#yesallwomen know which of their husbands' friends would make a great replacement should something unfortunate happen

#yesallwomen have asked a boyfriend, husband, brother, or other trusted man to watch her bag for a minute only to return and see that handbag unattended and the now completely untrustworthy man nowhere to be found

#yesallwomen have a phone voice that is at least an octave higher than her regular talking-to-friends voice

teach your daughters that Starbucks-Starbucks and airport Starbucks ARE NOT THE SAME THING #yesallwomen

#yesallwomen know what bitchy eyebrows look like

#yesallwomen do bitchy eyebrows when they read the words "bitchy eyebrows"

when people ask me who my role model is I say Hillary Clinton so everyone will know I'm a feminist. But my role model is really George Clooney. He just looks so good in sweaters. #yesallwomen

#yesallwomen describe their personal style as effortless but #yesallwomen make an effort

One of my friends had a really insightful comment after she read my last post on this subject - #yesallmothersofsons.


I was honestly surprised to see that so many of my behaviors are universal -- like dialing 9-1- on my cell phone or holding my keys in pre-stabbing position. Until this weekend, I'd thought I was just an oversensitive weeny. So, while I totally see what you're saying about #YesAllWomen's lack of an action plan, I sort of wonder if this is part of step 2 -- communicating with a larger group of women in a non-threatening way. I, of course, don't see a million-man march on the horizon, but I sort of wonder if bringing a critical mass of women into the conversation isn't enough, in and of itself, to make a difference. 

Nailed it. 

She started me thinking about how many women share experiences that are terrifying, enraging, humiliating, or anxious, and how #yesallwomen has brought those women together under the umbrella of respectful sharing. 

But women share other things. 

We share funny, exasperating, eye-rolling, joyful, bizarre experiences too. 

I started noticing when I was walking on that common ground - women would get this, I'd think as I heard my voice pitch up when answering a call from an unknown number. I thought it was funny. I started writing down #yesallwomen jokes. And immediately wondered if it was super-offensive (rather than just dancing-with-the-devil hurts-because-it's-true offensive.)

The danger in satirizing a social movement is of course the chance of cheapening that movement -particularly #yesallwomen, which aims to shine a light on the subversion of female power. Could someone read my joke, and feel that I'm playing into the "women's issues are so cute" belittling-of-women construct that we've been trying so hard for at least a week now to tear down?

I really hope not. A lot of women have made themselves vulnerable on social media, telling stories of assault and abuse, making public the kinds of humiliations that never stop burning. Those women deserve respect and honor for speaking up, not to become the butt of a trying-to-be-funny blogger's joke.

That's not what I'm trying to do. 

I'm saying, hey, we have every right to be scared and angry, and it's important that the world understand why 50% of its inhabitants live in fear and anger. Why we have had to grow strong enough to get through each day under sneaky, intimate attack - the kinds of interactions that we walk away from thinking, I feel really bad about what just happened, but I'm not even sure why...

I'm ALSO saying I believe women are strong enough to laugh at ourselves. We're strong enough to air it out when we're silly, sneaky, or petty. And that common ground that's so pockmarked and pot-holed with peril also, from time to time, bears a bloom or two. 

That's all I'm saying. 
toenails = toe caps

as in:

"mommy... pink... toe... caps?"
best friends know when you get together for pizza and someone says "should we get a salad?" the answer is "if we're asking, the answer is no."

When you get together for dinner and someone says "should we get cocktails?" the answer is, "if we're asking, the answer is yes."
"holy crap... it looks like someone put a dollhouse in your belly. There are, like, CORNERS."
My birth daydream:

Katie is sitting on the couch with her feet up, in a stylish set of pajamas. She's sipping a cold glass of sparkling lemonade and reading a book about serenity. Ryan sits next to her, reading a book about manliness. Chicken sleeps peacefully in his room, the sound of rain sweeping him away to sweet dreams of dolphins, swings, and yogurt raisins. 

Suddenly, Katie puts a hand on her belly. 

Ryan reaches out and covers Katie's hand with his. He looks deeply into her eyes.

She smiles. Nods.

"It's time."

SMASH CUT TO

Katie is sitting up in a hospital bed, early morning light streaming through the window. Her hair looks as though it's been professionally blown-out. Ryan stands next to her, his hand resting lightly on her shoulder. Both gaze down at the peacefully-sleeping baby boy bundled tightly in Katie's arms. The baby wiggles his nose, and smiles in his sleep. A single tear wells in Ryan's eye. Katie's face shines with the sacred, radiant glow of motherhood. 

___


Ignorance is such sweet bliss... too bad I can't beg ignorance anymore, having done this once before.

That smash cut? Yeah it skips aaaaaaalllll the juicy bits. This is just a sampling of the things I'll probably do in the span of that smash cut.

