I am pregnant. 3 months – 13 weeks and 6 days in as I write this.
Nothing about me was ready for a baby this year. But who ever is ready for these babies? They come when they want to come, and stay because they want to stay. Defiant. Of all my pals who’ve had babies, I can only count a handful that has been at it with the aim of a minion.
Do you know how in the movies we see the chick character rushing for the nearest washroom so she can spill her guts out? Then we hear the loo flushing as she comes out and says, forlornly – and most times it’s forlornly – I am pregnant. Then, I don’t know, everyone in the show, including the director and all the other cast and the audience are happy for her?
Do you see how it goes there? Well, it was different for me. Mine is a better story to tell. Here’s how it went. And this is all true: Friday morning in mid-February my boy and I are getting ready to go to work. (My boy, his name is GB.) GB is sitting on the edge of the bed putting on his socks, I am standing over the kitchen sink having my cereal. He’s already threatened to leave me if I don’t hurry my sorry ass up and be waiting at the door in the next five minutes. I tell him to calm the fuck down. Heehe.
The doorbell rings. I call out to him, ‘Are you expecting anyone?’ and he barks back ‘No’. I mean, why would we expect anyone this early in the day? Kwani we’re in shagz.
I open the door. No one is standing on the other side but there’s a cotton sling bag. Like something you could decide to wear on your head. It’s red with blue stars on the outside. On the inside, it’s blue with red stars. The artwork is hand-drawn, the seams hand-stitched. At the end of one sling is a knot. Again, a handmade knot.
I peep outside. There’s no one in sight. I run down the stairs to see if there’s anyone exiting the parking. Nothing. I crane my neck up the stairwell to see is there’s anyone going up. No one. What was odd though was I heard a distinctive flap of wings. Strong big wings that built a wave of momentum with every flap. It was regal. Like a fairy-tale. Ethereal.
I’m back to the bag. It’s soft. And it smells nice. Not perfume-nice but homely-nice. Like my Moms closet. Or that smell she has when you bury your nose in her to hug her and you can smell her giddy momminess.
There are clothes inside, all white. Soft and fluffy with press studs and tiny sleeves and tiny arms holes and tiny leg holes. Tiny tees. One is scribbled ‘November 14’. Another one reads ‘My Mom is still super hot’ (I crack a smile at that one). Another, ‘Tell Dad to loosen up’ (Heehe). Another says, ‘Signed, sealed and delivered’ (Catch the witty pun?)
By this time, GB is standing behind me asking what the fuss is all about. I mumble about the bag and the clothes and the… But he cuts me off before I’m done, “We go.”
It wouldn’t be until I’m in the lift punching the buttons to my floor that it dawns on me, ‘What date is it, anyway? Am I late? Shit, I am late. Oh no. I’m preggos.’
Exciting? No, terrifying. Ever heard that track by J Cole, St Tropez, from 2014 Forest Hills Drive album? I know I’m taking this line out of context but it’s the closest to what I felt that Friday morning. J Cole says, “She asked me if I’m scared to fly, to tell the truth I’m terrified.”
I’ve been pregnant before and he didn’t make it past week 14 – I didn’t make it past my 26th birthday in one piece. I stopped breathing on the day that he did. He took my spirit away with his.
No one knows for certain why it happened. Doctors gave me possibilities. But I believe he felt that I didn’t want him, he felt my negative energy. So he took the gentlemanly high road and saw himself out. It was two more years before I was honest when I said, ‘I am OK.’
So I promised myself that the next time, I would be ready. I would have all my shit together. I would be in my own girl, know who the hell I am. I would want the baby. (Most importantly.) I wouldn’t be breaking my back in the hustle. I wouldn’t go around making the announcement of the ‘Big News’ only to return a few weeks later to make another announcement to undo the ‘Big News’. Such prematurity and naivety.
I planned for a perfect pregnancy.
But you know what they say? God laughs when we make our plans. And these babies, they laugh harder because they come when they bloody well please.
I imagined that the pregnancy would be good for my art. That I would be itching with stories, oozing with ideas, cursing the Sun for setting way early. Epiphanies week after week would have me write my greatest work. But it wasn’t. The last 13 weeks couldn’t have been any more brutal.
It started with feeling as if I am constantly hangied – teetering between wanting to throw up but never quite, needing to eat without the appetite, face contorted in disgust. Sluggish. Lethargic. You just want to lay your head down for a minute, ‘Just one minute,’ you tell yourself, ‘one minute then I’ll have the energy to get this jobo done.’ Natsing (as my pal Pepe likes to say). They lie when they call it morning sickness. This hangie stayed with me all day, every day for 13weeks.
Then the gas. Jesus. It swelled up in my stomach then moved about it like an unwanted spirit. I swear. Not even squatting in the washroom for 2 hours could get it out. I remember one afternoon of having brown chapos and beans for lunch, I’m at my desk and my stomach starts to growl. My desk mate gives me a side glance. It growls harder. She clears her throat, I ignore her. A louder growl. She (side-) stares at me, I laugh sheepishly. The next growl had her rise from her seat to go take a call. Her phone wasn’t even ringing, hehee.
