I am 37 weeks this week, which means I am full term and the baby could arrive anytime. Well, the baby could have arrived anytime before, but now he’s fully cooked in there and I have the womb eviction papers filed in case he wants to take his sweet time and not come out until November.
As much as I love this child, I have fallen out of love with pregnancy. There’s no Mother Earth womb-moon-haiku writing or singing about the miracle of life. The water drums are packed up, the burning sage leaves extinguished. Every shirt feels like a whale-bone corset. I don’t need a wall-length mirror, I need a wall-width one or all I’ll be able to see is my cavernous belly button.
We went to the Old Country Buffet for dinner this weekend and it hurt just to ferry my plate over to the mirrored aisles of potato slices and steak cuts. And I saw myself in the mirror, my large concave shape brushing against the metal rows and waxed the Eliot poem, “This is how the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimpering, ‘THiS PLATE OF HAM IS TOO HEAVY!” Too pregnant to eat at a buffet? Well isn’t that like raaain on your wedding day? A free riiiide when you’ve already paid?
Alanis Morrisette irony checks aside, I was miffed when I had to shell out $74 for two nursing gown and robe sets because my mother insisted that it have to be NEW and that it was essential for my hospital stay. She was going to pay for it but we were at the mall and Nathan wanted to run free in the playground. Since I had so little say in the process anyway, I figured I should pick out what I would be wearing lest my mother offer me some billowy number with a glittery phrase like “CAT DREAMS!” emblazoned across the chest or jumping cows with swollen udders bedazzled all over. And I would have to thank her profusely for such a thoughtful selection.
I don’t know if it’s just my Chamorro culture as a whole or if it’s a quirk of my one Chamorro mother but if you said, “Why don’t you just talk to her about it?” I would laugh because communication? In my family? Like normal mother-daughter relationships? I don’t think you understand where I come from. We are not the Gilmore Girls. We operate on passive-aggressiveness, hearsay and speculation. Anything more upfront than that, like saying, “I don’t think newborns need mittens” or “I don’t like pajamas with cats all over” or “I am too tired to drive to the mall, I just want to finish this episode of Real Housewives of New York City IN PEACE” smacks of disrespect, of talking back to your elders even when they’re wrong, or especially when they’re wrong. Especially when $74 could bring me so much further at a thrift store and pay for exponentially more admissions to buffets (when it doesn’t hurt to make the dessert rounds).
Because of these cultural resistance-is-futile confines, I enable my mom by living every day like it’s Opposite Day. “I’m so glad we went to seven stores today! I love to look!” I don’t love to look. I have looked enough. I can use my imagination. I can use the Internet. But my mother? She needs to be in the store, scanning shelves or rifling through racks. And who am I to judge a woman who just wants to have an experience, a generous woman who lives on a tiny island and when launched into the consumerist mecca that is the area mall, is fully enveloped in her mercantile delights. And maybe that’s what I’ll remind myself during these pre-baby shopping runs when she returns to the bench where I’ve plopped aching body down, when she shows me the floral short sleeve blouse she bought at JC Penney’s or the pretzel she ordered “without butter,” that these obstacles are fleeting and the real thing, the real reason why she is here is going to make his appearance any time now.