- throw up in the sink
- say fuck at least 4,000 times
- tell Ryan to make the necessary phone calls FASTER
- have to walk down stairs while holding on to my contracting belly (there's this instinct to, like, LIFT the baby up, as if that will make the contraction hurt less? Silly rabbit. NOTHING can make the contraction hurt less. Not even the face of God. Not even red, red wine.)
- curse pot holes. Curse them to burn in holy hell. They make me feel like I'm about to poop a kettlebell.
- ask Ryan where Chicken is. Ask him again. Ask him if Chicken is ok. Ask him again. Cry.
- wait for an elevator
- scare the shit out of a little girl riding up the 5th floor to visit her grandmother
- beg for an epidural as soon as we get to the nurse's station
- sign paperwork
- get "checked." Say fuck 4,000 more times during the span of the check.
- have a catheter put in (on? have a catheter installed? I don't know the verbiage here.)
- get a sweet, sweet epidural
- get told it's time to push
- push
- push some more
- ask if I've pooped on the table yet, get noncommittal answer that tells me the answer is yes
- look at my toes and be grateful I got a pedicure, but then chastise myself for caring about how my toes look at a time like this
- realize my right shin has a mohawk because, you know, shaving your legs at full term is a laughable enterprise. Chastise myself for looking like a heathen at a time like this
- have a moment when the midwife says "we've got to get this going or start talking about other options."
- realize I don't really care how the baby is born as long as he gets out safely. They can drag him out through my nostrils if that's what it takes.
- push out the baby. lay back on the bed, think, "finally."
- wait for the baby to cry, realize how scary silence can be
- hear the baby cry, think, "oh thank God."
- look at the slimy purple squid they plop on my chest, think, "wait... what the fuck?"
- forget to ask them to let the cord pulse. Oh well.
- ask someone what I should do now
- ask Ryan to put a picture on Facebook
- oh right, he needs a name
- fight with Ryan about the name
- decide to decide tomorrow about the name
- send Ryan home to be with the Chicken
- sleep for 2 hours
- try to breast feed
- change baby's diaper
- sleep for 2 hours
- try to breast feed
- change baby's diaper
- remember why we thought Chicken would be an only child for the first 6 months
- wake up for the day at 5 am
- order a breakfast so large the cafeteria lady asks how many forks to bring
- eat all of it
- look at self in the mirror, ask Ryan to bring my makeup bag when he comes
- get the new bathroom procedure walk-through with the nurse
- get told to keep my legs together to facilitate healing
- laugh at the idea of not keeping my legs together
- Ryan arrives, didn't bring my makeup bag
- whatever.

get up.

get up from the computer.

you have a to-do list that is completely manageable.

you can knock out everything on that list in the next 35 minutes if you hit the right sequence of songs on pandora.

but first

you have to get up.

get up now.

Ry: Did you shower?
Me: Yep.
Ry: Really.
Me: Yep. Well...
Ry: UH HUH.
Me: Hey, I bathed.
Ry: You took a bath?
Me: Mmm.... yep.
Ry: What kind of bath?
Me: A hobo bath.
Ry: So... you went to the public library, wet some paper towels, and wiped your armpits?
Me: Yes to all, except it was the bus station.

I've been thinking a lot about #yesallwomen.

Yes, all women deserve respect and yes, all women fear violence, though they should not have to. It's a shame that such an obvious truth should come as such a galloping shock to so many.

Yes, men should not try to comment on/weigh in on/attempt to participate in the conversation of "what it's like to be a woman." Unless that man is Dustin Hoffman.

Yes, it's super annoying to see a defensive reaction that distracts from the heart of the issue. I say, "all women deserve respect," and the reaction is, "but men DON'T? Is that what you're saying?" Yeah, you saw right through me, there. This knee-jerk response reminds me of going out to dinner with my grandparents when I was 7 or 8. They complimented my sister on a good math grade, and I piped up with, "I GOT AN A ON MY BLACK PLAGUE PROJECT IN HISTORY PLUS I GOT FIRST PLACE IN THE WIND SPRINTS I WAS EVEN FASTER THAN THE BOYS." I was a middle child, what can I say, and completely unable to grasp the idea that personal achievement is not a zero-sum game.

The same is true here. I think if we managed to summon the courage of a legion of Greek warriors, we'd be able to face, nay, EMBRACE the idea that we can respect men and women equally, at the same time, without having to make Sophie's Choice of who gets the lion's share.

We're not going to run out. Respect isn't bottled water come hurricane season.

Okay, so yes, I am completely on board with #yesallwomen. The everyday shit we have to ignore or shamefully accept is NOT a given, or shouldn't be. We women shouldn't have to resign ourselves to using men for protection, having to live with keys clutched between our fingers, feeling lucky that we've never been violated, or that our violations aren't "as bad" as those suffered by our friends or sisters.

