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JB says I wasn't completely honest when I mentioned we had seen some bears on our vacation over the 4th. According to him I left out the fact that I sort of screamed like a, let's see, "giant sissy wimp" when we saw the first bear. To set the story straight, I admit I may have involuntarily gasped a little, but to my credit, the above photo is an accurate representation of said wildlife encounter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hey. I have a question for you. This is kind of awkward, so...um, yeah. So, AHEM, so....uhh, do I - do I smell?

I mean, I shouldn't. Smell bad, that is. I take a shower every day. I moisturize with the delicious and surprisingly calorie-free coconut Body Butter. I spritz a non-offensive amount of Opium perfume down my d'ecolletage before I leave the house in the morning. I wear deodorant, even.

Or - maybe I'm covered in warts? You can tell me, am I warty? I don't see any warts, but maybe they're, I don't know, really hard to notice unless you're looking right at me? Do I have bad breath? I swear to god I brush my teeth 3 times a day including tongue and I own a Sonicare AND I also chew sort of a shitload of gum but...or, wait, is it my hair? Listen, I TRY, people, I use a flatiron and everything but my hair is just freakshowy, it's totally curly underneath and flat on the outside and pregnancy is making it grow all crazy-fast and -


Okay, here's the deal. No one wants to sit next to me on the bus, and it's freaking me out.

It's not like I long for people to sit next to me or anything, but I keep noticing that as my bus hits stop after stop and fills with passengers, I am almost always the very last person with an empty seat. And while I may be gaining more density than Pluto, I'm not, like, spilling over my allotted space or anything.

People sit next to the weird old man who mumbles furiously into his overcoat. People sit next to the gum-popping teenager broadcasting her cell phone conversation at top volume. People sit next to the guy who deliberately leaves his laptop case on the seat next to him and only grudgingly moves it when asked. They sit next to ME when there are literally no other options, and it is GIVING ME A GIANT COMPLEX.

Do you remember that old Far Side cartoon that showed a puffer fish, a rattlesnake, an arched-back cat, and a guy with a boot on his head, a pool floaty toy around his midsection, and wearing a bazooka, and the caption says something like "How nature says "Do Not Touch"? Somehow, I am like that guy, aren't I?

I don't know what it is, really. I guess I'll just be thankful for my roomy seat...and maybe switch to a mintier gum.


JB and I went to our first "general childbirth preparation" class last night. The confirmation letter for the class instructed us to bring two pillows and a blanket, which caused me some last minute panic as I galloped around the house trying to find two matching, non-drool-stained pillowcases and a blanket not matted with an inch-thick layer of dog hair.

It started out kind of goofy; we had to pin on these big circles of construction paper with our names and due dates written on them, then go around the room and introduce ourselves by citing a positive aspect of our pregnancy thus far, and a negative. All the positives were pretty much the same: excitement, anticipation, etc, and most people listed something small as a negative or said there were none. When it came to JB's turn, he spoke beautifully about the joy of participating in a miracle together, and I was very proud of my eloquent husband. Then he said, "As for the negative - well, my wife she has the jimmy leg at night."

The instructor freaked me out a little by announcing that she hoped we would all forge meaningful friendships with each other, because that, she felt, was the most useful outcome of these types of classes. "You all have something in common!" she trilled, and I fervently prayed she wasn't going to set up some kind of speed dating bosom buddy activity because I was there to learn about coping with labor, thanks very much, not to become shanghaied into some Survivor-style last-picked-in-PE class deathmarch friendship building exercise, and I already felt like Jimmy Leg Girl: Bus Pariah.

She did split us into two groups, but it was just to collectively write "what we had heard" about the birth process, including our fears. PAIN was the first word our group wrote down, and then I found myself saying "Poop!" in a surprisingly loud voice. "Poop?" asked one of the husbands. "Poop," his wife said grimly, and so that was our second word: POOP.

"It had to be you, didn't it," JB hissed reproachfully. "It haaaaaad to be you." "What?" I said. "It is a legitimate fear of mine."

So we talked about poop (pooping = totally okay during labor! the nice nurses whisk it away very fast! your husband should not later remind you of the length/girth/volume of your poop if that happens!), we talked about early labor signs, we talked about what the uterus does during contractions (with an illustrative knitted uterus prop, even), and then the instructor informed us that a fully dilated cervix was the exact size of our paper circle nametags.

Everyone in the room went silent and stared at their chests in horror. The term "10 centimeters" does not pack nearly the visual punch as those brightly colored circles of paper did, I'll tell you that for free.

We then watched an ancient video that focused on various sweaty, miserable looking women in labor accompanied by a syrupy voiceover saying things like "She trusts her body, she has the wisdom to cope, she gains strength from her partner", before the requisite camera closeup of a Dali-esque Monster Vagina slowly expelling a vernix-slimed, gore-streaked newborn.

As the lights came back on, the instructor smiled brightly. "Well!" she said. "Any questions so far?" The room was quiet, everyone seemingly lost in thought. Finally, a sole hand raised in the air - a woman from the front row wearing a fashionable maternity top and glittering, dangling earrings. "What," she said tremblingly, "exactly WAS that...goo all over the baby?"


Finally, we wrapped things up by breaking out the pillows and blankets and stretching out on the floor while the instructor talked us through some relaxation methods. Next time, I plan to wear a different bra, because it is seriously impossible to relax when you lie on your side in front of twenty people and your giant pregnant boobs fall out of their underwire constraints and threaten to make a startling, blue-veined appearance out of the top of your shirt. I'm just saying.

As everyone filed out of the classroom on their way out to their cars, I couldn't help but notice that a large group of third-trimester women looks an awful lot like a scene from this movie. We all waddled along the hall towards the exit...until, that is, a sign reading "RESTROOMS" came into view, and lo, cries of relief were heard all along the hallowed halls of Bellevue Community College's North Campus.

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