Archive for the 'fear' Category

birth story (also my book is officially out today)

My little book is officially out today! Please buy it! Please read it! Please like it! Please don’t tell me if you don’t like it, because I will feel like crying and have to walk around pretending I don’t care when I do care and then I’ll get mad at myself for being so damn sensitive and then I’ll be like, to myself, “Well, come on, you know it’s not even that good…”

I’m nervous because my little book feels a lot like a little journal, and it’s sort of discombobulated and not particularly professional or neat. So I feel like I’m admitting to the reader that I’m not particularly professional and my mind is messy and I am not an expert at all. I hope that’s an OK thing to admit.


Here is the home page for the book with links to where you can buy it.

You can buy it on Amazon or iBooks, or Kobo  or Barnes & Noble. Oh, or Amazon UK,  and iBooks Australia too.

This is what the cover looks like:

Growing Eden

Growing Eden is an ebook right now. It might be a print book sometime soon, and I will let you know if that happens. For now, you can read it on your phone or computer or kindle or wherever you can read text on a screen. You can download a free kindle app for your phone or computer if you don’t have one.

Here is an excerpt. It’s from the epilogue, which is the birth story (full disclosure: I ended up choosing to have my baby at home. There’s actually a chapter in the book about how I arrived at that decision), but since you guys are special readers, I want to share a bit of the end first, like eating cake in the middle of the day, or right before vegetables.


My doula said the day before that there was some astrological thing happening and that if I willed something to happen, it would happen. She said it half seriously, with a smile I could hear over the phone. She is really pretty down to earth. I said I was willing to believe, just this once, because I was so tired of being pregnant. Anyway, I was like, “OK. I will myself to go into labor tomorrow.” And then I changed my mind and wished for a billion dollars and a cure for diabetes. But then I changed my mind again and wished to go into labor. It was two weeks before the due date.

But it worked. I mean, I woke up the next morning, and I was in labor.

I was very cool about the whole thing. I met a friend from birth class for coffee. We were both hugely pregnant.

“How are you?” she asked.

“I think I’m in labor,” I said. It was 10:00 a.m. and already ninety-five degrees out.

“Oh my god!” she said. “Are you okay?” Then she said, “Oh my god, I am not ready to go into labor!”

“Maybe you should get ready today,” I said. “Just in case.”

“I probably should,” she said.

I got a peanut butter breakfast bar and an iced coffee. I figured the contractions would go away soon, the way early labor often does, especially for a first timer. I had read so many books.

Walking out of the coffee shop, my friend stopped me and, looking intensely into my eyes, said, “Hey, I know we’re both cynical New York women, but really, you should just be a goddess.”

“I’ll try,” I said.

Then I went home and ordered a pizza.

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Kate on November 5th 2013 in fear, life, motherhood, pregnancy, writing

why i don’t like numbers

I have never liked numbers. Not even as a homeschooled kid, when my mom tried to trick me into enjoying math by introducing arithmetic in the form of fairies. (Plus was a happy fairy with a fat sack of jewels, Minus was always crying because her sack had a hole, etc.) I liked to draw the fairies, but I didn’t care how many jewels they each had and how the jewels might interact with other jewels. The cool thing about the jewels was that I figured out how to draw them in a way that made them appear to be sparkling. It took a while to master, but I got there.

Tangentially, I’ve always been into guys who were into numbers. Difference is exotic. Exotic is sexy. Math skill was like a suave accent—it suggested fluency in another realm, a place with mysterious, alluring customs.



The SAT was the first standardized test I ever took, and the night before I wrote a dark song about it. The day I got my results back, I wrote a poem about it. The poem was titled the number I’d gotten, and it was about how I didn’t want to be a number, I wanted to be a whole person. It was pretty melodramatic, but in general: When you try to make people into numbers, bad things happen. Or they’re already happening.

Bear thinks it’s practical sometimes. When we talk about whether or not we’d consider homeschooling Eden, he brings up testing—he thinks it’s often a good idea. I think because you have to learn to cope with failure and stay competitive and be unflinching in the face of regulation and seek to improve yourself in measurable ways. I’m not sure. It was nice to not be tested as a kid. I also enjoy not being tested as an adult. But I’m mostly fluffier than Bear about these things.

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Kate on September 25th 2013 in fear, homeschooling, life, motherhood

god help me, I’m supposed to have a baby in a month

My due date is in a month (less by a few days, if you want to get technical), and I am trying to get ready for this baby. Which is, of course, impossible.