___

Also, children shouldn't go hungry. Veterans shouldn't be dying waiting for doctors. People shouldn't kill each other. Cancer shouldn't exist. And I'd like a root beer float for breakfast every day for the rest of my life. And a pony.

The conversation about what we "should" be as a society, how women "should" feel safe no matter what they wear, where they are, or who they're with, and how men "should" act - it's a very nice exercise in rhetoric. But it's running on a treadmill, guys.

Step one is awareness of the problem.

Step two is taking concrete action to solve the problem. Making steps toward addressing the source of the problem. Making a plan. Executing that plan.

And there's the big issue with #yesallwomen, and really any social injustice awareness movement - there's no step two.

For a few days, a week, maybe as long as a month we're all whipped up into a frenzy, daring someone to disagree with us, foaming at our Facebook mouths and posting and reposting and tweeting and retweeting and Upworthying, delighting in the thrilling possibility that OUR TIME HAS COME TO MAKE A CHANGE... aaaaaand then the microwave beeps and you say "oooh! lunchtime!" and you turn on last night's DWTS and a few days later you wonder what happened to that lady-thing that was happening on the internet, but now Kimye's wedding pics are out, or Colbert did a funny thing with a triceratops last night, and the tide has officially gone out on #yesallwomen, except for a few committed activists who are left high and dry with only their outrage to keep them warm.

___

So what can we do to step-two this movement?

A lot of the internet has been discussing the importance of raising our sons to not rape women, raising our sons to not roofie, rather than just raising our daughters to avoid being roofied.

Okay! Great!

Um...

How do I do that, exactly? What's the son-don't-rape curriculum? Or the less intensive version, the women-are-people-too curriculum?

I'm serious, guys. What does that parenting look like? I'll do it. Someone tell me if there's a book out there. Someone help a sister out. All I've found are articles on about.com advocating corporal punishment by the dad if the kid talks back to mom. Which seems to be a little bit beside the point, not to mention counterproductive if we're trying to model and teach respect for all people.

The accepted wisdom seems to be that it's dad's job to teach sons how to treat women, and to protect moms from the savagery or impoliteness of the world. Isn't is also mom's job to teach sons how women should expect to be treated, and to model the importance of standing up for oneself? Shouldn't we de-gender the roles of "protector," and "teacher?" Shouldn't boys think of their mothers as equally strong, capable, intelligent, resourceful, and ethical as their fathers? Shouldn't boys think of their fathers as equally generous, loving, patient, and gentle as their mothers?

There I go again. Should-ing.

It's an easy trap to fall into.

I'm going to hop off this treadmill and make a root beer float.
WOAH!

...
...
...

nope.

wasn't my water breaking.
Why do people say this? Why do they issue it like a mandate to all new moms?

I think it's meant to be positive, practical survival advice: "Be just a little greedy. Don't work all day long. Take time for yourself." If someone said one of those phrases to me, I'd be like, cool, thank you, you're right, I should take some me time while he's napping.

But "sleep when the baby sleeps," doesn't come off like, "take care of yourself." When people said it to me when Chicken was a little Chicklet, I heard, "you have to sleep when he sleeps. Otherwise you're doing parenting wrong." It comes across as one more task that you're responsible for accomplishing whether you want to or not, one more mandatory thing on your to-do list.

Is it easy for people to just stagger into their bedrooms and face-plant on cue?

Is it easy for people to go unconscious and kiss off the opportunity to engage in the adult part of your life, the opportunity to read a magazine or sit on the porch with a cold drink or catch up with a friend or take a shower - regular adult things?

It wasn't easy for me. I napped a handful of times, but mostly I'd lay in bed thinking about stuff I'd rather be doing with that time, then scolding myself for not doing what everyone said I should be doing: "sleeping when the baby sleeps," before finally declaring myself a failure and surrendering to the (apparently wrong) impulse to do something, god forbid, other than sleep while the baby slept.

Here is a list of a few things I remember doing while the baby slept that I found far more reenergizing than a nap:

- I took a shower, a long one, with a luxurious shower cream, a face scrub, a hair mask. I shaved my legs. I rubbed fancy L'occitane lotion all over my body and got dressed in fresh clothes. I put on mascara.

- I played Dance Central on the XBox 360. I worked up a sweat and got freaky like a club rat to hip hop jams. I did yoga on the living room floor. I made myself aware of being alone in my body again.

- I made the bed and I cleaned the kitchen while listening to a romance novel audiobook. Mental junk food makes the dishwashing go down so much smoother. And when I was done, I looked at my hospital corners, my gleaming counters and uncluttered home, and I felt like a functioning adult again.

- I wrote an email to a friend. A short one. A long one. Just a hello. Just a reminder that my life exists outside of these four walls.

