Thursday, August 05, 2004

Part Six: On Being Pregnant

Monday morning, May 1st, 2000, while visiting my mom in Albuquerque, I found out I was pregnant. Since this was my tenth pregnancy, I called my doctor immediately; she called in a prescription of Progesterone for me, which I began taking immediately. Within 12 hours of the first pill, I was suffering from what some women jokingly call “Progesterone Poisoning”. It wasn’t funny. I was violently ill—and I do not use that term lightly. The violence with which this fetus was attacking my body was no laughing matter. My doctor, being the good woman she is, called me twice a day in New Mexico to check on me. When she heard how sick I was, on her orders, I quit taking the pills immediately, but the sickness did not stop.

On May 5th, Eric and I left New Mexico. We had the hottest, driest, longest drive ever back to Northern California—it was utterly uneventful, except for the one night we spent in Laughlin. Because it was Cinco de Mayo, every hotel in town was booked, so we ended up at a complete dive on the outskirts of town. I still couldn’t hold food down very well and I think it was beginning to get to Eric. He was lying on the bed on his stomach, feet to the head of the bed, watching “Talk Soup” and I fell asleep cross-wise on the bed with my head on the small of his back. When I woke up, he had gone. There was a note telling me he was too hot to sleep so he went out for a walk. Something didn’t seem right.

I got into a cool bath, and he returned to the room about 20 minutes later. Obviously very blue; he clearly had something on his mind. I thought it was Kat. In the morning as we started the last leg of our trip home, he told me that he thought we ought to stop sleeping together. It was much too confusing for him and he really needed to get his head in order. Besides, he pointed out, if he was going to be the “favorite uncle” to this kid, then John and I ought to really start acting like a married couple again. I was sad, but I did understand. So that was that.

We got home on Saturday night, May 6th. John and Ferne had flown to New Orleans for a jazz festival (no wonder they weren’t answering the phone!) and left a note indicating they would return Monday the 8th. Jessica hadn’t left a note, but when we went looking for her, we realized she had moved out while we were gone. Without a word of goodbye, our long-term roommate had just left. As it turned out, she did give word to John, he just neglected to share it with me. Without the possibility of nookie, what were we supposed to do alone together for the next 2 days? Eric knew—his solution was not to be alone. He left that night; headed down to his parent’s house in San Jose. I was crushed, in a high-school girl sort of way.

This isn’t taking us anywhere. I’m going to jump ahead a bit because nothing good or happy will come of reliving the next six weeks. That’s how long Eric’s resolve lasted. Six weeks. Then one night when John’s kids were up for the summer, he asked if I wanted to drive out to the beach with him. I said sure ‘cause we still hung out together all the time. We ended up on a cliff at Bodega Bay overlooking the water—I’m pretty sure we committed a felony there, but no one saw us and I was just elated to have all of Eric back in my world again. Afterwards, while lying on the rock & looking at the stars, I asked what made him change his mind. He said he loved me too much to stop. Then he said, “I’ll keep on doing this as long as it’s fun.” I should have heard that, but I didn’t.

About two weeks later, I told John the baby wasn’t his. I could NOT believe he didn’t know. I mean, he’s a smart guy, and I know he can do simple math. He went on the most intense, histrionic rant I’ve ever seen. Rather than be moved by his drama show, I was utterly disgusted. He had not slept in my bed since April. Even when Eric and I were “off” for that month and a half. How dare he get self-righteous and sanctimonious on me?! God I was pissed. I told Eric he wasn’t going to be a “favorite Uncle”, he could either be the dad or nothing at all. He chose fatherhood. One of the few choices in his life where I’m confident he didn’t choose wrong.

It was becoming clear to me by this point that I was not in a marriage anymore. The open thing worked out just fine until we each fell in love with other people, then it was just like any other failing union: sad, lonely, a little angry, and hard to extricate ourselves from. I had to leave, but I didn’t know how or where to go. At about the same time, my sister Kate got sick. We didn’t know what was wrong, but we feared she had lung cancer. It was so heart-wrenchingly awful. I spent many nights alternately vomiting my dinner and then running back to the phone to talk to her some more. I was just coming to the end of my 1st trimester and I had lost 10 pounds. Every time I got sick, Ferne would glare at me, then John would ask if there wasn’t a way perhaps I could be a little more quiet because it was really upsetting to “the household” to hear me all the time. (Excuse me? What the fuck did you just say to me?!) So nights when Eric wasn’t around, I holed myself up in my bedroom with the phone.

Kate and I talked about everything. We’ve always talked about everything, but this time it carried more weight. She was afraid not so much of dying, but that her children would grow up and not remember who she was. She was afraid that I would never leave John (she so desperately wanted me out of that situation) and she would never get to see me smile or hear me laugh again. “Aimee, you used to laugh all the time! Now you hardly ever even smile. I just want you to leave that poisonous house.” She was the one voice of reason in my world right then.

I apologize for all the asides, but there are some things that are just background information. Things I need to say, but they don’t have a specific place in the story. One of those things is that my job was, by this point, really starting to falter. My boss and I didn’t get along at all and he was begging for a misstep so he could fire me. Eric worked as a temp, so his employment was tenuous. Ferne hadn’t found a job yet (I’m not sure she was even looking), and John didn’t work. Yeah, let’s not talk about that. No comments from the peanut gallery—it was an arrangement we made long before and I can only own up to so many mistakes at one time. Bottom line: I was supporting the family and I was treading on thin ice. Didn’t help calm my stomach any, if you know what I mean.


After 9-1/2 years of renting the same house, our landlord sold it right out from under us with no warning. We scrambled and eventually found another house that would suit our needs. It was better than that, actually. We lived in a small cul-de-sac in one of only two rentals on the whole street. The house across the street, the only other rental, was an exact copy of ours. It came available at exactly the right time, so on the July 4th weekend, we all moved across the street! John, Ferne, Eric, John’s kids and I all moved 9 and ½ years worth of stuff in ONE DAY! It’s not easy to move; it’s even harder to move when it’s hot and you’re pregnant and sick.

Even after the first trimester, the nausea never got better. It actually got worse. I was taking a veritable medicine chest of pills every day to help me keep it under control. At one point, the team of doctors from the “high risk” clinic in San Francisco had me on the same anti-nausea meds they give to cancer patients undergoing chemo. I also had gestational diabetes, discovered (quite by accident) in my seventh week of pregnancy (rather than in the normal 28th week), so I had to test my blood sugar four times a day and I had to have insulin injections twice a day. Also (yeah, I know), fairly early on, my doctor and her team FINALLY, at LONG last, discovered the root of my fertility issues—I have something called “Antiphospholipid Syndrome”. In a nutshell, it means my blood clots too fast. The blood clots would get into the placenta and choke it off. My body was killing my babies. So in addition to the finger-sticks and insulin shots, I also had to take two daily injections of Lovenox, a blood thinner.

Let me further digress to tell you about blood thinners. Have you ever donated blood? You know how there’s the slight sting as they insert the needle? Well that’s because the needle is coated in a blood thinner so your blood will continue to flow during the donation process, and it stings. I mean it stings like a WASP. 30ccs of blood thinner twice a day left some pretty freaking tremendous bruises on my belly (I had to give myself the injections on my belly, above my pubic bone). I was purple, black & blue for months.

Yeah, so there I was, the human pin-cushion, walking vomit-factory, trying to move. Ugh. On the plus side, at the same time as the move, Eric and I were planning a trip to Mendocino County for my birthday, 2 weeks away. It was nice to have that to look forward to.