It Was Coming From Within The Walls…- Monday October 31st

Sunday night I laid on the couch watching “Disappeared” on the ID Channel. It’s a sort of true crime show about people who disappear and despite all kinds of valiant efforts by police and family, they’re never found. Tom G was studying downstairs next to the room where my parents were watching TV. The house was quiet and a slow autumn drizzle had just begun.

The friend of the victim on “Disappeared” had just finished describing how eerily quiet it was in the victim’s home when she went to check on her…like she had just left. I was gazing at the TV screen, breathing out of my mouth, when from within the wall came a BOOM!

I sat straight up (not an easy feat for a fat pregnant lady). I stared at the wall, just feet from my head, and squeaked in fear when it came again: BOOM. Then again: BOOM. The sounds was so deep, it was visceral. In fact it was much more of a physical experience than an auditory one. BOOM!



I willed myself off the couch and to the edge of the stairs. I wondered if everyone downstairs had disappeared at the hands of a supernatural being or serial killer, whose presence was announced by a splanchnic thud. “Tom?” I called “Um, could you come up here?”

“Sure” he said and I heard him walking towards the stairs.

“Are you making a big noise?” I asked hopeful.

“What? Did you ask-”

But his response was drowned out by the next BOOM! By the time he made his way up the stairs, his eyes were wide with puzzlement. We looked at each other for the next few BOOMS.

BOOM “Is it coming from outside?”

BOOM “No I don’t think so, it sounds like the attic”

BOOM “Want me to go up there and check?”

BOOM “I think that’s how horror movies begin”

BOOM “Nah, I’ll check upstairs”

Tom pulled down the ladder and walked halfway up before realizing the attic light was burnt out. “I’ll get a flashlight” He said brightly.

BOOM “Oh god, don’t get your head lopped off by a killer!”

One non-murderous trip to the attic later, it was determined that the sound wasn’t coming from the attic, and that it was very muffled up there. It was loudest in the bedroom We checked the other rooms upstairs, the other closets, we went outside and looked at the mystery wall from the front lawn. No clues were revealed.

Naturally, we called my mom upstairs.

“Now don’t worry,” my mom said with a tender voice that bordered on patronizing, “I’ll stay up here until I hear the-” BOOM

Her eyes and mouth formed into small oh’s of surprise. “You didn’t believe me!” I said triumphantly. BOOM. The fear the the noise had inspired did not trump the indignity of being doubted. Being believed did nothing to diminish the fear.

“What could that be?” She said anxiously. We checked the attic again, the closets, walked outside with my mom, came back upstairs and stared at the wall. BOOM…BOOM… We discussed why it couldn’t be an animal, although I pointed out that it could easily be a psychotic hobo or a ghost. Someone had the idea to time it. The noise came every 15.3 seconds. We considered calling the police and the family handy man. The wall continued to BOOM. It came relentlessly, each time your brain tried to convince you that it was the last time until your heart felt like it would jump out of your chest a the the next BOOM!

“Should we call Tommy?” my mother asked. Tommy, my oldest brother, has a knack for problem solving and logical responses to emergency situations. We all looked at each other and nodded. “Yea, call Tommy” we agreed. BOOM…BOOM… We needed a fresher, smarter pair of ears on the case. My mom argued briefly in favor of inviting my brother’s dog over as well, in case Ramona Quimby (the dog) wasn’t pulling her weight in the sniffing-out-wall-animals-or-ghosts department. BOOM. Her rationale was met with jeers and the idea was quickly abandoned. Tommy was called. BOOM…BOOM…BOOM… He arrived in super hero speed with his girlfriend Amy in tow. They both wore good natured smiles but cracked Ghostbuster jokes under their breath as they came up the stairs. My mom, Tom G and I stood huddled in the room, watching the wall as if it was going to crumble open and reveal the origin of the BOOM any minute.

The new-comers walked in, greeting us excitedly for 15 seconds. Then: BOOM

“Whoah” they said in unison.

