Victoria Jelinek

The Pregnancy Diaries – 8

‘There’s no map to human behaviour’ Bjork

I have a dear friend in London whom I met at graduate school there. She’s from Moscow, ‘whip smart,’ speaks three languages fluently, is gorgeous and rich. She’s also a bit over-the-top with labels and ‘bling’ and can consequently seem a bit ‘full on’ when one meets her. I was assigned her as a partner in a class entitled ‘Victorian Representations of Sexuality’ and we’ve been great friends since. Despite our completely different lifestyles (she has a penthouse apartment off King’s Road three times the size of my house in the boondocks; she has a personal trainer, I’m flabby and out of shape; she has a manicure, pedicurist visit her home once a week, I cut and file my own, sometimes; she has an eyebrow, lip and body wax every other week, my eyebrows often look like I get them done at the same place as Liam Gallagher, and I assure myself that my ‘tache is only visible in bright light; she has her hair washed and blown dry at a salon three times a week, mine is usually frizzy; she would not be caught dead in down or fleece, I can often be seen ‘sporting’ it in Chamonix) I have found her to be an earthy, practical, wise woman regarding human affairs, a no-nonsense woman in general, a hedonist who I can be completely open with about myself, my past and present with no fear of judgement, a wonderful conversationalist regarding books and stories, and a person who is also generous, loyal and funny.

But now she’s sent me the book We Need to Talk about Kevin. I don’t even know what to say to her! I’m just over three months pregnant and have hormones raging through my body causing my normally neurotic self to be even more neurotic (I wouldn’t have thought it possible). I’m already overly influenced by scary cinematic depictions of pregnant women in feature films that I’ve liked, such as Alien and Rosemary’s Baby, but now she sends me a book about a woman who has a baby that she can’t relate to, whom she does not feel tender towards, and whom she actively believes is a malevolent force out to make her life worse and who does turns out to be a violent sociopath! (I’m sorry to those who haven’t read the book or seen the film, but it’s been in print and on celluloid for awhile so I’m not ‘jumping the gun’ and giving away the ending). The woman in the story is similar to me: she’s creative, moves from New York to the suburbs; has a husband very keen to have the traditional life and household; she’s ambivalent about the role and the loss of her independence/life as she knows it, she doesn’t enjoy the pregnancy, then she has a difficult baby and child. I don’t know whether I’ll have a difficult baby and child yet, of course, but there are similarities between me and this woman that can’t go unnoticed to a woman like me who ‘exams her navel’ regularly. I’ve been so focused and worried that I‘ll lose this baby or that it will be born with some kind of physical deformity or dysfunction that it never occurred to me to also worry about the baby’s basic personality profile…whether he will be someone that is likeable, well-adjusted, kind… non-sociopathic anyway…do I send my friend a ‘thank you’ note as my own mother taught me to do and which I have done religiously since I was a little girl? What to say?

Dearheart, you’ve always been a thoughtful person and you’re so enthusiastic and encouraging about my having a baby even as you, yourself, do not have one, that I find it touching that you thought of me when you read this book and thought, as the heroine is also pregnant and having a child, that you’d send it to me to enjoy…what can I say? Scary reading, yes. A little confusing as a gift at this point in my life, yes. But the writing is great and just as I’ll forgive a lot from a person who makes me laugh, I appreciate a good book… thank you.