Inspired by other blogs that i love, and also as part of an effort to write down memories that i haven't officially recorded, i'm experimenting with telling more and bigger stories here...and for ages i've been meaning to tell my birth story (which, nearly 8 years later, i have never written down, and i can't believe it). thinking about my birth story, however, gets me thinking, of course, about my pregnancy and so i thought i'd start there for the sake of chronology.
Long ago, but also not that long ago, I was pregnant with my son, Asher. I was 21 when I got pregnant - finishing the last term of college - making me a very unusual specimen among my peers. Many people seemed shocked that I was pregnant and happy (are you happy?? the would ask, wide-eyed). i was dreadlocked (i cut them three months into my pregnancy) and young, working on a bachelor's degree and also working as a cocktail waitress; life was, for the most part, not terribly serious and very, very easy. my best friends were supportive and loving, but since we were all so freaking young, no one had any advice or insight as to the adventure i was about to embark upon. for instance, i never even considered the fact that one might face breastfeeding problems after birth, until it happened to me (that's another story). things like that - so much that i just didn't know.
|me in the dreadlocked days!|
I did know a lot, though. i have a mother who is wise and loving and shared that with me, and at the time, my son's father worked at the local natural foods store in Eugene (where we lived) and it was a micro-community of love, nutrition and support. because of Sundance Natural Foods, i was able to feed and nourish myself and educate myself immensely on pregnancy and childbirth. Everyone there, from the cashiers to the wellness manager knew me and would share their stories, offer me advice and insight, magazines and books. It was a nest full of mama birds, and i went there often.
Truly, this story is long and complex, longer than a blog post, perhaps. I was in a relationship that was incredibly rocky and defined by so many missteps of youth. but there i was - the pregnancy seemed, for those months, to override all the instability and unrest. bliss prevailed: it was summer, i was young, everything was beautiful. another advantage of youth - we managed to work minimally and have just enough money to get by while spending most of our time riverside and soaked in sun. a couple months we lived in a large tent in my friend's yard, running an extension cord from her window so that we could watch DVDs and have a lamp and a fan. our giant pit bull lived there with us. (thank you, jenny). see? you just can't do shit like that anymore. now we are all so much more grown up, and while none of my close friends have followed me yet on the baby train, many of them are getting hitched and getting professional and myriad other "things" that root us more deeply to the responsibilities of adult life.
Because i was so young, my body reveled in pregnancy. I was healthier than i'd ever been, and living in Eugene meant i was surrounded by a very health-conscious community, so my health was supported from all sides. i hardly gained any weight, and i joined a prenatal yoga class where i sat with other blissed out mamas and breathed a lot. after the classes, our teacher would brew tea for us and feed us food from her garden (yes, seriously) as we sat together and spoke dreamily of baby names and intuition, of plans and of pelvic floors.
My sensitivity during this time skyrocketed, and my intuitive sense crystallized and anchored in my core. it became very clear to me where my intuitive center was and how to access it, and how to follow its directions. before my pregnancy, i hadn't known this. it was cloudy and confusing; had i been able to listen to myself more, in fact, i would not have been in the relationship i was in at the time. one of my life's greatest ironies so far is that it was a series of complete unconscious actions and choices that led me through the portal to real consciousness and awareness (not that i am completely conscious and aware, but i did enter the doorway at that time and continue to work on it...you know how it goes).
Sensory sensitivity was major for me, also. i mostly stopped watching movies, as the injection of synthetic input (which resulted in real emotional reactions) seemed like overload for me and the little babe. what a huge responsibility! i remember sitting in a movie theater to see a movie, and the previews started, and suddenly i was inundated with loud sounds and music, darkness and imagery, and i felt terrible for subjecting my baby to all of that! i had to leave before the movie even started. that's how sensitive i was... everything was part of everything; everything i felt and consumed was a building brick for this being that was forming in my belly.
Honestly, there is much that I don't remember, and this was also in an era where digital life had not yet taken over: i was not on any social networks (though my coworkers gossiped about Friendster), i never really used the internet except for email sometimes, and i didn't own a digital camera (!!!). all that only 8 years ago!! there are hardly any photos of me all cute and pregnant - just a treasured few.
|6 months preggers, at the river in Cottage Grove, OR|
What I do remember, most of all, is that huge sense of awakening i felt. i remember feeling tremendously beautiful and happy and excited; i remember feeling the tautness of my belly as it grew; i remember feeling like a demographic all of my own. there was so much big stuff happening during that time - both joyful and sad. i was also about to skip an entire decade of "young & free" - my twenties would not be what they are to so many people; and the relationship to which i alluded earlier, though it was actually quite loving and joyful during my pregnancy, would soon unravel (as it was always meant to) and i would astonish myself with immense strength and wisdom, as it was needed to survive and flourish. Oh how much I have learned!!
I want to put this out there for other mamas to read, especially mamas who decide(d) to have their babies while they were young. throughout my adventure, i have felt mostly surrounded by a different demographic - older mothers with marriages or mortgages or both, and i often felt young and inexperienced; or like i was seeking different things. my lifestyle was incredibly different from theirs. i want to put this story out there in case someone reads it one day and feels a sense of familiarity between our experiences and gathers a small sense of satisfaction and rest from that familiarity.
(chapters to follow: childbirth, breastfeeding, single-mothering, and more!)
also, to any of my friends who read this and were there for my pregnancy, please share any stories you might remember from that era. i would love to read them.