In late September of 2005, Pynchon and I had just discovered my pregnancy. It's a funny story, actually: we had weekend guests and were planning to cook a nice dinner for them after a trip to the local farmers market. It was all a question of wine. Pynchon and I were trying to get pregnant, and so there was a possibility that I might have conceived but of course a possibility that I hadn't. If not, my period would be arriving momentarily most likely right after I had teetotalled through the party, and rather than deny myself an evening of wine with our friends, I thought I would take a pregnancy test to settle the question. Yes, that's right, I peed on the little stick that Saturday morning in order to confirm that I was not pregnant, so that I could drink with impunity that night.
You can therefore imagine my surprise when the little line turned pink.
I had convinced myself that I wasn't pregnant. I had no symptoms! I didn't have 'a feeling'. I wasn't glowing, or barfing, or shrieking, or tired. Pynchon's first reaction, too, bordered on disbelief. "Are you sure?" he asked. "Let me see the test." Even the test seemed ambiguous: shouldn't that little line be darker? More pronounced? We both stared at the little pink line, the only tangible evidence of this ostensible pregnancy. Indeed, I kept that pee-stick on my bedside table for the next several weeks. It just did not seem probable or even possible that I had gone from not-pregnant, to pregnant, after one fateful early-morning, concentrated-hormone pee. (I do understand that it's the not the peeing that made me pregnant. I'm just trying to capture a mood here ...)
The saying 'that's like being a little bit pregnant' is a joking way of indicating that the addressee is shading grey a question that admits only of black and white: you either are, or you aren't, is the implication. The next week, Pynchon and I headed out to the local Prenatal Health Fair after work. I wandered around the sea of big bellies feeling like a fraud. Everyone was round and glowing, or had little babies in tow. Women were wearing maternity clothes and sweating like crazy while their partners carried the heavy things. By contrast, I was shivering in my regular old clothes, a tight blouse and some low-riders, definitely not of this tribe surrounding me. I hardly felt we had the right to be there. As we slowed past one booth, on prenatal nutrition, its attendant called out, "Are you pregnant?" and I could only just force out a weak "Well, I'm a just a little bit pregnant." She laughed right in my face: "No such thing, honey! You either are or you aren't."
But a little bit pregnant is what I was, and I only came to throw out the pregnancy test stick once my breasts became incredibly sore--and then, whenever I wasn't feeling quite pregnant enough for my liking, I would surreptitiously give them a squeeze to make sure they were still sore. I wanted more and more symptoms, to be more reassuringly, actually, pregnant. To be a real member of the club, with a kicking fetus and swollen ankles and a swaying walk. As the pregnancy progressed I felt more and more comfortable with the state even as I felt less and less comfortable physically. I came to appreciate the degrees of pregnancy.
I'm thinking about this now not because I'm a little bit pregnant again (dear God! No! Not yet!) but because I'm a little bit pregnant still.
After Miss Baby was born, I was surprised to become unpregnant in the same way that I had become pregnant: by degrees and gradually. There was the matter of the poochy, still-inflated uterus that only shrank slowly back to its regular size; the pregnancy weight; the sore boobs; the hormone swings; the swelling. I have been surprised at just how long the linea nigra has lasted, this hormonal inscription of pregnancy on my belly, still here lo these seven months later. The gradual de-pregnancy has been, in a way, comforting: I don't know that I was quite ready to part with who I was when pregnant, or quite ready to be who I was to become as a mother. Obviously, I would have like to drop the whole 50 pounds immediately, and not just the baby-plus-placenta. And the swollen feet were not something I really relished enough to desire the continuance of. But still. If I'm honest, I have to say I am still letting go of my pregnant self as the traces of pregnancy on my body fade at about the same pace.
What has really prompted this reflection, though, is that I'm still a little bit pregnant in the sense that I. CAN'T. TAKE. ANY. DRUGS. FOR. THIS. GODDAMNED. HEAD. COLD. because I'm still breastfeeding.