Sunday, 28 March 2010

of falafel and bad attitudes

It’s a well known fact amongst aficionados that the best Mexican food comes from either a hole in the wall grubby restaurant (often located in some obscure strip-mall) or the ever popular ‘burrito wagon’ parked in an equally obscure parking lot. I think it’s a reasonable conjecture to include hot dogs and Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches in this rule as well. Hot, authentic, greasy and wrapped in thin paper that sticks to the food and stinks up the inside of your car for weeks. All washed down by an ice cold coke. Side note: I’ve always wondered how those wagons get the coke so stinkin’ cold. It’s like magic.

I live in England now, though. No burrito wagons. No hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants either. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs, and quite frankly has been a thorn in the side of this whole pregnancy.

I took a little trip to Forest Row this week. A cute, hippie village about 35 minutes from here. What was scheduled as an hour-long acupuncture session ended up being a much needed 2-hour heart to heart and an attitude adjustment.

See, I feel like a beached whale. A glimpse of myself has me thinking ‘fun house mirror’ these days. My maternity tops no longer cover my belly. Anything that isn’t knit or draw string cuts into my skin and makes it difficult to breathe. My poor feet can only be squashed into my Uggs. Even my nose and lips are larger than their usual proportions. Then there’s all the fun that comes with this 38 ½ week size. The jerking/ rolling/ propelling movement to get myself out of bed or the front seat of the car. The rests at the top of stair cases. The million trips to the bathroom. Add to that the intense emotional stuff and let’s just say I’m over it. I’m more than over it. I have a bad attitude.

So this week, the acupuncturist asked the right question. I poured my heart out and it helped. Disappointment. Pain. Frustration. This has been a hell of a pregnancy in the emotions department. People I love have died and are dying. Pain and trauma of years past finally brought to the surface to be dealt with because it can’t be shoved back down—there’s no room for baby and pain. Baggage agitated by people letting me down. To top it all off there’s no effing Mexican food. What’s a craving pregnant girl to do? How does one comfort eat when the correct comfort food isn’t available?!?!

Turns out, eat falafel. There’s a great health food store in Forest Row. I bought the difficult-to-find-elsewhere booty just in the nick of time before they closed and headed to the car. And there it was. The falafel wagon. Parked in an alley behind the store. Like manna from heaven. Greasy, wrapped in nasty, sticky paper. Sold with an ice-cold coke and damn if it wasn’t—of course—the best falafel I have ever eaten.

I sat in the car in the pouring rain and admired the hundreds of daffodils blooming in the grass all around the parking lot. I mmmm’d and ahhhh’d over the ridiculously good falafel and felt so much better. And a paradigm shift occurred (or at least began to occur). One simple word change that helped. Instead of waiting around for this baby to come. Disappointed. Huge. Grumpy. I switched to anticipating. Waiting is what we do in angst and boredom. Anticipation is the thing that makes the falafel wagon jump out at us in all of its culinary glory. We see it because we are looking for something good. Eager. Excited. Expecting the best. And boy did it deliver.

This baby will come. I won’t be huge forever. The pain and disappointment will heal. And as it does, thank GOD I now know where to get the good falafel.

Friday, 12 March 2010

insomniac hotel musings

My tummy is tight and the room is loud with heaters blowing and OH MY GOSH I’m thirsty. I felt my way to the toilet at 2 something with no light and then stood at the sink afterwards grasping around for the tiny glass with the paper hat. I did get a small drink, but all I could think about the whole time was that YouTube video you forwarded me from Scott Chadwick a few years ago about the housekeepers giving each glass a squirt of windex and wiping out with a cleaning cloth before replacing the hat.

It’s 3 something now and this time I turned on a light instead of peeing in the dark and decided to find your water bottle for my drink. My belly is tight and my hair is fuzzy-wild and ticklish from going to bed with wet hair. You are very warm and snoring pleasantly. Wish I could be so lucky. But alas, here I am. Big, tight belly. Thirsty and wide awake at 3:25 am in Bristol, Avon, England, on March 6th, 2010.

I’ve been thinking about that beautiful brown line. The one pregnant ladies get from the top of their bellies, down the middle, past the reminder of their own birth—their belly button—to the bottom of their round bump. I’ve never understood what this is for, this line. I love it. Beautiful. Sensual. An outline? An arrow? A journey mapped? Mine is crooked. It veers off and breaks up a bit at my belly button. The casualty of belly button scar tissue and it’s hilarious stretchmark repercussions.

