My Uterus is 45 Weeks Pregnant

…according to my OB’s tape measure. I’m only 37 weeks pregnant. So…

I dedicate this song to myself, just because of the last verse:

I, too, am losing my mind. I’ve retained so much water that my abdominal muscles are threatening to rupture.

For some reason, my mom finds that last video incredibly offensive.

I can’t even stand to do dishes anymore, because if my belly touches the counter it’s like a million electric needles being curb stomped into my skin by a sadistic acupuncturist. Speaking of doing dishes…haven’t done them in a week. My kitchen smells like:

My husband assures me that it’s just my supersonic sense of smell, and that nothing in our house smells that bad. Not even our own – actual – shit. I sense that he’s just trying to keep me (and thus, himself) from coming to this:

My fingers look like this (and I apologize in advance for this one):

And my calves and ankles have fused together into this:

If I make it to the 22nd, which is when I have my C section scheduled, I will have escaped pregnancy with at least one (very important) part of my body not annihilated by the process of doing this:

And, in case that wasn’t explicit enough, this is why I want the C section:

Couple of Things

First of all, online life, I’ve not forgotten about you.  I’ve not committed cyber suicide.  It’s just that real life, for once in its pansy-ass little way, has taken control for a bit.  I felt compelled this morning, though, after a fitful night of cats yowling and chewing on things they know they ought not to chew on, keeping me awake and generally irritating the piss out of me, heartburn on the scale of California wildfire, and concern over the fading vision in my left eye, to check in.

Yeah.  I’m not even going to go into it with the cats.  Let’s just say that my shit list, which is extensive and formidable, gained three names and had one underlined last night in dark, dark black ink.  Mike’s cat, I’m looking at you.  Also, to Bill, Wickett, and Lily, my dear furkids, you are all going to burn in kitty cat Hell for one year for every single cord you chewed last night.  I’m not sure what’s gotten into you all, but I’m about done with each of you.

I’m losing vision in my left eye.  Have been for the past two weeks.  Finally saw an Opthamologist yesterday, expecting to be told to man up and deal with the wavy, blurry water spot that has made reading and writing particularly troublesome and is now growing to distort faces and prevent me from driving.  Instead I was told “well, you’re not imagining it.”  I really thought it was just a side effect of all the swelling and water retention that my body has been engaging in lately.  I thought it would go away after delivery.  Turns out, I thought wrong.

Turns out, in fact, that at some point in my life I inhaled mold spores from dirt contaminated by the poop of either chickens, bats, or starlings.  I’m hoping it was bats, just because they are by far the coolest and actually aren’t even birds.  I’d even be okay with Starlings, because of their association with “The Silence of the Lambs” and the fact that they’re really quite pretty, although they make pests of themselves at the feeder.  But more than likely, as a child, I inhaled airborne moldy chicken poop, because I used to play in empty chicken pens as a kid.  Growing up on a farm.  Good times.

Well, it turns out that the infection you get as a result of inhaling the scat of fowl, called Histoplasmosis, actually causes nothing more than cold and flu-like symptoms and then basically goes away.  No big deal.  Oh, except for the fact that it leaves scars on one’s retinas that eventually, in an unlucky few of us (ahem…me), cause vision loss.  Awesome.

Add to that the fact that my pelvis threatens daily to snap under the weight of the twins – currently around six pounds each with five weeks to go – like the wishbone from a Thanksgiving turkey.  Remind me, sometime, to talk about the irony of using a piece of the meal eaten (in popular understanding) to celebrate what we have, in order to wish for more.  Yeah, America.  Awesome logic there…

I’m just about over being pregnant.  It was all fun and games up to this point, but now misery has set in like arthritis and I’m not a happy girl.  I get to go this morning – when I should be enjoying my morning nap, to be injected with a dye that will turn everything – including the whites of my eyes and my urine – canary yellow.  Then there’s going to be some more photos taken of my retina and a hard conversation will be had about whether I’d rather have my eye burned by a laser or injected with stem cells…Gone are the days when the toughest decision was whether I wanted white or chocolate milk with my chicken nuggets.  *sigh*

So that’s my life at this point.  I’m currently typing with my left eye snapped shut.  I’ve gotten good at doing most everything with it closed.  It’s very annoying, and a bummer to have vision loss at the age of 28.

Nesting, and the Lack Thereof

I need to address something. I’m going to sound horrible. I’m fairly certain that this post is going to be flagged by CPS and that everyone in the world is going to think that I’m a cold, frigid, ice queen of a woman. They will fear for the fetuses still protected from my indifference by the thick walls of my uterus. Were we in sixteenth century Germany, I would certainly be chased through the town with pitchforks and burned at one stake or another. Heaven knows those people wouldn’t be caught dead without a stake at the ready.

