Why is “Knocked Up” So Much Fun to Say?

 

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Before I was Melissa with three big, wacky kids, I was Melissa with two big kids and one in the oven, working through my life here in Japan. I was pedaling my bike until I couldn’t anymore and getting the strangest looks. I was a mom of three, but first two, and one, and before my eldest was born, I was just me, me trying to figure things out in my new home of Tokyo. Me, daily reconciling the differences between my two homes, Florida, America, the family, friends, and sunsets I left behind, and the home I was just getting to know, alongside my husband.

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Obgyn, heck, dentist appointments can be uncomfortable enough in the culture you know, but here, with a different language and forms to fill-out, and a variety of cultural differences and norms? When you’re becoming a mother, you want to feel somewhat capable, like a real adult who can communicate and later advocate for your child and family. You don’t want to feel childish, unable to convey your needs or clearly word your questions. I left some of those appointments in tears. (Picture break-downs and here-and-there success at bookstores, public offices, shops, and train stations).

Writing, through all of these times, has been empowering, and therefore, healing.

So, too, has mothering.

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I’ve come out of all of these experiences a stronger and more confident me. Motherhood is challenging in any scenario, wherever you live, with a great number of supports or especially solo. With writing, I’m finding my voice and connecting with others. As women, as mamas, it’s powerful to know we’re seen, we’re heard, and we’re supported. It’s important to read of bravery in its many forms, of pioneering and making it work.

I can now say that I’m part of a great and splendid project with the expression, “Knocked Up” in the title! Hooray! The book showcases 26 women in 25 countries, all navigating the unique experiences of giving birth abroad and really, daring to make a life with kids.

I’m grateful for having an avenue, a gorgeous book in which my essay, my little baby, found a home. I can’t wait to read the other stories! From my essay and used by the wonderful editor, Lisa Ferland, in our Kickstarter site:

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I ask you to spread the word and share this project. Support, tweet, give, do anything you feel led to do.

Join in, please. I know if I would have had a book like this going into it, I’d have been greatly encouraged. We are never alone, but it can feel that way sometimes. Books, words, stories that connect, all have power.

Come on, don’t you want to say/share/tweet you’ve been, “Knocked Up Again?”

To GIVE click here!

To SHARE click here!

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**Gorgeous black and white photos above by the amazing Mel Willms.

Merci, thanks, and arigato!

 

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Looking Back on Birth

I never knew I’d write so much on pregnancy and having babies.
I guess I wasn’t one of those girls playing house or stuffing her kid-abdomen

with a pillow, pretending to nurse, none of that, really.

baby  excited k  swingy girl

I never thought I’d move off to Japan and have kids there.
Then again, I never played “wedding”, never thought past being young and scampering around South Florida. The most I daydreamed about was, perhaps, maybe, at some point, taking a ride to New Orleans where I’d live off beignets and dance round the jazz. I’ll pack for two weeks and end up staying years, I thought. Paris also called me, but I was really a lackadaisical poet, floating in the breeze. It would have taken more planning that I knew how.

Yet, here I am, blogging about having cute little babies in Japan.
It’s a whirlwind, it’s glamour, it’s hard work, it’s pay off, it’s tears, and beading bracelets with gold; it’s exposure to the grandest sort of love, daily. It’s finally getting out of those nursing bras.

-Melissa Maternity Jan 2013 WEB-51

Tired, restful, yawny maternity photo by Mel Willms

Here is my part in an amazing tour of what it is like to live abroad, learning another culture, while growing a family. Here is my experience in Japan.

I am so proud of this series, and just very appreciative of Iulia’s work on Best of Baby. Before I became pregnant while living in Japan, the very idea of becoming pregnant, carrying, and later, carrying for a baby in this new place loomed with scary impossibility. It would be madness! How could I possibly even think of having a baby when I couldn’t even communicate with the clerks at the grocery store! I still cannot carry on any real conversation with my neighbors. How could I even think of taking-on another life? I needed intensive language training! Meditation! And yet…

Life goes on, that “biological clock is ticking like this”, (spoken like a gawdy Marisa Tomei). What are you gonna do, wait, wait, terrified, until you go back to America? You could…you could try…or you can just let life unfold. Learn about care in your new country. Get support. Find out what works. And you know you won’t like all of it. You’ll probably make faces at the traditional old wives’ tales. You may mock the selection of maternity clothes. But you make it work. Life and sweetness all happen. You arrive. You age. You make friends who throw you the shower of your dreams, the one you never even thought of a gazillion miles away, actually. You get everything you need.

-Melissa Maternity Jan 2013 WEB-55

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So you write and you blab and you live, wanting to boost the other women you see, pregnant, trying, or wondering, scared if they should really let themselves be so far away from their mothers, far away from the system of care they’ve always known and readied, steadied themselves for. Sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes you cry and cry and eventually contribute to a book on raw postpartum experiences. Sometimes, though, like all the hard things, you learn how tough the skin on an egg really is. You learn to let the tough hits flake off of you somehow, too. You are fragile, but my, you are won-over with grace and a deep satisfaction. This is growth. These are the moments for which crazy-loud dance parties with the kids were created.

This is what it is to split and move and multiply cells and have to deliver all that pressure. This is the stuff of growing a family, the making and shaking of love.

I love this series and all the ways we learn it’s okay. It is the thrill of surprise, the joy of life, unknown, unfurling.

All gorgeous photos taken by my friend, Mel Willms

Living Abroad, A Synopsis on Moving On

Living abroad means

your dear dear friends

are on the next plane

back to their own, real home,

the place they’ll go back to school

or eat those foods they’ve had such a

hankering for.

 

It was never going to be

some forever-stay;

there are bigger plans

than the ones

I foresee.

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They will leave you a chair

or a small lamp stand

a cup for your kids

and some cute hairbands

and then

 

gone

to be computer friends

not in a cafe

not to help you go shopping

not to tuck you back into the folds of dirt

here in your still-new garden

called

Another Country.

 

And everyone is fine with the leaving

because it is routine.

It is called “expat”

and “next season”

and “roll with the tide, baby”.

 

And then

it is just you

with your family

and it always becomes fine

but when you watch shows

or plan a birthday party

or wanna make some tortillas and queso

a real margarita,

it is lonely

 

and it is life

on an island

where so many are expats

and the nationals, the everyday people locals

I have met,

connected with on balcony parties,

on high towers, landmarks

over tea and cake,

every other day in cafes and the library—-

well, with them I’m still playing catch-up.

It is not their fault we aren’t connecting.

 

So goodbye dear friends, the special, the beloved trading secrets and tricks

the special, the beloved trading secrets and tricks,

prayers and swear words kind.

Bye in less than a month.

 

Goodbye to the long ago

thinking

that roots

are not so easily

repotted

and repositioned

and just plain picked.

 

People move and here, it’s often.

 

Hello, maybe to

the white cereal bowls or random candles

the travel shampoos

the “thank you” on teal cardstock

they leave behind.

 

We should just call ourselves

Casa B&B

and then I can remember to expect

a checkout time.