- I made preparations to take a walk when the baby woke up. I planned where I'd go, if I'd stop for a coffee or an iced tea while I was out. I'd decide who I would call when out walking, or if I'd listen to my audiobook or a podcast.

Listen, if you can sleep when the baby sleeps, I salute you. You'll probably be a lot less tired than I was those first months. But if you're like me, and you can't just power down on command like C-3PO, hear this. You're not failing if you can't take a nap, or if you'd rather eat, bathe, clean, or read. You're not doing it wrong. When the baby sleeps, you get to do whatever makes you feel good, strong, and happy.
Me: I'm getting into bed at 10:30, face washed, teeth brushed, jammies on, ready for a good night's sleep!

Brain: Oh! Hey! Real quick before you do that, I wanted to ask you about your future.

Me: Oh, Brain, there's plenty of time to think about that tomorrow. I'm going to sleep.

Brain: Yes, you're right. There's still TONS of time. Unless...

Me: Unless what?

Brain: What if you went into labor tonight? What would you do?

Me: Psht! Easy. I would call the people who are on the list posted in my bedroom under the "People to Call When I Go into Labor at Night" heading. I also have a day list. And a Chicken caretaker calendar. And a phone sheet.

Brain: But what if none of them picked up the phone? What would you do with your son? What about Chicken?

Me: Well... I... I guess I would... call someone else... or ask Ryan to call someone...

Brain: But what if you're insane with the agony of labor and can't think of anyone to call? What if Ryan can't think of anyone to call because he's too worried about you being insane with the agony of labor? Wow, that would be terrible. You'd feel so scared and alone.

Me: Oh my God... I don't know. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO.

Brain: No, YOU DON'T KNOW. Which means a) you're definitely going into labor tonight; b) nobody will be able to come take care of Chicken; and c) you'll have to take a taxi to the hospital and deliver the baby alone, probably without that epidural you were looking forward to so much. Tonight.

Me: Oh no...

Brain: Also, the baby is going to be sick.

Me: Oh my God. I'm freaking out. So many things can go wrong.

Brain: That's because you're a terrible mother.

Me: Wait, am I?

Brain: Plus your hair always looks bad.

Me: Oh... it does?

Brain: Dude, your hair is the worst. And most of your friends do really funny mean impressions of you behind your back. And they're not going to remember your birthday. And you have kind of a lisp. OH, and I wanted to let you know that everyone remembers that Facebook post where you wrote "imminent" when you meant "eminent."

Me: Oh my God, are you serious?

Brain: Yeah. That was really embarrassing and now everyone thinks you're stupid. But more importantly, you're definitely a terrible mother. If you were a good mother you'd have all of this under control, and you wouldn't be worried at all. That's what people mean when they say "why are you working so hard on organizing this? It's not like you're the first person to have a second baby."

Me: Brain, you're so right... I AM a terrible mother.

Brain: Um, that's what I just said. Twice.

Me: Wait, wait, WAIT! There's still time! I can fix this! I can make a list. A list of people to call, back-ups for my back-ups... you know, people I can just say, "I'm sorry, I know it's 2 am, but I need you right now." I can put all the phone numbers on it and post it next to the other lists in the bedroom so even if I'm insane with the agony of labor and Ryan's worried about my labor-agony-insanity, we can still call SOMEBODY.

Brain: That's a really good idea. You should make that list.

Me: I don't think I can wait until tomorrow on this.

Brain: No. You can't.

Me: I'm still freaking out.

Brain: Shhh... make the list. You should probably write a blog post too.

Me: You're so right, Brain. This is definitely the best use of my time from 11 pm until 1 am. Way more important than sleep.

Brain: I know. Grab some fruit snacks while you're up.

Me: Brain, you're the best.

Brain: Duh. I know. I'm your BRAIN.


Lady Support

Woman 1: So how are you doing?
Woman 2: I'm... you know, I'm actually doing really well.
Woman 1: Really?
Woman 2: Yeah, I think going into this I was feeling a lot of anxiety about the unknown, you know, who is this child going to be, and will I be able to tackle the increased responsibility, and the overwhelming emotional investment--
Woman 1: I completely understand. That sounds incredibly daunting.
Woman 2: It was! It really was.
Woman 1: But you're not feeling like that now?
Woman 2: Well, I don't know. I mean, I'm just exhausted. I don't think I've ever been so physically drained, so emotionally... what's the word I'm looking for?
Woman 1: Hmmm... just... totally... (makes a wringing-out gesture.)
Woman 2: YES. Like that. But at the same time, I'm just amazed at this little creature. She's just... I never knew how quickly and how completely I could love someone.
Woman 1: That's such a courageous way to become a mother. I'm so proud of you.



Dude Support

Man 1: I heard you had a kid.
Man 2: Yep.
Man 1: Boy or girl?
Man 2: Girl.
Man 1: Hope she looks like her mother, you ugly bastard.
Man 2: Ha.
Man 1: You look like shit by the way.
Man 2: I'm tired.