But I finally bought a changing pad, so that’s good, I think. It’s all-natural! So she won’t die of the toxins! Bear is worried about the toxins.

I finally realized that I had to get some stuff. Like a car seat. Fine. I got it. I don’t have any idea how it works, but it is in my apartment, lurking, a huge plastic husk. A symbol of my incompetence and the inevitability of my new responsibilities. Or maybe just an ugly car seat (there are no pretty car seats, by the way).

I am trying to get my head ready for this baby. I’d like to feel good about myself when she’s born. Is that a lot to ask? It might be.

In general, I think being pregnant has made me feel better about myself. Which is fairly amazing, really, since I was worried I’d be one of those women who gets depressed from the hormones. Since I think I tend in that direction anyway. So this was a pleasant surprise. But it’s not like I turned into some skipping, delightful pixie with a face full of smiles all the time. Ha. Like I could skip. My uterus would hit me in the chin.



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Kate on July 3rd 2013 in fear, life, motherhood, pregnancy

super sexy with a big belly and body image issues

I feel a lot of different ways about my big, pregnant body. I wanted to write one simple piece, like “Reasons Why I’m Super Sexy Pregnant.” Or “I Still Have Body Image Issues While Pregnant.” But it’s not really one or the other—it’s complicated, like life. But I am super sexy pregnant, I promise. You should see me. I’m pretty much just oozing sex appeal:

me being pregnant by the door2



I think my face looks naturally sullen. It’s a thing for me. I don’t know why. I was just born that way.

And also, my pregnant body is like a shield—it hides me from other people. It disguises me.

My pregnant body is like a window—everyone can suddenly see inside, and they want to talk about my motherhood.

The waitress at The Meatball Shop, where I have now been five times because meatballs are suddenly the best food ever, tells me that she just broke up with her boyfriend of five years, and it’s really because he didn’t want a baby and she does, she wants a baby so badly. Her acting career isn’t really going anywhere, but she’s OK with that. She just wants a baby. Her cousins are all having babies. Why is it so hard to meet a decent guy in this damn city?

The woman with the headscarf in CVS has been trying for a while, but nothing so far. It’s so frustrating, she says, smiling. She says she wants eight kids. I can’t tell if she’s serious. “Do you want a lot?” she asks me.

“Yes,” I say, even though it’s hard to imagine even one, even though her foot is working up into my ribs as we speak and I have begun to refer to her as “the vicious baby” and sometimes “the evil baby.” Theoretically, I’d like to have more of them. Preferably if they could just appear on my doorstep one day, softly swaddled and fully gestated.

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Kate on June 20th 2013 in beauty, body, fear, life, pregnancy

26 and already pregnant

This is the full version of my piece about pregnancy that appeared here on Slate. I wanted to share the original, because I like the details, and Slate was nice enough to let me. 

When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t really want to tell my friends. We’d talked about babies, over wine and second draft feature articles at a non-fiction writers’ group, and everyone agreed that if you’re smart, you wait until you’re thirty-five.

“There’s too much to do before then!” said one of the women, summarizing.

I was twenty-six when I got pregnant, which meant I’d jumped the gun by almost a decade.

In a lot of different parts of the country, having a baby in your mid twenties is not a big deal; According to a 2009 report from the CDC, the average age of first time mothers in Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and nine other states New Yorkers rarely visit was recently twenty-two to twenty-three. But the average age of first time moms here in New York was twenty-six, and twenty-seven in New Jersey, where I grew up. When you account for factors like advanced education, the numbers climb. The Pew Research Center notes that 71% of first time mothers over thirty-five are college educated. Since I arrived in NYC, I don’t think I’ve even met anyone who didn’t go to college.

But on my Due Date Club app, people are constantly starting threads with titles like “aNy othr teen moms on here???” And they get plenty of sympathetic answers. In New York City I only know one other woman my age who has a baby. She’d gone to Harvard and worked on Wall Street, but, she once confided in me in low tones, “I always wanted to be a mom.”

(my eternal hero– Robin McKinley. God, can this woman write a fantasy novel. source)

I have not always wanted to be a mom. (If I’ve always wanted to be anything it’s a famous fantasy novelist – dorky, I know). More immediately, I’ve wanted to get a college scholarship and then get a high GPA and then get into an Ivy League grad school and then have a sparkling career in the big city. I’m not sure about how sparkling my big city career has been (a guess: not particularly), but I made the rest of my goals happen.

