Surprising Things About Pregnancy Thus Far

by Elana Roth Parker in ,

Okay, this is a less-than-sly way of sharing some news. (Tada!) But let's not dwell. Pregnancy is here, and now that I'm a more than few weeks out of that tricky first trimester, I had some thoughts (naturally) about this rather perplexing physical, mental, and emotional state. So here are a few things I've learned, some serious, some not, after 17 weeks of being pregnant:

You start thinking in weeks, instead of months. But that doesn't mean you can easily calculate how many weeks add up to how many months when people ask. You just know that 11 weeks means something entirely different than 15 weeks, and you watch those weeks pass by and accumulate with agony. Each one is crucial, and each 7-day landmark is a blessing.

You're always pregnant. There are no breaks, even if you're one of the only people who knows about it for a little while. You may not look like it yet, or even feel like it some days, are growing something tremendous. Your organs are moving. You have to think about what you're eating. You have to make sure you're eating at all. You will need to sit down on the subway when you didn't before. You will hate that you aren't showing enough for people to understand why you aren't feeling great.

Maternity pants are amazing. Before you think you'll need to make the switch, you will realize that pants with zippers are no longer working for you. But that first pair of pants that has an elastic band that goes up to your chest? Amazing. 

You don't know when to talk about it. For the first three months, this is pretty self-explanatory. You know, and your significant other knows. But then you get to the point where you can tell people, only you don't want to jinx anything. Also you've kind of gotten used to it being a secret. So fine, you start telling your family, and that's one part of it. But the superstition and privacy questions continue. Do you tell the whole world? Facebook? Twitter? Do you want to be that guy? Honestly, I still don't know how much to talk about it publicly, and here I am, now-visibly pregnant and writing a blog post, making much of this a moot point. It's still fairly confusing. 

Everything is fragile.  Every day is a moving target. There's nothing constant anymore about your body, or the new body being formed. Some days feel incredibly scary, and you begin to understand that you'll probably be living with a certain amount of nervousness and uncertainty for the next however-many weeks...and well past that. While generally true in life, you feel it now more than ever: anything can happen at any time, and you have very little control over it. 

Now let's see how this "golden period" of trimester number two goes.

Life is Full of a Bowl of Cherries

by Elana Roth Parker in

My bubbie died on Sunday. We got the call from my dad late Saturday that she'd taken an unexpected turn and likely wouldn't make it through the night. I booked a flight home for the next morning. She died just before my plane landed.  

I know it can take months, even years, to fully process this sort of thing, but I'm finding myself at a strange crossroads in my own head. It's hard not to think about Bubbie's death without coupling it with Zayde's about 7 years ago. See, my grandparents were Holocaust survivors, and I was their first grandchild. That fact has always been a cornerstone of my identity, both Jewish and personal. The loss of my grandfather was notable enough, but now they're both gone, and the severed connection feels that much more profound.  

I've had the last 7 years to make sense of the kind of person my Zayde was, the truth about his life, and his influence on me. It's Bubbie's turn now, and in spite of my 32 years with her, I feel woefully unprepared.

What's working so far is that it's easy for my family and I to tell funny stories about her, recounting our happy memories, and most especially all the hilarious things she used to say. A non-native English speaker, I think my bubbie cornered the market on malapropisms. Any common phrase could be made funnier through her attempt at using it. And she loved laughing, especially at herself in these cases.

"Life is full of a bowl of cherries," she used to say, among other things. The words may have been a little silly, but you knew what she meant.

That expression—mangled but still meaningful—was just so Bubbie. The bubbie who didn't lead a rich or easy life, but knew that childhood (hers, her children's, and her grandchildren's) should be full of fun adventures and joy—and made sure that happened. The bubbie who experienced the worst atrocities humanity can suffer, but somehow managed to have a sense of humor about her survival—to the point of using the numbers on her arm to play the lottery from time to time. Even when she had no good reason, she maintained an exuberance about life. So much so, I think we all thought she could live forever.

I know everyone's grandmother is special. But mine? Well, she was mine. There was nobody else in the world like her. ("I don't want to be anyone else," she told my sister once. "I want to be me. People need someone like me around."). And I miss her like hell. 

I hope I can capture, and maybe even adopt, even a little bit of her outlook. In the meantime, I may just start keeping a bowl full of cherries in my kitchen.