There were really very few things I enjoyed about being pregnant with my daughter. I was sick every day, all day for six months. I spent the first three and a half months laying on friends couches and puking in their trashcans while we looked for a place to live. I hated the giant boobs (little did I know they would get even bigger when I started nursing). I didn't like the constantly changing body. I was a magnet for unsolicited, arrogant and annoying commentary and advice. I literally couldn't walk or go anywhere without a chorus of voices. I had fleeting moments of excitement and happiness during my pregnancy with Olive, but not the kind that so many women in my life told me I was surely having or should be having.
What I experienced the most in those months was free-fall. For the first time in my life, I had no choice but to stop fighting and just listen. Listen to what I needed in a way that I had never been able to do before. I became completely unapologetic about my needs. I became unabashedly unafraid to disappoint and be myself. Because my Self no longer belonged to me. In fact, I became secondary. I became a vessel. I became the earth for someone else. And so I learned what service felt like in a way I couldn't have ever had before. I did not feel excited or happy nor did I enjoy this process.
But I accepted it. And in the acceptance, I let go. In the letting go, I received the experience fully. In receiving I drank it in. In drinking it in I made good choices. I let myself be consumed by it. I allowed transformation to happen.
I really disliked being pregnant. There I said it. Like I basically hated it. So much so I actually do not look forward to being pregnant again one day.
But here is the thing. I loved giving birth. I loved giving birth so much that I still have dreams about giving birth. I dream about giving birth to other peoples babies. I'll do the pregnancy thing again just to give birth to another human again. The most wonderful experience of my life was birthing my daughter. And guess what? My birth did not go to plan. I transferred to the hospital at forty two weeks and a few days after spending months planning a home birth. And I managed to have an incredibly empowering birth experience despite this change. I think it was in part the great education I had received from my midwife and I felt totally capable of speaking up for myself. I think I also felt total relief that I would no longer be pregnant.
The idea that perfect mothering comes from perfect pregnancies is a horribly unhelpful myth. The idea that our children are damaged if we hate being pregnant with them is also a myth. Because they are also marinating in all the other feelings and self-talk too. Like surrender and acceptance and fortitude and grace. Our babies do not need to marinate in the perfect soup of hormones. They need to marinate in Love. And by Love, I mean that "deep okayness". By Love I mean, that sense of wellness, not perfection. That sense of peace. I felt a lot of that during my pregnancy even though I struggled a lot.
My toddler has a deep capacity for emotional regulation and is perfectly healthy and fine. She didn't get a perfect womb. She didn't have the perfect birth plan. She wasn't born on her due date. She doesn't have a perfect mommy.
One day she'll need to reconcile with her body. She'll need to learn to love it even though it feels yucky sometimes. She'll need to accept all her parts. She'll need to love herself. She'll have to reconcile my insane love for her and the fact I didn't love my pregnancy with her. I hope I've taught her about love, juxtaposition, reconciliation and wholeness. My kid needs a whole mommy. Not a perfect one. My pregnancy wasn't enjoyable, but it taught me self-love. Olive taught me self-love. She taught me about being whole.
Birth is the ultimate reckoning.
I'll never forget the moment I realized Olive was going to come out of my body at any moment. I had reached down and felt her head.
Something inside said, "stop pushing."
So I did.