That being said: Nesting. It’s supposed to be an instinct. I may be a cynic, but I’m not a believer in the premise that humans actually have instincts. Not the way that animals have instincts. Not anymore. It basically comes down to an argument between nature and nurture and, while I understand that babies exhibit reflexive behaviors, I think that we begin to exhibit responses based on learning and experience from the early days of infancy.

So why does everyone still believe that humans have “instincts?” Why does everyone insist that I have a “mothering instinct?”

Oh, don’t worry, they’ll say.  You may not think you’ll know what to do, but your mothering instincts will kick in the moment you’re holding your little baby in your arms.  Now, I realize that I’m going to lose some support here in the next few sentences, but…um…bullshit.  That’s right.  I’m calling bullshit on the blind faith in the fact that some previously dormant neuron in my brain will activate immediately upon the expulsion of my children from my body.  Argument for human instinct has the same strength of premise as argument for the existence of “God.”

Uh oh.  Bye bye, believers.  I tend to chase them off fairly quickly.  But please understand that it’s not that I dislike people who believe in things like instinct and “God” and reiki and bigfoot and UOs.  Hell, I love thinking about all of those things.  And I get why people believe in them.  Trust me, skepticism is not for the weak-at-heart.  Accepting that uncertainty is the only certainty is like jumping in the ocean for a float wearing a chum suit and no life vest while your boat drifts away into the sunset.  It would make anyone a bit mad.  Shit, I’m sure it’s made me a bit mad.  But in the end, for me, it’s the saner option because at least I know that I don’t believe in anything falsely.

Okay.  Too philosophical.  Whether or not you believe in instinct is really the question here and, if you do, then you’re going to find this entire post flawed based on my initial premise that humans do not possess instincts.  So if you’re not on board at this point then there’s really no point to keep reading.  If you’re still hanging in there, then come with me one step farther down the rabbit hole.

So.  Yesterday, I posted a status update on Facebook that I had finally gotten off my ass and done some laundry, dishes, and started dinner.  The first response was from someone suggesting that I was “nesting.”  Ugh.  Gag.  I fucking hate that term to begin with.  I used to smoke Camel cigarettes and stay up all night watching slasher movies.  Okay?  I used to snort painkillers and hang out with felons.  Seriously.  I’m not bragging.  I’m saying that my lifestyle was not one that included washing and rewashing baby clothes because of some hardwired desire for my child to be born into perfection.  It was a bad lifestyle.  I’m glad I no longer live that way.  But the idea of me “nesting” is still one that I find abhorrent, no matter how reformed I’ve become.  It makes me feel icky.  I don’t want people thinking I’m that girl.

That girl.  Let me tell you about that girl.  That girl puts diapers on a stuffed monkey, dresses said primate in her unborn child’s infant clothing, then poses the poor creature in the crib and stroller and changing table, takes pictures, and posts them on Facebook.  Okay.  Now I love that girl.  That girl is a real girl who is on my friends list, and she’s a darling, sweet, kindhearted girl who has since had her child and no longer plays dress up with stuffed animals.  But that, folks, is nesting.  It’s absolute crazy sauce.  My day of tackling the laundry pile that prevents me from accessing my downstairs bathroom, my washing of Mount Dirty Dishes on the plains of Kitchen Counter, that is not nesting.

And I explained this to the person who suggested that it was.  No, I said, I was not nesting I was just trying to make up for the laziness that had preceded my actions.  I’d been up since six in the morning and had done fuck nothing since that time.  I had lounged on the sofa and watched Netflix and drunk of Seven Up and basically jerked my entire day right off.  Guilt was setting in.  My husband had been working eight hours and he still had two more to go and here I sat, in the only nest I knew anything about – a nest of pillows arranged strategically against one arm of my sofa.  Not cool.

But my protest fell like a piece of dandruff on a city street – unheard and unacknowledged.  More comments came in.  One from my best friend in the whole world, who just had her son about a month ago.  Another from the mother of the girl I said dressed a stuffed monkey and posed it like a newborn for Facebook pictures.  They insisted that I was nesting.  What’s more, they were completely ignoring the fact that I was telling them…I was telling them…DIRECTLY…that I was not nesting.  I was the subject of the conversation, and I was being completely ignored!

Do you know how frustrating it is to have someone tell you what’s going on in your own body and/or mind, while you’re standing right there, and just blatantly ignore what you’re telling them?  If a biologist wanted to study a particular fish…and that fish were capable of directly answering questions about its own biology and motivations…would the biologist simply say, “shut the fuck up, fish, I know you better than you know yourself?”  Perhaps.  Humans are haughty, and scientists can be some of the worst.  But what is it about having been pregnant that makes one an expert on everyone else’s pregnancy?  Just curious.  Because I’m really looking forward to becoming a more reliable resource on the next pregnant woman than the pregnant woman herself.  That’s going to be good times.  Telling her what she’s feeling and what she’s doing and why.  Yeah!  Knowing more about her than she knows about herself and completely dismissing her own feelings and beliefs on the situation.  I’m so, so on board for that, definitely.

