Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Due Date

I've spent nine months focusing on this one date, repeating it like a mantra to curious folks, reveling in its specialness and symmetry. To have a baby born on Leap Day! The last day of the month, just like me! Even better, the most unique last day of the month! Wow!

So here I am on this cloudy afternoon, fielding phone calls and eating angel food cake, swollen with fluid and a squirming baby, feeling downright emotionally fragile. Leap Day has never been so anti-climatic.

My midwife Roseanne was wearing her scrubs today, just in case. "I'm ready!" she called out to me when I arrived for my weekly appointment. And when I responded "Me too!" I realized that for the first time, I actually mean it.

I wasn't ready this past weekend, when we were scrubbing the floors and reorganizing the kitchen cabinets and hosting a little Oscar-watching pizza party. Nor was I ready on Monday, when we filed for new drivers' licenses as Taylors and went down to San Francisco to see a fantastic Leslie Hall concert :) And nope, I wasn't even ready yesterday, a wintry Tuesday filled with laundry and roasted Brussel sprouts, birthing videos and tears.

Today I'm ready.

And, apparently, so is everyone else. Never before have I felt so loved... just as I've been writing this, two packages and a book have appeared on the porch. Even our mailman sent a card that he stamped and delivered himself. But as the texts and calls and birthing beads keep rolling in, I feel more and more pressure to deliver the little bundle of proverbial joy that everyone is so lovingly celebrating. And I've never been good at letting people down.

So I guess there's nothing left to do but surrender. As Roseanne pointed out, could be tonight, could be March 13...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Embracing My Curl

I'd spent a lifetime trying to tame my curls, rushing from air-conditioned house to car to school in an attempt to escape the vicious Louisiana humidity. In high school I'd wash my bangs in the bathroom sink between classes, using the hand-dryer to scorch and tame my frizzy fly-aways. In college I let it grow long and unruly, a metaphorical undoing, a wild mass that, when wet, froze solid in the winter.

By the time I moved out to California for grad school, I'd all but given up on my hair, usually sweeping it back into some kind of functional ponytail or bun. And then I met Jay.

It was all thanks to my Indian friend Manish (who sometimes flew to NYC for a haircut, I kid you not) who offered to bring me along to Di Pietro Todd, a salon he'd found in SF. When I moaned about my thick, wavy hair, Jay looked incredulous.

"You just haven't learned how to embrace your curls!" he said as he sheared and layered. By the time he was finished, a luxurious hour later, I felt like I'd been given a new head of hair. In reality, I'd been given a hair artist.

That was 8 years ago, when we were both 25, both just beginning our west coast lives. For almost a decade now (unbelievable!) we've seen each other grow into our professions and our relationships. He's now so established that he doesn't accept any new clients. Last fall, we got married within a month of each other.

Though he works at a red velvet and champagne salon brimming with privileged people who can't talk enough about "product," Jay affects no pretension whatsoever. He respects the fact that I can only afford to see him twice a year, and gives me cuts designed to grow out well. He remembers details about my life (teaching, traveling, that one dread-headed boyfriend) and knows how much I love seeing the floor fill up with my excess locks. He never tries to sell me $25 conditioner.

I had an appointment this past Wednesday morning, exactly 2 weeks before my due date. I hadn't seen Jay since May, before I was pregnant. He took one look at me and said: "Wow, you could pop at any moment!" and "We must have cut it all off last time you were here!" Both true.

For the next hour we talked about babies, placentas, parenthood, and my thicker-than-ever pregnancy hair while he snipped it into something refreshingly new. He suggested we leave my bangs longer, the easier to pin them back, more mommy-friendly. "And next time you come in," he said, "bring the baby. You can even breastfeed while I cut your hair. I don't mind."