Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The taste in my mouth is so constant, so awful, so impermeable, so maddening I find myself desperately inhaling various and edible objects in effort to mask it, ameliorate it, make it go away. Lemon sours from the health food store, hard candies, salted nuts, sour lemonade, minty gum. None of it works and, if anything, eating only makes it worse-- the food that I bite into never tastes as I remember, as I imagine it was intended. I stand in the front yard talking to the contractors about septic tanks and my stomach growls, everyone looks at me I and feel it lurching, angry and empty. I excuse myself to the other side of the house, lean forward and spit. 

Half an hour later I'm standing in fuzzy slippers and a lazy tree pose, wrapped up in the warm glow of my kitchen, beating a scrambled egg and stirring hot coco, I am anxious and shaking to eat. Three bites of breakfast and one sip of chocolate finds me, yet again, hunched over the bathroom sink furiously scrubbing with toothpaste and toothbrush, marveling that so many feedback loops exist in this one body to prevent me from eating.

I went to the barn yesterday to enter in notice of my early retirement. My lesson was starting and I leaned on the rail in fleece lined boots and down jacket, exhausted and wasted and not at all interested in riding. Last week on the flat, attempting a simple pattern over white poles not even set up into jumps or standards I could barely keep my seat, panting and sweating and utterly exhausted. The high school girls smirked, my trainer's face was kind but grim. You're just too weak, she tells me. I nod and push my helmet back off my forehead, gathering my reins and pride in front of me. I'm used to running six miles in under an hour, jumping easily over grand prixe fences, effortlessly clearing expansive cross-country courses. My mind races, my ego withers. I look over to my left at the huge mirror on the long wall of the arena, pushing my shoulders back and shoving down my heels: I look the same, I think to myself, but in that moment I no longer recognize the girl looking back at me.  

I spend a lot of time feeling guilty for not being a glowing, beaming, exuberant pregnant woman, bursting with happiness. I secretly worry that the intensely visceral occupation of my own body betrays an inability within me to love, as if this simple maelstrom of hormones implicates me already as a failed mother. I cannot undo the unnescessary and ingrained connection between pregnancy and mother-hood and I feel like, if I doing this part so poorly then I am surely doomed for the rest of it. I know that pregnancy for some people is an enormously important, vital, self-affirming, life altering part of our existence. I have so many friends who are trying, others who know that they will never be able to conceive and I feel terrible inside and always. Because here I am, knocked up and ungrateful, annoyed at the ptyalism  and dysgeusia, the nausea, the GERD, the weakness, more obsessed with trying to eat than colors for the nursery.  I feel like I owe it, at least, to these women to not feel so flipping grumpy about a little bit of drool and heartburn. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

after taste                                                           

I load up my hand basket with asian pears, watermelon, navel oranges and organic grapes from 
California, single handedly and exponentially increasing my carbon footprint with deft fingers and an unappealing amount of saliva. It had occurred to me earlier in the day that the only thing I could possibly consider eating was watermelon. In October. In rural New England. But my stomach sways and lurches in the fruit aisle and once again I worry that I have been lead astray, foiled by a tempestuous and mercurial body that maintains its right to revolt at any food at any time and any moment. 

I bite into the soft rind of what should have been a crisp pear and spit it out immediately. In a paper bag to the right of me, piled up on the passenger seat, sits yet another failed and expensive food experiment. I open the car door, lean forward and spit like a trucker. I cannot contain the water my mouth makes and am always looking for places to (un)delicately lean forward and spit. 

I don't have hyperemesis gravidum and I have an infinite amount of sympathy and respect for women who weather that storm of parity. I am probably a little bit dehydrated but otherwise well, usually the nausea prevents me from eating which prevents me from puking. Most recently, for about four days on now, I have tentatively begun eating again, marveling at the strength of both starvation and total food aversion, taking tiny bites of a syrupy pancake, sipping on instant hot coco. On Friday, in a moment made of little else than mercy and miracle, I ate half of an eggplant parmesan sandwich on my way to the barn. 

At night I lay awake and tend to my wonders, my worries, my greatest anxieties. I know far too much and all the causes of first trimester loses fume like a toxic cloud in the dark hours of morning. I get up and frown at my mostly flat stomach, worry about my painless breasts. I worry for all the speakable reasons and the unspeakable ones too. I worry in ways I cannot say out loud but that press down hard and unremitting. In the dark and tiny hours of morning I worry that if  I ever lost this baby, would I have the strength to have another?

Monday, October 20, 2008

I sit on the wooden, upholstered chairs, looking up at the patient pamphlets, staring at the exam table, the sink, taking in the strange irony to be on the other side of the medicine, the powerlessness of being a patient. The nurse has ushered me in, asked me to pee and recorded my weight. She scowls at the scale, you've lost four pounds in just over a week, she tells me and even though I have every reason to know better, I feel accused, responsible.