It went on like this for several weeks. Uncontainably large deposits of gas after every lunch.
I had so much gas I could fuel a hot air balloon. (Emergency situation at the Mara: One attendant says worriedly to another, “We don’t have enough gas to fly all these balloons. What will we do?” The other guy says, “Get Bett on the phone. Tell her to get here, now!”)
Heartburn followed the hangie and the gas. I’ve not had heartburn before. My life is far too simple for heartburns. The passage between my breasts burned like a flaming tunnel. GB once suggested I take Eno. I threw him a piercing look, ‘Wow, how smart.’
After the hangie and the gas and the heartburn came the blandness. Pregnancy blunted me to the taste of life, to all its richness and its flavour. I couldn’t savour anything as I had before – sizzling steak tasted like rubber, salad dressing like toothpaste. New albums, music were a racket I preferred to do without. Sunshine made me itchy. Road trips drove me nauseous. Alice Munroe’s short stories sent me to a nap.
Nothing tasted the same, not even my lover’s lips.
My days were silent and colourless.
And it was then that everything started to get thick. The brutality of first trimester snowballed. I couldn’t write.
Me and my hangie and my gas and my heartburn would sit at my desk for hours on end struggling to put a few flimsy sentences together. I’d come back to read it later then I’d have to start over cause I’d lost my train of thought. I didn’t have the energy to sit through a story from start to finish. Creativity flat-lined.
I became a cabbage. Hell I looked like a cabbage. Sitting back in my chair ndee; chest heaving from my heavy breathing, legs apart. I came to work to eat. Unashamedly so.
I emailed my mom pal (you make several of these when you are preggos) and asked her what to do. She told me to chill. “There’s nothing you can do about it. You probably won’t be able to write like you used to until another year from now.”
The hell. So what are me and the baby to eat?
“Do what you can. There are stories you don’t need to write. And you may have to cancel a few of your contracts.” (Sidebar: this year started well for me. I got a few writing gigs, made a few useful contacts who swung jobo my way. Peachy. But there’s nothing worse for an editor than a writer who misses his deadlines. The Queen Bee doesn’t want the Worker who can’t keep his word.)
And what do I do beyond that?
“Just… Be pregnant.”
Well, in my own obnoxious and histrionic way, this is me being pregnant: I cuss more; I have a dirty unladylike diction that I spill out with a lot of love. I am selfish; as long as I have eaten and I have a place to lay my head then fuck everyone else. I don’t care for people much these days; I always thought that being preggos would make me more motherly, more sympathetic towards others. That I’d draw them into my bosom and fix their issues in one fell swoop, bang. Their messiah. You know how people would rather give you bullshit than keep their mouth shut? Yeah. (I once saw this quote I have been dying to use: Silence is better than bullshit.) I thought I’d sniff them out, understand the vulnerability they are desperate to mask. But I can’t because I forget too easily.
It was a habit to respond to all whatsApps, because everyone who chats you up is entitled to a right of response. But not anymore; my brain is too woolly to keep these conversations running. Kumbe people catch feelings when you ignore them, hehee. (I will respond to yours Gilo. Soon. I promise.)
I have no other interests apart from the baby and myself. Should I be invited for a cocktail… no, that’s not possible. No one invites the pregnant lady for a cocktail cause they know what they a bore she can be.
I watch TV and I am always rooting for the baby. Last week, I caught The Walking Dead my kid sis and my concern was for that ill-placed toddler. ‘Where is his mum? What will he eat? Gosh, he must be thirsty.’ I went to bed wondering if he will be OK.
I am a shoe-size bigger. My shoulders are broadening – early this month, I bent down to lace my boots then I hear the sharp sound of a tear. My plaid shirt had come apart at the seams, in the section between my shoulder blades. I stupidly turned around to try and see it.
Going swimming then being underwater feels as if I am in a large womb. Like I will have a rebirth when I come up for air. I am in a womb and she’s in a womb. It’s a womb within a womb. Inception, anyone?
I’m needy. Emotionally needy.
I miss my Moms. Alot. The last time I saw her was the weekend before my last post, on Valentine’s Day. I was dropping her off to take the shuttle to Kaplong. I’ve been calling her often to ask her silly questions like, ‘I want uji like yours?’ ‘How do I cut up chicken?’ ‘Can you send me a hug?’
I miss my sisters. I miss having a drink at Tamasha.
I think more than I speak because I imagine the baby is listening to my thoughts. I also keep them, uhm, pure.
Late in the night when sleep escapes me, I am gripped with the fear of my inadequacy. What values am I to teach my little girl? Will I look into her eyes and feel naked and unfinished? Am I ready for this? Then I turn over and a get a warm feeling of smug, that maybe it’s the world that isn’t ready for another me.
So what now? I don’t know what now. Or what next.
I am at 4 months as I finish writing this. 16 weeks and 3 days.
I swear I felt her move.