How very apt this seems. The journey never follows those beautiful straight lines. Nah. It’s a veerish sort of thing. Profoundly affected by decisions that seemed so beautifying and exciting and innocuous at the time. You look back later and wonder if you should warn others. “Belly button piercings might ruin your dark-brown line later on!” And you realize the absurdity not of the warning, but of the statement itself. The meanderings of my dark-brown line are my testimony. My path. To life. To motherhood and womanhood and to myself. It has never ever been straight. Nor have the meanderings been ruinous. Quite the contrary. They are my banner. The ‘interesting’ to my story. The tears and laughter and wonderful fodder for thought at 3 something in the morning lying next to your snoring self and obsessing about water vessels whilst dying of thirst.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Tiny socks

There are very tiny socks in my washing machine. Just two of them. A white pair with the Rockie’s ‘CR’ in purple on the front. They’re for Opening Day—a day revered like Christmas in my family. They’re in there with the bigger boy’s muddy baseball pants. Spring Training is in full swing at the Anderberg house. Soon there will be Sunday baseball days—an afternoon family baseball game at the park, followed by Scott’s famous grilled burgers and then the Rockies game on . If it’s anything like last year Bridger and his daddy will stay up as late as it takes to catch the very last inning and Caid and I will be asleep by the 5th.

This year though, there will be another person along. A person who wears very tiny socks. It’s hard to imagine. I can hardly wrap my head around it. There will be another little boy in my house by Opening Day. That’s only a little over a month away. Whoa.

It’s funny. I am a doula now. A childbirth educator. I’ve done 2 extensive trainings about birth and pregnancy. Completed one certification and am well into another. Read literally hundreds of books, articles, studies, accounts, blogs, etc. All about birth. Yet somehow, I still feel overwhelmed. Surprised at how apprehensive and uncertain I am.

This feeling has ebbed and flowed throughout this pregnancy, but welled up inside of me intensely about 3 weeks ago. I panicked. There were all these…THINGS I wanted to do before this little person arrived. I had communicated my expectations and wishes. I had bought journals and pastels and made lists and well, PLANS. You know, PLANS!! Then three weeks ago when it hit me just how close we were to the end (cue music, duh duh duuuuuuuuhhhhhh) I realized that my plans hadn’t panned out and I panicked. Completely panicked.

I cried. I threw fits. I moaned and sobbed about how this was my last pregnancy. About how IMPORTANT these things had been and now it was too late and I’d never, ever get tot do them ever, never again. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t quite that dramatic. Or actually, probably I was.

In truth, I know I really did need to let all that out. There was genuine disappointment there. Disappointment from not one, but three pregnancies. Let’s face it, disappointment is an incredibly heavy and ugly thing to carry around. It’s a thief. If we let it, it robs of us of enjoying the wonderful blessings of the moment as we struggle with the very real and at the time ignored pain of the past.

There was some genuine baggage to be sorted out too. That’s been a present process all throughout this 9 months. My first pregnancy and postpartum experience was not a walk in the park with a husband having and recovering from major brain surgery. Throw in the fears and expectations (real and imagined) of friends and family members, my desire to make it all right for everyone, and the sheer immaturity factor and well, let’s just sum it up with baggage, shall we?

So several tears, fits, yelling, sobbing, sobbing, and lots more sobbing and somehow, I am sitting here. In my sunny kitchen. Listening to the big boys upstairs with their friends playing knights and princesses. Watching the tiny socks go around in the washer and thinking, “Wow, I’m having a baby soon.”

See, I do know an awful lot about pregnancy and birth. I am a great doula. I have read and learned a lot. However, sometimes ‘ignorance is bliss’ wins out over ‘knowledge is power.’ Or perhaps it’s neither. Perhaps it’s all a lesson in letting things go. Expectations. Plans. Ideals.

I am having a baby. A tiny little person who wears tiny little socks. A precious little boy who will be here, watching the game with us on Opening Day. I don’t know exactly how it will go. Surely there will be stories to tell and the pain will be mixed with the ecstasy and excitement of new life. Maybe we didn’t get to the things on my List. Maybe all my Plans didn’t quite pan out. But I’d say letting go of all that disappointment and baggage was work enough for the pregnancy. I’m going to let it trump the list. I’m not going to carry that disappointment—from this pregnancy or the former ones—into this birth. I’m just going to trust my gut. Trust my body. Trust my husband. Trust the God who made us all and knows the depths of our pain and hope and disappointment. I’m going to trust this little person who has already brought so much light and life. And enjoy. Enjoy whatever comes. Enjoy it free of the weight of expectations and plans.

And really enjoy putting him in those ridiculously little and adorable Colorado Rockies socks.