The news

Brian saw me before I saw him, as I rode the escalator down to Bradley Int'l's baggage claim. He smiled and waved, and I grinned wide enough to split my face, afraid I'd be giving away the big news before I even disembarked from the escalator.

He pulled me into a big hug and we stayed wrapped around each other for long seconds, pulled away to look at each other, and then embraced again.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi, honey,” I replied. “Maybe we should get out of the escalator traffic.”

We stepped over to the baggage claim area and hugged again.

“What's my gift?” he asked.

“Give me your hand.”

He extended his left palm. I placed it low and flat across my belly and looked into his eyes, which shone.

“Really?” he asked.

I nodded.

“I'm going to be a daddy?”

I nodded again.

“Oh my God.

“I know,” I replied.

It is interesting to note that, although he took the news of impending fatherhood very calmly and happily, the mention of the fact that he must now quit smoking sent him into a near panic attack.

March forth, indeed

I'm somewhere over Lake Erie, an hour away from Hartford, 75 minutes from telling Brian that he's going to be a daddy. Whew.

I think if I had to learn of my pregnancy anywhere outside of Northampton, it's good that I was at Anne's, for many reasons. One, she had Duncan three months ago today, so whe's a vast wealth of information. Two, she loaned me her pregnancy books. Three, she gifted me with new, bigger, clothes. I told Brian about that on the phone last night.

“Anne bought me new clothes!”

“Tell her she shouldn't do that,” he said. “She has a new baby.”

“True dat, but she told me it made her happy, and by God, if buying me new clothes makes Anne happy, I'm not going to stand in her way.”

Plus, with the amount I've been eating, by next Monday I'll have outgrown everything in my closet. Food cravings so far have included pineapple, avocados, and Mexican food — though the last probably stems from the fact that in Massachusetts there is no Mexican food, so I'm getting it while it's hot (and spicy, as it were).

Oh God, please help the pilot land safely so I can share the big news with My Darling Husband. Our one-year wedding anniversary is next week; too bad the gift designation is paper, and not pee stick or dead rabbit.

*Severely* Yellow Wallpaper

Anne wasn't feeling well this morning so Marc woke me at 7 am to see if I'd be on “Duncan Duty.” I watched him from that point until 2 in the afternoon, at which point I realized that if I didn't get out of the house, I would go severely Yellow Wallpaper on our asses. It was a joy to get out to Starbucks, where Anne was meeting her Mommy group. I took Duncan with me and went out for a Mexican food lunch. He started to fuss, so I picked him up and we toured around the restaurant. There was a fake firepit on the bar — a big mortar base with a light and fan in it, which blew the yellow and red cellophane in the air. We both stared at it, quietly fascinated. When I finished my meal, the server brought me a dessert for which she did not charge me. There's a bit of racket in this motherhood thing, I'm learning.

My phone conversations with Brian keep getting shorter, and I'm maintaining strict radio silence with everyone else. I figure it's only fair for my husband to be the first to know. Well, first to know after myself, Anne, Duncan, and Marc.

A, B, C, D, D#, E, F… G???????

Speaking of too heavy to lift, I'm tremendously sore in the boobage area. Anne and I went bra shopping today and it turns out, it's no freaking wonder — my cup size is now a mere half step from being off the musical scale. The trainee salesgirl looked at me and I heard her think to herself, “I am NEVER having children.”

One of the ladies at our Seascape weekend retreat wore a waterbra. I'm thinking of buying one myself — so I can freeze it before strapping it on.

Here We Go…

The plan was, I'd go to Seascape to surprise the Summer Home Park ladies during their winter retreat, then fly to Oregon to visit Anne and Marc and help with their nearly 3-month-old, Duncan. I bought my airline tickets three weeks prior and assured Monstro that I'd miss him.

“At least I'll be on my period the week I'm away, so it's not like we'd be having sex anyway,” I offered as a consolation. We kissed goodbye at Bradley Int'l Airport and I flew to San Jose, rented a car, and drove to the Cats, my home-away-from-home BBQ/bar/roadhouse/former bordello at the base of the Santa Cruz mountains. My MFA friends were all late, so I followed Julie and John to their house once they arrived and got settled in their guest room, soon to be the baby's room. Their baby is due in 20 days and Julie looks amazing — all of her weight was baby.

“I started charting my temperature a couple of days ago,” I told them. Julie assured me it was a powerful weapon, which made me smile.

I spent the night there and drove to Seascape, a resort on the Pacific coast between Santa Cruz and Monterey, the next morning. Only the organizers knew I was coming, and when Mom saw me she dropped her fork, stood, said, “You little brat,” and gave me a hug. What a great surprise!

I had a few drinks that night, especially after Yvonne announced that “any newlyweds not drinking will be assumed to be pregnant.”

No period yet.

The other two newlyweds tied one on to the point that J. was sick all the next morning, and H, upon awakening, was still drunk. I went for a walk with the ladies, had a Mexican food (oh, Mexican food, how I miss the lack of you in Massachusetts) lunch with Mom, headed out for a couple of drinks at the bar with Auntie Mignon and a now-sober H, but had no drinks that night and got into bed around midnight after a late-nite dip in the hot tub and some ladies' Texas hold-'em.