Am I legitimately irritated or just being hormonal?  Please, tell me.  I know you know the answer better than me anyway. 😉

Update: Also, this.

Top Statements to Annoy a Pregnant Lady (And My Responses)

Okay.  The truth is that most people have only the best of intentions when they open their mouths.  Well…I think it’s relatively safe to assume that their intention is not to piss me off.  Usually.  Sometimes I have to wonder.  But it’s just so easy to do.  Especially with all the progesterone and estrogen coursing through my veins.  Sometimes I feel like an underweight model with a trucker-sized dose of crank pumping through her system.  Or…Dr. Bruce Banner when he turns green and smashes things.  I’m always so nice to people, even when my internal monologue sounds like Whitney Cummings on the stupid behaviors of men.  Which, by the way, is always.  The same as the amount of time she right.  And adorable.

<aside>I have a lady crush on Whitney Cummings</aside>

Anyway, I said to my husband the other day that, unlike my best friend, who is cute and friendly and so freakishly not ambivalent about being a mommy, I don’t seem to have a problem with strangers wanting to touch my belly.  Which I appreciate.  Please understand that I take great pleasure in the fact that I’m just scary-looking enough to discourage socially inappropriate invasions of my personal space bubble.  I’m glad I have an invisible force field around me.  Felt-but-not-seen social cues that seem to shout to others that “if you touch this woman you will burst into flames just before she opens her Leviathan mouth full of broken glass teeth and bites your head off like a flaming marshmallow on the end of a twig on a sweet, cool summer night.”  I like that people tend to want to keep a distance.

But it seems that the less comfortable people feel physically invading my bubble, the more compelled they feel to say things that reveal their disturbing lack of empathy.  Such as:

You’re having twins?  OH MY GOD!  You are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo lucky!

Okay, Corky.  Settle down.  Quit jumping and I’ll give you a biscuit.  First of all, I’m really glad that you’re so excited.  Have we met?  Because you seem really…inordinately…unabashedly…excited about the alien symbiotes currently attached to my uterus.  I generally don’t get that overwhelmed at the number of fetuses inside the person standing next to me beside the frozen pizzas.  So…since it means that much to you, here’s an invitation to the baby shower.  Where everyone who is invited is being socially pressured to bring a gift.  I’m registered at Amazon for the shit I can’t afford.  Otherwise, just bring diapers.  Because two babies means two digestive tracts means lots and lots of poop.  That’s what I hear when I hear “twins”.  Poop.  Just, you know, double the poop.  And screaming.  So…earmuffs…also appropriate.  If, you know, you’re giving them to me on top of a Sam’s Club sized box of diapers.  Nice to meet you!

Do you know what they are?

It’s most likely that they’re humans.  I mean, there was that one crazy night just before my wedding where I got caught up in some drunken debauchery with the local werewolf population but, you know, I’m pretty sure they’re human.  I mean, I haven’t had any heartburn, really, so I don’t think they’re extra hairy or anything.  Plus I’m not sure about the mechanics of inter-species breeding, but I’m pretty sure that can’t happen.  Except in Twilight.

Wouldn’t it be so great to have two girls?

Ummm…why is everyone obsessed with girls?  I mean, which conversation would you rather have with your twin teenagers?  The conversation where your daughter tells you she’s pregnant or the conversation where your son tells you he got your pickup truck stuck in a mud hole and now it won’t run without belching black smoke?  I mean, I know I’m idealizing here, but really.  Doesn’t having a boy seem so much easier?  Have you ever met a teenage girl?  I’m not even sure that my house is structurally sound enough to contain the toxic cloud of emotional energy that three women, two of whom will be under the age of twenty, are capable of creating.

They’re going to be best friends for life!

Holy shit, Miss Cleo.  Take it easy.  Hows about we go ahead and let them decide what their lives are going to be like without assuming that just because they shared a uterus for a few months they’re automatically required to be besties.  What is this pathological belief that everyone seems to have that twins are supposed to be abnormally obsessed with one another.  They’ve already had to share a uterus, so let’s let them be individuals when they finally get out here, okay?

They’re going to do EVERYTHING together!

