No, I'm not pregnant. I don't think so at least. Maybe I should go check? Please hold.
Okay, I'm back. Not pregnant.
But I am obsessed with pregnancy. Literally obsessed. I write about pregnancy a lot on this blog even though I have never been pregnant while writing this blog. I wrote about my Belly Envy. I wrote about My Birth Story. Hey, I even compared our beleaguered economy to an illegitimate (octuplet) pregnancy. Sometime soon, I hope to be writing about my own pregnancy. I'm not saying when because I don't when. (This is a big question in this household and in my head and fodder for its own award-winning essay.)
I loved being pregnant. Even the mild morning sickness was okay with me. I just used it as an excuse to be lazy and scarf salt bagels and orange Gatorade with abandon. Even the weight gain was cool. (As long as the pounds arrived with precise gradualness and didn't exceed twenty-five total. Yes, a control freak here.) Even the no-drinking thing was absolutely fine. Who needs Pinot Grigio when cells are multiplying with evolutionary elegance in your belly? Really. The point which I will not belabor (too late and pun very much intended): I loved being pregnant.
And now it seems that everyone around me is pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Everyone. The world.
Here is an incomplete list of my pregnant people (in no particular order): Sister in Chicago; Cousin in Kansas; Cousin in L.A.; Two high school friends (and I suspect more); One college friend; Five, yes five mommy friends.
For those of you who do not have "mommy friends" in your lexicon, let me explain. Mommy Friends are the amazing, wonderful, fabulous mothers you meet early on, when you are still bleary and bloated and all boobs. Mommy Friends help wipe spit-up off your cashmere and rock your wailing infant while you run to the bathroom. Mommy Friends trade stories and tips. Together, Mommy Friends bemoan the loss of freedom and frolic, reminisce about their fierce former selves. Simply stated, Mommy Friends make parenthood palatable. If you are a mommy and you don't have Mommy Friends, I would suggest that you go pick up a few. You can thank me later.
But I digress. Yesterday, I took Toddler to her class at the incomparable Children's Museum of Manhattan. We enrolled in this class (yes, on top of Preschool) to keep up with friends from Toddler's first months. My Mommy Friends! Together, we Mommy Friends plopped our kids at the art table and escaped. We went for coffee. There are usually eight of us. But we were missing two yesterday, two women who have the same name I will not share. So, there were six of us.
We purchased some afternoon fare: coffee and soup and papaya with lime. And then we gathered around a small table and talked. What about? Pregnancy, of course. We talked about our friend who is still recovering from pneumonia and swine flue and is due to give birth next week (she is home! finally!) We tried to get my one friend, thirty-seven weeks along, to spill her baby name. My friend who is over four months pregnant with her second child confessed her deep desire for a girl. My friend who just announced her pregnancy last week said she will find out the sex soon.
We talked and talked and talked. About sibling rivalry and trimesters and prenatal tests. We talked about baby names and baby nurses. We talked about food cravings and belly shapes.
And then. Another friend said she had an announcement. Yes, you guessed it. She is pregnant! Surprise! This was not just a surprise for us. It was one for her as well. Why? It took this particular friend three years, one major surgery, and IVF to conceive her twins. After batteries of tests and interventions, she learned that she had a degenerative condition that caused her fallopian tubes to collapse. And she is pregnant!
This friend was all smiles. The smiles were contagious. Maybe smiles were not the only things that were contagious? I looked across the table at my friend whose second daughter is seven months, the only person other than moi sans fetus at that table, and said, "Hey, you and I better go home and take pregnancy tests. It seems this pregnancy thing's contagious." She smiled. We all smiled. Mommy smiles.
I could not stop smiling all night. I could not stop thinking about the life around me. I could not stop thinking about the miracle baby in my friend's belly. The baby who would not let collapsed tubes stand in her way, who would not take no for an answer. I could not stop smiling.
And late last night, I was on the computer catching up on some work, re-reading all of your amazing comments on yesterday's post, and I started chatting online with another friend. It started as your standard back and forth. And then she told me that she has been trying to get pregnant and the doctors say she is not ovulating and that her progesterone is low. She expressed her frustration and her sadness was palpable in her sentence snippets. This friend (who has a very successful professional career and is one of the smartest people I know) told me that when she was in grade school, she was told to write an essay about her future. She said that plenty of her friends wrote about careers and travels, but that she wrote all about family, about the five kids she'd one day have. My friend wants kids. She has always wanted them.
"You will have kids," I typed. And I meant those words. She will. And then I told her about all the friends I know who struggled a bit, or a lot, in getting pregnant. I reminded her that having kids wasn't a cakewalk for me. I shared the stories I knew of people who'd gone through a lot to have kids. Stories. Of fertility treatments. Of advanced age. Of cancer. Of miscarriage. And then I told her my newest story: a story about collapsed tubes and a miraculous surprise. She thanked me for my words, for my support, for my stories. I wonder if she could sense my smile through the screen?
Whether it is an accident or a surprise or the result of hard physical and emotional work, pregnancy is always a miracle, the majestic work of the most inscrutable mommy of all: Mother Nature. I am thrilled to be at a point in my life when I am surrounded by babies and bellies. I am thrilled to have a growing stockpile of stories - happy and less so - to be able to share, to remind myself and people I love of how precarious and powerful and pregnant life can be.
Tell me your stories. Stories of pregnancy and paths to pregnancy. Happy. Sad. Frustrated. I want them all. Stories sustain us.