The appointment took about twenty-five minutes and she never looked at or touched my stomach. There wasn't time or opportunity to discuss the creeping depression I've been feeling, or how concerned I am about my life changing, or my fear that I won't be able to handle it all. I mean, technically there was. She did ask how I was feeling, but we were going along at such a clip, I couldn't imagine what would happen if I bogged things down with my actual thoughts. She did say she had several patients who stayed on antidepressants through their pregnancies with no side effects whatsoever. That was helpful, considering I've been gnashing my teeth to stubs every night worrying about the implications of taking them: Am I going to burn in hell or give my kid epilepsy? She also said, somewhere in between the questions about my family's health history and the exam, that she's looking forward to delivering my baby. And that she hopes I won't do something silly, like have a home birth.
After the prenatal, I indulged in my bimonthly luxury of getting my eyebrows and toes done. Just as I was lying down, Yelena, who has been in charge of my eyebrows for the last three years, asked how old I am and if I am planning to have children. I hesitated just a second too long, trying to figure out how to answer, and she said, You're pregnant! And I said, Yes, and she said, I knew it! And then we both laughed and I told her how nauseated and tired and freaked out I am, and she told me about her clients who come in to the salon the day before their due date to get a Brazilian bikini wax. Apparently, they want to look good for the doctors. By the time I left, my toes were a lovely lilac and I was laughing my head off.
The mood swings are so intense. I woke up at four in the morning and scribbled this on the back of a paper bag:
I am eight weeks pregnant and terrified. Each morning I wake up filled with a peculiar blend of dread and longing. Who am I, and what the hell is happening to me? Already I eat uncontrollably, craving foods I classified as off-limits years ago: huge balls of mozzarella, thick steaks dripping with blood, slice after slice of eggplant. After only eight weeks, my breasts are painful to the touch, my small nipples now engorged to twice their normal size and dark as blackberries. I cannot drive to the store without having to slow the car to twenty in a fifty-mile per-hour zone, without pulling over at a gas station to let the ocean of nausea subside. To make matters worse, I can no longer get into my favorite pair of jeans, and my hard-won good posture, the result of hundreds of Alexander Technique lessons, seems frightfully on the sway. And oh yeah, forget about planes, which I have to board every other week to give lectures, readings, and writing workshops. Just the words "jet" and "fuel" send me running for the toilet.