Uh.  Yeah.  Or, you know, maybe they’ll develop healthy individual personalities and decide they’d like to live as separate people rather than psychologically-conjoined twins.  That’d be okay, too.  Like, maybe one will want to be in the band and the other will want to smoke Camels behind the bleachers.  That’s cool.  Maybe, you know, they’ll want to grow up and date separate people and have separate lives and not be shoved so far up one another’s ass that they can’t interact with the world except as one half of a really, intensely weird couple.  I’d be okay with that, too.  And, just to play devil’s advocate, let’s think of some things that everyone who is human does that we would hope they don’t do with their sister or brother…Hmmm…I certainly hope they don’t insist on finding a double stall in the bathroom so that they can poop together.  It’d be great if they developed healthy and separate masturbatory lives.  Probably I’d prefer them to pursue separate sex partners, too.  Just saying.  Catching pneumonia will be more easily dealt with if it’s one at a time.  Being a whole person, too, is generally easier without your wombmate attached to your hip.  So…there are benefits to individuating.

You’re going to have separate cribs?  That’s not healthy for them.

Really?  You raised twins who slept in separate cribs and grew up to be serial killers?  Let’s hop on over to Starbucks and you can tell me all about how to appropriately parent my children, oh sage of organic flour (can you tell I get most of my comments in the grocery store?)!  Did you get your PhD in psychology from the dreadlocked white man over there sampling the yogurt made from the milk of the white buffalo?

You know, there are just so many twin experts out there who are not parents of twins and are not even twins themselves.  It’s truly amazing how a person of one demographic can be so incredibly educated about the complex and intricate interpersonal relationships between people of another demographic without ever having had any close, personal experiences with them.  Tell me, how much would you charge to just come to my house and tell me all of the ways that my promoting individuality for my kids is damaging them psychologically?  I’m sure it’d be fairly affordable.  Compared to, you know, paying someone with a degree in Developmental Psychology for their advice.  After all, who needs all that fancy book-learnin’ anyway, when you’ve clearly mastered the subject by watching Montel Williams and The Today Show.

Twins?  But your belly is so small to have two in there!

Okay.  I’m willing to give this one some leniency.  Most people think that by telling a woman she looks small, they are paying her a compliment.  Normally, this is true.  But the fact is that, for women who were slightly big to start with, the excitement of having a discernible bump as opposed to, say, just looking like we have the world’s biggest muffin top, can be pretty delayed.  For instance, people didn’t start asking me out loud, in public, when I was due until I was seven months pregnant.  A skinny girl carrying twins would have been obviously pregnant much sooner than me, and her bump is likely to be much larger simply due to the fact that there is less of her.  Please understand that I have been hearing my whole life about how my body did not meet social expectations.  The fact that I’m “small” right now is just another way of saying that I’m not what you think I should be.  Which, apparently, is front heavy and walking like a sneetch.

Are they natural?

Are you a Nazi?  What kind of a question is that?  I know it’s just one of those things that rolls out of people’s mouths without a lot of forethought, but seriously.  Just stop and think about the phrasing for a moment.  Are they natural?  Well, they’re not synthetic.  They’re not fucking polyester.  <aside>Would it be wrong to name twin girls Polly and Esther just for the fun of seeing who got it?,</aside>  Furthermore, by asking whether they’re natural, you’re implying all sorts of things about fertility treatment.  Chiefly, that I had it.  And you’re expecting a response, which means that you feel somehow entitled to knowing whether or not my body was capable of producing children without medical intervention.  You want to know about my reproductive health.  I’m really not trying to be a prude here but, um, fuck off!  Whether I had fertility treatment or not is (A) none of your business and (B) irrelevant to the legitimacy of my pregnancy, not to mention that of the infants that it will eventually produce.

Better you than me!

You know what, given the trajectory of our conversation thus far, I think you’re absolutely right on that one.  😉

How are you going to afford it?

I don’t know, but thanks for reminding me of the fact that we are financially, uh, what’s the word?  Oh, yes…fucked.  Would you like a link to send a gift to my Paypal account?

Are you going to breast feed?  Won’t it be hard with two?

Okay, clearly you’re some kind of pervert or voyeur or something because you’re showing just way too much interest in what’s been in my uterus and what may or may not be coming out of my nipples.  Please back off.  You are giving me weird vibes.  If you see a mother with a single child around, say, the age of three in her shopping cart would you stop her and ask whether she breast fed that child?  You probably would because you’re clearly some kind of grocery shop creeper.  Seriously?  I feel violated just due to the content of our brief conversation.  And as far as the difficulty of breast feeding two babies, I’m sure you’re the type of person who, when asked by a child why god gave women two breasts, would argue that it’s so that she can nurse two babies whilst knitting a sweater with her toes and thinking hard about ways to make her husband feel even more superior.  That tight-ass bun on top of your head and your flesh-colored shoes say it all, lady.