Ry: If you spit in my mouth and I choked on it and died, would you get the life insurance?
Me: I don't know. Is that murder?
Ry: I think it depends on your intent.
Me: We should call the insurance company and ask.
Ry: They'd probably like write a note in our file.
Me: Hmm. Good point.
Ry: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Me: Pay a homeless guy to call from a pay phone?
Ry: I was thinking the guy who hangs out in the park and plays 60's protest rock.
Me: The guy with the white afro?
Ry: Yep.
Me: I saw him freak out at Starbucks once. He threw like a full cup of coffee across the room.
Ry: I've done that.
Me: No, you haven't.
Ry: In my mind I have.
Me: Well, yeah. You said you wanted room.
Ry: HOW HARD IS THAT?
Husband: Hickory Dickory...

Chicken: COCK!

Husband: The mouse ran up the...

Chicken: COCK!

Husband: The clock struck...

Chicken: (whisper) one.

Husband: The mouse ran...

Chicken (whisper) down.

Husband: Hickory Dickory...

Chicken: COCK!
When a woman becomes a mother, friends, family, and strangers sympathize instantly, and cut her a whole lot of slack.

If she's late everywhere, fine, she just became a mother. If she is wearing her pants inside out to the grocery store, strangers say "girl, I have been there. You're doing fine."

But weirdly, that outpouring of patience and understanding doesn't leak over onto the newly christened father. If he starts crying at work he's going to get a lot of eyebrows. If he shows up with his pants inside out at the grocery store, he's probably going to be escorted out. ESPECIALLY if he's hanging out in the baby aisle looking stoned.

What's up with that? Mamas aren't the only ones whose worlds just got rocked. Why are we forgetting about the papas?

I think it is just as hard to be the working parent with a new baby and a new mama to support.

At least if you're the parent staying home with the baby, you have the following things going for you:

1. You don't have to shower, get dressed, or leave the house if you don't want to.
2. You can cry all day long, and be a zombie or watch TV if you're exhausted.
3. You get in a mode. You get in a rhythm. You have one goal that day, and it's keep this little bastard/precious angel alive. Also, try to eat something.

Your partner doesn't have the luxury of doing any of those things. Your partner has to shower, get dressed, go to work, interact with adults without breaking down in tears, say smart shit in meetings, seem rested, and then come home and wonder what fresh hell is going to greet him on the other side of that door.

Yes, as a new mom I would gladly have swapped places with my husband (or the neighborhood wino) just to have the opportunity to walk down the street without a parasite strapped to my chest. And I know for a fact my husband would NOT have agreed to that trade.

But it couldn't have been easy for him to come home and have a baby thrust upon him at the baby's absolute worst time of the day, when I was Done-with-a-capital-D, after he'd had a full work day and a bus ride home and it wasn't like he spent the last few nights in peaceful slumber in some magic soundproof chamber.

OH. And the best part... when you're a stay at home mom you spend each and every day coming up with no fewer than 3 New Unbreakable Rules for Taking Care of the Baby that you may or may not communicate to your husband until he has BROKEN them like a BASTARD.

Oh my God, no! Stop! We don't feed him like that anymore! You have to tilt the bottle 45 degrees to minimize gas bubbles. That's why he's been so insane in the evenings, because the bottle has been tilted wrong. YES, IT MATTERS. BECAUSE I AM THE ONE WHO WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH HIS SCREAMING BECAUSE YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THE GASSY BELLY HOLD.

ARE YOU INSANE? We're only doing soap in the bath once every couple of weeks now. I read today that using soap every night will dry his skin excessively and can lead to rashes! Yes, I think we should empty and re-run the bath. Yes, when I said we I meant you. Yes, now.

NO, no, just... STOP. Just... let me. We're doing a new swaddle since it's been so warm. NOT LIKE THAT. HERE, I'll show you. (SIGH.) Why don't you just... go... somewhere else. Ssshh, it's okay baby. Daddy's trying.

Not my finest moments. It's pretty much emotional terrorism. But it's funny now, right?

Honey?

I don't have any resolution or revelation. I just wanted to say that for a few minutes tonight around my kitchen table, the papas got some props for holding themselves and their families together.

Thanks for saying smart shit in meetings and coming home and embracing the chaos of life with a new baby, for apologizing and ordering pizza when you asked what was for dinner and I started to cry. Thanks for showering, shaving, finding a clean-enough shirt, and braving a working world that doesn't really care whether or not you just became a father.

