May 21, 2012

Once upon a time when I was young (and pregnant)

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 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. 


  1. Mama,
    Beautiful post, becoming a mother is so life changing and I appreciate being able to honor and notice the fullness of the endless and bountiful experience.

    While knowing you pre and post Asher, from preteen to now almost 30, and having my children some years following Asher I have thought of and reflected upon your experience quite often.

    Your influence of natural childbirth, conscious communication and positivity are so inspiring. You had such a determination to breast feed your child, and while I had no issues I would remind myself of your struggles when I became frustrated or exhausted of the relentless giving of my body and energy to my infant. It strengthened me to be fortunate and grateful for the power we behold to feed and soothe our children.

    I think of you often on the days that I feel tired, worn out and dreaming of my time ahead with my children grown. I think of your positivity, grace and creative energy that you have maintained and enhanced throughout your journey of motherhood and womanhood. I appreciate your visits and sharing our lives' stories.
    Limitless Blessings,

  2. oh sadie, that was so beautiful and enlightening to read. i LOVE LOVE LOVE pregnancy journeys, even more so now that i'm finally along one of my very own. such an intensely treasured experience; every moment of life is different. i think that would be such an amazing and rewarding thing to experience at a younger age, and i know quite a few young mamas who have blossomed so very incredibly throughout the process. i am soooo excited to read your birth story and upcoming chapters on breastfeeding and motherhood, and i heartily commend you for putting it all down in writing for your own heart, your babe, and your community to share and celebrate. sending you soooo much love and gratitude for this story, and i sure hope to see you next week, woo hoooooo!!!!

  3. you brought tears to my eyes with this post, Sadie... I was also 21 when my son was born. A few friends didn't think it was a good idea and thought I should "take care of the problem". But I had *always* known that I wanted to be a mother, and I didn't listen...and you know what? I've never regretted a day of making that choice. :)
    "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 felt this the most when it didn't work out with my son's father. It is amazing what happens when you become a mother. It's learning this selflessness, patience, and love that you may have never even known existed inside of you. Thanks so much for sharing this. You've inspired me to share my own story...I'm shy but I'm definitely thinking about it. KUDOS to you, wise and caring mama. :) Your son is such a darling too.

  4. oh my. YOU. i just adore you. i JUST sent you an email, and alluded to this subject. i and me, we are definitely connected somehow. i loved reading your story. <3

  5. Nice beginning keep the stories flowing.

    You were well over five years old when you would sit through an entire movie in the theater. The first movie we left because of the sensory overload during the previews was a new (but still 80's) version of Santa Claus. Then there was the time we carried you and Stephan (crying) out of the theater in the first few minutes of Indiana Jones(after having made it through the previews). You were at least 6 maybe 7.

    Are you sure that picture is of you at 6 mo pregnant? You didn't look much bigger in the end.

  6. You came over, I think your brother was with you, I was still crazy, and you were only in town for a few days. You were on the porch, in a skirt probably, and you still had fat dreads that smelled of wherever you had just come from. You told me that you had something to tell me, then you told me you were seemed like it was just the day before when we had been in las Vegas eating 1.99 breakfasts and getting wasted with strangers...and the day before that we had been sleeping over at the piece's condo with Gina and Elan... and the day before that we had been in love with Brad, Lamont, and the boys who went to SNC... and just the day before that we were passing notes from middle school to high school.

  7. You capture perfectly all the emotions of first-time motherhood through pregnancy: I don't know if the heightened awareness and such is universal, but it was definitely there for me. I loved pregnancy so much and was so at peace. I totally shut out all the outside stimuli- negative tv programming, books, even people that tried to scare me about birth and so on. There's nothing I love more than a good birth story, so bring it on!

  8. Sadie this is so sweet. I am aware of the lameness of being like "cool story now here's mine" but I simply must point out all of the similarities in our experiences:

    I was working at the Sacramento Co-op when I got pregnant. I was also super health conscious and surrounded by people and ideas that supported that. God only knows what would have happened had I not had a year of working there before babymania.

    I was so young! Older than you by a few years but still, when I look back I am so amazed at how young and inexperienced I was. I absolutely love how you verbalized the process of maturing and becoming the woman you are through the discombobulating process of becoming a mother before you're ready. And yes, the lack of responsibility and real life adultness was very present for me during pregnancy too. Little did I know.

    My relationship was also an uphill battle, though it took many more years to dissolve than yours did. I look back and think "I somehow became who I am in spite of- wait, maybe because of- all the hardship and bullshit". I am now, at 31, exactly who I always wanted to be, maybe even better. Becoming a mom and being, as I always say, forged in the fire as a new family and new woman burned away all the false and unnecessary parts of myself and I was, finally, left with my own essence standing pure and strong.

    And I can see that you are the same. That you built your life and you became who you are and you are happy with where you've come to be.

    I really hope to see you next week sister ❤

  9. wonderful post! i got pregnant for the first time when i was 19. no wild and free 20's (or 30's) for me either. i must admit i mourn loosing those years (in a purely selfish way, of course) but oh well, maybe i'll be wild and free in my 50's! i so enjoy hearing other people's mothering journey's and i especially look forward to reading your birth story. did you have a home birth? i had 2 hospital births and 2 home births. giving birth is such an incredible experience. i'm sure it will be awesome for you to relive it as you write it out :D

  10. Oh, and I meant to comment about the electromagnetic radiation too! I'm so glad to FINALLY hear someone else say they experienced this. I seriously thought that my mom's giant TV was going to swallow me up. I just could not watch TV. I perceived all of these ethereal glowing dancing lines coming at me. And my eyes hurt. Ow.

  11. I love that you are putting all of this into words. I don't remember a specific story from that era, only that I thought you were so beautiful and full of light. You were my first confirmation that "the glow" is a very real phenomenon. A young and dreamy summer and a wise mother birthed a truly magical son.


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