The first thing to decide was who to tell.
Thankfully, The Bean and I both agreed: the less people that knew, the better. It’s hard enough to make tough decisions without the clamoring voices of your family spitting out a waterfall of loving advice.
Besides, if I knew that if I were to miscarry I would want to deal with my grief in private. There are many ways to describe a large, loving Mexican family. “Private” is definitely not one of them.
The Bean had mentioned to his parents that he had been seeing someone but hadn’t really gone into much detail. With the news of our pregnancy, we decided that it might be nice to give them a chance to meet me before they found out they were going to have a grandchild.
Besides, I wanted them to be able to give an honest opinion to the Bean in case they hated me. I figured that if they knew I was pregnant they would never be able to do that.
As for my side of the family… well, I hadn’t even told my mom that I was seeing anybody. While I had dragged the Bean with me to their house one evening for dinner, it had been done under the guise of friendship. I knew that she would never guess that we were dating because of one simple fact: The Bean is shorter than me.
Okay, maybe it’s not that bad.
Its only about 2 or so inches, but the height difference is still there. I’m tall for a woman (5’9 for my American readers, and 175 centimeters for all you weird people who don’t base your units of measurement on the smelly foot of a deceased British king). My mom, on the other hand, is 5’2″ (157 cm). I don’t think it even crossed her mind I would date someone who wasn’t at least as tall as me.
Height has never interested me when choosing a guy. I’m more interested in the size of their big, sexy brains. Still, I knew that The Bean wouldn’t even cross my mother’s radar. He was short. Of course he was just a friend!
The next day, while The Bean arranged the whole “Hey, you should come down and meet my new girlfriend” visit, I went over to my mom’s house to start the process of breaking the news that I was pregnant. I mean, you can’t just go drop a bomb like that. You have to start slooowly.
After the din of the yelping ratdogs announcing my arrival quieted down, I grabbed a basket of laundry and started nervously folding. “So, how’ve you been?”
“Busy. Here, Becky, give me a corner of the sheet, I’ll help. Hey, are you busy at the end of the month? I need a hand taking people out on the boat and your stepdad is busy.”
“Huh? Sure. No problem,” I said absently. “So, guess what?” I said in my most enthusiastic and totally not-pregnant voice.
“I don’t think I’ve told you,” (Ha-ha. We both knew I hadn’t told her), “but I’m kind of seeing someone.”
My mom dropped her corner of the sheet and honed in on me. “Seeing someone? What? Who? When? How long? Who is it?”
“Oh, remember The Bean? You met him, remember?”
I watched her reach back into the recesses of her memory. “No…. No I don’t think I have.”
“Yes you did, remember? I brought him by here for dinner one night? He’s the guy who sells cars and likes to sail?”
It took awhile. “Wait. The short guy?”
“He’s not that short,” I said defensively. “Yeah. Him. He’s really nice. I like him.” Enough to make babies with him. Speaking of babies, I literally have one in my uterus. Right now. Your grandchild is about 2 feet in front of you.
She picked the sheet back up, folding it slowly. “So, you like him?” I could see her searching for the right words. “He’s, uh, nice?”
“Really nice. He’s got a great sense of humor, and he’s so comfortable to be with.”
“Oh. That’s nice.” She continued folding, disapproval radiating off of her in waves. Her youngest daughter broke up with the good-looking, well-off, 6’2″ Christian boyfriend to start hanging with a short car salesman she knew nothing about?
Still, I have to give her points for trying to filter her feelings.
“So, this, uh, Bean…. It’s going well? How long has it been?”
Long enough to get knocked up. “Oh, a bit. Couple of months.” That sounded respectable, right? “And it’s going great!” I tried for that enthusiastic tone again. I mean, if I was going to break the news in a couple of weeks I had to build a firm foundation, right?