Thanks, papas.
when he gets up to go to the bathroom and he says, in an Australian accent, "I'm going to see a man about a wallaby," and you both laugh, and it goes without saying that it's a reference to Finding Nemo, and it's a wonderful moment of realization that the world of childhood and children's movies have become endemic to the culture of your marriage, your common language, and you're both happy about that, and neither one of you feels like a pathetic loser because you speak in Pixar quotes instead of op-ed quotes, because you're not a loser and you're not alone, and you have your best friend with you, growing up and growing young again with you, laughing at a Finding Nemo pooping quote.
you're not going to want to miss this, folks.
split screen pornography with film of women giving birth without pain medication.

it's a reverse snuff film.

and nobody will ever get pregnant again.
If there's one thing I hear from pregnant chicks, especially pregnant chicks who have gone round this particular carousel once or twice before, it's "Oh God, I feel so fat already. Last time I didn't even shop for maternity jeans until I was 6 months pregnant. I peed on a stick last week and I'm already in leggings."

I feel you, sister. 

I've taken to freeballing on the weekends (and Friday counts as the weekend) since I only have 4 pairs of underwear that don't give me muffin top. 

If I'm home, I'm probably naked. Or in a bath robe. Same reason as above. The only thing that still fits me is my own skin, and I don't even know how long THAT is going to last.

Everything is round. Not just my belly. My thighs. My slabs of upper arms. My chubby chin. My puffy feet. I feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Does this neckerchief make me look fat?

I have three maxi dresses that I rotate through weekly. They're long. They're cool. They're forgiving. They make me feel a little bit hip (rather than just hippy.)

But I had a lightbulb moment the other day. 

I'm not fat.

This is just what you look like when you're really good at sex. 

So the next time you see a round, round mama waddling down the street in a maxi dress and flip flops, her upper arms jiggling sensually with every step, her mouth slightly open as she pants from the exertion and her decreased lung capacity, her kangaroo-pouch belly thrust out proudly in front of her, just remember - that lady has some serious game in the sack.

Respect.

And respect yourself, mama. You're a wildcat.
Is the pregnant belly hairier the second time around? My belly looks like the love child of a zen garden and a shower drain.

That was your daily dose of birth control. YOU'RE WELCOME.
1. Tying your shoes. As if you wear shoes that need tying at this point. Minnetonka mocs 4 life y'all.

2. Velcroing your toddler's shoes. Son of a bitch those little bastards are slippery, and trying to get him to sit on your lap, then trying to Stretch Armstrong your arms long enough to get to the end of his legs, which are now a good ten inches further away because he's sitting on your lap, which is also now a good ten inches deeper... By the time you're done, he's scratched your face like a feral cat and you're mouth breathing like Larry the Cable Guy running through sand.

3. Story time with your toddler, who used to sit quietly in your lap while you read to him in a soothing voice, but who now thinks of story time as "let's play bouncy castle hour." It's not enough that you have tiny little fetus elbows jabbing you from the inside... you have to deal with freakishly pointy 2-year-old elbows jabbing you from the outside too.

4. Sleeping on your side. Even if you're a side sleeper there comes a point when it's like seriously, I really want to lie on my back right now. Or rolling from side to side? You know how you used to do that without waking up? That's not the case anymore. Rolling from your left side to your right side requires you to engage every single muscle in your body and send up a prayer to a higher power. You have to wake up, prop yourself up on one elbow, roll from hips-down onto your back, roll your upper body onto your back, watching your bump as it kind of lags behind everyone else, like a backpack full of pudding strapped to your belly not quite tightly enough. Then you do the whole thing in reverse to get onto your other side. Also, you're mouth breathing, grunting, and potentially swearing. It sounds like you're moving a sofa. You're just moving your body. See also: why I'm not even going to discuss the idea of having sex at 37 weeks.

5. Trying to decide if you're going to just say, yes I would like a slice, or fuck it, give me the whole damn pie and leave the room so I can taste my shame in private.

6. Three way mirrors. Just... don't.

7. Pregnant chins. It's real. It's devastating.

8. Accepting that the house will never, ever be clean enough so that you can bring to life your Hollywood fantasy of bringing the baby home and welcoming him into a world of gleaming, dusted shelves, fresh bedsheets, and a fridge full of bottled waters with the labels all rotated to the front. Sorry kid. Looks like it's going to be stacks of mail on the desk, crumbs on the counter, and applesauce ground into the rug.

9. OH MY GOD am I going into labor? Oh, no, just really had to pee. WAIT, am I going into labor? Nope. Baby just punched my cervix. HOLY SHIT I THINK MY WATER JUST BROKE. Oh, no, just peed a little.

10. If it's your first time around, 37 weeks sucks because everyone is telling you it could be any day now, and no matter how much you tell yourself that it's probably going to be another month yet, you start to believe it, and then you start to get impatient, thinking that it will be so much easier to just have the damn baby already because at least when you have the baby you'll get your body back (by which I don't mean bikini body back. I mean just having ownership over your body again - you're looking forward to not sharing the actual boundaries of your skin with another creature who CLEARLY has strong opinions about the arrangement - or rearrangement - of your internal organs.)