I'm waiting for whoever has time in their schedule to see me. I had called to ask for a simple prescription for heartburn medicine, was taking way beyond the daily maximum dose of pepcid and prilosec, although over the counter, is a class C medication. Everything I ate either hurt too much or came back up again. I have been given antibiotics (too broad spectrum for a pregnant patient with nausea and vomiting but they insisted and I conceded) for an asymptomatic urinary tract infection. Now I have an upper, and lower, complete intestinal insurrection.

No, I am not willing to take prilosec, I tell the nurse on the phone. Yes, I do know it's the same class of drugs as the others but until the FDA changes its safety profile I won't risk it. She impatiently puts me on hold. One minute later she picks up the phone again, listen you're just going to have to come in if you won't take what we're offering you.

I hear the NP outside the door, rustling her papers, reading through my chart. I have a towel to my mouth to absorb the copious amounts of saliva I can't bear to swallow. She walks in and takes me in--again I feel small and powerless, the irony of being both a practioner and a patient. 

But I am good. I only answer the questions she asks, don't push or goad or insist, even though I simply want to say listen, a cephalosporin is a bit too broad spectrum, it's making me sicker than I was before, just give me some macrobid. Secondly, I'd like a script for nexium or protonix because I know they are class B and prilosec is class C and I will jump into traffic if this heartburn continues.

This is the inevitable dance, the difficulty of being both at once--capable and helpless.

In the end she writes me a script for Protonix that my insurance won't fill and changes my antibiotic. It will take days, they say, to get the authorizations in place. I consider buying it outright, at Andy's urging, but it's $250 a bottle. On stupid principle, I refuse.


Night is coming quickly now that it's autumn. I haven't been to the barn in a week, too sick or weak or nauseated. I hadn't told my trainer yet, foolish, perhaps, but I wasn't ready for the possibility of being grounded after being horseless for so long. I would give up at four months, I told myself, once my body is too altered to keep my balance.

I groom and tack up quickly, a flashy bay gelding who is new to me and pacing. I didn't even pause or reconsider before hopping up, still lithe and nimble. We go around the arena a few times, he's hot and athletic and ready, eyeing the jumps at every bend. We get our pattern, I'm third in the sequence. The few other girls in the class are all in high school and they are today the rider I was so long ago. I bite my lip to temper my ego.

On our turn he explodes into the right lead and it occurs to me immediately that I am way too weak and he is way too strong. We haphazard the course and just as we're going over the blue vertical the nausea swells and I consider leaning over and vomiting over his right shoulder. I miss my next jump and bring him in to circle. My trainer is yelling at me from the center of the arena, the high school girls are smirking. I lean forward, drop the reigns and fight the urge to vomit as she runs up to me. She is saying something about him being strong and to do it again but when she arrives she stops, cocks her head and says what the hell?

I'm pregnant, I pant, and I think I'm going to barf on your feet


Later, after the tack is away, the aisle swept and the buckets filled, I walk into her office.

You're on the flat from now on, she tells me. I know, I say. It's just not worth being stupid, she looks up over her entries for the up coming show. I fiddle in front of her, feeling foolish and small. 

She puts her pen and paper down and regards me squarely. I rode until I was six months pregnant. It was really dumb. God forbid something happens. I, for one, wouldn't be able to forgive myself. 

I nod. Okay, I say and turn to leave.

Besides, she says with a huge smile but without looking up, if you barf on my feet you'll have to buy me new boots. And these are very expensive and very Italian.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh hello. Well my goodness, this is a strange thing indeed: to be sitting in my house with internet. Oh my god people, call Tom Friedman, THE INTERNET. 

So here's the thing. I've got something I need to tell you and I've been trying to figure out for days how to do it. There's the, internet, we need to talk tact. Or the, here, I think you should sit down, oh! and what about a beer? Here, have a beer approach. But beer's hard to link to, so I had to eliminate that one from the list of options. It's just that, well, considering a few hours ago I had to tell a bunch of strangers just because they are working on our house and couldn't figure out why extending the project into May was SUCH A BIG DEAL ALREADY, CHRIST, I kind of can't believe I'm only talking to you about it now but, well, shit, here goes:

So, I'm pregnant.

(My god I still feel like I'm sixteen years old and still have to suppress the urge to duck because I'm fairly certain some high school guidance counselor is going to smack me with their purse, screaming what were you thinking? What about your future?)

And before we get all crazy and excited, please let me get something off my chest because MOTHER OF GOD pregnancy sucks. And yes, it's early. Earlier than the prescribed time to tell the world and all that, but it's late enough that if something went wrong  this is the first place I'd come to (and you'd be all, what? What are you talking about, crazy?) So let me just tell you how much pregnancy sucks (operative word: pregnancy, not parenting) and for those of you who read Jonniker, sorry, but this is going to sound like a lot more of the same because LORD WHAT WERE YOU THINKING when you made the pregnancy package?

