Pregnancy update: week 15

This week I felt more pregnant than I have in past weeks, not only because my belly has grown enough to warrant an extender on my skinny jeans (what a relief to not have to wear them so tightly anymore..) but for a number of other reasons. We took a hospital tour, started researching the myriad things we’ll have to buy for the little monkey, started reading up on birthing options, and held a very small and adorable baby. And for the first time, someone told me I was starting to look pregnant. I was wearing yoga tights when it happened, and it might have just as easily been mistaken for a few extra pounds had I not told the class I was expecting, but I was happy.

It’s starting to feel real.

We toured our first hospital today. I was the only person, out of probably 15 or 20 women and their partners, to have a notebook and to be scribbling down notes and asking detailed questions (e.g., what’s the type of antibiotic you squirt in the baby’s eyes after birth, and does the state of Ohio allow me to refuse this if I sign a waiver? The answer is yes, by the way).

One interpretation of this is that I’m a bit neurotic. I’m sure the woman drinking a diet Dr. Pepper and due in three weeks wondered what in the world I was doing there so early, and wishing I wasn’t interrupting her maternity tour. (Though the water birthers who wish they were home birthers liked me and my questions and nodded approvingly throughout. :))

I’d prefer to think that I’m empowering myself. It’s probably a bit of both, in truth. But these are big decisions, and I’d rather feel prepared.

After realizing that our preferred daycare will cost more than either of our undergraduate college educations did, we’ve also gotten serious about figuring out how to save money and skip on items we don’t need. Thanks to a generous friend who ordered us “Baby Bargains,” I know now more than I ever thought was possible about nursery furniture and bedding (that’s only as far into the book as I’ve gotten). In a few weeks I’ll be thoroughly overwhelmed by the cost of strollers, car seats, pumps, diapers, and more.

My cleaning frenzy continues. Mike has been a hero through most of it. It seems so justified, in the moment, when I’m confronting him for putting a paper bag away in the wrong place, or leaving one spoon in the sink, or not climbing the kitchen counters to notice dust on top of the fridge. I really can’t stop myself. But it could be worse. On one forum I read about a woman who was compelled to remove all of the drawer knobs in the house so she could remove and disinfect the screws. I haven’t reached that point (yet).

In the midst of the first four exciting months and all that comes with that (appointments, ultrasounds, telling people the news, getting sucked into visions about how cute the nursery will be, feeling bombarded by the pregnancy and baby industry about the millions of things you need to buy and do) one thing stands out to me.

Pregnancy is not a medical experience, or a health experience, or a consumer experience. It’s not about creating a cute nursery, registering for a bunch of gear, laughing about how hormonal and ridiculous you’re acting (although that’s fun), wearing flowy maternity clothes or taking pictures of yourself. (All of these I’ve done already or have been thinking about, by the way.)

Beyond all of this, what stands out most is that pregnancy is a deeply and profoundly spiritual experience. I’ve never felt so compelled to feel so connected – to myself, to my mother, to my ancestors, to the divine, to my community, and to other women. The process is utterly transformative, though it’s easy to forget that with daily progress updates and to-do lists and classes and nursery projects and a medical community that sells you the most painless process possible, along with social media updates that broadcast pictures of glowing and happy women 10 minutes post-birth. (This is not a knock on ANY of that. I will likely be a full participant in most of it.)

But it feels misleading. Pregnancy’s outward physical changes are obvious, as are some of the more blatant emotional ones. But a lot more is happening than some weight gain and emotional fits. Those things pale to how radically powerful I feel to have life growing within me, to have constant visions of the baby, of all babies, of my ancestors and their children, of the entire global community of women who bravely face motherhood without all of the commodities we have. To have so much of my life’s work feel completely meaningless compared to this, and to feel some shock and self-betrayal for even admitting that. To feel so connected to divine goodness and perfection, because that is what is taking place in the very cells of the body. To honor and admire the body, even though as a culture we tend to loathe it, distrust it, disconnect from it.

It is a feeling of coming home, although I have yet to figure out what that really means since I’ve never been pregnant before. Home, in terms of my body’s natural abilities, my intuition, the perfection of all of it. And the fact that we’re all connected. Pregnancy is the most literal and tangible example of that, though it’s true all the time.

It’s all pretty mind blowing. And humbling. And awesome in the truest sense of the word, as in awe-inspiring. Maybe this is why I’m crying a lot. 🙂

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