Monday, January 08, 2007

Pregnant Island

One thing I was totally unprepared for about being pregnant was how lonely it would feel. We moved from the Midwest to Southern California almost a year and a half ago, and I haven't made any friends at all. I had a gig for a bit as a nanny, and while I at least got to interact with another person during the day, she was only four months old, so our conversations were somewhat limited. Other than that, all my work has been done at home. I have a few acquaintances, people I know through my husband's job and chat with if I see them around town, but there is not a single person here I can call up and ask out for coffee. I have searched the Internet and the posted notices at coffeehouses to try and find groups I might join, but have had no luck. Having a baby on the way only limits my options further; it's not like I can open up our apartment for an all night booze-fest with the clean-faced Freshmen in my Sociology class. Nor would I want to if I could, I'm just not at the all-night booze-fest stage of my life anymore. It would just be nice to talk to another human being once in a while, that's all.

Even the human beings I do talk to, though phone calls back to friends and family, leave me feeling like I'm marooned on my own little island. My mom and sister have been polite and concerned when asking about my symptoms, and my mom laughs when I ranted about how tired I was of throwing up, but I often feel like they're checking my growth as an experiment-in-progress, with most of their focus on the end result. My childless friends, aside from some curiosity, don't want to hear me talk nonstop about my pregnancy (nor do I blame them for that). My few friends with kids either offer up their own tales of gestational woe or sit back with a smug "Yep, you'll have that" when I talk about some new symptom or sign. I get a lot of "well, you could have it a lot worse, my cousin's friend's sister puked for her entire pregnancy and lost 50 pounds and could only eat wildflowers from the slopes of the Andes..." I also pick up from one or two friends in particular a vibe of superiority, as though since they've had a kid or two they are now the ultimate expert on pregnancy and birth, and I should be grateful for their sage wisdom.

My friends with kids are pretty out of sync with our lofty first-time parenting ideals as well. I have a friend who absolutely can't fathom our plans to cloth diaper; I get the impression that she thinks we'll be doing some sort of irreparable harm to our baby by not buying bulk packages of Pampers and running with it. None of our childed friends can understand our dislike of ruffles and pastels and ducks and bunnies (and this is a lost cause as far as most of our family members - especially the grandmothers-to-be - are concerned. They just don't understand why we don't want everything in sight covered with baby animals and big, squishy-looking letters and huge bows) or our attempts to keep the "baby-looking" baby crap to a minimum. Limiting TV time? Fuhgeddaboutit. Many of my friends' kids knew what Elmo's favorite food was and all the words to the Spongebob Squarepants theme song before they took their first steps. I'm trying not to be critical of their choices, since I realize that in a year or two we could be viewing Elmo as our Lord and Savior and popping in that DVD at every opportunity. It would be nice, though, if even my best friend didn't make me feel like I was from Jupiter when I mention I don't want an epidural and I don't like baby toys with flashing lights and loud noises.

The Internet has been no saving grace, either. The message board I joined expecting to find camraderie and support has not quite panned out. The women there are busy talking about how they're decorating their nurseries and what they're all registering for and going on about the fabulous birthing centers inside their hospitals and how great their midwives are. I read it all but don't respond much, since I am sitting here not planning to do a room for the baby at all, with no plans to purchase furniture or register at The Den of Satan (otherwise known as Babies R Us) and an obstetrician I don't even feel very comfortable talking to. It sort of makes me depressed, because I look around my own situation and it's so very far from how I wanted all this to go.

It all makes me feel very alone, like I'm on some tiny desert island in the middle of a vast ocean. My husband Max is wonderful, he's been very excited and supportive and pays as much attention to me as he can, but it's not the same as having a trusted circle of friends to talk to. I just wish I could talk to somebody who was on the same page as me, somebody who likes modern baby things and is a bit unsure about this whole parenting gig. Somebody who isn't getting the ideal set of options but has figured out how to make the most of it. Somebody who isn't going to make me feel hopelessly uncool for not being a hipster or sit in smug judgement when I say I'm tired of throwing up and feeling exhausted. But I don't have that, and I can't figure out how to get it, short of cloning myself.

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