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Weathering the Holidays

“Happy Thanksgiving!” are the first words I hear as we jump into Jason’s aunt’s car at the airport. “We’ve missed you both. So good to see you!” With these utterances, the holidays are officially here. This is the first time we are seeing Jason’s family since our big announcement a couple months ago. My nerves have intensified, making my leg shake more than usual as we ride the 20 minutes back to Annapolis, MD.  Logic tells me I should be excited about this, finally getting to share in our news with Jason’s family in person.  I should want others to be excited for us, and in turn I should want to be excited with others. Yet, I’m dreading the anticipated attention. I’ve never been one to want the limelight.

Seeing Jason’s family doesn’t turn out to be as overwhelming as I had thought. His aunt, grandmother, mom, and sisters are hugging me, laughing, and talking in really excited voices. My exhaustion and extreme thirst hold the most prominent spot in my thoughts, so my excitement doesn’t show nearly as much as theirs.  His mother, being a labor and delivery nurse, asks the most questions about how I’m doing. Instead of feeling completely vulnerable by what could be construed as intrusive questions, I’m strangely glad to have someone else who may understand what I’m going through. I begin to feel comforted, and happy to be here. Seeing others so excited, so interested in this baby, is elating.

Prior to our trip, worries lurk in the forefront of my mind about the safety of all this traveling. I ask some questions of my doctor in hopes to clarify just what it is I can and cannot do, and most importantly, to calm myself. Travel, especially in the airport, is a new adventure for this baby. Just how safe are these new-fangled body scanners?  Just the thought of them makes me fear for this baby, makes me want to protect this baby. I worry my body will not be enough to guard against crazy (or so I imagine) radiation emitted from the giant glass tube. At 15 weeks along, my motherly instincts are finally here.

“No one has ever asked me that before,” Dr. Walsh starts. My eyebrows shoot up in surprise. Really? Body scanners are the fuel of everyone’s anger these days! How can no one else be thinking of this? “I would suggest not going through them. It’s probably better to play it safe and have the pat down.” Ugh. I begrudgingly anticipated her saying this. Letting strangers pat me down is just another sacrifice I’ll make for this baby.

In the days leading up to our departure date, I spend a lot of time ruminating about my airport woes. Anticipation always creates more anxiety in me than is welcome. Getting to the airport is the easy part; we always pack light. My small carry-on bag fits neatly in the bin at security. It gets dragged along on the conveyor belt. A deep breath inflates my lungs. Watching the bag disappear into the x-ray box, I know it is now my turn. The dreaded moment is here. Coursing through my mind is a small speech of how to combat the TSA staff when they wave me through the body scanner. “I’m pregnant…my doctor told me not too…” My hands are playing with the extra material of my sweater, twisting and pulling at the fabric.

“Next! Over here please,” The voice is sharp, stern. My head automatically veers in the direction from which I think it came. And I see….the metal detector, not the body scanner. Whew. Relief. The fabric of my sweater unwinds in relief as well.

***

“Laura is requesting the garlic fries, so that’s where we are going,” Jason is leaving our dear friends from Baltimore a message. I’m glad he feels a sense of duty to his pregnant wife. Carrying a baby or not, the thin, crispy, salty, garlicky heap of fries is so delectable on my tongue and in my stomach. The Brewer’s Art has such historic charm, snuggled in an old rowhouse in downtown Baltimore. It is crowded with patrons, all after the craft brews on tap. The large mirror behind the bartenders reflects all of us back onto ourselves, giving the illusion of having much more room in the congested bar than we really do. There are people everywhere: on chairs, on stools, on couches, spilling out the door. The lighting is dim in these dusk hours, but bright enough to easily read our menus. Lucking out, we find a small high-top table right at the broad front window, offering a prime view of the street, reminding us how difficult it was to find a parking spot for this popular place. We wait, order another round of drinks, and wait again. Finally a phone call comes in.

Jason answers. “Hey, man. Where are you guys?”

As if someone cranks the volume up, people’s voices shout over one another, so I can’t hear the mumbles of the voice on the other end. I try lip reading to figure out what Jason is saying, but soon realize that is not a talent I ever acquired. I glance away, watching the crowd, sipping my coke, trying not to eat the heavenly fries too quickly. Intermittently, I hear snippets such as, “Well, we’ll be here a little longer if you can make it.”

After he hangs up I say, “What’s going on with them?”

 “They are at Charles Village Pub and want us to go down there with them.” I know that CVP is their favorite hang out place, but I refuse to leave my post here. We have a prime table, prime fries, and this place is my prime destination on trips to Baltimore.

“Well,” I begin, slightly hurt and disappointed at this apparent stalemate, “at least we got to come here and get the fries. I really do miss this place.”

It doesn’t take long, only slightly after finishing the plate of fries, that our friends show up. Tipsy and loud, there they are. They see us before we see them.

 “Hey! There they are! My two favorite people in the world!” we hear shouted from the doorway. Half of the crowd, closest to the door, turns to figure out what the cacophony is all about. They make their way over to our table as if swimming through the swarms of people, continuing at top volume. A smile appears on our previously disappointed faces as we bounce off our stools to greet them. Hugs, laughter, handshakes. Coming to The Brewer’s Art has now officially lifted any low spirits I clung to.

“This baby news makes me so happy. I don’t know two other people in this world who should have babies. A baby Gaddi is going to be awesome,” one friend announces. We stick around for a drink more, and then have to leave because it’s already getting late, as we have a 40 minutes drive back to Annapolis. On our way out, we give big hugs, feeling the warmth and love. For the first time since this pregnancy began, I really feel that everyone is rooting for us. Even me.

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