Now, I realize that I’m being a little Angela here.  I really don’t care if other people want to talk about lactating all day long, every day, just meandering through the aisles talking about their colostrum and the color of the nipples.  That’s fine.  I’m totally on board for you being allowed to do that.  Go forth, and discuss your milky breasts.  But I come from a strict German family where the topics of what enters or leaves our bodies was strictly off limits.  It makes me uncomfortable, discussing things like this with my own mother.  Let alone you, who are a stranger.  Rest assured that my children will receive all of the nutrients they need from some source or another.  You need not check up on them.  If they are malnourished I’m sure that a doctor will let me know.  But as to revealing the source…no.  Just no.

Was it planned?

You have got to be kidding me.  In what universe are these questions appropriate ever?  In what universe does the fact that I’m pregnant give you some kind of social hall pass to just dig around in my personal life like a gopher in my fucking flower beds?  Know what my husband does with gophers who fuck with my flowers?  I’ll bet you can guess.  Now, there are two ways I can answer this question, and I can tell you that there four responses that my answers will get me.  Because all these people have are responses.  Nothing ever seems to shut them up.

1. “Yes, it was planned.”

The first response to this will be a sigh of relief, usually accompanied by a tossing back of the head, a hand placed stolidly over the heart, or some other outward sign of exasperated approval.  At least, these people will assure me, I’m prepared for it.  Um…I know you’ve never taken a Philosophy class but really?  Planning to have children necessarily prepares one for their arrival?  I know that in another nine months it’s going to be snowing outside and cold as a witch’s tit.  Does that make me immune to the shock of walking outside into it?  Yeah.  No.

The other response is a disapproving shake of the head and the admonition that, “I don’t understand why anyone would want to bring a child into a world where children are starving in Africa/the Middle East is in such an uproar/we have a black president, hyuk hyuk hyuk.”  Do I really need to waste a paragraph even dignifying these people with my response or will a cyber WTF face do?  =/

2. “No.”

For the love of all that is holy, don’t ever tell anyone – particularly an American rural woman over the age of forty – that you’re pregnant unexpectedly without planning to spend at least a half hour listening to her insist that you are irresponsible and deserve to starve in the street with your illegitimate litter.  They love the phrase, “all it takes is a little pill every day.”  Unless they’ve signed up as abstinence evangelists with their tight-ass pastors.  In that case you may as well just hand over your human dignity before they even get started and save yourself the discomfort of standing there listening to their hateful tirade as your ankles swell to hocks.

The other response is a pitying nod.  “Well, you’ll make the best of it.”  Yes.  Although I can’t seem to drag myself out of the pit of despair into which this pregnancy has thrown me, I will martyr myself for my children and I’ll muddle through somehow, until I finally send them out into the world and insist in nasty and persistent phone calls that they “do better than I did.”  When’s the last time your kid came home from college to visit, Mother Theresa?

You’re going to have your hands full/You’re never going to get any sleep.

You’re right.  I am/I’m not.  Would you like to accompany me to the checkout, where you can peer over my shoulder at the balance of my checkbook and make obvious and discouraging comments about how I’m probably going to wind up living in a box behind the grocery store before it’s all over with?

Who in your family had twins?

See, people love asking this because everyone has heard somewhere that twins tend to be genetic but they can never remember on which side of the family they tend to run or exactly how the whole thing works.  But they think it makes them look smart, asking it like this, because then I have to assume that they know something about genetics.  What they don’t realize is that (A) everyone knows that twins are genetic, just like you, and (B) also just like you, no one actually knows anything about how genetics works.  What people also don’t know about is my family history.  I have one great aunt on my mother’s side who had triplets and all three of them died.  Now, I didn’t know any of the triplets and I didn’t even know this aunt that well, so I don’t feel particularly close to them or their tragic story.  There are also twins on my father’s side that go back a lot of generations.  Know what used to happen to twins and other higher order multiples back in the day?  They died.  A lot.  So when people start pressing not just for my own reproductive medical information, but for that of my distant relatives, I just start talking about how Great Aunt Wilma (not really her name) had triplets that died or how Grand Dame Judy Blatch dropped a litter on the side of the road in Jersey City as soon as they stepped off the boat and that one of them is the real Jersey Devil and how the other eight had facial deformities and wound up in a side show.  This usually sends the snoopy stranger on an apparently very crucial quest for whatever is located at the opposite corner of the store.


There is always, always an Octomom comment.  First of all, I am not, nor have I ever, attempted to look, or wanted to do anything resembling attempting to look, like Skeletor Angelina Jolie.  Secondly, I am having two.  I am not having eight to add to the six that I already can’t afford.  Actually, after I deliver these two, I’ve got a little two for one deal going on where I’m getting my tubes tied the moment they vacate my abdomen so that I never, ever become like Octomom.  However, were I to find myself with eight little fetuses instead of two, would you be the type of uninformed twat who would condemn me for having six or seven of them selectively terminated?  Because the Octomom had that option and chose not to.  See, she did what she did, at least in part, because she bought into the twisted black-and-white inflexible thinking that abortion is always wrong no matter what, in every circumstance.  So before you go judging her for what she did, make sure you’re not judging her for what she didn’t do at the same time.

