I found out I was pregnant in the heat of the summer. If I had to write a surprise pregnancy into my life, it only would have made sense to begin there anyway. What other time of the year are we all so tan, so beautiful, so drunk with summer, so likely to get accidentally knocked up?
That winter was the loneliest, scariest, most weirdly exciting time. I watched my husband and his friends traipse through our house, shaking snow off their shoes and stripping down to swim trunks to go for a late-night hot tub. I could hear them outside laughing, letting their hair freeze in the icy air while the rest of their bodies steamed under the surface, their beers occasionally slipping and clanking against the frozen concrete below them.
One of my girlfriends came by one of those nights with her fiancé to enjoy our new hot tub, the one I had yet to step foot in because I was pregnant. I remember being hardly able to look at her, feeling like she had betrayed some secret girls’ club where she would promise her solidarity to me in this time of loneliness and forgo drinking, fun, and hot, therapeutic waters. I wanted to run outside and throw delicious deli meat at them in their cozy, relaxed little booze-filled tub and scream “HERE! You might as well eat this in front of me too! Now go home and sleep on your stomaches without getting up every hour to pee! AND GO F YOURSELVES!”
Instead, I ate blackberries laying on my side on the couch in sweats. I watched some stupid celebrity diving show that I absolutely hated, but I had watched and re-watched and watched again every possible Real Housewives of _____ (insert any city here, I wasn’t picky) so much that I was starting to memorize lines. I felt at times I was of no use to my childless, unmarried friends. All I did was sit there and get less fun and more fat. I numbed and numbed my brain with reality tv so as to avoid facing the inevitable fears threatening to creep in at every corner. To avoid reading stacks of books talking about episiotomies, cracked nipples, meconium poop, and colic.
And the winter trudged on that way. On New Years Eve I fought back tears when we went to bed before midnight, thinking of how our friends were out laughing and drinking and being carefree. I watched each week as my coat got tighter and tighter, wondering when I would reach the point I could no longer zip it and would be forced to buy some hideous maternity tent-coat. I rocked myself in our perfect cream glider, staring at the turquoise walls of our daughters room and the breast pump in the corner, still sealed in it’s expensive box and looking intimidating and impossible to operate.
Yet at the same time, I had this bubbling right under the surface. This little spark of “your life is about to change!” And I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew it was big. When you become pregnant, it seems you are instantly welcomed into this sisterhood of other women. One of my friends was only weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, and I never felt closer to her than I did those months. I felt like I couldn’t survive without her there with me. I needed her. I didn’t just enjoy having someone to commiserate with, I needed her. Everywhere I went, people noticed me, seemed genuinely excited about my impending motherhood. Even though they usually said something mildly offensive about the size of my belly, they had the look of love in their eyes. The look of “oh, I remember when …” or “I wish …” or a genuine joy about the prospect of new life.
At the end of the winter, we went on a tour of the birthing suites we would be delivering in, and I felt my stomach drop straight to the ground while my heart simultaneously threatened to burst out my throat at realizing there was no way out. No way around. Just through. Only through.
And when the Spring came, the snow melted and the birds started chirping and butterflies hatched and I realized all those metaphors about new life in the spring were beautiful and true. If I had written my own surprise pregnancy, it would have only made sense to have the birth happen in the spring. I knew the end was in sight, and also the beginning. And as beginnings go, it was beautiful and exciting and utterly brutal and crushing all wrapped up in one.