The Thin Pink Line

I wrote this about 2 days after finding out I was pregnant, I’m 13 weeks now. Over the next few days I’ll post some of the things I wrote before we let the cat out of the bag this weekend. This whole thing is a process and I think it is important that women can read something besides blogs about how blessed and amazing they feel with gross titles like “The Day I Become a Whole Person”, “The Best Thing That Has or Will Ever Happen To You” or “AREN’T YOU SO EXCITED YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A BABY?! IT IS MAGICAL”, especially in the early months when they are still adjusting to the idea. 

 

“Oh shit”, is all I could say as I sat in the bathroom of a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and read the pregnancy test I had just taken. But the second line was faint not a dark pink, like the single “no” line. It was light pink, dare I say, baby pink? It’s a fluke, was my first thought. Then I wondered if I had peed wrong? Or did I hold the stick wrong?

I took to Google, as you do in times of scientific quandary. And the overwhelming verdict was “a line is a line is a line, faint or not. Becky, you pregnant, girl”.

This was not planned. At all.

After the hill incident this summer I was forced to go off the pill and given some of my other medical history (I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome back in 2002), we did not think that an “oops” pregnancy was really in the cards for us.

WE WERE WRONG.

I started freaking out the way a teenager might freak out…okay, maybe a little less, seeing as telling my mom and dad resulted in tears of joy, not tears of anger.

I know a lot of women who know they want to be mothers. Some have always known, others get that feeling as they get older and/or meet the person they want to spend their life with.  But not me. I was nor am I one of those kinds of women.

Since this summer, I have seen lots of doctors and I had to inform them first that I was pregnant. They all sounded so happy and so excited!

“Congratulations!”, they would squeal. I had one OBGYN nurse hug me.

And all I could do was smile back weakly.

“Are you excited?!”, the OBGYN nurse chirped.

“Oh, yeah….I guess it hasn’t all sunk in yet,” I would manage to choke out.

But I’m not even sure that’s the case at all. If I’m being 100% honest with you, when I saw the first sonogram and the doctor and that freakin’ nurse where cooing over “that’s your baby” as I looked a screen with a sort of bean on it, I felt zero feelings. I simply turned to them and said “cool, can you print a picture for my husband? I have to get to the office.”

It’s probably not the kind of thing you are supposed to say when you are 35, happily married and pregnant for the first time. I imagine what you are SUPPOSED to say is “We are so excited! We have prayed for this! We can’t wait to be parents!” But for me, I am terrified. I am so worried about becoming a “Mom”. See, things haven’t really gone as planned in my career, I’m not even close to where I want to be professionally and to be quite honest, I’m not even sure where I want to be anymore which makes the prospect of motherhood even scarier.

I’m not stay at home mom material. Some women are and that is so awesome for them and I am happy they get to live the life they want. But for me, I need to work and be creative and be a part of something bigger than my now 3 person family. I fear though because of this lack of a career stronghold, it’s exactly what I’ll become. And then I will resent the kid and my husband and myself. And oh God, what if I try to live vicariously through whatever my kid wants to do or WORSE what if I crush their dreams because I feel mine were crushed? How do I stay social? How do I stay healthy mentally and physically? How do I keep my marriage happy and healthy?

HOW?!

I imagine that these are questions that women face everyday of their lives before and after the birth of their child. And I know I’m not alone. At least I think that logically. But in the blogosphere and all over social media are perfect, happy, smiling moms who joke about their kids but seem to be have happy lives. They are making it work. And I guess that’s what I have to do to a certain extent. But I can’t fight the overwhelming urge to do EVERYTHING I have wanted to do and cram it into the next 6 months before it is too late. I have to write every screenplay idea I have, every TV pilot, I have to go on every audition, film every sketch and edit every reel. I need to learn to ski and climb a mountain. I need to become a French chef, get into shape (somehow), organize my closet, label EVERYTHING, cook meals for the next year that I can freeze.

But I’m EXHAUSTED!  And I’m nauseous. I’m reading all these damn books about eating right and stuff and all I want to eat is a carbs and sugar. But more than anything I feel, I feel nothing.

I don’t feel like this is actually happening I feel like I am floating above myself, watching this play out and being like an obnoxious moviegoer in a horror movie. “BECKY! DO NOT GO IN THERE! RUN!”. I feel like my body doesn’t belong to me anymore and it occurs to me that this is the first of many many things that don’t belong to me anymore.  My body, my life, my time, my space, my heart.

It’s all a bit too much for me  So you will have to excuse me, OBGYN Nurse if I am less than stoked about this thing sucking everything from me.