And you just lost all that weight!  =(

This generally comes from people who know me and are aware of the fact that I lost nearly one hundred pounds over the past two years or so.  I just ignore them.  They are people I speak to regularly, so they have passed the imbecile test.  Passing said test does not necessarily mean that they don’t say and do imbecilic things every now and then.  It just means that I find enough value in them as people that I am willing to overlook their occasional imbecilic behavior and comments.  It’s so much fun, though, to not say anything and watch them backpedal frantically, trying to let me know that they don’t think I’m fat and that they’d love me even if I were fat.

You should get a reality show.

First of all, it is my fervent belief that no one should get a reality show.  Ever.  For any reason whatsoever.  No one’s life is that interesting.  But if anyone’s were, it would be Octomom.  Not me.

Okay.  My back is hurting and I’m pretty sure that Juniper is kneeing me in the ribs because I’m working past lunch time.  There are more comments.  There are always more comments.  But these are some of the most common and the first to come to mind, so I’m sharing them.  And now I’m going to feed.

The Produce Section

Today, in the produce section, I was simultaneously praised for keeping my babies (although I never considered not keeping my babies) and verbally flogged for being different.  Yeah.  The produce section is hard fucking core.

I really want to share the story with you but first I need to set the stage.  My town.  My town is in Pennsylvania.  My town has a population of approximately 9,800.  We are above Pittsburgh, and the river that runs through my town meets another river in Pittsburgh to make the Ohio River.  My town is the seat of my county.  It is situated in the middle of a national forest.  My town is beautiful – starting just outside of town.  In town, however, there is an oil refinery, which is my next door neighbor.  My end of my town smells, depending on the temperature, weather, and day, like fish, rotten eggs, or the fires of Hell itself.  It’s really not that noticeable once you get used to it.  Just outside of my town is a dam.  The dam creates a lake.  Beneath the lake lies what used to be the Allegheny Reservation.  Six hundred members of the Seneca Tribe were forced to move from the land, onto which European Americans had forced them in the first place, by John F. Kennedy in 1961.  Also displaced by construction of the dam were two small villages and a hamlet.  These people were forced out of their homes so that the entire area could be flooded.  This happened six miles from my house.  The residents of my town are 98 percent white, according to the 2000 Census.  According to the same Census, the two largest age groups in my town are under 18 and 25 to 44.  Males tended to make a median income of 32,000 per year.  Women made a median income of 22,000.  The average family income was 41,000 per year.  That’s not a lot of money, folks, but it’s more than my family makes.  Also, keep in mind that nearly 11 percent of the population in 2000 was below the poverty line.

There are a few big names in town, and those names are attached to people with lots of money.  There are many, many dirty names in town.  Those names are attached to people with lots of arrests, drug problems or legacies of poverty.  If your name is famous in my town, either for money or lack thereof, it will influence how you are treated on a daily basis.  Everyone doesn’t know everyone in my town, but if everyone knows your name they’re going to assume they know you.  And if they know the rumors associated with you they’re going to assume they know the truth.

No one knows my name.  I like it that way.  Some people know some of my relatives’ names.  I try to keep anyone from finding out that we’re related.

The overall atmosphere of my town is one of thinly veiled xenophobia and conservatism.  People in my town are mainly white, mainly republican, mainly racist and mainly fans of silly things like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.  I speak not from blind judgment, but from experience.  I once brought a boyfriend home from college to celebrate a family event.  He was black.  I’m white.  As we walked into the hotel where we were staying, he received three separate threats – one of hanging, one of shooting and one of drowning.

So, stage set.  Let me give you a bit of character background.

I have tattoos.  They are visible.  My left lower arm, from the elbow down, is covered in tattoos.  My right arm has two on the back of my wrist.  My chest is covered.  None of my tattoos are suggestive, insulting, judgmental or otherwise untoward.  On my chest, above my heart, I wear a banner that says “Thanatos.”  On the other side of my collarbone I wear a banner that says “Eros.”  The rest of my artwork consists mainly of forties style birds, stars, nautical themes and some black shading.  I have my upper lip pierced with a small, clear diamond stud.  I wear black glasses.  My nails are clean.  My hair is clean.  I’m wearing a tee shirt, black 3/4 length sleeved sweater, and a pair of olive green canvas pants.  I smile at others.  I say “excuse me” and “thank you.”  I’m carrying a green reusable shopping bag.  I’m looking for a pint of strawberries that’s not turning black.

