the outside that I am not like everybody else, so I don’t have to fight myself when I need to put off everything on my to-do list for another day…or another week. It will all happen when it’s meant to happen.

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The Kindness of Others

We have our share of worries (mostly financial / job / logistics related), but if we were to focus on the honest truth, it is this: we have everything we need and more. Maybe we don’t have it all figured out, but the amount of love here is astounding, and not just between me and Kai.

It’s coming at us from all directions. We are lucky to have families who want to help us out…but it’s not just those closest to us who have shown us kindness. A neighbor we barely know brought us a load of baby blankets and gear. An ex-neighbor dropped by with a card and new outfits for the twins. People from our hometowns have sent us money and furniture and so much more. An employer gave me some maternity clothes. My girlfriends who’ve had babies have sent clothes and useful items. The whole world is supporting us, it seems.

We’ve spent so much time reflecting, researching, soul-searching, trying to make more solid plans for what our lives will look like in a few months. Kai is trying to go back to school, I’m trying to find a work-from-home job, we’re educating ourselves as much as possible on child-rearing and twin-wrangling, looking to more spacious living arrangements in beach-radius. And, realizing it’s going to be very difficult at times, we are also determined to make this new existence a reality without losing sight of our goals: to raise conscious, thoughtful, proactive, loving kids who know how to love life, and to be conscious, thoughtful, proactive, loving adults who do the same.

And it seems, based on what I’ve seen lately, that the Universe would support that.

Dark with the Light

Today I’ve been having another of my existential crises. It came after a week of mostly good feelings, a week without facing the harsher parts of reality. And of course, it is a law that carefree times must necessarily be followed by a cold slap to remind us of the contrast that makes life interesting.

The easy week went thus: First, my mom and sister (who is, remember, two weeks ahead of me in pregnancy) came to Cali to visit. Mom is a fluffy ball of pure love, and my sister is a blessing, as she is a cohort in this strange, uncomfortable rite of passage. We didn’t do much when they were here: just ate at different restaurants and walked around Venice, binged all seven hours of Big Little Lies, and went shopping for maternity clothes. But it was effortless. No dwelling on impending futures and their scary prospects: just strolling along, enjoying each other’s company.

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My sister and me + 3 inside

When they left, Kai and I had a couple days of downtime, and then hopped a boat for Catalina Island, to spend a weekend honeymooning. Again, we didn’t do much; just what we felt like. We went snorkeling and hiking, we ate key lime pie and talked, and heck, one day we slept for five hours and then grilled hot dogs and watched a documentary about the Unabomber. It was as smooth and clear as the teal water by the docks, no agenda.

But then we got home.
Today was such a Monday. My stupid to-do list waited for me. There’s baby stuff to worry about, like scheduling all these birthing and breastfeeding classes, there’s writing and moviemaking assignments I took on for the love. I’ve still got to sleep, eat, and exercise so I can adjust gracefully to the feeling that, as my sister put it today, “my belly is falling out of my body.” But sitting heavily on top of all that, I HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE MONEY.

All my income-generating gigs are just too hard to do right now. I can’t go bartend when I’d pop the buttons off my black button-down shirt and can’t stay up past 8pm without slurring my words. I can’t chase toddlers around babysitting for more than a couple of hours, and a couple of hours isn’t really worth my time since what I’m looking for is MONEY. I do personal assistant things for a few hours a week, but I have a freaking master’s degree and I should be able to find a PAYING JOB I can do from home! So I spend hours on top of my to-dos, applying for all these stay-at-home jobs that may or may not be legit: writing, editing, grading tests, answering customer service queries, I DON’T FUCKING CARE, I JUST NEED MONEY.

We’ve gotten married, we’ve got two kids on the way, we’ve been on the honeymoon, we got a joint checking account. He’s working like always. I’m struggling, dying, begging the Universe to please guide me toward a not-awful job I can do from home that employs MY BRAIN to GENERATE INCOME. It’s something I’ve waited for patiently since I graduated from all that schooling, through the eleven years of doing creative gigs for free for the love of art, meanwhile making sheckles by serving hors d’oeuvres or schlepping kids around…BUT THE DEADLINE IS APPROACHING. IT’S TIME THIS SHIT PAID OFF. Yes, I am freaking out. Yes I am rethinking my entire existence. Yes I still would rather have this kind of freak-out than work in an office 9-5. But up until now I had the luxury of time because it was just me. Now it is me + 3. And I am a puddle of self-doubt and guilt and exhaustion.

Serves me right for having a low-stress week, I guess.

 

I Can’t Stop Nesting

My new husband and I have accidentally taken very stereotypical roles in preparing for these babies. It’s sickening, biology.

For him, he can’t stop working. It’s all he does. He is trying to save as much money as possible, imagining all these scenarios in which the babies come and suddenly we have no money at all. I have come to take issue with this compulsion of his a few times, like this week. He’s refereed 16 hockey games in the past three days, even though the past two nights he’s come in with chills and a fever he refuses to diagnose by thermometer. He also refuses to get someone to cover for him because “we need the money.” So while I conjure up all these nightmare scenarios in my head of him in a hospital room, I do all I can to take care of him–making him a nutritious breakfast, making sure he drinks an Emergen-C and lots of water–and I try not to worry.