All The Feelings

I’m writing this post-wedding and post honeymoon, so this won’t be as emotionally charged as it would have been say….the day after the wedding. When all the feelings happened.

First, let’s talk wedding weekend. It was amazing. A friend told me that she would have told everyone she knows to elope while she was planning her wedding, until she actually experienced the wedding weekend. I felt the exact same way. We had a blast! For a while before the wedding I started to second guess everything I planned, I thought I compromised things I shouldn’t have, I started to be afraid that I would regret this and that, your regular panic attack inducing thought spirals….but it was all amazing. Thanks to our designer, caterer, photographer, BAND (AMAZING), cake baker, coordinator, our friends, and our families. Notice I did not say anything about our shuttle service provider…’nuff said.

If you are planning a wedding right now and want to throw up your hands and run to Vegas, read this and know — it is worth it. As long as you let go of everything on the morning before your wedding. Everything is in motion by then and all you need to do is be the bride. All the planning and all the stressing, it is worth it.

There were hitches, of course (see above shuttle service comment), but for the most part, it was the exact wedding I planned.

Then the morning after happened. We had a lovely brunch at the hotel where we were all staying and as I said goodbye to some guests that afternoon it started to dawn on me…. this is over. The planning is over. The anticipation is over. All those reasons to get together with friends and family this past year…over.

I am very close with my friends, to the point that someone remarked that they were surprised my friends weren’t coming on my honeymoon. When you move away from home and live in a big city your friends become your family. And since moving to LA, I missed my second family. But having a wedding, bridal showers, and a bachelorette party gave so many reasons to see them. And planning the wedding in my hometown gave me extra reasons to see my real family.

Plus, I wasn’t a bride anymore, I would never be a bride again. I know it sounds bratty, but it’s fun to be the bride! A couple of friends are getting married next year and I found myself being jealous of them. Jealous of the whole journey they are about to take. The way I’m jealous of people that have just started watching “The Wire” for the first time. It’s exciting and scary and everyone walks away with their own take on it. When I told my husband (eep!) that, he was like “have you forgotten the last year?!”. I guess so, I guess it’s a little like a mother forgetting how childbirth feels once she’s holding her baby.

On top of all that, I was exhausted. I didn’t sleep for the last few days before the wedding from all the stress and excitement. I was this raw, tired, premenstrual (oh yeah) nerve.

But I was also beyond happy and relieved. We had pulled this thing off! And I had married this incredible person who I couldn’t imagine loving more yet find myself falling more and more in love. I am now someone’s wife.

I feel bad for the amount of crying I did on my first full day of marriage. But because my husband and I have been together for a while now, he got it. Thank God for the honeymoon where I didn’t cry at all (until we left because it was perfect and I didn’t want to come home).

And now we are married…. I have lots of feelings about that.

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An Open Letter To Buy Buy Baby

Dear Buy Buy Baby,

My fiance and I registered for our wedding at Bed Bath and Beyond and within 36 hours of doing so, I began receiving emails from you for baby products. Now I’m no idiot, I understand how cross promotion works….but really? After registering for a wedding? What about a wedding in November makes you, Buy Buy Baby, think that I’m going to have a baby?! Immediately I felt violated and insulted.

Then I thought, maybe I’m crazy for feeling this way. I’m over-reacting, they’re just emails from a spambot in Denver somewhere. Then Shutterfly accidentally sent out thousands of marketing emails for new mothers and fathers….to people who are not new mothers and fathers. In fact, they aren’t mothers and fathers AT ALL. And people kind of lost it, as well they should. I didn’t feel so alone anymore in my outrage towards you, Buy Buy Baby.

First and foremost, what’s with the assumptions? You, like most of the world, are assuming that because I’m getting married I will be having children one day. Well you, and most of the world can chill the f**k out. Now I’m not saying that I don’t want kids….I might. But don’t rush me Buy Buy Baby. Maybe I just want to enjoy being married for a few years. Travel. Have a dog. Buy a house. Get further along in my career. Or maybe….just maybe, I don’t want kids at all. And that is okay. Would it be so terrible if it was just the two of us forever? And if you answered yes, then maybe you need to be questioning yourself Buy Buy Baby, not me.

