When I am about a thousand pounds into the pregnancy that will bring us Kallan, I decide that we need to get her room ready for her.
I pick out the paint . . . a shiny bright Granny Smith apple green. If you are thinking that sounds just dreadful? Then you would be correct.
Mark tries to talk me out of this color, but I weep and bitch in the Home Depot paint display about how he doesn’t love me anymore as I throw paint samples into the air.
And so then there is Granny Smith apple green.
I am not allowed to actually paint the baby’s room myself because of this . . .
While painting the bathroom that links Maj’s room to the new baby’s room? I climb up on the ladder that I have squeezed into the very small toilet area. I am using a short-handled roller, and so I need to get right up against the ceiling in order to paint. There is just a small area of ceiling that I can’t reach, but instead of calling for help?
I choose instead to plant one foot on the back tank of the toilet.
So now here I am, one foot on the toilet tank and one foot on the ladder. Way too pregnant to be doing any of this. And there is a moment of triumph as I manage to swipe the roller over that last section of ceiling.
And then the world slips away.
It was seriously a slow-motion sort of moment . . . I can still remember trying to make deals with some invisible someone on the way down. OK, I am willing to have whatever bones need to be broken in order to teach me the lesson I need to learn about being so incredibly stupid. All of my arms and legs . . . break them. But please don’t let the baby get hurt.
Take a note so that you will not have to test this in your own life: If you fall from the ceiling onto a toilet? That shit is going to hurt.
I am covered in ugly bruises.
But the baby is fine.
And so Mark makes a new rule. He wants the rule to be:
Kris is not allowed to do any more stupid things while she is pregnant.
But then I point out that I never mean to do stupid things, they just end up being stupid. Most of my ideas are brilliant! How was I to know before the fact that a giantly pregnant woman should not stand on the back of a toilet?
So then there are several new rules:
Kris is not allowed to paint.
Kris is not allowed to climb ladders.
Kris is only allowed to sit (and not stand) on the toilet.
It is like he thinks I am an idiot.
So Mark and his dad paint the room.
Shiny Granny Smith apple green. It is like stepping into an apple-green vomitorium. I want to cry, except this color is my own stupid pregnant fault, so I do not.
I decorate the room (a tragic story for another day). It is still awful, and I whisper repeated apologies to my unborn baby. I feel as though I have failed in some monumental maternal way.
I am now 8 months pregnant, and I am not feeling as though I am up to the task of being Mommy to two little girls. Maj has just turned two, and she has not yet spoken a single fucking word. I am trying not to let it get to me, but inside? I am all freaked out. If I was a good Mom, wouldn’t she at least want to say my name?
What if I did something wrong during that first pregnancy and now my older daughter is never going to talk to me?
What if this new baby won’t talk to me either, because her room is so hideous?
I feel all judged, from inside and out.
And then? There is a smell.
Maj notices it first and comes to get me. Leads me down the hallway to her unborn sister’s room. Stands in the middle of the room and sniffs loudly. Points to her nose.
So I sniff. And what I smell?
Something has died within one of the walls of unborn Kallan’s room.
Maj and I duct-tape the outlets in the room (the smell was coming through them). Open the window. We close the doors and put towels at the bottom to contain the smell.
And then I reassure Maj that Daddy will take care of this.
And when Mark gets home? I freak the fuck out.
We are having a baby in just a few weeks! Do you hear me? A baby is coming and she is going to want to be able to sleep in her room! How can this baby be born if her room smells like death? Her room is apple-green death! How is that not a bad omen? How? How? How? How? Oh my god, I cannot stand it! We suck so bad! We have dead animals in our nursery walls! Do NOT tell anyone. Promise you will not tell anyone! We are doomed! Oh my god, do you not see that this is a sign that we are doomed? This poor poor baby. She is doomed!
Sometimes? Because Maj never talks? She is able to sneak up on me all unbelievably quiet.
She was not supposed to hear about how we were doomed.
So Mark heads down there to see what can be done.
I go down about an hour later, and this is what I see . . .
The room is covered in dust and dirt and debris.
Everywhere is the smell of death.
And the wall Mark has determined holds the death? It is riddled with investigatory holes. Like twenty of them.
Like wormholes in a Granny Smith apple.
“Babe,” says Mark, “This wall has got all sorts of electrical stuff running through it. The animal, whatever it is, could be caught anywhere. I can’t find it. The best plan is probably to just close the room off and wait. It’s got to be a small animal, probably a mouse. It can’t stink forever.”
I lie down on the floor. On my side. And weep. Maj comes over to pat my stomach and stare at me silently with her huge eyes.
Mark sinks apologetically to the floor beside me.
The almost-four of us, in that little room of vomity worm-hole-ridden green death.
Kallan loves this story.
“How long did it stink? That is awesome! Did I sleep in the stink? That is awesome! Remember how as soon as I could talk, I asked you to paint my room pink? Remember? I hated that green color! It was horrible! What were you thinking?”