We went through the rounds again- attic, closets, outside. BOOM…BOOM… Tommy dragged a ladder into the closet and shut the door behind him. He pushed the door open again with his foot to report that the noise was indeed coming from the wall. We discussed calling the police again, but I was afraid they’d come in with sledge hammers. BOOM…BOOM… We tittered nervous jokes and wild theories (raccoons, woodpeckers, HVAC problems, I still insisted the psycho hobo theory be kept alive). My mom buckled and called the handy man. She held the phone against the wall: BOOM…BOOM…BOOM…

“I can hear it!” the handyman shouted through the phone. We looked at each other with some relief- at least some one else has validated the noise. Every BOOM rattled our bones, our nerves were starting to wear thin. I wondered if I could get a good rate at the James Hotel for a few nights, just until the hobo moved on.

My mom and the handyman discussed the BOOM over the phone, Tommy went back in the closet with the ladder, and Tom G, Amy and I stood clumped together. Amy sat down on a low ottoman across from the desk and looked thoughtfully at our computer.

“You know,” she said slowly. “Something like this happened once- it was a different sound- but something like this happened to us once and it was the speakers-”

“Oh shit.” I said. I knew what the noise was as I watched the word “speaker” form in her mouth. Everyone turned their heads as I hunkered my way down to all fours and crawled towards the small rectangular speaker underneath the desk. My belly swung dangerously low to the ground but everyone was too curious to protest.

“It’s the subwoofer”

An uproar followed as I pushed the cords more firmly into the back of the subwoofer and the BOOM stopped. We were all laughing and retelling the story and slapping each other on the back as if a real live mystery had been solved. Amy’s face reddened in humble triumph as we gathered around her cheering. I wanted to hoist her on my shoulders to show my appreciation for her keeping us from having to stay in a luxury hotel until the subwoofer finally shorted out. We cheered and tumbled downstairs, admitting that some of us had begun to consider the possibility of a haunting, or at least a murderer.

Eventually the festivities quieted down, and we all went our own ways to contemplate the near miss of a Halloween Eve spent watching the local cops smash open our wall with a sledge hammer.

Nose Fat – Monday October 24th

So far I’ve gained about 25 pounds during this pregnancy. That’s a lot of weight for a petite person. At first, the fat went normal places: butt, face, back, boobs, arms, legs, neck. Then I ran out of room to store it. Now the fat is being deposited in very strange places: fingers, toes, forearms, elbows. I am pretending not to panic about getting rid of it all, especially now that my diabetes diagnosis makes it mandatory to get slimmer than I was pre-pregnancy.

This morning I slumped in the passenger seat while Tom drove me to work and put the visor down to block out the hard autumn sunlight. I looked at myself in the mirror and gasped.

My nose is fat.

It seems that my body has run out of room to stash all this extra flab and had no choice but to start squeezing it onto parts of my face. I’ve spent most of today nervously fingering my earlobes and wondering if they’re next. Each time I blink I wonder if my eyelids will soon be weighed down with puffy fat. I only have six and a half weeks to go, but if I’m going to gain another pound per week I’m going to look like the elephant man pretty soon.

My fat nose is only the latest development in the ongoing War Against My Individualism. This is the war that my pregnant self is waging against my pre-mother self. The offensive includes back acne (backne), a never-ending march of disturbing new body hair, magnificently bad body odor during times of anxiety, and uncontrollable gas. I think purpose of the war is so that by the time my daughter arrives, I will not struggle against the forfeiture of my Self for my family. It’s hard to cling to your Self when you no longer have the energy to be embarrassed by your beard and three inch long leg hair. So if this onslaught of physical humiliation makes me a better mother, I think I’m ready.

It’s Not Me – Friday October 21st

When I think back now about all the hugely pregnant women who worked out at my gym, I feel a lot of regret that I didn’t take action like filling their gym bags with ketchup and mustard. I wasted so many opportunities to steal their clothes while they showered and use them to clog the toilets.