And it isn’t just you, Buy Buy Baby. It’s everyone you meet. Strangers ask about babies when you tell them you are engaged. Friends, relatives, friends of relatives, they all ask “so are you going to have kids?”. Look, I know its a social nicety. They are making conversation and what do you ask a couple who you just found out is getting married? Why, you ask them an extremely personal and private question about a HUGE life decision, of course. But that sort of intrusiveness starts when you first start dating someone. You get people saying “when do you think you’ll get engaged?”. Then once that happens they want to know about kids, then they tell you how to raise those kids. It’s odd because when you get a new job, no one asks, “When do you think you’ll get promoted?”. Because that is rude and no one’s business. Yet somehow your reproductive plan is totally their business.

Second of all, getting baby registry emails from you Buy Buy Baby seems to be a comment on what society expects of women. It’s just not sending the right message, it’s saying  that we haven’t gotten any further than kindergarten: first comes love, then comes marriage, than comes someone in a baby carriage. What about revising this for the 21st century: first comes love, then comes a thoughtful cohabitation then comes marriage, then comes a period of learning more about each other as a couple and developing your career, getting a dog, then MAYBE a thoughtful and conscious decision to put someone in a baby carriage. Sure, it isn’t as catchy as the other, but it certainly makes more sense. I raise this point especially for ladies who know for sure that they don’t want kids.s. Lay off them Buy Buy Baby. Stop sending them passive aggressive emails about onesies and nipple guards. Women have plenty of other corporations trying to tell us how and when to make a baby. We really don’t need your ill-timed promotions for breast pumps and baby monitors.

Look Buy Buy Baby, I don’t want to come off harsh. You have a place in this world. People have babies every 2 seconds or something crazy like that and they need your 12-packs of adorable tiny socks and those cute towels that have hoods for after bath time. I have purchased items from you for many of my friends and I was overjoyed to do so. My friends are awesome and we need more awesome people in the world. All I’m asking Buy Buy Baby is for you to think before you send an email to a newly engaged woman. She is going to face loads of pressure in the time she’s engaged and then even more pressure once she’s a newlywed to have babies. Her mother, her grandmother, her coworkers and friends are all going to ask about her plans for the future, meanwhile she’s just trying to plan a wedding without killing her husband-to-be because he refuses to write a thank you note for an engagement present they got 6 months ago!

Just give me/her a minute! Let me get a plant first and see if I can keep it alive. Then a dog. Then maybe…MAYBE….we can talk about that stroller that is on sale for $99.99.

Best,

Becky

Father of the Bride

I couldn’t really decide the best way to pay tribute to my dad, so this is sort of two blogs in one.

“FORCE FIELD”

My sister got married when I was 19. I remember dancing with him at her wedding and promising that I wouldn’t get married for a long time and it wouldn’t be a big affair…..I kept one of those promises.

Honestly? I’ve got a bone to pick with my dad. I don’t think it would have been so difficult for me to find the right guy if he hadn’t been such an outstanding model of what a man should be. Not just a man in a marriage and a man as a father, but a man as a human being. Because of my father, I expected the man I marry to be strong, stable, reliable, funny, intelligent and giving.

Believe it or not, it was a lot to ask of all the myriad of jerks and hipsters that I dated in my 20’s. In fact, I probably went out of my way to avoid guys like my dad in an attempt to not be like my mother (see Mother’s Day post). But in the back of my mind I knew it was inevitable. Like my sister, a mini version of my grandmother, married a not so mini version of my grandfather (my brother-in-law clocks in at 6’5), my eventual marriage would be Jackie and Dave part two.

My dad always made me feel safe. I looked for my mom’s approval first in a lot of things I did in my life. But I looked to my dad for the final nod. Not because of some patriarchal thing in my family. If anything our family was a matriarchy, with my mother and grandmother as very strong forces in my sister and I’s life. No, I looked to my dad because not only was he able to look at everything logically and unemotionally (unlike my mother and I) but because he just has this air about him that makes everything feel like whatever he said to do was the right thing, the best thing. Even the unsafe things I chose to do. (The unsafe things I chose to TELL him about at least).

There is this great quote that I post every Father’s Day on Facebook, where he is thankfully not a member, in his honor that is the perfect tribute to everything he did for me.

“There’s a look little girls have who are adored by their fathers,’ Bea said. ‘It’s that facial expression of being totally impervious to the badness of the world. If they can keep that look into their twenties, they’re pretty much okay, they’ve got a force field around them.”

