Our erstwhile ski columnist Emily Palm muses on impending motherhood
By Emily Palm
I think La Niña this year is a pregnant lady, hormones raging and roaring: “If I don’t get to ski, then NOBODY gets to ski.”
Oh wait, that’s me when I feel like Ursula in her final scene in The Little Mermaid.
Lest I out myself as a petty, selfish person, I should clarify that represents only one of the many moments of being “with child.” I’d like to think most of the time I emanate a content maternal glow. As with everything, the truth must lie somewhere in between.
For something that has happened 7 billion times in the last century, pregnancy sure feels unique when it happens to you.
A round of friends from high school settled down and began birthing babies a few years back. “Not me!” I quietly proclaimed, packing up my truck and moving eight times in the span of two years for various seasonal jobs, internships and other opportunities.
In my early twenties, having a child seemed so suburban and pedestrian. I had adventures to follow, poor decisions to make, and dreams to conquer. Then it crept up on me. You know the story, girl meets boy, they eventually get married, and the next thing you know we’re homeowners in Dillon, Colo. (Not a bad place to land, might I add.)
Then I took a positive pregnancy test. This is what you get for forgetting prophylactics on a hut trip. We had planned on beginning to seriously think about discussing the prospective idea of maybe starting our family in the next year or so. But I’ve heard you can never be truly ready.
Thus began the transformation from being a girl who flirts her way to good customer service at stores to crazy, disgruntled pregnant lady.
My first conscious hormonal moment happened this summer at an R.E.I. counter in in Missoula, Montana. My sleeping bag’s zipper had broken and they said they couldn’t repair it, only replace it with a different bag. The new version of the bag did not have the same features as my original, and paled in comparison in every aspect imaginable. But how useful is a zero-degree sleeping bag that won’t zip?
While the employee found the original transaction, entered information in for the exchange and rang up the new bag, a lump grew in my throat.
“That will be $14 difference,” the man said.
“Actually,” I said, my voice getting progressively higher, “I think I’m OK with this one.”
I ran out the store hugging my bag, tears streaming down my face. My husband could only shrug apologetically and follow me out the door. The R.E.I. in Portland, Ore., by the way, does such repairs for free, so the story has a happy ending.
While being pregnant has brought about some embarrassingly inconvenient tears, it also has awakened something more powerful: The mama bear within.
Walking home from the Dillon Post Office recently, a smallish brown and white pit bull and his German shepherd mix friend ran toward my dog, Ullr, and me. My heart raced — about a year ago Ullr was attacked by two Newfoundlands, and that experience shook something invincible out of me.
Trying to keep the energy light, I said, “Hi there dogs.” But the pit bull started to behave aggressively toward Ullr and the next thing I know, I’m roaring like a mother bear, telling those dogs to scram. It worked. The two dogs backed off, ran into a neighboring yard and watched us as we began to walk away. “Get out of here!” I bellowed again, the memory of seeing Ullr attacked before feeding my furor. They hightailed it out of there.
There’s the high probability that these two dogs are nice but rowdy. Being eight months pregnant on a slick snow-covered hillside, no other person in sight, and Highway 6 so close, I was not about to finish feeling that interaction out.
The comedian Louis C.K. has a funny bit on the difference between girls and women. There’s a reason no one has marketed a line of videos called, “Women Gone Wild.” When that happens, people get hurt. Not that I wasn’t a woman before becoming pregnant, but I can see the evolutionary benefit of the transformation.
Sometimes it takes an intimidating experience to realize that the potent changes happening during pregnancy are important and empowering. Maybe I am ready to protect a little human child.