Oh, did that sound a little psycho? That’s because of my new guest- the gross little troll who has moved into the back of my throat. It’s kind of like the Eddie Murphy movie “Dave” which I didn’t see but think was about a human adult being controlled in some way by little aliens or miniature people or something. I don’t know if the movie was supposed to be funny or charming, but let me assure you that the troll who has moved into my throat is neither. It’s really embarrassing too because when he says awful things it looks like I’m talking because of where he sits in my mouth. I try and clap my hands over my mouth a lot, but he’s patient. He just waits until I’m not paying attention then he’ll make some remark about how my jeans are so huge the ass looks like two denim 30 gallon buckets.

I, of course, would never say such a thing.

I can’t even continue to quote the things the troll has said, because they’re so awful. I will tell you he uses a lot of gross out humor to diffuse uncomfortable situations and likes to announce loudly how hard it is for pregnant ladies to clean up after their now-unpredictable pooping schedules.

Seriously, he’s a horrible throat troll.

He also likes to give people appropriate answers to their questions using a seriously asshole-y tone of voice. This is especially disturbing considering how sweet and helpful my family and friends have been getting me through this pregnancy. Then the throat troll butts in and makes some snarky reply to a benign question like “What do you want for dinner.” It’s really embarrassing.

I’m trying not to get too upset about the situation though, since today I’m 30 weeks pregnant! So 7 weeks from now, the throat troll can suck it, because we’ll have a fat little baby to play with.

What I’m Going to Write About – Friday October 14th

Today I am writing about things other than being pregnant. Like, I am writing about how I am concerned that I might be missing my chance to change the world by not being a wealthy, beloved celebrity who can bring attention to important issues that need to be changed.

I also don’t speak any other languages, so it’s not looking like I’ll be able to get involved in a NGO that turns out to be the group that solves a crisis in Africa.

I thought for a while that I might be able to go to graduate school and be mentored by a famous author who is teaching courses there because their home burned down (Like when Kurt Vonnegut taught creative writing at Smith College while I went to UMass) and he would tease out the kernel of creative genius that flickers wetly in my heart, hidden sometimes under all the sadness and worry and pettiness and hyperactive complaining and naps.

I am writing about those things, but also more interesting things, like what could happen in the next five years. When you carve out the last five years of your life and write them in a list it’s pretty astonishing how much happens that you survive and adjust to and enjoy and miss. So I’m writing about how maybe in the next five years, Tom and I will go on some fun trips, and live in a new place that’s all our own, and I’ll be very thin and attractive thanks to breaking my addiction to sugar. Ramona Quimby will be become an old dog in the next five years too, but I’m not writing about that.

I’m not writing about how I have a sad feeling about this pregnancy ending, which strikes me as disloyal because I expected to have an unadulterated feeling of joy and excitement that I had made it this far and am going to have a nice fat little baby. I won’t write about the futility of having expectations of your own emotions, since each one fits newly into each new experience. You can’t jam an old emotion into a new experience.

I don’t want to write about how since my heart got smashed into a million pieces it just hasn’t fit back together that well. It’s too hard to describe the way I feel like I’ve lost control of the person I used to be, and have lost sight of the person I want to be.

Instead, maybe I’ll write about how I was driving to work and the Tom Petty song “You Don’t Know How It Feels” came on the radio and I thought how one of the hardest things about human relationships is that we never know how it feels. And sometimes we wish so much that we could feel the same, if only for a few minutes, if only to take the burden away from our loved ones for a little while.

A Bloody Mess – Monday October 10th

A funny thing- about three weeks ago I started crying all the time, and getting up in the middle of the night to drink water, and I got lost in Walgreens because I didn’t bring my glasses and couldn’t find my way out. I felt so tender and sluggish and hated being around myself. I felt like I had a bad mood bomb strapped to my chest and secretly started worrying if I was going to turn into one of those bitch moms who yells at her kids all day while splashing chardonnay all over the carpeting.

Then I took my gestational diabetes test and failed spectacularly. I failed in such a 4th-of-July-grand-finally-way that I was ordered to see a specialist the next day.

