Like a Kick in the Gut

I think it was around 17 weeks that I started feeling kicks. They weren’t real kicks yet since presumably the baby still had little t-rex arms and itty bitty legs. They were flutters. A friend said it best when she compared it popcorn popping. It is a gentle burst of movement. The movement is brief, light and airy but undeniably there. Although I had been nervous about feeling like there was an alien inside, I cried when I when I felt the first movement. I felt totally overwhelmed and without words.

I have not yet reached the stage where a kick is clearly a kick or I can recognize an elbow from a foot. Munchkin is still small enough to do somersaults which are a move that stops me in my tracks. I hold my breath until it has finished, unable to do anything on my own. Equally there are kicks and stretches and what feels like drum practice. I watch my belly move now. I spend time picturing a baby inside so I don’t focus on this scene too much.

 

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I know, gross. Sorry.

 

When I was in high school (or earlier?) I read Summer Sisters by Judy Blume over and over. This is one of Judy Blume’s adult books and it focuses on two friends. It’s a story I am more familiar with now and recognize in other books. There are two girls- one is more outwardly wild, obviously beautiful, mysterious and attracts all the boys while the other is quiet, always watching with strengths and beauty she had to work to recognize. The teenage girls become adults, wives and mothers. I can’t remember what became of the quiet friend, what her hardships were as an adult or her successes. The wild one sticks out in my mind with her affairs and her gypsy life. She became a mother but in name only. Her lack of connection to actual mothering and the lack of relationship with her children stuck out to me then as it does now, like a song I can’t get out of my head. It is a terrifying idea- that you might have children but never commit to the job, never connect with your children, never really get it.

Among the many fears I contemplate- some irrational, some not- this is one. It’s not one I put a lot of stock in. I compare it more to fearing ghosts or something else that could totally be real but probably won’t affect me. Still it is the change in kicks that is the most reassuring. At first every kick was a curiosity but now it makes me laugh. Watching my belly move and feeling so many little movements immediately throws me into the giggles. I try to hold my breath to not miss feeling everything but I am too tickled to be successful. Tyler has missed many a good kick because I can’t stop laughing long enough for him to get his hand on my belly. 14 more weeks y’all!

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: Feminist Punk

Earlier this month Pitchfork came out with The Story of Feminist Punk in 33 Songs. I don’t reach Pitchfork but theriotgrrlproject  has been posting a song on a day on Instagram which I have loved following.

Unfortunately my time spent with feminist punk music was somewhat short lived and mostly in the early 2000s so I’m less familiar with some of the older and newer songs on this list. But challenge accepted! Sorry workmates, this is what I’ll be listening to all day today…if not all week.

A couple of my favorite artists from the list:

 

Kim Gordon’s new memoir is still on my to-do list!

The baby is really kicking as I write this so must be a she, right? Little riot grrrl rocking out!

In this same music vein, Tyler and I watched the Los Punks documentary earlier this week which was pretty good. In my very uneducated opinion a lot of the music was leaning more towards metal than punk but it was a really cool look into the backyard punk scene in mostly Hispanic areas of Los Angeles. I wish it had gone a little farther back into the history of punk in the area.

If anyone knows of a good documentary on punk music, please share! I’ve already seen The Punk Singer on Kathleen Hanna (loved it!) and I’m in the mood for more.

Regaining Strength & Clarity

Pregnancy is a very public event. It’s something that starts very private (well, typically) and then quickly becomes shared with all. One week you look like you ate a big lunch, the next you’ve clearly “popped” and no one’s afraid to ask you about your bulging belly. The first time during my pregnancy someone asked me “When are you due?” I was shocked to have a genuine answer. For the last 15 years that question has led to anger and sassy responses (and it’s happened every year) but now it’s just…the norm.

pregnant

It might be my new normal but don’t make it yours. Stop asking ladies if they’re pregnant. It’s weird and none of your business. 

There are some benefits to this- I am not expected to carry anything, stand under any circumstance and people eagerly encourage me to seconds of dessert at parties. Now that I’m a bit larger, I mostly appreciate all of these pregnancy perks but initially they were hard to accept (not the dessert one though). Being constantly asked “How are you feeling?” and having even the lightest packages items out of my arms made me feel even weaker rather than cared for. When going out others would ask where I wanted to stand, if I was comfortable, and so on. I felt like a fragile teacup.

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Chip, the most adorable teacup that ever was. 

