Go with the flow

Go with the flow – time out; expectant mother on need for public urination

Diana E. Kapp

imagine my bladder is better than any waterbed, providing my unborn baby that soothing, rolling sensation surfers experience as they lie waiting for the next set. I picture my little one splayed out, her head propped on a sea of pillows. Then, in search of a comfier position, rolling onto her side, pulling her legs tight into her body and cocooning deeper into the mattress. Five minutes later, feeling a bit antsy, flipping onto her other side before finally curling up, shrimplike, for a short nap.

It’s this scene, occurring constantly inside me, that has me ducking behind cars, racing through hallways in every office I visit and leaving a trail of markings that rivals that of even the most alpha of male dogs. It’s much worse this time than when I was pregnant with my little one’s now-2-year-old brother–maybe my bladder is just looser, worn down from bearing this weight once before. It started earlier this time around, too: By week 10, my underwear was showing a few too many drops leaked as I struggled out of my growing-too-snug-around-the-waist tights.

In a parking garage off San Francisco’s Union Square, my little girl digs in her heels on her bladder bed. With my wide-eyed-in-wonderment toddler son looking on, I squat by the driver-side door and keep my eyes frozen on the ground for fear of meeting his–or an innocent shopper’s–gaze. Peeing this way is surprisingly hard. Not the stooping-down-and-hiking-up-the-skirt part, but actually letting it rip. The body maintains self-respect by refusing to release the stream.

So I try. One push–no luck. I take a deep breath, relax and imagine a faucet spilling out a steady stream. Still nothing. Another push. A drop. Then one more. Finally, visualizing a waterfall, waves of water splashing down from above, out it comes. My son stomps in the stream. “A puddle! A puddle!” he screams. At first, I worry about the effects on my still-in-diapers son; after all, his toilet techniques could only be described as formative. Then I quickly realize that it’s one of the more benign habits he may be picking up from me.

Once the peeing-in-public barrier is broken, I really let loose. Anything stationary is shelter enough–a stroller, my husband, a shrub (with or without leaves). My trick is never to make eye contact with onlookers. I can now almost make myself believe they aren’t even there. Residential neighborhoods, where I continue my daily jogs, present the greatest challenge. Front yards feel off limits; fence posts too narrow.

Occasionally, I’ll wiggle between the bumpers of closely parked cars. A 40-minute run at this point requires six to seven pit stops. I know every public toilet from the Castro district to Chestnut Street, and the exact distances between them.

For a while, peeing began to feel like the only thing this pregnancy was about. Until my ultrasound, when I got a view of my little girl in her waterbed suite. A tiny hand, perfectly formed, waved as if to say, “All’s well in here–can’t wait to meet you.” And somehow, since that glimpse, the tossing and turning has become a secret sign that all is healthy and safe for my little acrobat, who is waiting impatiently, excitedly, for my arms.

Diana E. Kapp has also written for Shape, Health and Eating Well.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group