Friday, February 15, 2008

Simplicity

Despite being still slightly full from the chocolate-covered strawberries that were delivered - to the delight of my coworkers (and me) - to my office yesterday afternoon, today I'm not thinking about hearts or chocolate or even relationships. Instead, I'm thinking about babies and pregnancy.

To be more precise, I'm thinking about all of my friends who are currently in states of pre, post, and not-quite-yet birth. Forefront in my mind is my friend Wood who is past her due date and waiting expectantly for the birth of her second child. Apparently, waiting for an overdue baby is a somewhat trying experience. I've heard talk of castor oil, which just makes me cringe. Wasn't that what people used to give children a spoonful of back in the day for saying a bad word? I talked to her the other day and I asked her how she felt. She said, "Pregnant."

My little sister, about 5 months away from Wood's current condition, is totally different. I asked her if she felt pregnant and she said, "No," and then added with a touch of humor, "I just feel fat." Which, though a very different sentiment than "Pregnant," managed to capture a similar feeling to Wood's comment. They both have been in a sense taken over, at least in body, by the experience of pregnancy - something I gather is unavoidable, and something which kind of freaks me out. Wood's the most even-keel, balanced individual I know - if she's reached the end of her pregnancy rope, I don't think it bodes well for those of us with more limited reserves.

Speaking of freaking out, I finally connected with my friend Simone, who gave birth by herself, with only her boyfriend in attendance, to a little boy on Christmas Day. When she first told me she was planning to give birth on her own, out in a little cottage in a tiny hippy town outside of San Francisco, the first words out of my mouth were, "How far away are you from a hospital?" Giving birth by yourself?? That's a subject worthy of it's own post, and perhaps I'll discuss that at a later time.

But, getting back to my conversations with Simone, she finally told me the whole story of her baby's birth which included lots of blood, pushing, exhaustion, and time alone riding through contractions as her boyfriend slept on a pallet beside her. It also included talk of tearing, the very thought of which makes me nauseous (and afraid). Her intention for her birth was not to view it as a painful experience, but rather to see it as an "intense" experience. For the first 20 minutes of our phone call, she kept describing the birth as "intensely sensational," every time I asked her whether it had been painful. Finally, I asked whether she had screamed during the "intense sensations," and she said, with conviction, "oh yeah." No doubt about it, it was painful.

Pregnancy is one thing, birth is another, but then, after all that the end result is a child. A creature wholly dependant upon you and its father, and looming before you decisions about divisions of labor and how each of you will balance the responsibilities associated with nurturing a new life. I was speaking with a female partner the other day and the topic of maternity leave and women leaving the work force to stay at home with their babies came up. It's funny, in a twisted slightly alarming sort of way, but everytime I think about being forced to stay at home in isolation, just me and a baby, with no adults to talk to, my mind congealing into jello, becoming exhausted from caring for a baby 24-7, I start to get a little feeling of suffocation.

Now, granted, I'm not looking at the picture as a whole and I'm making many assumptions. Certainly, the feeling of suffociation receeds when I imagine the scenario more fluidly, and eliminate the idea of being "forced" to do anything. It also fades away further when I imagine myself surrounded by a good support system, my family, my friends, and a partner.

I'm a whole person with passions and dreams. I have a body and a mind that are my own and that I need to nurture. I'm not at all ready at the moment to sacrifice them for the needs of another creature, which is the definitive fact that tells me I'm quite far away from being ready to have a child.

All of that being said, the female partner that I was talking to yesterday, in response to me talking about suffocation, said: "But, when you have a child, all of that changes instantly and suddenly you can't imagine having had those thoughts. Suddenly, you see colors and realize things were only in black and white before, and you feel that you were put on this earth to have your child." It's quite a powerful sentiment, one shared I think by all the young mothers that I know.

One day hopefully, I'll be among them, but for right now, I'm going to relish this black and white world.

3 comments:

Starshine said...

Great post, Buttercup! I have missed your posts!!! I hope you and the Italian had a good Valentine's Day. :)

I didn't know Bean was pregnant again! We're both going to be aunties soon! Jilly is due in just a couple months! And I think WordNerd is due in about a week and a half! Yea, WN!

Hubs and I decided that we would commence discussions about babies after a solid year of marital bliss. But the other night at dinner, we were talking about how great marital bliss is, and maybe we should enjoy it a bit longer before we bring babies into the family. :) We'll see. I have a feeling that as soon as I meet my niece or nephew, my heart will turn to mush and I'll be having baby fever! :)

wordnerd said...

What a timely (at least for me) post....I too have had many of these thoughts....and many MANY more, to tell you the truth. These past 9 months have been wonderful, scary, intimate, stressful and beautiful...all at the same time; I know, this sentence doesn't even make sense to me!

What I have been having a hard time getting my head around is how I'm going to remain 100% ME while being plunged into this new role with all of it's joys, sorrows, anxieties, responsibilities and wonders.

While I know that some women seem to be able to navigate the balance with grace and ease...I've sadly noticed that others seem to become mommy-shadows of their former selves....why does this happen to some and not others? How will I react to this new person in my life...what role will be play in terms of my identity.

Part of me thinks I'm being selfish...while the other part of me thinks that it MUST be healthy to have these fears and anxieties about one's sense of self. I have to think that it's unhealthy for children to NOT have parents who can think for themselves and who strive to present them diverse and multi-faceted personalities...at least I hope.

Either way, I'm hoping that this technicolor world is really as rewarding as my friends with children make it out to be. I'll soon be able fill you in from the other side of black and white!

glad things are going well for you! hope you had a great Feb 14th!

jehara said...

i share your sentiments.
and the whole pregnancy AND birth scare the shit out of me.
no thank you.
at least not right now.
(but most likely never. . .)