Fresh Air

Kelsey Breseman
3 min readMay 24, 2024

The second trimester is supposed to be the good one: the nausea fades, your energy comes back, you get a baby bump that's cute but not yet unwieldy. It seems to be bearing out. My London days get better, and though they're tiring, I can take whole-day outings again.

I go to the azalea garden in Richmond Park, see the King's deer that still roam there. I take tea under the wisteria in a greenhouse garden. The days grow warm, and I go to my favorite bakery for perfect sourdough sandwiches. Six hijabi women and one small boy are straddling bikes on the dirt running track in Victoria Park. All are tentative, but the boy's tiny pedal-less push bike is the steadiest. Impatient, he urges them on.

Pregnancy in London has been lonely; I'm an observer, or alone. I find strangers and meetups to make plans with, and then cancel because I'm not well. I have a handful of new friends now, but it feels sparse compared to living in community. By evening, when Robert is home, I'm collapsed on the couch. So it's a joy and relief to pack for Alaska: a span of weeks in my other homes.

The flights are rough, and there are three of them. I lose all the contents of my stomach on the tarmac in Keflavic, and Iceland Air neither seats us together nor offers food service on the eight-hour next leg. I order multiple rounds of €8 cup noodles while Robert sleeps somewhere behind me. We get first-class upgrades from Seattle to Juneau, but the flight is delayed. We're too tired to properly enjoy it.

Around 1am Juneau time (9 hours off from London), Rick picks us up in our Airbnb host's car. In the morning, Eileen coordinates with our family friends Beth and John, so we all meet on the dock for the ferry.

Sunnyside has its usual foibles: squirrels have chewed into two of the cabins, destroying a mattress and making a paper mess. We clean up, settle in.

Eileen and Beth have conspired to bring me a graduation outfit, complete with a UT Austin Master's hood from the data science department. We host our own little commencement on the sand spit: a speech from Eileen; a song from John; Rick, Beth, and Robert standing witness.

I'm mostly well. There is a day when I throw up in the tideline, and again in the mossy forest, but it's just the one day. When I lay half conscious by the fire, there is conversation and someone else to cook. In the morning, I'm well enough to chase orcas down the beach when I catch their long triangle fins breaching the water of the inlet, calm at 5am.

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