I’m approached by a woman with white curly hair.  I look over, say “hello.”  She gives me the once over and snorts.  She reaches in front of me and takes a pint of strawberries and starts to leave.  She turns around.

“How far along are you,” she asks, eyeballing my Sneetch belly.  I place my hand there.  She sees I’m not wearing a wedding ring.  Doesn’t realize that it’s only because my fingers are so swollen.  I tell her that I’m eight months.  “Well,” she says, rolling her cart to the other side of the produce rack and picking up a package of raisins, “at least you’re keeping it.”

“Them,” I say.  “I’m keeping them.”

“Twins?”  She touches her chest.  I hope she doesn’t have some sort of cardiac episode.  I really don’t need everyone looking at me as though I gave her some sort of bad mojo.  I nod.  “Lord have mercy,” she says.  My brows knit together.  It’s not intentional.  It’s just a natural reaction when I don’t understand the direction a conversation has taken.  “Hopefully you have a good family that can help you,” she says, shaking her head.

“I have lots of help,” I say.  I’m stunned.

She puts down a package of dried cranberries and looks right at me.  “You’re not going to be able to work,” she says.

“My husband works.”  Why am I telling her this?  Why do I feel the need to justify myself?  Why is my internal censor so incredibly functional?  There are so many things roiling in my head just clamoring to get out of my mouth that none of them can seem to find their footing.

“Oh you’re married,” she says, looking again at my naked ring finger.  I nod.  My brain screams at me, go look at peaches! Cereal!  You need milk!  Milk is at the other end of the store, for fuck’s sake!  Abort!  Abort!  Run!  I stand there.  My cheeks are hot.  “At least there’s that.”

And then she’s gone.  Just turns away and heads for the mushrooms, still shaking her head.  I finish my shopping and leave, suddenly aware again of the sideways glances and whispered remarks that I’d grown so accustomed to that I’d failed to notice for quite some time.  I notice, too, that the kid in front of me buying Mountain Dew and a bag of candy with his food stamp card isn’t of any interest to anyone.  I notice that the girl in bright pink pajama pants with a greasy ponytail, sores on her face, black teeth – a sign that she’s a skin picker when she’s smoking meth – draws no attention whatsoever.  I’m sad that I’ve become so used to being so blatantly judged that I stopped noticing it.  I’m sad, too, that it’s okay in this town to let oneself go, forfeiting any attempt at personal hygiene, but that having tattoos and a lip ring makes one a sideshow.

I’m sad that such a beautiful part of the country is plagued by such an ugly little town.


Finally met the doctor who’s supposed to be responsible for the delivery of my twins.  He had a golf vacation planned during the week that one woman I know went into labor, but that’s one time and I’m not holding it against him.  She still got a fabulous delivery from another doctor in the practice and the delivery was performed according to the plan they had set up, so all in all everything worked out.

He gave me no trouble about the C-section, unlike some of the preachy nurses who wanted to make sure I knew that “God has a way he likes these things done,” whatever the fuck that’s about.  Seriously…I’ve got some issues with God’s method as opposed to the knock-her-out-with-the-good-drugs-and-leave-her-vajay-intact method.  Just sayin’.  If my doctor feels that it’s safe to go surgical with it then I say do it up.  And he does feel that it’s safe.  He was more than willing to sign on for that as well as the tubal ligation that the super religious nurses seemed to have issues with.

First of all, the way to get me to not do something is not to tell me that God doesn’t want me to do it.  Then I’m just going to go do it extra hard, just to be a bitch.  I’m sorry, but in my opinion – unless a client has expressed a deep spirituality herself – it’s inappropriate for a medical professional to impose her own religious views on the poor creature.  And by “inappropriate” I mean, of course, “absolutely fucking unforgivable and possible grounds for termination from the practice of medicine altogether.”

Furthermore, what is it with everyone pushing women to have more children?  I understand that the procedure is permanent (if done properly).  That’s, you know, why I fucking want it.  I understand that it’s not a decision to make without careful thought and consideration but come on.  People are allowed to get married with less heckling from the peanut gallery.  Why is it so hard to believe that a woman approaching thirty, who is of sound mind and competent to say the very least might want to close up shop and put the old uterus out to pasture?  I mean, the one time it was called to action it wound up spitting out extra parts anyway, so…you know.  My husband and I are 50% above plan.  We know our limits financially and emotionally.  I was emphatically anti having kids before we got serious.  When we got serious I looked deep within myself and made the decision that one kid might not usher in the apocalypse.  Now we’re having two and I’m just saying let’s quit while we’re ahead.