It's my second time around, so 37 weeks sucks because everyone is telling me it could be any day now, and I believe them because it's a lot more likely the second time. And the impending birth is equal parts thrilling and terrifying. Because you KNOW that no matter how uncomfortable you are right now, having a newborn baby is way, way harder than being pregnant. (That, by the way, goes on the list of things you should never say to someone who's about to have her first baby. She'll figure it out soon enough. No need for you to play Mother Doomsday.) Do I look forward to getting your body back? Well... kind of. I know that I'll still have a baby on my body most of the time. It'll just be outside my body leaking fluid onto my clothes, instead of inside my body tap-dancing on my kidneys and bladder. That right there is a toss-up, friends.

Today I am wishing equally hard for the baby to be born, and for the baby to hold his horses just a little bit longer. I could use a few more nights of sleep. I could use a few more laughing dinners with my lovely little family of 3.

That being said. You want to know what's awesome at 37 weeks?

You're not at 38 weeks.

Come baby, come baby, come baby baby, come come...
We're less than 3 weeks from the due date of Chicken #2.

The onesies are folded. The bottles are in the cupboard. The newborn diapers, which look like they might fit my house cat, wait in the wicker basket next to the improvised changing table in our bedroom.

So we're materially ready.

But ready?

That's a whole other fish to fry.

As first-timers, we suspected we weren't "ready." Sure, we had all the gear. We had our birth plan. We had an aromatherapy kit and an exercise ball and cheap disposable towels for our home birth. But at deep in our bones we knew we weren't ready-ready. We were right.

Now we have this extra layer of knowledge that no matter how many bins we stock and label, how much we organize, we'll never be ready for another one. All the gear, all the stuff, it's just set dressing. It's a lamp, for God's sake. Is a lamp going to make me ready for what's about to happen?

Of course it won't. Because what happens doesn't happen in a room. It happens deep in your bones.

But you still make a room because that's what you CAN do, I guess.

You can't fight or surrender until the attack comes. You can't think on your feet until you're up on them. And you can't get ready for a baby until you have one.

It's like stepping into the batter's box. You know the facts of what's going to happen. Okay, he's going to wind up... and then he's going to pitch, and the ball is going to come to you, and then your job is to swing, and if you swing well you'll get a hit, and if you hesitate you'll miss.

So you know what to do. You're ready. You put on your helmet. You heft your bat. You dig in over the plate, and you know what's about to happen, and now he's winding up and WHATTHEFUCKJUSTHAPPENED?!?

We have a lot of friends who have waited a long time to get pregnant because they didn't feel the time was right for whatever reason - they hadn't yet established job security. They didn't own a home. I respect those choices - I mean, at the end of the day you're the one who's committing to a lifetime of altered consciousness. So you've got to be ready. You do whatever it takes to feel ready. Just know that your feeling of readiness? It's lying to you.

I'm not saying that "getting ready" isn't important. They say that's why you endure 40 weeks of waiting before your life changes in a second (although... does it? More on that to come...) It will be harder if you don't have clothes and diapers and a car seat. It will be harder if you don't have a stocked pantry or takeout menus ready to rock. It will be harder if you bring your baby home and have nowhere for him to sleep, or a room that's only half-finished that makes you feel sad or guilty. But no matter how many material preparations you make, how much easier you make the world around you, becoming a parent is still going to be hard.

This has turned into a scary post. Sorry. Let me get to the heart of it here.

Yes, I'm saying "there is nothing, and I mean nothing you can do to get ready for the monumental change that's about to occur in your heart, your home, your family, your marriage, your sense of self-worth, your sensitivity to the pain of others, your definition of success, the depth of your commitment to organic blueberries, whatever. And you'll be desperately lost for awhile, and it will be frustrating and scary in ways you can't prepare for. " But I'm also saying, "Me too."

I'm also saying, "I love you for how hard you're going to work at this, how much you'll care about doing a good job at this new, incredibly hard vocation."

I'm also saying, "You'll never love your partner more than when you look at him or her and say 'what the hell are we doing?' and he/she responds, 'I have no idea, but I've got your back.'"

I'm also saying I've got your back.

So okay, you'll never be ready. So what? None of us can be. That's why we stick together, in this crazy-eyed, boobs-out tribe that hasn't showered and doesn't give a damn if any of the others have either.

We've got that going for us.

That, and faith that we've got grit to fight and wisdom to surrender, once the attack comes. It's coming. But we've got this.

You can never be ready. You'll be tough instead.
I think it’s official. Chicken knows something is up. All the spring cleaning, the picture hanging, the making room in his dresser for clothes that are DEFINITELY too small for him, and that new little bed on wheels in mom and dad’s room… it’s all got him awfully suspicious.

