This is the one occupying me, kicking my innards, turning, exploring.
I caught sight of myself in a window walking on the street today and had a split second of not recognizing myself, at all. I thought I was looking at a stranger until my brain pieced it. It’s like I’m wearing an odd costume.
The first three months were complete illness and misery. Thankfully the fabled second-trimester-golden-time has held true, and it has been a largely halcyon period of: generous spring weather, pervasive blossoms, petals raining to the ground, long walks on the nature trail, extreme busyness with bees (and all things swarms), and happy friends and events. I’m just now, at 5 months, starting to really slow. Getting up is a thing, bending over requires negotiation, and turning over in bed is a whole endeavor.
Still, I remain glad for the many things that are happening. I’m glad this child will have photos of me (while its in utero), giving well-attended poetry readings, having adventures, and doing a lot of beekeeping. I’m also glad the book I’m curating and editing will be released shortly after the birth. I will host and attend related events with said child in a sling, around my body, mewling as I give readings and introduce esteemed writers. I also feel driven to work on writing and submit my work for publication, though I’m poor at executing submissions (I make it harder than it need be). I can already feel the invisibility that comes, at least temporarily, with parenthood. With the exception of writers and some loved one, people don’t see me so much right now, they see a pregnant me; they see what is happening, actively. I also know that out of necessity, there will be long months after the birth when writing will likely be a wish.
It’s strange that something so primary (pregnancy and birth), can be so odd, but natural, at the same time. At once, I’m shocked to find myself host to someone else; occupied. Two at once. And then when I feel the kicks and hiccups inside, it feels entirely logical that the child should be living its life inside of me. It makes me think about being ‘alien.’ Not in the Ripley-Ridley-Giger-Sci-fi way, but kind of too. It also makes me think about what it is to be female, to take in and be occupied by. What it is to be beings that can hold.
For someone that experiences the world almost entirely via sublimity / perception / analysis, being this physical, on this level, for this long, has been at times disturbing, and wholly curious. Since this pregnancy, it’s like I have been cut off from those tools of sensing; exiled somehow. I feel like an appendage is gone. All I can do now is to be utterly in my body and entirely present, which for me is extremely difficult for an extended period, and can often feel threatening. That said, for as unnerving as I find it, I know it is challenging and healthy for me to be encountering, and having to cope with being physical and human. It’s a complete act of faith. And there is a large part of me, the part that is fulfilled by pain which results in revolution and transcendence, that is looking forward to labor.
The most surprising but not unexpected oddity that pregnancy has ignited for me, is the similarity between abuse and pregnancy. In many ways they are identical, though through this experience of pregnancy I have the benefit of: 1) Being a mature adult making decisions for my body on my own behalf, 2) Decades of hard work and understanding regarding myself, my body and memory, and my perpetrators, and 3) Coping mechanisms and a support system. The similarities are easy to perceive and understand in that: something is happening to my body without my permission. Just when I get used to what a new week brings, be it round ligament pains, fainting, joints loosening, muscles not cooperating, it all changes again and my body begins displaying new, unknown behaviors and pains. And all of these ongoing pains and changes are happening at the site of original trauma and mimicking effects of original injuries.
Indeed at times now, when I am not vigilant, when I’m depleted or feeling remote, an old, old sensation of terror, falling, panic, and entire doom cascades through me. For this reason, I know that labor will be quite interesting. The difference is though, that this is all my choice, and entirely on my terms. I want this result. I want my body to be in service to this. And as such, I want to feel every sensation of labor – every wave of pain and my body holding and then giving. The reason being: I suspect labor will be (for me) the other side of the coin from abuse; a true healing after trauma and the years and years of repeatedly defusing it, via transformation. Were I younger, were I less mature, knowledgeable, and with less command over managing PTSD and disruptive memories, this would not be the raw, impressive experience it is.
I know these considerations I’ve recorded here are not particularly remarkable and are still roughly hewn. A fellow writer friend’s child is a year old and she still hasn’t written about the child or the experience. I can see why: it’s so much to digest and gain perspective on enough to have anything worthwhile to say. Still, I feel a need to turn it over, look at the facets, and try to understand. Especially as my body — which I have spent so much of my life being at battle with on so many levels, functions in these singular ways; naturally, and in spite of me. It spreads, swells, splays, readies itself. I waddle around in this hot weather. I wince at the thought of the coming hot months. I shed every layer I can. I eat as my body demands and rest before it fails. I sleep and sleep and sleep. And my dreams are astounding films that stagger me when I awake to rise.
In other news, I’m really taken with the photographic records of microscopic tears recently done by Rose-Lynn Fisher. They are sort of like Masaru Emoto’s work without the controversy or room for debate – just pictures of what she saw.