I’m writing today on a pretty personal note just to share that my partner Joe and I are expecting a baby! We are elated, and we expect our little munchkin to arrive somewhere around the end of January or early February, 2019.
I am about 20 weeks along. Finally feeling pretty good after battling minute-to-minute nausea for almost four months. This experience has already been wildly eye opening. I was oh-so-naively S H O C K E D that women have been going through the little phase evilly dubbed “morning” sickness since the dawning of humanity and that there are women among us right now keeping mum about their early pregnancies whilst they pretend not to be the queasiest, uneasiest they’ve ever been in their lives. Around the clock too (don’t let the condition’s name fool you).
Heroes!, the pregnant mums who go in to work every day pulling off the ruse that all is well. Or who take care of a freshly ambulating toddler whilst their digestive systems wage warfare on their well-being. All I could think of when I was glued in a semi-reclined position to my bed or sofa was, “How would I do this if I had other little bebs around?” Could it even be done? (Apparently so. Mom, you’re amazing. [I’m one of five.])
Don’t get me wrong here. The most salient feelings I have are awe, gratitude, excitement and elation. It does help that the cloud of around-the-clock-sickness has mostly passed. At 39, I really didn’t know if I’d be able to conceive easily, and over the years I have watched dear friends struggle to conceive, turn to medicine to conceive, fail to conceive, and/or be gifted with twins or triplets after taking a medically assisted route. I am beyond lucky, and beyond grateful, that I was able to conceive relatively easily — and I have not forgotten that for a minute.
Still, I see a real need for women to speak more candidly, openly, and unashamedly about the realities of pregnancy, birth and post-partum life. There is such cultural pressure for women to play so nice, to say all the right, polite things, to be meekly martyr-like and never disclose anything that might be labelled “TMI” — and the whole mannerly practice is just not doing us any favors! For THE BEST, FUNNIEST take on all of this, watch both of Ali Wong’s Netflix specials. You will not be disappointed.
The U.S. is still way behind when it comes to understanding why maternity leave, and gasp — yes — PAID maternity leave is so humane and essential. Women still often face the pressure to hide pregnancy in work environments for fear of being passed over for responsibilities and raises, for fear of not being taken seriously, and for the very real fear that they’ll be thought of as somehow not as valuable, efficient or productive as their non-preg counterparts. They’re also often rushing back to work before their bodies have fully healed.
I can’t help but believe that some of this backwardness is attributable to the fact that we’re collectively failing to vocalize our needs. Holy hell! Some pregnancies are magical, but just as many S U C K ! Admitting that does not mean we won’t be dedicated, loving, nurturing parents. It’s a simple honoring of a truth. And yet it’s hard to swallow because it’s been so taboo.
Let’s de-taboo pregnancy TMI shares — please. I would have been so grateful if just one woman in my life had mentioned, “Oh, by the way, morning sickness doesn’t just happen in mornings. Oh and yeah, forget about getting anything done for a while.” (If you have women who spoke these things to you, kiss them! The beloved women in my life spoke so saintly-like about their pregnancies I was SURE my own would be a non-stop bliss trip. Doh.) If I had heard a candid, ugly truth I could have prepared mentally and emotionally. And when morning sickness came to wreak her havoc on me, I might have felt less like a totally useless lump.
We could take it a step further and introduce the culture of celebrating “pregnant goddesses,” as one of my teachers Shiva Rea likes to call them. Do you know someone who is newly pregnant? Imagine bringing her a meal. Or a gift box. Or giving her a foot rub. Or braiding her hair while she rests on her mattress throne. As many women as I know and speak to on a daily basis, in my circles we are all too good at maintaining our own very private, pretty isolated domains. It’s not quite acceptable for us to truly, organically shower one another with support and close-up, hands-on loving care. I might not be surprised to receive a gift or to share a tea date, but I don’t have a single friend whose hands on my feet or comb in my hair would feel, er, not weird.
If you and your girlfriends take care of each other this way, I salute you (and I’m a little jealous). But I know I’m not an anomaly. It’s been cool in this culture to be independent. Self sufficient. Unstoppable. Tough. To not need anyone. What have we been thinking?
Let’s re-cool reliance on one another.
Speaking of reliance — and I’ll end this here — I’ve been so grateful that I have a partner who has taken up so much of my slack when it comes to meal making and house tidying. He was tired too: we have a full house with my two step-daughters, Joe’s disabled brother Alfred, and of course Huck… but he kept coming through. If you are going it alone, REACH OUT to your circle, woman. And keep reaching out. People love to help if only they know that their help is of value.
Thanks for reading thus far. I can’t wait to share more of this journey with you and for you to meet baby. More yoga coming soon now that I’ve returned to the land of the living.
So much love,