Fertile Soil

We're trying to get pregnant again. Well, not really again.

The last time I was pregnant we hadn't been trying. It was an accident in a moment when I demanded passion and spontaneity from of a marriage that was falling to pieces. I hadn't been tracking fertility cycles or taking pre-natal vitamins and I continued to drink. It wasn't until after the Thanksgiving Katrina was dating the wine-maker and the Christmas party of White Russians that I realized I'd missed a period.

I took a pregnancy test on New Year's Eve and stopped drinking immediately. I started taking the prenatals and scheduled an appointment with my doctor. I told her I drank before I realized I was pregnant. She told me, "Don't beat yourself up about it. There isn't anything you can do about it now."

But just before my first appointment with my ob-gyn I cramped. I bled. I drove with my husband and roommate to the immediate care center downtown and made tasteless dead baby jokes. We waited until the ultrasound tech confirmed the miscarriage, "I can't find anything, no heartbeat. Are you sure you were pregnant?" The doctor's paperwork said something about a threatened abortion.

I kept my appointment with the ob-gyn: she could schedule the DNC or I could just let my body take care of it naturally. I decided to let it happen. The cramping had been uncomfortable but not unbearable. It took almost three months of nausea and spotting before my levels evened out and I didn't have to have blood drawn every week to ensure that my body had shed my failure.

I learned quickly that miscarriages happen all the time. 20% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. My sister who also miscarried told me, "It's not your fault. There's no way of knowing why we miscarry." Women at work mentioned their own miscarriages: their mother or sister or friend who miscarried. But people don't like to talk about it and my mind swung back and forth between blaming myself and giving thanks that we weren't getting ready for a baby because although I thought we were ready, I know we weren't.

A few weeks after the miscarriage we took Scout, our chocolate lab, to be spayed. I walked her gingerly after the surgery and cried over the stitches along her belly. I watched the wound and waited for her to heal. Maybe when her belly was smooth again I would feel healed too. But Scout never had the belly of a puppy again and I could relate to her empty insides.

I started going to therapy. We worked on our marriage. And two years later we have healed. We are ready, really ready, to try; to track fertility cycles and take prenatal vitamins and stop drinking alcohol and caffeine.

We get to work on baby making and now we wait.


Civil Disobedience

This past spring I was arrested for the first time. My perfect record (except for the car accident and tickets from high school and college) now showed an arrest for refusing to disperse.

I did it on purpose. I sat in the street with other teachers to protest class size increases and the district's decision to balance the budget at school sites rather than eliminate superfluous waste at this high rise in downtown Los Angeles. A noble cause, I think.

It's best to travel light when you know you're about to be arrested. No jewelry. No cash. No cards. No cell phone. No keys. Just ID in your pocket and the number of a lawyer written in Sharpie on your arm. But even though I traveled light I still spent ten hours in custody and I felt the heavy power of The State.

They took my ID, my glasses and my shoelaces and in the heat of that afternoon, time moved slowly. It moved strangely as we were cuffed, transported, processed, transported again, held, booked and then finally released.

A former student of mine was one of the arresting officers. When you've taught long enough you never know who you'll run into. By the time I was released he'd already friend-requested me on Facebook.

The LA Times ran a picture of six of us sitting in the street with the police surrounding us so I heard from friends all weekend as I tried to recover physically from my day without food or water or going to the bathroom. I ate Goldfish crackers and drank Gatorade until I could hold down more. Then I slept.

Monday at school colleagues thanked me or teased me, "Where's your ankle alarm, Nakada?" Students with records felt we had something in common and my best-behaved students looked at me with disappointment. "You, Ms. Nakada? You got arrested?"

I tried to place my actions in the context of others like Ghandi, Dr. King, Cesar Chavez but what I did was so small in comparison to freedom fighters who stood up before me, often alone, enduring days, months, or years in jail. They risked being beaten or killed and all I did was spend 10 hours in custody.

At the end of the day when the teacher next door asked me how I was doing I wept. Even though I knew I'd done the right thing it weighed heavily on my heart because my actions changed nothing in terms of the big picture. But it had changed me.

I experienced a little bit of what so many of my students of color must feel when the police stop them, cite them, or arrest them. I knew a little about the pressure, the heavy weight of this system designed to break you. I understood the power of the police state and all that you can lose when you break the law.

I don't know what I expected that Friday morning as I drove through the quiet LA streets to be arrested. Nothing can really prepare you for that kind of experience but I'll never be able to travel like I did that morning with no jewelry, cash or cards, no cell phone or keys. Teachers were still laid off and hundreds of district administrators continue to walk in and out of the high rise where I protested far away from the students I teach everyday.

Now, I carry a new weight with me, no matter how lightly I try to travel.