The end of pregnancy can be so challenging. Everything hurts. Feet, lower back, hips… and, often, feelings. Pregnant women are tender, sensitive. And rightly so; they are growing an entire human being inside their bodies.
Festive gatherings are devoted to the ills and fears of pregnancy and birth –they’re called Baby Showers. There, women see who can scare the soon-to-be mother most, exposing the wonders of varicose veins, both on the legs and in the rectum (aka hemorrhoids)… telling her how they had to have an episiotomy the size of a bread knife and how their nipples are still languishing in a nursing bra somewhere. Instead of feeling full of pretty cupcakes and that the baby’s closet is now overflowing, women often leave shell-shocked and tear-stained, worried sick about the impending labor and birth.
But who talks about the good parts? Does anyone wax poetic about the kicking baby inside?
I remember when I was pregnant, how tired I was, especially with the second and third babies. I remember the separation of my pubic symphasis, how it was hard to even lift my leg to put on my underwear. I remember my backaches; I was very fat already… add baby weight on top of that and I was miserable. I cried a lot, feeling isolated and like nobody could possibly understand what I was experiencing. Even when I went to La Leche League meetings and Bradley classes, I still carried around that poor-poor-pitiful-me attitude.
If only I could go back.
I’ve tried to revise the remembrances of my pregnancies and births. Instead of seeing the darkness, I concentrate on the bright and beautiful aspects I was too neurotic to see the first, second and third go-‘rounds.
Sitting on the bed, propped up on a bunch of pillows, I sat cross-legged, hands on my belly. Long before I knew anything about “meditation” or even inward focus, I pondered that rolling and turning baby inside my uterus. This was the olden days, so we had to wait until the birth to discover the baby’s gender; I swore I was having a girl (he was a boy). Not being anything remotely like a midwife, I couldn’t “see” a baby in there unless I was looking at the drawings in the baby books I read voraciously. Today, with all the technology and information, I think it would be so much easier to visualize my baby, to really know what he or she was experiencing deep inside my body.
In my revisionist mind, I think about the massive amount of swelling I did those last few weeks. Once in labor, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. My skin was taut, fluid filling the cells and tissues beneath. I like to say Nature didn’t make a hole for an IV needle to go in, but did take the opportunity to collect fluid so mom has reserves for labor and early postpartum. She did the same with adding blood volume, knowing there would be some bleeding postpartum and that a little extra wouldn’t be a bad thing. So, we can’t wear our wedding rings, we do get to wear slide-on shoes!
I remember how my vagina got all gooshy and swollen in the last few weeks. I’d need to wipe myself a couple three times to get the extra mucous before pulling my underwear back up. (Actually, by 36 weeks, I all but gave up on any underwear at all!) As a fat woman, I did have to keep an eye on those yeasties… they love to multiply right there inbetween my thighs. Summertime pregnancies were the most difficult, so I just got myself a bathing suit and lived in and around the pool. Once back home, off would go the suit and I’d blow dry my crotch area before putting on some corn starch.
So, what’s the good in having that much juiciness? Not having to use lubricant, for one. Anytime I wanted to make love, my body was ready. And I wanted to make love a LOT during my first pregnancy. A lot. So much so that my former husband had to wear condoms so he didn’t hurt himself. That’s how much. As full as our first pregnancy was, that’s how empty the second and third times were. I think we had sex maybe eight times between the first birth and the third weaning. Sad, but true. But, that first time, I was so hungry for stimulation, so ready for orgasms; I couldn’t get enough. (Oh, I said that already.) Now I hear women tell me how sensual they feel during pregnancy. There are some who are the polar opposite, but most seem to feel very attractive sexually. Even with the weight gain, even with slowing down, even with the Braxton-Hicks contractions, the hemorrhoids, the swollen feet… women seem to embrace their feminine possibilities.
Pregnant women are so round, so soft… their whole appearance takes on a soft-focus glow. Wrinkles disappear, lips are fuller and their bras overflow. I encourage women to revel in these few months. When they’re in it, it seems like it will last forever, but once the pregnancy is over, that’s when they realize just how fleeting it really was. Even when women wear granny panties with the elastic shot and tattered nursing bras, they are sexy. I do so hope their partners appreciate their beauty.
Touch your belly. Feel that baby shifting beneath your flesh. Relish the brief moments you two share, just you two… a symbiotic team that no one else can interrupt. Your baby will never be safer than he or she is inside. Deep within you, your baby is yours. Be possessive. Be discriminating with who touches your stomach, reaching for the baby’s aura.
I have this belief that growing babies have pure auras. White and radiating, only the mother experiences the glorious warmth at all times. But, even if people don’t “see” auras, they can feel the purity of a fetus and are compelled to touch him or her. I believe that once we are born, our auras shift and our experiences affect them, often shortening/dimming the glow because of pain and sadness. Because we no longer carry that shimmering aura, people lean in to touch your stomach, hoping to snatch a sliver of light. Don’t let them! Be choosy who you let into your space.
(I also believe this is true of newborns. Everyone loves to hold and kiss newborns. I encourage my mamas to keep the newborn glowing as long as possible… to let the baby be held by the immediate family and, even then, only by those that will give unending love to the baby, who won’t take any of that sentient being’s freshly born perfection.)
Oh, how I miss being pregnant. I can remember every sensation, good and bad. As each day moved me closer to the birth, I was more and more worried about labor; would I do okay with the pain? If I could go back, I wouldn’t think so much about the negatives, but remember the potential growing inside me. Before birth, anything is possible. It’s easy to forget that that tiny, naked being will grow into a child, an adolescent and an adult… with his or her own likes and dislikes… wishes, desires, hopes and dreams. My children are all grown and in their twenties and even though my uterus is no longer growing babies, I smile remembering that the ones I birthed grew under my heart and into my soul.
Only they share those un-remembered secrets within me.