Friday, June 26, 2009

Three weeks in America, part 2...

After a comically bungled trip home from NYC (PLEASE tell me somebody else out there accidentally went to New Jersey when they should've gone to JFK...What?...No?....No takers?), I walked through our front door on the Herengracht and landed in a heap on the couch, where I would basically stay for the next 24 hours.

I awoke in the morning - or at least it was morning somewhere in the world - to an email from my mom saying that, while I had been flying back to Amsterdam, Grandpa Bob had died due to a list of complications that, well, basically came from living almost a century.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but my first thoughts on the topic were not grief or sadness, but an overwhelming wave of frustration that I had just been in America 24 hours earlier (I even had a connection in Detroit, as a matter of fact...a mere 70-minute flight from Minneapolis). Going back in the next few days seemed a nearly insurmountable task.

And on top of it all, I felt miserable. Tired. Nauseous. Headachey. Sluggish.

In the fog of what turned out to be the next four days, between nibbling on crackers, sipping water, taking Pepto Bismol ("what IS this stomach bug, anyway?!"), endless naps on the couch, and making flight plans for my weekend trip back to America, I had a few passing thoughts to my dinner-time light bulb moment the night of the fashion show in NYC.

("Maartje...I think I might be pregnant.")

Of course, a logical person in this situation would've simply busted out a pregnancy test and come to the end of the mystery. But truly, I was in another world in those interim days. In fact, it wasn't until the day before I left for Minnesota that I told Dave what I thought might be up.

We talked about my taking the pregnancy test before boarding the plane, but somehow, that just seemed overwhelming to me...If I WASN'T pregnant, then what the heck was wrong with me and would I want to worry about it at the funeral. And if I WAS pregnant, I wouldn't want to leave Dave behind for the weekend.

But being perfectly honest, I was simply quite terrified. Terrified of what the answer was going to be.

Me? Pregnant? After so many years of trying NOT to get pregnant, this seemed unthinkable. Pregnancy happens to OTHER people. Not me. And, even though Dave and I stopped birth control six months earlier, a part of me was holding my breath, happy to allow fate to determine whether we would become parents.

And yet, I have met so many women who have desperately wanted to become pregnant and couldn' could I not be grateful and excited if the answer was "yes"?

I am hoping that I will be granted the good fortune to live long enough and to have the kind of relationship with my daughter-to-be that I can tell her about this, woman to woman. Some women - many around me, in fact - were born mothers. And they knew it. They walked glowingly into motherhood, accepting with seeming ease the sacrifices required, not giving a second thought to the what-might-have-beens.

I, on the other hand, had hemmed and hawed and stewed and processed and prayed and all sorts of things, trying to discern if I was mother material or not. When it came time to pull the goalie last April, I made the wager that I probably wouldn't be a TERRIBLE mother...and for anything that I lacked, the greatness of my husband as a father would more than make up for it.

And now, there I was. Faced with a reality, not a hypothetical. And I kind-of just didn't want to know.

I landed in Minnesota, feeling queasy and cold, navigating the two feet of snow that had just fallen before I landed. As ever, I had a wonderful time with my parents the first night, staying up late talking about life, love, music, religion, politics. The usual for us.

As we were all heading off to bed, I gingerly approached the topic of motherhood with my mom, all the while giving myself a mental image of me as a child, hands clasped behind my back, staring at the floor, lightly kicking a pebble with my toe...all while talking about something deeply important to me. I unpacked as I talked, trying to make the whole topic seem more distant than it was. She probably had no idea how intently I was listening.

With great conviction, this is what she said:

"Someday, if you and Dave decide to become parents, you will be great at it. You will work as a team and give that child a loving, creative, disciplined, adventurous home life. You've done many wonderful things in a lifetime, Lynn, but this would top them all. You will be just fine."

Before bed, with new courage, I dug the pregnancy test out of my suitcase and set it out on the bedside table. Tomorrow morning. I'll face this tomorrow morning.

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