Until now, the conversations I’ve had with my friends about babies have sounded something like this:

Glamorous, perfectly made-up Mara: “My mom is a nurse. She says it’s a myth that women are less fertile in their mid-thirties.”

(We all nod sagely.)

Julie, who has just been promoted and is managing ten people and attending star-studded work parties: “I need to spend at least another five years on my career. And anyway, my boss hates pregnant women.”

Stephanie, who works at a tech start-up: “Five years, definitely. That’s the right amount of time. You have to live your own life first.”

Everyone else: “Yes!”

Me: silence

I had been married for a couple years when I decided to go off birth control. By then, I was in therapy to try to cope with my career-related anxiety. At my preconception appointment (this is a thing! Although I may be the only one who has ever taken advantage of it), the doctor congratulated me for being so proactive and told me to go off the pill three months before I was even thinking about trying to conceive, to get the hormones out of my system and allow my body time to readjust. So I did. And then I panicked. “I have to finish my book,” I told my therapist. “Maybe I should wait another year? Six months? I think I rushed into this. I’m not ready.”

But my body was. Two hours after that therapy session, I peed on a stick, telling myself that I was stupid for even taking a test this soon. It said “YES” in very straightforward digital letters. I was already pregnant.

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bad at being a “natural” mother

“She was always a natural mother, even when she was a girl,” said a relative, describing one of Bear’s cousins. Everyone agreed. I agreed, too, knowing her a little. I could see it.

Some people are natural mothers. They get down on the floor with other people’s kids, and they know just what to say. They like kids, naturally. They have a certain ease, an automatic knowledge, a comfort with their own bodies that allows them to be silly in all the right ways, at the right moments.


My face still feels awkward to me, from just behind it, where I live, even though I’ve been wearing it for so long. I catch myself thinking, “Am I making the right expression?” I think this is what it means to be awkward—to think like that. Even if it doesn’t show. I know it doesn’t always show. I know plenty of people don’t think I’m awkward, actually, but it doesn’t even matter, because I am. Those girls and women who have quick, gigantic smiles and who touch everyone with friendly effortlessness have always seemed gifted and a little magical to me. I think I associate that with being a natural mother.

No one would describe me as a natural mother. (Except Bear, who is loyal like that.)

What bothers me a lot right now about being pregnant is that there’s a chance I’m not that interested in children. And it’s almost definitely true that I’m not good with them. Especially not really little ones. Often, I forget to even notice them.

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Kate on April 29th 2013 in fear, life, motherhood, pregnancy

the things men say about women in front of other women

I began to feel dim, suppressed. The kind of feeling that sneaks up on you and you can’t trace it and it hangs around your neck for a while, staring up at you with glazed, bleary eyes until you have to excuse yourself to sit down and mope.

Everything has been good. And I am one of those frustrating people who isn’t particularly good at good, so this is more like awesome. I attribute it to my baby. I think she’s playing with my hormones, and the result is this creeping, stealthy peacefulness. I sometimes just stare into space and feel content. What the hell.

And then, abruptly, I was slipping, my arms windmilling in slow motion. I toppled into a dark pool of insecurity, and the first thing I hated was my stupid, stupid uncooperative hair. But that was only the beginning. Why haven’t my breasts gotten bigger? This is their ONE CHANCE, damnit. All of these pregnant women are being all delighted about their poofy, voluptuous new breasts, and mine are sulking against my ribs, just friggin’ determined to spite me. There is some ancient grudge here, I can sense it.


Anyway, I knew things were bad when I started thinking about my nose. It’s like a bright red, wildly waving flag now. This little thought comes up, all evil and subtle, like, “What’s one more surgery…” Yeah, like that. “You need it…The surgeon said you need it…” That’s bad. That means I’m already feeling bad. Something is going stale in my head. Something is fermenting.

I was sitting and moping and thinking about how I am unattractive in every way and also I have a shitty career that I should be embarrassed about and also I probably have a lame, unfixable personality. I am probably only rarely truly funny. It went like that. And then it kept going.

“What is going on?” said Bear, a little baffled, as I moped from one room to the next, turtling, tucking myself into my shell in the evenings and poking my head out only to watch some bad TV.

I started trying to explain. It might be this or this other thing or I’m just really tired right now or I need to take a long bath or something else. It’s the pregnancy. My back. Oy vey! My sciatica! And then I said something without thinking about it and I knew that’s what it was. It was this guy, and the way he talked about women.

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Kate on April 22nd 2013 in beauty, body, fear, feminism