“Really.” Fold, fold, fold. “So, do you really think it’s going to go somewhere? I mean, is this serious? Do you think you could see yourself with this guy for the rest of your life?” She fixed her eyes on me again, eyebrows raised.
“Well, yes, actually. I dunno, I just have this gut instinct that this might be a pretty long-term relationship.”
That wasn’t a lie, right? I mean, your gut and your uterus are pretty close together, right?
The rest of the afternoon went off without anything serious happening. I hugged her goodbye, bending down to kiss her cheek. I drove home and met up with The Bean to compare notes. So far, so good!
The next morning I woke up and did my best to feel pregnant. Aside from being constantly sleepy I had no outward signs of pregnancy. I called up my sister to gloat, pleased that I had somehow managed to escape the whole morning sickness thing. She asked me how far along I was. When I told her 5 weeks, she laughed at me and told me to quit jinxing myself.
That evening I went out and bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I curled up on the couch, reading it in fascination as the delicious scent of my neighbor’s cooking floated gently into my windows. Mmmmm! One of these days I was going to have to go downstairs and become friends with my neighbor. He always made what smelled like the most delicious meals! What was tonight’s? Teriyaki chicken? MMMMmMm!
The next morning I woke up and tried to feel pregnant again. Nope. I still felt like plain ol‘ me. I worked a long day shift at the bar, and came home in exhaustion. Curling up on my ancient, creaky Murphy bed, I wrinkled my nose. Tonight my neighbor seemed to be experimenting with his food. What was that smell? Curry? Onion? Oh well.
The next morning I woke up and felt vaguely queasy. Yaay! I really was pregnant! Cool! It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I went through my day, vaguely aware of a low-lying state of nausea, but that was about it.
Until I came home that night and discovered that my downstairs neighbor had apparently cooked up sweaty feet for dinner.
Gagging, I bolted for the toilet, hugging it for about an hour. I never managed to throw up. I just hovered riiiiight on the edge. You know that feeling you get when you are about to throw up? The one that happens as you lift the toilet seat, lean over, and prepare to make a call on the porcelain telephone?
A cold chill runs up your spine, and every single hair on your arms and legs stands up as if you’re trying to frighten away a predator. Your mouth suddenly becomes very full of spit, and your forehead beads up with a hot, nervous sweat.
Yeah, that feeling.
For the record, from that morning on I felt like that. All day. All night. I even dreamed about vomit. For 8 weeks straight, I lived right on that edge of puking.
The only respite I got was if I actually managed to throw up. If I threw up (and how I looked forward to actually throwing up!) then I would have about 15 minutes of feeling “alright”. I’m convinced that the pregnancy glow people talk about is really just a farce. It’s just that you’re so used to seeing the woman tinged green during the first trimester that when she regains a bit of normalcy she looks FANTASTIC!
I tried everything. I tried sea bands, ginger pills, crackers, ginger ale, 7-up, wrist-pressure techniques, ice cubes, nibbling, starving, drinking, standing on my head…. I TRIED EVERYTHING. If I constantly nibbled (NEVER STOPPING, AND NEVER ALLOWING MY STOMACH TO GET EVEN REMOTELY EMPTY), chewed ice, wore my sea bands, and sipped 7-Up then I could keep the puking down to about 2 times a day. (Nausea plagued me all the way through my pregnancy, but it was only that first trimester that was unlivable.)
I grew to hate my stupid, ugly, downstairs, constantly-cooking neighbor. I mean, I REALLY hated my neighbor. As far as I could tell, every night he boiled gym socks and horse pee for dinner. The Bean assures me that wasn’t the case, but I think he’s lying. I know what I smelled.
It was about 2 weeks into this hell that I realized I had promised my mother I would help her go sailing. I also knew that she would immediately know that I was pregnant if I threw up. I’ve never had a history of nausea out on the water, and you can’t beat the intuition of a mother, specifically my mother.
Armed with sea bands, crackers, and a whole bunch of nervous prayer, I drove my way down to the docks….