On one hand I was given an enormous amount of support and never given grief for going to bed early but on the other hand everyone seemed to be waiting for me to fall apart. That waiting gave me the feeling that it was only a matter of time. I was waiting for me to fall apart too. Instead of reassuring those around that I didn’t need the extra attention I stopped trusting whether I was okay. This at a time when I was questioning what changes this pregnancy would bring to my sense of identity…

I never ended up falling apart (except for the occasional big ol’ cry which I consider good for the soul and a part of normal maintenance). Crossing out of the first trimester is a gift for many reasons but one of which is it involves a lot less fatigue and a lot more clarity. Without feeling tired all the time I’ve regained most of my ability to say “I’ve got this” as well as become aware of what my limitations are. I will gladly call for Tyler to come carry things for me and I don’t feel obligated to stay at your party past 10pm. Sometimes I kick ass in my exercise class, sometimes I fall asleep on the couch. These things happen.

I know the second trimester is supposed to be when you’re riding high (as much as pregnant ladies do) and I’m about to hit the down turn but I’m hoping my new sense of self will help carry me through the rest of these weeks. In the meantime some fruit loop baby is clearly breakdancing over here.

breakdancing

This seems pretty close to what must be going on in there. 

Becoming My Parents

Growing up I couldn’t have been more embarrassed by my parents. It sounds silly but I know we can all relate to this feeling. It wasn’t my dad’s spandex bike shorts that really got to me or my mom’s cheesiness. It was the small talk. My parents are small-talkers. It didn’t matter where we were they would strike up a conversation with the nearest stranger. In line for the grocery store my mom couldn’t resist commenting on a cute baby or an usual food in their cart. My dad would always ask the server where they were from or talk to store owners about their business. Every time I would duck my head down low trying to hide from the strangers they were talking as well as possible onlookers. I did not want to be associated with these crazy, over-friendly people.

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Don’t be fooled- they’re very friendly. 

As luck would have it now I’m a dang small-talker myself. I should have known it would happen eventually, but I spent so much time being afraid of strangers that I hadn’t even noticed the change. Before I studied abroad my junior year of college my mother secretly got her passport because she was convinced I wouldn’t make it a whole semester away. In her defense, it did seem pretty unlikely. Raising my hand in class made my heart race. Walking a different path around the school filled me with anxiety. I went out of my way to never have to initiate conversations with people I didn’t know. Honestly I preferred not to initiate conversations altogether.

My semester abroad ended up being a wonderful experience but I was surrounded by people in the same situation, looking for friends. It wasn’t until I backpacked alone for a year that I truly put my fear of strangers to the test. This was hard. This was lonely. Some days I had to admit I didn’t have the energy to introduce myself to someone new. I didn’t want to ask them the standard backpacking questions (where are you from, where are you going, how long are you here, are you alone, are you working here, blah), but most days I got over it. If you want conversation over dinner or someone to explore a beach with you have to introduce yourself when you travel alone.

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These are total strangers I traveled New Zealand with. 

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It’s important to have these people to travel with otherwise you have to ask random people to take ridiculous photos of you.

Still it’s not backpacking that I have to credit my small-talking abilities to. It’s the traveling that gave me the practice but my parents showed me how it’s done. As the saying goes, they’ve never met a stranger. At my last Toastmasters meeting I was asked to give a short, “impromptu” speech on whether or not I was the type to talk on an elevator ride. The answer was pretty obvious and the club did not hesitate to tell me so after I spoke. That’s a wonderful feeling to know that I’ve come far from my social anxiety but also that others see it too.

Small-talking is sometimes painful and I just can’t handle it. Sometimes I still struggle when I have do a networking event or introduce myself to others. But I can’t deny that being a small-talker has gotten me travel tips, free drinks, friends and even the occasional job. For all those opposed, I highly recommend you give it a try.

It Takes a Village

This past week has been pretty busy in a great, whirlwind way. All my projects at work made significant progress which made me feel much better about my job. This is something I imagine we all deal with- the feeling that we are just trudging along and to what end? Hitting a milestone is exactly the encouragement I needed to keep going right now!

At home we have been making crazy, progress on putting in our upstairs bathroom. I’ll share all the details on this later, but the gist is we’re going to be a 2 bathroom household! Tyler has been moving this project along at warp speed and it’s getting pretty exciting.

In addition, I’ve had the chance to see my lovely Wilmington friends so much this week! As a boring pregnant lady it’s pretty rare I venture out on school nights  (without drinking happy hour just isn’t the same, ya know?) but it’s been incredibly lovely this week to make an exception. Earlier this week during a birthday celebration (cocktails and sushi – another fun night to be pregnant) I was completely stunned when one friend blurted, “I can’t wait to meet your baby.” She wasn’t the first person to say this but she was the first person to say and mean, “I can’t wait to know your baby.” She wasn’t referring to wanting to know what baby B will look like or even playing and cooing over baby B. She was entirely referring to the person he or she will become and how they will become a figure in our little group of friends.