And as a result, he’s become more cautious in new or exciting situations. For example, we went to the park and there were a lot of other kids there, many of them older, running, yelling, and generally being, to Chicken's eyes at least, awesome in the fear-inducing biblical sense. When the Chicken of a month ago would have watched for a moment and then leaped into the fray, Chicken of this week spent most of the park outing with his head on my shoulder, just watching the other kids play.

This phase, apparently, is totally normal for kids who are about to become big siblings. We’re just trying to show Chicken that our laps and shoulders have a reserved spot for him forever.

We’re doing out best to savor these days before Bing makes his grand entrance. “Chicken is definitely going to sleep for 12 hours. We should watch a movie!” We’re relishing the fact that when both Ryan and I are home, one of us can be off-duty because there’s only one kid to care for. And of course, we’re trying to soak up our one-on-one time with Chicken.

It’s bittersweet– we’re excited to welcome our new babe, but also a little sad that our family is about to change forever. There’s a lot that we’ve loved about being a family of three. Some of what we’ve loved will remain, grow deeper and richer, and some will wither away under the chaos of life with an infant, under the stretching need of four people rather than three.

We’re preparing to be a lot busier, to have less peace and more tantrums, to spend more time refereeing and multitasking and less time taking sweet, leisurely sips of quiet moments. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to lean in a doorway, undisturbed, and watch Chicken sitting in his chair, flipping through a favorite book, pointing at the pictures, and whispering the words he knows by heart.

There will be more laundry and dishes, more takeout dinners, more compromises, less sleep, less free time for reading and exercise and making fancy meals. I am anticipating a summer full of oven pizzas and spaghetti dinners. I am anticipating a summer of attempts to be “normal again,” Some will be miserable failures, others sweet victories. 

It’s a comfort to remember that a couple of years ago, there was a lot we loved about being a family of two. When we had Chicken some of what we loved remained, and grew deeper and richer. Some withered away.

I like to think we’ve grown more patient and compassionate, learned how much we are capable of carrying in one hand while a toddler squirms in (or out of) the other. We wonder what we used to DO with all the free time before we had Chicken. "We thought we were 'busy' but we were just assholes," I think. 

We’re more efficient now. We’re a better team because we have the very best and hardest thing on Earth in common, and we’re the only two who have it. We listen to each other more. We have tougher skins and softer hearts.

Sure, we can’t train for marathons together without sacrificing other major commitments. Like sleep. We can’t just go to a movie on a Tuesday night. We don’t eat in fancy restaurants or meet up with friends for a drink at a cool wine bar. I don’t work in an office, so I feel insecure and defensive when see friends who do.  I don’t wear clothes that need dry cleaning. Ever.

Our bathtub is filled with spongy primary-color letters and rubber boats instead of fancy shower gel and loofahs. Meals aren’t quiet. Our house has tiny handprints on the glass doors and windows. We mop the kitchen every week. We don’t live in a cool apartment; we have a crappy old house with an overgrown yard and tons of storage.

We’re tired every day. We read books about parenting instead of books about... anything else. We can’t watch movies in which something bad happens to or around children. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Schindler’s List again.

I want to accidentally leave the front door open and let the cats get out and then pretend to be distraught but secretly be relieved that I don’t have two more living creatures who need something from me anymore. 

We live and die by naptime. We speak to each other in toddlerese and yes, okay, the level of our discourse has plummeted. We have given up quiet Sunday mornings watching movies and letting the emptiness of the day roll out ahead of us, a silent stretch of open road. Every day is a traffic jam of tasks now, bumper-to-bumper have-to’s and should’s and gotta-get-on-that’s. 

Going on vacation sounds like hell. “All this in a hotel room? At the beach? Fuck. No.”

So we gave up the luxury of repose. We sacrificed a lot of glasses of wine and swanky resorts and the coolness of untethered adulthood. We’re less cool. We’re less hip. We’re more desperate to be both of those things.

That’s okay. 

If I never take a bike tour through French wine country it will be okay. Don't get me wrong, I’d love to do that. But I’m okay with putting an adult vacation on a someday list, and letting it live there for a few more years. A decade or two, even. I like where I am. I’m needed here.

So our family went from two to three and we gave up things we liked but didn't need. 

I've gotta run - Chicken woke up from his nap and is in his room calling "THACK! THACK!" His lisp when demanding snack is one of the many things I hope to remember forever. I've gotta rustle up some cheese crackers and read "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie." I'm going to watch his face as I read the familiar words, and let him finish the sentences he knows. I'm going to enjoy the relative quiet of this time, sitting at his tiny white table together, Baby Bing swelling up between us, still silent and contained and needing nothing more than my own air and blood. I'm going to savor being a family of three for just this afternoon longer.