Shortly before I find out I’m pregnant, I’m thrilled to be cast in a community production of 42nd Street. I audition in the full knowledge that I’m trying to get knocked up; I’m bummed out about how long it’s taking, and putting everything else on hold just in case this ever-more-unlikely-seeming thing might happen is just making it worse. Also, it’s been years since I last auditioned, I’m out of practice, and I haven’t had a tap class in ages, so really– what are the odds that RIGHT NOW I’ll get a) cast and b) pregnant?
As soon as we get home from Mexico, I’m back in three-hour tap dance rehearsals. I am so electrified by the information that I swear it will show on my face. I know I will not be able to keep it a secret. I know if I don’t tell someone, I will likely throw up, or pass out, or have some kind of secrecy-induced seizure. I know that I shouldn’t tell anyone for twelve long, agonizing weeks. And yet, during a break between songs, I am sitting eating yogurt or celery or whatever it is we’re all eating given that we have to appear on stage in our underwear in a month, and I know I am going to spill it. I can feel it coming. I am lamenting being back from a gorgeous Mexican vacation, and a dear friend and cast mate (who knows we’re trying), says something like, “maybe you came back with a Mexico baby!” And that’s when it happens. I look at her with my MOST POINTED hint hint nudge nudge wink wink face and say, “maybe I DID.” And we’re OFF to the bathroom for whispering and silent squealing.
So that’s the first non-family member who knows. Oh, how rapidly the numbers would grow.
It becomes clear to me in short order that I’m going to have to quit the show. Tap dancing is high impact, for one, and it makes me nervous. Two, I just have a feeling I’m not going to be one of those people who doesn’t gain a pound until 7 months (see the aforementioned underwear costumes), and I’m already not on the skinny end of the cast spectrum. And three, at my third rehearsal after getting back, I bleed. Just a little. I have a sharp pain, and I bleed, and I know I’m done. I’m googling wildly during a music rehearsal, texting my husband and my mother and my friends and knowing I’m breaking every theater etiquette rule in the book. I’m embarrassed, I’m scared, I don’t want to get in trouble and I don’t want to offend the music director, but something new to me kicks in and I just get up and walk out. I don’t even remember saying anything to anyone.
I drive home already chastising my unborn child for stressing me out. “Stay in there, little thing,” I say, over and over. And this is the first moment, I think, when I love it.