Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Turns Out I Am Not A Pregnancy-Loving Earth-Goddess. Who Knew?

 I had my kidney stent replaced yesterday.  The doctor thought maybe he'd find and remove a stone, unblocking my kidney and the stent would be unnecessary.  I didn't believe him, mostly because I have been front and center for this comedy of errors called "pregnancy", and he's not fooling anybody with his theories about making life easier.  There was no "apparent" stone ( I read this as "this stone will make its appearance when the timing is much worse") but what was apparent on the x-ray were feet.  Baby feet.  Pushing up against, and thus blocking, the kidney. So cute!
So, I may have mentioned before that I haven't gained much weight.  I am not bragging, I firmly believe that most women experience the same feeling whether they put on 25 or 105 pounds, love being pregnant or deplore every minute of it: that your body is weirdly not yours anymore and that if you have to take one more bathroom break you are going to loose it. People are constantly telling me that I'm "all belly" and I get a lot of questions about getting professional photographs taken, which, believe me, is very flattering as well as good practice in restraint. I really feel like responding "ugh why?!", but I have to smile and thank them. It is a lot of pressure to pretend to love looking like this. As I have mentioned many times before, this pregnancy seems to belong to everybody else. I am pretty sure I am giving birth to a kidney. That's all I think about anymore. But I interact with a lot of people through my work, and in general, people love to talk about babies and pregnancy. It is exciting. I love that people are excited for me. This, combined with my obsessive people-pleasing personality, makes me feel obligated to get these pictures taken. Just one more thing to increase the internal conflict.
Being pregnant has made me exhausted. It has screwed up my insides. It has also changed my life for the better-- my old, oh-so-unhealthy lifestyle seems like it was lived by someone else. I can't tie my shoes. I cried twice last week when I couldn't access ice cream fast enough, and I almost called an elderly woman an asshole at Wegman's. I can't wait for the opportunity to be a parent to this kid, who I am sure is going to be hilarious to watch grow up. I have grown closer than ever to my husband and am excited for the father he is going to be.  I count my blessings every day, and remind myself that it could be way worse. But I'm tired of the whole thing. I told Matt that we won't mention all the kidney problems to the baby, ever, thus reducing, if not eliminating, a whole chunk of his future therapy bill. You know, the whole "I destroyed my mother in order to be born" guilt.  But I am seriously over this  "I only have two more months of allowing my child to destroy my body in order to be born" martyrdom.
With all this in mind, I embarked on my search for the right photographer (due, in large part, to the mounds of homework, papers, tests and housework I had to but didn't want to finish.  Priorities.)
Enter hippie, feelgood, Ithaca NY, commune living, maternity photographer. (We met at the creepy cult cafe on the commons, something I didn't consider far enough in advance- I have mentioned my fear of a zombie apocalypse and those people are waaay too close to the undead for my taste).  The photographer said some pretty hilarious stuff- things I couldn't make up.  I told her that I was due in June and was interested in her work, but wondered if there was time to make an appointment.  She responded by telling me my intuition was correct- that this was the time to meet.  Intuition? I mean, I have a calendar.  Eventually this baby is coming out. Pregnancy is a finite experience (right?).  Next, she went on to tell me about her pregnancy, specifically mentioning that it had been planned.  In the next breath she said that her partner is a woman.  I felt a little compelled to address with her that most same sex partnerships require a bit of planning when it comes to children.  But I didn't.  (I do shudder to think of how much money she's spent on birth control over the years...not my business). On to her portfolio.  It sure was...New Age-ish. This woman's love for the pregnant form was evident. And she is very talented.  She was very easy to talk to about being photographed, which was great because I usually need about a bottle and a half of champagne before I agree to taking my clothes off for a stranger with a camera.  But as I have never been asked to pose covered in Japanese body paint along a frozen stream in the dead of winter to represent the goddess Demeter, I have no real point of reference, alcoholic or otherwise.  The women who found our little photographer for their maternity portraits sure did love being pregnant! I mean, standing in the snow, dancing in a stream, wearing crystals around their bellies, gazing lovingly at their partners- all in the full on, pregnant as hell nude. I am just not sure I'm that into the whole thing.  (Pregnancy, I mean. Naked, I can do, and I have well been known to dance around acting like an asshole in waters of the Finger Lakes over the years). The following words she used, but do not describe my experience over the past few months:  goddess, defiant, empowered,, happy...So again I am torn.  Is there a way to comfortably document my uneasiness?  Like, who makes a living marketing themselves to "beautiful but seriously resentful pregnant women"?  Should I get the pictures taken and try to look for all the world like I enjoy my "body's new shape and strength" while my fetus hiccups, causing his whole body to jerk against my sore kidney? Or just forget about it entirely and hope maybe I won't have regrets in the future?  Cue the guilt.  Shouldn't I love this experience? Am I being a whiny baby or a weakling because being knocked up seems less like an Earth Mother thing and more like a Please Pass Me the Remote and Grab Me A Brownie While You're Up thing?  I'm a creep because I love the smell of gin, still, and get a distinct twinge of jealousy when my friends go out for a cigarette.  I want to lie down and pout and internet shop for bathing suits that fit a body I will never have again more than I want to practice prenatal yoga and decorate the nursery with organic fibers and poison free paint (yeah, still haven't done that).  Shouldn't I be obsessed with the baby and his health and well being and not preoccupied with just surviving long enough to get him the hell OUT?  I feel like hiring this well- meaning woman to capture anything other than my ambivalence will be a silly waste of time and money, if not an outright lie, and taking pictures of me miserable and pregnant surrounded by chocolate cake would be less than ideal as well.  I'm hoping that maybe she's as flaky as me and doesn't email me for a follow up appointment.  That gets me out of any difficult decisions.  Also, it bears mentioning that my mom seems to think the whole idea is a little stupid.  And she's usually right about those things.