I was completely overwhelmed by this. Both overcome by the emotion of her statement we dropped the topic to more birthday dinner appropriate things but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. The idea that my child already has true friends waiting on here for him or her to arrive is too wonderful to express. I grew up in a small, quiet family of four that divided and shrunk early on in life. My sister went to college when I went into the third grade and my parents spent most of their time not speaking to one another before they separated when I was twelve. Although we had a few family friends that I would certainly consider part of our family “village” I rarely saw them outside of my mother’s best friend, Ed, who came into our lives in when I was in middle school. Going over to my friends’ houses with larger families and friends always around always left me envious. I would soak up the noise and chaos as much as I did the laughter and excitement. For baby B to experience the love of an extended family would really be a dream come true.

I am also embarrassed to say that I had not yet put a lot of thought into knowing baby B in the way my friend meant. I’ve been entirely preoccupied by the more superficial concerns of being pregnant. What do we need to purchase? Am I eating well enough? Exercising enough? How will we handle maternity leave or daycare? Although I have thought about what this munchkin might be interested in, I hadn’t yet really considered baby B a whole person. There is someone growing right now that I will have a chance to know soon. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to get to know them, little by little, more every day.

Twenty-three weeks, y’all. We’re over halfway and getting bigger every day.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Human Family

Sometimes, advertising serves a wonderful purpose. It brings to light things we desperately needed to hear.

Human Family – Poem by Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztMfBZvZF_Y

A Southern Belle, if She Wants to Be

When I was in high school I was given an essential gift for any Southern girl- A Southern Belle Primer or Why Princess Margaret will never be a Kappa Kappa Gamma. My great-aunt Betty gave this to me with her sly sense of humor. I was working on becoming a Southern grandmother’s nightmare. I dyed my hair pink and wore ripped up, second-hand clothes all of which I had either embroidered on or decorated with song lyrics. I didn’t attend church nor hold to their political views. In preparation for our visits to my grandparents’ house I was encouraged to tone down the way I dressed and avoid debates.

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My beautiful great-aunt Betty

I don’t mean to give you the wrong impression. This was a humorous, kind household but it was also all ways Southern. So when Aunt Betty sent me this book out of the blue I was both pleased to have been recognized in my family as having a sense of humor but also as having my own choices. The inscription read:

To Katharine-

A future Southern Belle- if she wants to be one-

Much love, Aunt Betty

I had completely forgotten about this incredible gem of a book until my friend Anita came to visit this past weekend. Being Canadian she gets an extra kick out of reading it and looks for it when she comes to visit. Until we studied abroad together she had not been so fortunate as to have been exposed to some of our lesser known traditions.

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For example Anita did not know that a bridesmaid’s shoes should match the punch nor was she aware of the shame associated in using Miracle Whip. People who use Miracle Whip are clearly from the Midwest (my mother is from Oklahoma so I grew up with this unsavory ingredient).

I read “A Southern Belle’s Ten Golden Rules” and laugh at rules about dating sorority sister’s exes or “Never serve pink lemonade at your Junior League committee meetings. It has Communist overtones.” but in reality there are a couple I would never stray from. I feel very uncomfortable wearing white before Easter or after Labor Day. It’s as though I can tell the Southern fashion police is watching me from afar and taking notes. I also never miss an opportunity for a thank you note. While I have recently been slower with my reply times (enter excuse based on pregnancy here) I never forget to send one. I’m a modern girl and have been known to chew gum in public and once upon a time I also smoked on the street… but I always knew it was extra rebellious to do so.

The best thing about the primer is that some parts are serious. There are actual instructions on how to use a finger bowl and the ten ways to spot a belle outside of the South are spot on. While these all pertained to women like my grandmother and her sisters, only a few are still around with young women today:

  • She calls her father “Daddy” no matter her age (guilty)
  • Iced tea is an appropriate drink no matter the weather
  • Her parties all have themes (I wish!)

Now you can find many books that both adore and lovingly mock Southern culture and in particular Southern women. Most everyone has seen The Sweet Potato Queen books or We’re Just Like You, Only Prettier. Back then this was the first time I had seen such a thing and I can’t help but still love it. I find it endearing and ridiculous all at the same time. When it comes down to it I, too, went to cotillion and wore white gloves. I won’t ever stop referring to my parents as Mama and Daddy and I do believe chicken salad is one of the best comfort foods.

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My grandmother (top) and her sisters

If you’re unfamiliar with all the best parts of this insanity I suggest you buy yourself a copy and watch a Designing Women marathon. You should be set after that.

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The hair says it all.

Bless your heart.