No period yet.

Packed up the next morning (Sunday), scrounged the leftover food to take to Sherry Ann's, played Taboo until 1:00, kissed Mom goodbye and drove to Capitola. Sherry's place has an amazing view of the ocean, and we smoked Camel Lights and watched the Oscar red-carpet specials, swtiching between Star Jones and Joan&Melissa. Talked her friend Joanie off the balcony after we determined that Sherry's dish didn't get network TV, called Dish Network to subscribe to the Oscars, and got ABC right as Chris Rock was finishing his opening monologue.

“Sherry Ann,” I asked, “what if I'm pregnant?”

“Do you have any symptoms?”

“When do those start?”

“The minute after you find out you're pregnant.”

“Do you think it would be OK to drink a beer?”

“Oh sure,” she said. “One beer at the 14-day mark is good for the baby.” So I did. And I slept on couch cushions on the floor, and when I woke up I thought I smelled dog barf. It was too dark to see my temperature on the digital thermometer, but I took it anyway.

Still no period.

“Still no period,” I told Sherry Ann when she came out for a cigarette.

“How late are you?”

“Three days.”

“How do you feel?” she asked.

“I feel the overwhelming desire to pee on a stick,” I replied.

One Stripe No, Two Stripes Yes

Monday morning already. I quelched the desire to pee on a stick, disassembled my couch-cushion bed, and drove over my beloved Highway 17 to my beloved alma mater, San Jose State University. I headed straight to Faculty Offices, home of the English and Humanities professors, and made my presence known. Wrote a check for the Harvey Birenbaum scholarship fund, and caught Ed Sams as he returned from teaching.

“Lynn!” he called. We hugged, and upon pulling away he looked into my face. “You look… in the pink.” Ed always could make me blush — it's that Southern gentlemanness about him.

I met Steve and Sue for lunch at La Victoria, and Ellen made a surprise appearance, too. I ate a super burrito and drank three huge watermelon aguas frescas. Steve took the best picture of me that's been recorded since my wedding, and he even managed to hide all the burrito spots on my shirt.

When Steve got up to clear the table, I leaned in conspiritorially to the other ladies and confessed, “I might be bringing a surprise home to Brian.”

They became quiet.

“A baby?” Sue asked, hushed.

I nodded.

In the same hushed voice, Ellen asked, “Is it Brian's?”

We broke up laughing. “Of course!” I spurted.

Steve returned to the table with a “what's so funny” look on his face. I clued him in. “I'm four days late.” He met the news with a big, “Wow!”

Steve, Sue, and I walked back to my rental car. Steve's youngest son is about to graduate high school. “It's funny…” he said, “you're starting the kid journey just as I'm finishing it.”

“Well, I don't know for certain…” I replied.

“It'll happen,” he said.

We all hugged goodbye and I drove to the San Jose International Airport, where I returned my rental car and hopped the shuttle to the terminal. After a mulit-hour delay, I arrived in Portland, where Anne met me once I'd received my luggage. She'd been my matron of honor at my wedding, and I hadn't seen her since her MFA graduation the previous spring. I missed her entire pregnancy and was itching to hold her new little boy.

“I can't explain how much love you feel for one little person,” she told me on our way to her car. “It's just amazing. I think you have to have a baby to understand it.”

“Well, I might be closer than you think,” I admitted. “I'm many days late and have been fighting the urge to pee on a stick all day.

Anne, always a woman of action, determined that orningwe must go to RiteAid before even going home. Brian had worked at the drug store in Chico for years, so it seemed the proper choice.

“Where are they?” I asked as we walked through the automatic glass door.

“In the pharmacy, under the condoms.”

“How convenient,” I replied. “Which kind should I get?”

“If you're a few days late, it shouldn't matter, but this is the one I used,” Anne said, pulling a blue First Response box off the shelf.

“It must be good luck then,” I said. We paid and left.

Duncan was asleep when we arrived, swaddled in his swingy chair, a cassette tape of a vaccuum cleaner blaring next to him.

“The white noise helps calm him down,” Marc said. We hung around talking for a couple of hours. Finally, Anne said, “are you going to keep me in suspense?”

I smiled. “I think I'll do it first thing in the morning. Otherwise, either way I'll lose sleep.” She grudgingly agreed.

Still no period. I selected The Lovely Bones from the bookcase in the living room and went downstairs to read and sleep.

The next morning I awoke at quarter to six, dying to pee but refraining until I'd taken my temperature. It was 97.7, the same as it had been since I started charting the week before. I hippity-hopped to the bathroom, tore open a test strip, made certain to pee on the correct end for the requisite five seconds. I put the cap back on the stick to limit the ick factor and looked at the directions: One stripe no, two stripes yes.

No sooner had I finished reading the directions than the second stripe blazed through, clear as a Massachusetts day after the snow.

I went back to bed, read, and shook until Anne came in with Duncan more than an hour later.

“Coooongratulations!” she cried.

“Thank you! Leave it to you to scope the test stick before I could even tell you,” I said.

“Well, you left it in plain sight,” she said.

“Only because it was too heavy to lift,” I admitted.