I don’t know why I do the things I do.
The other day, I had to take my car in for a routine service/oil change. The dealership is across town, in the exact neighborhood where Doug’s cousin Angel, currently very pregnant, lives. So the day before we were heading up to take my car, I got it in my head that I was going to ask Angel to meet us for breakfast.
“She’d probably really like that,” Doug said when I asked him what he thought of the idea.
So I invited her.
There ended up being five of us: Angel’s husband, Rob, came along, and so did my mom, who usually accompanies me to my car’s services. And it felt like a totally normal meal. We all tasted each other’s entree choices, joked around about various relatives, talked about work. Sure, the impending baby came up too (had we expected to ignore the elephant in the room?), but even that topic felt like part of a normal conversation amongst friends.
The only thing I noticed in myself with regards to Angel, was a slight sadness when I saw how meticulous her eye makeup was, how much effort she puts into dressing nicely – even just for an early doctor’s appointment followed by a diner breakfast. It made me think of how, soon, she won’t have the time or energy to prioritize her own appearance like that, or at least, if it was me with a baby, I wouldn’t bother. Then again, I can hardly convince myself to dress up now.
I got an email from Angel the following day, thanking me again for inviting her, expressing both excitement at my wanting to see her before Christmas (the baby’s due December 1st, and Christmas had been our original agreement), and confusion at my sudden change of heart. And above all, she wanted to make sure she hadn’t made me uncomfortable.
And like I said, sometimes I don’t know why I do the things that I do.
Maybe it was those girls with the hot chocolate last week, forcing me to realize that, attached to the big pregnant belly is the same person I liked before she became a human incubator. Maybe I’m more accepting of very pregnant women than women who are pregnant but don’t look it, or women who look like they could be pregnant but it’s really hard to say for sure. (I think of these latter examples as time bombs, or spies, or something.) Maybe it was just that I was having a good day and thought, “Why the hell not?” Maybe my anxiety about offending pregnant women and ruining my friendships with them is beginning to override my anxiety surrounding pregnancy itself.
I think the most important thing here is to remember that my pregnant friends are still the friends they were before they got pregnant. (It’s not until after they have the babies that they become all weird and maternal and unavailable, right?) I never had girl cousins; I grew up only with brothers and boy cousins, and so learned to play with boys or be outcasted. The existence of my-age girl cousins has been one of the biggest indirect perks of my relationship with Doug, and for that – for the way they’ve accepted me and chosen to treat me as one of their own – I am grateful. The least I can do, as part of the family, is to stop being weird and go have breakfast.
But it feels like it might be a little bigger than that. Like maybe I can handle this after all. Because I also want to make plans to hang out with my pregnant choir friend outside of choir – because I still want to quit choir, for the right reasons, but would miss her if I did. I am also actively praying for Hillary to get pregnant, so that I can see what it feels like to have a normal reaction to this kind of news – what it feels like to be happy and excited from the get-go, instead of taking nine months to talk myself into it.
On the other hand, I still don’t want anyone else to get pregnant. And I still didn’t know what to say to the girl who came through my line yesterday, bought a small bouquet of flowers, and asked me, “If you’d just had a baby, would you like these?”
One step at a time, I guess.