The endocrinologist I was referred to was about 165 years old, with an office that oozed with pea green vinyl and dusty silk flower arrangements. His eyelashes went straight down over his eyeballs and I kept thinking- “Now this would be a good guy to be hanging around with during a dust storm”. He was the real deal old school “I actually care about my patients” doctor. No nonsense, nothing to freak out about, here’s the game plan, you’ll be fine. Before we left he urged us to have him paged for any questions, for any reason, at anytime. He handed us my new blood sugar tester and insulin and syringes in a crumpled tan Jewel bag. And I mean that in a good way.

Next we went to a nutritionist: young, adorable, redheaded with an understated wedding ring. She talked fast and used a highlighter to point out what she wanted us to look for on a nutritional label. I started to feel the tiniest hiccup of self-pity. This was nothing I couldn’t handle- I had been dieting most of my adult life. But I couldn’t help but lament losing the last fun activity a pregnant girl on pelvic rest can have: eating indulgently. I didn’t think I’d want to drag my new kit into restaurants, shoot up in the bathroom, then enjoy an austere meal of 60 grams of carbs or less. Plus, I hate diet coke.

So I did shed a few tears in the car after the appointments. I did worry that I was in way over my head and maybe we should have thrown in the towel after we lost Tommy and just gotten another dog. I worried about how much our families would worry that we had another issue to contend with. And I felt sad that my little daughter already had the weight of so much expectation on her shoulders. Oh yes…and I felt sorry for myself and for Tom. It just felt like the pile of shit got a little bigger.

A few hours later I had a better handle on the situation. The diabetes is more likely than not to go away after the baby is born. If it remains, I might be able to manage it with diet and exercise. The shots and finger pricks suck, but it’s nothing that a gigantic portion of the American population can’t handle, so I should be able to handle it for two months. Besides, this could end up being my ticket to skinnypersonville.

So here we are again, stuck between feeling grateful and self-pity. The best thing to go wrong during a pregnancy is something that can be carefully managed and monitored. I know I can handle this, I have a wonderful husband who is happy to take responsibility and help his family whoever we need him…including mewing and cooing when I need to be mewed and cooed at. The self-pity party…I hope that’s fleeting. Maybe in another week this will all be routine and I’ll wonder what I ever cried about. In the meantime, Baby Girl keeps kicking me to remind me that this is all going to be worth it.

Redux- Tuesday October 4

Remember the posts where I talk about how well I’m doing and how awesome everything is and how special I am for being awesome and well and mega-awesome?

This isn’t one of them.

This is a post about how I feel like every single day I’m a liar. I have this huge belly that makes people smile and touch and want to talk about. At least once a day- but usually many more times that that- people ask me if this is my first baby*.

I lie and smile and laugh at their dumb jokes and warnings (“geeeet ready!” “enjoy your sleep noooooooow”) and I do it so I don’t make them uncomfortable. Except it makes me feel like a complete shitheel. As soon as I convinced myself that Tommy Jr wouldn’t care if I lied, and that he’d understand because he is a wise old soul, I realized that I care. I am not a wise old soul. I’m a mother who doesn’t know the first thing about caring for a baby. I’m a mother who doesn’t know their child. Being told everything I don’t know, while helpful and necessary, breaks my heart anew. I feel like a kid always on the verge of a temper tantrum.

It’s the same old shit really. I should quit crying about it because this is an element that will define the rest of my life. There will always be one little ghost in our family, and I’ll probably always feel more comfortable lying about him. It’s not that I feel like I’m not honoring him- that’s impossible- I honor and love and think about him constantly. It’s something about me. I feel like I’m not honoring my pain and my reality. Like the happy-go-lucky skin just fits better than the grown-up-everyone-suffers skin.

Boo. Here’s a better piece of news- my count was off. I’m going to be 30 weeks October 21st. Just two and a half more weeks until we’re in the safety zone. I wish I was writing that with the enthusiasm it deserves. Maybe I can chalk some of this melancholia up to hormones?

*WHY do people always ask that? Can some one please explain why this is such pressing information for strangers?

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