Friday, March 27, 2015

The Art of Exposure

I don't remember the date off the top of my head. I know it was in October and that an iPhoto search could give me the exact date. But the date is not what I remember. It was the gasping "Oh my God!" leaping from my mouth followed by me covering my mouth, afraid of what would come out next, followed by sobs. I write this with caution, as I realize now that everything I have written on the internet and will write from here on out could potentially have a special reader one of these days. But if there is anything I want my kid to know about me, it's that I really try to tell the truth as much as I can and that I loved them before this moment.

I have always wanted to be a mother. I have always loved kids and if I could list my strengths as a human being, connecting with young people would be one of them. I just never wanted to be pregnant. I have feared it from as far back as I can remember. I have never been one to fantasize about that big belly and the pregnancy glow. Instead I feared that complete surrendering of my body to another being. I feared the discomfort of growing something from inside, the stretching and expanding, the slowing down, the confinement and the promise of labor from what I've heard my whole life is "the worst pain you will ever experience!"  But when Mike and I got together, I knew this day would come, because I really wanted a child with him.

4 weeks
It wasn't all fear and tears that day. There was joy and laughter and me wanting to take a belly shot at what I think was only 4 weeks. There was me thinking how I totally was not going to do those belly progression shots and I haven't really. But on occasion I have snapped one here and there, more for myself than anyone. In fact, this is the first time I am really showing anyone, including my husband, some of these photographs.

The first trimester was rough - nausea most of the day into the night, fatigue like I have never known, and emotions that came in like gale winds. I was scared and as of yesterday, realized, I am still really fucking scared.

At 11 weeks I signed up for a prenatal yoga class which was the best decision I made this pregnancy and not because it gave me a place to meditate and exercise. But, it gave me community. It gave me a place to take all those fears and emotions that appear as truths and talk about them. It gave me the kindness of strangers, strangers like me. It gave me a marker by which to look for upcoming symptoms and a teacher who could answer all those questions that I felt like I should know the answer to, even though no one else there knew the answer either. I felt very alone the first part of my pregnancy. I was keeping it very secret, also still wrestling with my own acceptance, and wondering if "it" was going to stick. I frantically tried to figure out my life, my job, our living situation. I tried to outrun what I felt was certified chaos coming our way, when all I really needed to do was sink into the beautiful chaos it already was. Life wasn't going to change in nine months, it already had. The date is not what I will remember from that day when the first pregnancy test I ever took read "Pregnant." It is the shift in
11 weeks
consciousness that I will remember. It is the feelings of awe and fear and wonderment and joy and paralyzation and panic.

I remember when I started telling friends, I felt guarded. I was afraid I couldn't match their excitement. I kept telling myself and my friends that I didn't feel connected to the pregnancy. And yet, it was always on my mind. I think now that it wasn't so much a disconnection, but perhaps a resentment. I often have this illusion that I am in control of all of the outcomes in my life. When actually very little has been in my control. Don't get me wrong, I do the footwork for things that I want. But in the end, life happens on life's terms.

We found out the sex of our baby at 20 weeks. I knew from the beginning what it was, but it was still a sweet surprise. We decided we would do a fun reveal at our co-ed baby shower. Two weeks later, my grandmother suffered a mini stroke which gave her temporary numbness and weakness on her left side. She would have a "TIA" followed by five minutes of symptoms but then it would go away. My family all rallied around her in the hospital and we laughed and told stories and laughed some more. Despite being in a hospital room waiting to hear from a surgeon, they were a great three days with her.

The surgeon said she needed surgery to clear out her carotid artery, but that it was a 35 minute procedure. Never once did we feel it was a dangerous surgery or one she would not wake up from. And in fact, she did wake up from it. And later that night, in ICU, she developed a hematoma and the details on what actually happened are still unclear. But, after walking my grandmother's gurney to the elevator  (along with family) where they would take her to the surgery wing, after waving goodbye to her as she waved two hands at us, that was the last time I saw her.
20 weeks - the day we found out the sex

She never asked me what I was having. But a few weeks before this, she had given my Aunt Gail a baby outfit she had saved from one the eight kids she gave birth to, and told her she wanted me to have this. Something tells me she knew what I was having.

I should not be surprised that yesterday, everything I have been trying to keep together with the pregnancy, with my recent move, with a recent new job, and this devastating loss, caught up with me on the floor of my very disorganized new bedroom. As I sat between a crib that for now is used as a place for me to hang my clothes over, my 8 month old dog's bed, a used baby dresser,  and a suitcase I have still not unpacked, the unmanageability of it all came crashing down. I am thrilled to become a mother. I am grateful to have a healthy pregnancy and an amazing partner. AND I am still scared to death of labor. I am grieving the unexpected loss of my grandmother. I am filled with joy and completely heartbroken. I am in awe and humility of the unknown ahead.

Several months back, in yoga class, my teacher had said to me that pregnancy makes us feel exposed. When she said that to me, I felt a huge amount of relief and forgiveness for what I was ultimately trying to cover up. ( I didn't tell family until 14 weeks, some even later). Pregnancy has made me feel exposed and vulnerable in the most unbridled fashion. While the internet has helped me to hone a certain art of exposure through blogging and social media, being pregnant was the real mother fuckin' deal, which may be why I deserted my blog and Facebook for months and months. In fact, this is my first real public announcement - I'm pregnant, friends, and the clock is ticking...


daleboca said...

fabulous! so glad that you are back. have missed your posts. i like that you keep the gender an online mystery. miss youuuuuuuu. when did you move?

Carmen said...

tony!!! i got all teary-eyed reading through that!
so exciting!! and i loved the bump pics! you look gorgeous