I'm a very symptomatic person. If you look it up and it lists the side effects you best believe I'll have 95% of them, regardless the ailment. But come on already. Really esophagus? Really? It's only the middle of the eighth week and already with the heartburn? Really? Oh, oh and the morning sickness? Oh yes, can we please talk about that? Somehow I harbored a illusion that morning sickness was made up of insurmountable urges to vomit that overtook women in an instant and hurled them towards toilets or sinks or trash cans or what have you. Meaning that there you were, out in the world, FUNCTIONING, when all of a sudden you had to vomit. I wish. With all my heart, I wish. Oh no no. It begins about 3 minutes after waking up, drags into a long, protracted, prolonged series of hours of hypersalivating, migraine inducing nausea wherein I swear to god I've been fucking POISONED until finally, finally, like five hours later, I lean over the kitchen sink (or similar) cough, gag, retch, heave and sob. All for not a lot of production, if you know what I mean. After which, though, it must be said, I feel miraculous (thereby furthering my conviction that I'm not actually pregnant rather merely being poisoned by an inch and a half long creature with fins). Once I vomit I feel like god, all is well with the world, my headache clears, I can walk and drive and think and read and it's amazing, AMAZING....for about 3 hours. And then it's wash, rinse, repeat. 

And why didn't anyone just tell me: listen honey, stick your finger down your throat, I promise, you're gonna feel totally better? Why doesn't it say that anywhere? Because it's TRUE. Note to selves: don't hold back, just barf, even if it makes you feel like an afternoon special on bulimia because all of a sudden your choosing foods on the basis of what they'll be like to vomit back up again.  

So much better in fact (this knowledge is a very new development, by the way. Instead I have been spending the better part of the last eight weeks GREEN, refusing to eat anything and everything made of or resembling food because, mother of god, what are you trying to do, kill me?) that I ate not one but two egg and cheese crossaints from Dunkin Donuts. Strange thing pregnancy, and let me be the first one to hold up both hands and wave the repentant white flag for thinking that I was totally going to eat a healthy, raw, organic, high protein, low carb diet when pregnant (AND run 6-7 miles a day) because HAH! In the last eight weeks, the only food I have actually thought remotely reasonable to eat has been a Bean Burrito from Taco Bell, french fries from Burger King, mashed potatoes from KFC and now Dunkin Donuts. Today I seriously considered Pizza Hut, I'm not kidding (I would never kid about Pizza Hut) but MY GOD, the heartburn.

You'll be glad to know though that I've hated myself after every single event. All were failed experiments.

So this is pretty discombobulated and inarticulate and all over the place but I'm madly trying to use up the last of my few functional minutes before I have to return to the fetal position, clutching at my heartburn, desperately sticking my finger down my throat and threatening to Andy that next time, we're adopting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Listen. Our internet died completely, fall is here and I've got a lot to tell you. But I won't be able to until next week. When we finally set up our little space station and get some kind of real internet. And then I can stop parking outside of the town library, stealing their bandwith and getting shot at by hunters.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Two thousand and one                 
We sit on the damp concrete, backs against the wall and windows of a costume shop, knees bent, feet splayed, waiting for the theatre to open, for the show to begin. She wears converse, black, low tops, and dark jeans, a studded belt and a cardigan. Her tortoise shell glasses peek out from chunky black bangs. I wear cargo pants from the Gap, a white cotton shirt and flip flops. Her hair is short and hip, dyed deep black and messed up in the back. My hair is long and streaked in sun. Her skin is milk white and unblemished. My skin brown and thick and solarized. I call across the street for dinner while we wait, order vegetable pad thai--no shrimp--and tofu with mixed veggies--no peppers and no onions--without even pausing for consensus. I know her aversions and her favorites; there is an known and intimate familiarity to us, like an old house, like home. She is languid and calm and patient. I am wound tight and rapid and flutter. She likes television and couches and long days with movies and books and black coffee. I love the air and oxygen and atmosphere, can't stand television, can barely sit through movies. 

We have been friends for years and we sit on the sidewalk, side by side, waiting for the show to begin.

Two thousand and eight
We haven't spoken in over a year. It was a long slow collapse, lengthy break up, an unnecessary end.  There were all kinds of awkward, assumed, associated reasons. Accidentally missing each other, avoiding, for months, weeks, years. There was an enveloping edge, I felt uncomfortable, defensive. All at once, our endearing differences were coming us undone. 

I miss her daily although I think of her less and less as time gets older. But it still happens, and often. I'll be driving in the car and will be filled with the sudden need to call her, to tell her that John Mayer is such a fucking tool or why do women wear scrunchie boots for the love of god and allah? She is the one I want to call when inappropriate comments about toothless rednecks sitting outside with their fat daschunds overwhelm me. 

We haven't spoken in over a year. Sometimes, if I'm not paying attention, I'll dial the first five digits of her phone number, a muscle memory, an old habit. Thinking back to a time when our differences were slight and our friendship seemed infinite and inevitable.