Meanwhile, my estrogen-filled self is compelled to clean everything we own, to get rid of everything unnecessary, and to organize what’s left to “make room” for these rockers and strollers and onesies and bassinets. I spent three hours organizing the pantry and the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I’ve taken three car trips to Salvation Army so far. I took down the curtains and even took the throw pillows out of their cases to wash. I borrowed a caulk gun from a neighbor and re-caulked the whole bathroom. I washed and waxed my car, even scrubbed the upholstery and brought in a Q-tip for all the cracks. And that’s only the beginning of my nesting to-do list.

At least it feels satisfyingly reassuring when I see my handiwork. Maybe that’s how Kai feels when he deposits his checks, even with trembling hands and a fever.

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.

Domestic Hate Happens

The past 24 hours have been my definition of hell.

Without going into great detail, it is exactly one week until my beloved and I are supposed to get married. We’ve been vibing and on the same page when we get to see each other, which isn’t often with all the work we’re doing. Yesterday began as a beautiful sunny day in which we rode our bikes around our wonderful seaside city, making plans for that little wedding. And on a dime, through his misunderstanding, my words and intentions got twisted and I couldn’t possibly convince him of what he didn’t want to believe.

So I got angry. Quickly. Because nothing makes me angrier than not being seen or heard for who I am. And then I said so many things I didn’t mean. Mean things. And my hormonal, weak-minded pregnant self took everything insensitive thing he said deep into my three hearts and let it hurt as badly as it could. I cried for so long, hopeless and depressed, that I was dizzy with vertigo. He didn’t care. And then awoke this morning only slightly better, still crying, feeling like anything I ate would make me vomit. Not that we had anything to eat anyway. I had to make a trip to Trader Joe’s, looking like a monster.

And when I got back, he was still him and I was still me. He was still failing to say what he actually meant, and instead saying more and more insensitive things while I tried desperately to understand what the hell he wanted from me and choke down some strawberry O’s and not throw up. He’s freaking out about money, and from where I sit it sounds like he’s blaming me for all his fears. Me who is working while pregnant just to contribute, when all I want to do is lie down and do nothing.

(Me: “I’m pregnant with twins, I’m depressed, I’m working five or six days a week just to keep paying my half of the expenses, I’m getting together all the stuff for the registry and reading all the books, and I’m so stressed out and it can’t be good for the babies, and it seems like you’re telling me I’m still not doing enough and that I need to do more.”

Him: “I see you as an adult, not a kindergartener.What do you want me to do? Treat you like a baby?”

Me: “No, I want you to treat me like your wife-to-be who is pregnant with your two babies and is clinically depressed and needs extra care and love. I want you to acknowledge and appreciate what I am contributing.”

Him: “You need to love and care for yourSELF.”)

Needless to say, I have never felt such palpable hatred for the person I love most in the world. I felt so alone, so uncared for, so misunderstood. I’ve read many articles about pregnancy making women hate their male partners, and I never thought it would happen to me. But yesterday when he went to his hockey game, I literally said, “I hope someone punches you in the face.” And I meant it.

Do I like who I am or where I am or what I feel like or what my partner is acting like? NO.

Luckily I called and texted everyone in the world. Two therapists, my mom, his mom, four friends. I got a hold of one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and she showed me the light. Anything he was accusing me of slacking on, she said, was what he felt he needed to do. He is terrified–more terrified, even, than me. Because he doesn’t even have control over the babies or what happens to them until they come out. All he has control over right now, he feels, is the finances and our “readiness” in that way…and we are just scraping by as it is. He feels like figuring it out is all on him.

So I called him and told him I was scared, and I knew he was too. But, in these hellish 24 hours, I realized–and I told him–that I was willing to surrender to what needed to happen, whatever it was. Even my “worst nightmare” of moving back to Trumpmerica for a little while until we get on our feet. I just have to trust myself, trust him, and trust the universe.

 

 

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.

 

 

Broke and Pregnant

The way we live, me and my fiancé (wow, that’s the first time I’ve written that word), is not the American way.

To us, time is more important than money. Doing what we love makes us feel rich, even if it means we have to buy half our groceries at the 99 Cents Only store.

We’re both actors, and sometimes we get paid handsomely to put our faces in front of a camera. But much of the time, we act for free. I’m a writer, and I do that just for the love. I worked for three years, published a novel, and after sales, I broke about even with my production costs. I’m writing this blog for no reason other than I want to share some real-lady talk in a world full of cutesy mom sites with message boards that employ annoying-ass acronyms. We try not to get discouraged by the fact that this life we love has not yet delivered us riches.

To make money, he referees ice hockey. I babysit. We do promo gigs for different brands. I do catering. We do this only for the money, and we don’t get paid much.

So I’ve been wondering lately with these tots on the way: should I give in to the golden handcuffs? I have a master’s degree in English. I’m sure if I tried hard, I could get a “real” job that filled my pockets and killed my soul at a steady pace. I’d be trading my freedom for a sense of security.

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The cutesy mom sites all assume that everyone works in a cubicle. (‘Cause that’s the American way.) They advise you to check your “employee handbook” and plan your maternity leave wisely. When I read this, I want to gag, thinking of living a lifestyle in which I must refer to a “handbook” or talk to some higher-up in a suit before acting. Ha! As it is, I make my own rules. All my gigs are pretty painless, and none include a boss breathing down my neck. That said, some weeks I just don’t get work. I scrape together the dregs of my checking account to pay rent. It’s okay when it’s just me, but I can’t have that when I’m responsible for the twins.

I love being free. But I don’t want to be scared of not being able to survive. I know there has to be a third option. There has to be some way that I can feel secure and steady but also live of my own volition. They say do what you love and the money will come to you, but I’m willing to compromise a little if I have to.