Oh, but super evangelical nurse practitioner lady is probably the type of woman who would also argue against her right to make decisions about her own reproductive system.  I never understood that.  Legislating that some woman, at some point in time, might be allowed to have an abortion/tubal ligation/other serious work done on her undercarriage does not mean that every woman is required to do so.  Why would anyone with a uterus not want complete control over it?  I really, really don’t understand that.  No one is strapping you down and making you have a partial birth abortion, ladies.  No one is vacuuming your fetus out and doing weird science experiments on it if you don’t sign off on it.  So mind your business and let the women who know what they can and cannot handle make those decisions.

Okay.  I just got really angry at that nurse practitioner.  Let me just say that it was nice to finally talk to someone – someone with a penis, no less – who had no personal interest in forcing me to leave my tubes intact or destroy my love tunnel in the name of Life.  I’m giving that dude a mental fist bump right now.  Right on, brother.

Also, he hipped me to this dude.  He bought a woodcut that the guy did of La Llorona.  My OB is fucking harsh.  I love it.

Additionally, my sugar was good after only the 1 hour test, so I got to avoid the horrible three-hour test.  My blood pressure has gone up but is still well within normal range, so the elephantiasis of my feet and ankles really is just normal swelling – nothing to be done about it.  Damn it all.  I get another sonogram in two weeks so we’ll get to be very sure that I am, indeed, having two girls in two months (keep your fingers crossed that whatever they are they’re the same sex.  The longer we can put off thinking about a separate bedroom for one of them the better).  We’ll also get an idea on how much of this weight I’ve gained is baby.  I know it’s going to be very little, but still.  It would help to know that at least some of it really is their fault and not my poor excuses for emotional food choices.  So…good day.


My tooth hurts so bad.  So bad.  I can feel the root throbbing and the whole upper right side of my mouth is roused.  Even the bottom half, now and then, will twinge, irritated, like a downstairs neighbor subjected to a raging party one floor above.  I need a dentist.  I hate dentists.  When I’m not pregnant, I need Valium and the promise of gas – lots of gas – just to get in the front door.  The last time I had a root canal, I got Vicodin.  Can’t take Vicodin now, with two thirty-week-old fetuses depending on me to be an adult.  Can’t take Valium, either.  Can’t huff Nitrous Oxide.  Can’t get help, because the fetuses made me slow at work, so they fired me and cancelled my insurance that day.  Next morning, a brief call from a surly DPW worker who informed me that my husband’s $350 a week is too much for us to receive quite a bit of help.  She’ll put the application through, but we shouldn’t get our hopes up for much.  I need to bring proof of our very existence to them by the 22nd of March.  I have a prenatal appointment on the 16th.  Guess I’m not going to that.  Can’t ask the doctor about the tooth ache or the apparent sudden case of elephantiasis of my right foot and ankle.  My grandmother was morbidly obese.  My ankles and feet look like hers.  Soon, the skin will start to turn shiny and crack open.  Could be toxemia, according to WebMD.  I know you’re not supposed to diagnose yourself online but hey…I was right about that tumor two years ago.  I told my husband what it was and what they’d do about it before they told me.  Probably just a lucky guess, but still.

Maybe we’ll get some good news from unemployment this week.  Maybe I’ll get at least half of what I was making at work. So kind of them to classify it as a “layoff due to lack of work,” and not come right out and say that I’m fired due to pregnancy.  Don’t want to say that.  Pregnant bitches be crazy.  I might see fit to go and file some kind of lawsuit.  But that’s what this is.  They’re dropping their baby weight.  Doesn’t matter that my work record up until the pregnancy was so outstanding that it’s the reason they hired me full-time.  Doesn’t matter that they extended my probationary period without telling me.  The only protection a pregnant woman has in this state is whatever protection her employer feels like giving her.  Looks like they just wanted to keep me on as long as I was giving them more production than I was costing them in hospital bills.  Must be my trip to the hospital on the orders of my OB for three hours of fetal monitoring tipped the scales.  Must be I wasn’t worth the trouble anymore.

They day they did it – a Wednesday – they said they really liked me.  They invited me to reapply if I ever felt that I could meet the minimum standards of production.  I wondered whether the minimum standards included a few women pregnant with twins, to even out the average times.  I wondered why, from November to February, not a word was said about my production times (well, well below average, according to my boss).  I wondered whether anyone felt anything as I walked out to my car, completely uninsured and pregnant with two babies, about ten weeks from delivery if they cook as long as they’re supposed to.  I wondered whether the world was really this cold.

I wonder a lot.  Last night, for a couple of hours around two a.m., I got up out of bed and came down to the couch and wondered whether I’d made a mistake in marrying my husband.  Whether I’d ruined his life by associating with him.  Whether my school debt and my inability to keep a job and my complete uselessness were unfair to him.  I wondered whether it wouldn’t be better if I slid off the road in our unpaid-for Toyota, and slipped into the river, and froze.