Nine Months of Full Moons

I just finished the first season of “Being Human”, a terrific BBC supernatural drama about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf who live together in a flat. It sounds a little silly, and I’m not sure how those pitch meetings went, but the show really works. It’s funny and heartbreaking all at once with a delightful bit of gore thrown in. I knew I was sold when an episode opened with a voice over about the process of changing into a werewolf, and the excruciating physical toll it takes on afflicted.

“He should be dead within 30 seconds. The werewolf heart is about two-thirds the size of a human’s. But in order to shrink, first it has to stop. In other words, he has a heart attack. All of the internal organs are smaller, so while he’s having his heart attack, he’s having liver and kidney failure too. If he stops screaming it’s not because the pain has dulled, his throat, gullet and vocal chords are tearing and reforming. He literally can’t make a sound. By now the pituitary gland should be working overtime, flooding his body with endorphins to ease some of the pain, but that too has shut down. Anyone else would have died of shock long ago. But it won’t kill him and that’s the thing I find most remarkable. It drags him through the fire and keeps him alive and even conscious to endure every second…An impossible lethal curse spread by tooth and claw, victim begets victim begets victim. It’s so cruel, it’s…perfect.”

It probably seems like pregnant ladies think that every situation applies to them and maybe that’s true. But I do think, at least for me, that the werewolf metaphor quite perfectly parallels pregnancy and childbirth. I haven’t gone through childbirth yet, but I’ve talked to people and seen some videos. It really seems like something that should kill you. It doesn’t. It tears you apart temporarily and then you are fine. During pregnancy, the growing fetus pushes all of your other organs out of the way to make room for itself. Last week in birth class, our teacher showed us illustrations at various intervals of gestation. By the final month, you can hardly see the intestines, as they are smashed up against the stomach. It’s a wonder you poop at all in the third trimester. But that’s not where the similarities end.

*WE CAN SMELL OUR OWN. OK, so maybe it’s obvious to everybody when someone is knocked up. But get a couple of pregnant ladies together and let the bitch-fest begin. They are so relieved to be able to talk about what’s happening to them with someone who really understands.

*YOU REALLY CAN’T UNDERSTAND UNLESS YOU ARE ONE. Sure, there are things that everybody knows about being pregnant. We have weird cravings, we’re moody and only a silver bullet can kill us. But there are also things that happen to us that people don’t talk about. Gross things. Bloody, awful, ugly things. We don’t talk about it because if we did, no one would ever let themselves be turned.

*THERE’S AN ANIMAL INSIDE ME. And that animal is hormones. It’s like the worst PMS I’ve ever experienced but it’s not going to go away in a couple of days. One second, I’m fine, and the next I’m crying because Tim Gunn said something supportive to a contestant on Project Runway or I’ve got a DVD due back and I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Or maybe my husband said the wrong thing or did something I perceived as inconsiderate and I freak out because this is the man I chose to father my child and how will he be good a father if he can’t even find me green tea ice cream at the grocery store. The worst part is that I KNOW I’m being awful and unreasonable but I can’t do a damned thing about it. The monster is in control, not me.

*I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER MY OWN BODY. At least werewolves only have to deal with this shit once a month. For the bun-bakers, it’s every day for what seems like FOREVER. I can stick to my work out regimen or even ramp it up (I’ve been doing the latter. It’s the only way I can let off steam.) but I’ll still feel like I’ve never been more out of shape. That’s because all the blood in my body is being re-routed to my uterus. The result is that even though I’m used to physical activity, just carrying a bag of groceries into the house can put me out of breath. My joints are loosening to prepare for childbirth, so there’s a lot of cracking and popping going on. I’ve lost interest in some of my favorite foods. Others make me physically ill. I’ve become fixated on cereal. It’s the only thing I get excited about anymore. I have weird, disturbing dreams. I’ve started cleaning obsessively. I forget things that never would have slipped my mind before. I don’t even know myself anymore.

*I HAVE AN INSATIABLE HUNGER. I need to eat. A lot. Constantly. And if I don’t get to eat, for whatever reason, the beasty gets angry. God help anyone who gets in the way of me and my mid-afternoon snack.

I don’t know who has it easier. Us or the werewolves. But these days, I definitely feel a kinship to those furry bastards.

An Insignificant Day

Today is my birthday, but I’m not doing anything to celebrate it. Instead, I’m working and then going to a birth class which begins and ends at precisely the right times to prevent me from going out to dinner anywhere. It’s OK though, as going out to dinner is the only thing I would have wanted to do anyway. As a result of my “condition”, I can’t drink and I get tired early. So mostly, I’m OK with this non-birthday. I’m 31 which isn’t all that significant, as far as birthdays go. Besides, I have made plans to go out to dinner on Friday and then see a Misfits cover band and an Operation Ivy cover band. But part of me is a little sad. It’s the first birthday in 16 years that I will spend completely sober. That makes me sound a bit like a drunk but it’s not really like that. It’s just that drinking is something my friends and I do. I’ve been doing OK with the not drinking. But at my husband’s birthday part on Sunday, abstaining was the hardest it’s ever been. Not in a shaky, alcoholic way. There is no way I’m going to cave and drink a bottle of Cook’s. I know what’s at stake and I’m not willing to do that under any circumstances. But it was hard from a mental standpoint. In a nutshell, being pregnant is the ultimate buzz kill.

For a while, I was having a great time with everyone and then, at some point in the evening, their amusing, jovial lubrication turned into total obliteration. There were a few people who weren’t completely hammered. But most people were. It was the nature of the day. It became difficult to talk to them. It became work. I felt like an asshole because I understood where they were coming from. I’ve been there. But I was also pretty annoyed and kind of wanted to just go to bed. I didn’t though. I rode it out because it was my husband’s birthday party and I wanted him to have a good time. I apologize to anyone if I came off as a raging bitch in the process.

Today is my birthday and I’m doing nothing fun or frivolous. Everything I do today is out of responsibility and duty. It will be a very adult day. I never did like the idea of becoming an adult. Of course, it’s mostly unavoidable. The alternatives are either death or Peter Pan-ism. I chose adulthood. I will instead remember last year’s birthday fondly. I was in a band. We played a battle of bands right here in my house. We won and I’m convinced that our votes were not pity votes. It was a great time. I will also remember that I can have great times again. Maybe not exactly like that. I don’t want my kid’s earliest memories of me being how smashed mommy was. But KIND of like that because my friends are awesome and will always be awesome and we will find other ways to party with babes in arms. But not this year…