—Maile Meloy, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

 

“WILLIE, MICKEY, AND THE DUKE”

Every relationship has a language and my dad and I speak baseball. My father loves America’s past time with such a passion. And my sister and my mother never really loved it. But I fell in love at some point when I was 7 or 8. My father would take us to ball games on every family vacation and he and I would sit and keep score while my mother and sister would sit bored eating hot dogs. My sister was the athlete of the family but I played softball. My dad coached me until I was 13 until coaching teenage girls became too much. But I kept playing until I graduated high school. After high school when I went away to London my dad and I would talk, not about what I was doing or what was going on at home, but we would talk about baseball. When I was so lonely in my first year in New York I would call my dad on Sunday mornings when I knew my mother wasn’t home to ask all her questions about my life (I’m still broke, sad and tired) but we would talk about baseball. When I first started dating my fiance…..my dad and I talked baseball instead. But when it really mattered, when I was faced with some pretty big decision in my life, I could always call on a Sunday morning and talk it out, and then talk baseball. It’s kind of appropriate that Father’s Day is on a Sunday.

When I was a kid, my dad had this cassette that I played until it broke, “Baseball’s Greatest Hits”. It had Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First” and songs about baseball greats like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson and my dad’s favorite, Say Hey Willie Mays. It had a few general songs about baseball and one song called “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”. As a Cub fan it hits home “to the home of the brave, the land of the free and the door mat of the National League”. And to my father, it was a hilarious song. We listened to it all the time.  My sister and my mom thought it was weird and morbid how much we loved this song. So when I told him I was getting married, the first decision we made was to dance to that song at my wedding. Before I booked a band, caterer, found a dress, found a venue or anything, we had the song…..now we just have to get the band to play it.

 

 

Becky and Dad 1990

(Side note: My mother is the photographer here and while she is a multi-talented…photography is not one of them)

We Are Family….

Now it’s just him and me. Imagine that rhymed better.

And didn’t make you cringe.

I don’t know if you are close with your family. But I am. I talk to either my mother or my sister at least once a day. When I’m not freelancing in an office, it can be upwards of 3 times a day. I bounce all my big decisions off them. I listen and care about what they think about everything from curtains to careers. They are the first to hear big news, good or bad.

Then there was a shift. I can’t really pinpoint the moment. I think something had happened to me at work. Something crappy. And the first person I called was my fiance, who was my boyfriend at the time. I remember thinking when that happened, that things were serious. And we should all get used to this new person taking priority.

Marriage takes it to the next level. My mom will always be my mom, my sister will always be my sister. But my soon-to-be husband, well he is my family now. The two of us (and our dog that we get) we are the family unit now. I think the misconception is that once you have kids, then you are a family. I think you and your husband are a family the moment you say “I do”. You have to start making choices that benefit the two of you. Where previously you made sacrifices for your mom, dad, sister, brother, etc…you now put that person in front of everyone else and their happiness and well being is the top priority.

This is one of the challenges of getting married when you are older. Your immediate family is so used to having you all to themselves, not sharing your time or loyalty, that sometimes, it is a hard shift to make. For all of you. Nowhere is this more apparent than when we talk about where to spend the holidays. I’ve actually never been to his family’s Christmas, but he has been to my family twice. I’ve always spent Thanksgiving with his family. And Easter. But now, to add to the complication of having families in two different places, we now live in a different place. Before, in New York, we could get to his family in New Jersey and Connecticut easily. Now it is hard to get either to New York or Memphis (where I’m from). In a way it sets the families on equal playing fields. But in some ways…no, in most ways….it is hardest on my family. My new family.

Him and Me.

When it was just me, I could fly to anywhere my family needed me to be. I slept on couches, blow up mattresses and shared beds with my niece. Now, I am a we and we need a bed. Logistics are harder and my decisions have become our decisions. I have to do what is best for us now. That’s a hard thing for me to do. I like making people happy, especially my family. I like doing what they want me to do. And for the most part, what is best for them is also best for me. But sometimes, it won’t be. Sometimes the best thing for him and me will not be what my family wants me to do.

That is a hard thing for me to wrap my head around. My not being single doesn’t just effect friendships and the way the outside world views me, but it impacts the dynamic of my immediate family, and not through numbers but through allegiances. On top of that, I have this whole OTHER family, his. And they are great, lovely people who have made me feel welcome from day one. But my presence in my fiance’s life directly effects their interactions as well. It’s complicated. And you certainly don’t want to feel like you are taking over or changing everyone’s lives so much.

But recently, my mom was pitching me the idea of a unity candle of the ceremony. Look, it isn’t my thing nor is that sand in the jar or whatever. Although it did get me thinking about my family. And his. And this new thing we are doing. This new family we are forming.

All this is not to say that I still don’t call my mom on a bad day. Or text my sister with terrific news. Now it’s just my second call or text, not the first.

Except for the day we got engaged….that day they were my first call.