pregnancy week by week

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

breathe in breath out breath in breath out

I am embarking on a journey today. I am heading off to a 10 day silent meditation retreat in Coldwater BC. My usual prolixity has evanesced, and instead I feel rather vulnerable without my recondite armoury of words. This morning I cuddled next to Marc and felt the heat of his skin against mine. Nothing makes me happier than those precious moments of intense sweetness, of just being in his presence, of feeling what a force of love he is in my life and how deeply I appreciate how safe, warm and alive I feel when I am with him. I felt that moment of panic that I would be without him and then stuck with myself -- no more Marc to buffer me from myself. Vipassana retreats for me often have a brutish quality -- I am not what you would call one of those blissed out people. I am often confronted with very profound and challenging painful insights about my nature, human nature, and the ephemeral quality of life.

It is a strange, marvelous sensation simultaneously to know deep grief and joy about being alive. I love being alive, the older I get the more I love this life and in getting older the more I know it is passing. I suppose it seems paradoxical to meditate on death while I am pregnant but I hear many women think about death during this time in their lives. How can I not? I have a little being wriggling inside of me who’s spark has just been ignited but at some point in his or her continuum, like all our continuums it will be extinguished. It is such a mystery and I know my nature is one that has always pondered the mysteries of life. Each time I go on retreat I feel myself sink into a deeper wisdom and connect with something greater than myself, but I am not tempted to call this something God as I find it arrogant. I actually don’t name it, I am practicing to accept that it simply is. Sometimes it holds me and protects me, sometimes it slaps me, sometimes it drops me into freefall, sometimes I don’t think it’s there, sometimes I forget, sometimes I feel doubt, sometimes I don’t trust the universe, sometimes it surprises me with the tiniest blessings like catching the sunset on the cherry trees last night, like feeling the wind in my face, like waking up next to Marc. I think Marc more than any human being in my life has taught me so much about trust and I carry this with me to retreat. I think for the first time I am heading into retreat not in a state of some kind of personal crisis but in a state of personal joy and happiness, even though with me there is always this tinge of melancholy that I suppose comes with the kind of wisdom I have about life.

I go knowing it has been a remarkably challenging few months undergoing this transition from svelt independent me to a zaftig, luscious pregnant woman whereby my rough edges are being smoothed over by the unrelenting waves of change that come over me everyday. My life is changing more than it ever has, friends are coming and going in ways I never prepared myself for but I see it all as positive change, a reshuffling of the deck whereby I am coming to know who my allies are, who are people that fall to the wayside and that it's ok as I am meeting and getting to know wonderful people better, and letting others ones go for the time being… I feel sad but at the same time my life is changing and I see more clearly now what it is changing into and who I want to be in it. I can truly say that I am at a wonderful place in my life.

I feel as though I am at a convergence of streams, like being in Lytton and seeing the clear blue of the Thompson river mix with the muddied waters of the Fraser river… it takes time for the streams to mix together and settle into a singular flow. Life is about change and for most of it I’ve been trying to make it stand still. But it never stands still, Marc got up and went to work, I got up and had breakfast and as per usual am racing to the finish line to submit all my paperwork and essays for my practicum, my thoughts are already somewhere else. But within a few hours me and the pillow will become reacquainted and for 10 hours a day I will be sitting and contemplating the in breath, the out breath, the in breath the out breath… and so like life, the streams of my scattered thoughts will converge and with time and patience I will settle into a singular flow.

Here is my schedule in case you are curious

4:00 a.m.---------------------Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 a.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 a.m.----------------Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 a.m.----------------Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 a.m.---------------Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
11:00-12:00 noon--------------Lunch break
12noon-1:00 p.m.--------------Rest, and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 p.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 p.m.----------------Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 p.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher's instructions
5:00-6:00 p.m.----------------Tea break
6:00-7:00 p.m.----------------Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 p.m.----------------Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 p.m.----------------Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 p.m.----------------Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m.---------------------Retire to your room; lights out

namaste and see you in 10 days

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Baby got Back

I woke up this morning and noticed something was missing... its that perky little division that separates my thigh from my buttocks, the playful concatenate indentation merging a taut basketball derrière with sleek slender thighs, perfectly formed for loping about like a gazelle on the Serengetti plains. It has been replaced with deeply dimpled cottage cheese like folds of flesh and a zaftig saddle of boot-ay that makes Beyoncé look downright anorexic and subsequently me feel more heifer than gazelle like.

This week I am confronting the reality that I am undergoing the most radical change my body has experienced since first sprouting breast buds at 13. And accompanying this is a sense of grief that I am losing a part of my womanhood. It took me a long time to love this body, to appreciate inhabiting my femininity, my sexuality, and frankly, learning how to enjoy flaunting it, playing with it, embracing it, inviting people to enjoy it and telling others to piss off. As I am writing this I remember my first date with Marc... I pulled out the big guns and wore my lacy black tank top under a tight hot pink dress. Marc's eyes were drawn to the swelling apex of my bossom the way gravity is drawn into a black hole. And you know what? I instantaneously loved the way he looked at me. It was not lascivious or intrusive, but appreciative and exciting, and in that moment began an incredibly passionate relationship with him that has only gotten better and amazing over time... But hold the phone, I got pregnant and well... he looks at me differently now, and I feel differently so I wonder: is this it? Is my time as a hot sexy babe over? Am I now a nurturing wholesome voluptuous sexually neutral earth mother? What does it mean to be a sexual being and pregnant? What does it mean for my breasts to be getting so big, not because I splurged 60 grand on a fabulous boob job but because they are preparing to create milk to feed a new life? I am irrevocably entering into a world where my sexuality is changing and my libido will undergo an alteration that is beyond what my ego may desire. The biophysical and psychosocial realities of being a woman, pregnant and becoming a parent -- a mother -- are undeniably reshaping me. I am wondering, how do I meet these changes and feel confident about myself when for so long, I had lived in this body that I experienced as intensely sexy, fun, free, thin, shapely, playful, intelligent and most significantly MINE.

I've know all about MILFS and yummy mummies, I see them scampering about on West 4th frolicking at the Starbucks in their Juicy Couture pants, blond hair extensions, Louis Vuitton diaper bags, and collagen lip injections. I've also seen women who naturally exude a confident sexy quality post-birthing, as though giving birth, being a mother and sexual verve comes as natural to them as breathing. The fact is I want to be like these latter women who have an ingenerate wonderful ease about them, like walking human poetry... but will I be like that? I could dress up and wear clothes that say "Hi I am a mother and I am sexy" but will I feel that way? When I get home and exit public space, will I feel like a hot mama or a libidoless dairy farm?

I realise part of my feelings about my body are vanity but at the same time I want to honour the fact I had the freedom to be an openly sexual being in a context and social conditions where I was not going to stoned to death for exposing my face and hair, or shamed by a religion, or have acid thrown in my face because I wanted an education, or set on fire because of male "honour" -- where I am not constrained by strict rules of sexual conduct such that I've had the extraordinary freedom of being with different people, sharing in that journey of sexual exploration and identity formation. I honour that in having these experiences I know why Marc and I are such a great fit, I know how to work it, to nurture it and to cherish it. So hell ya it's scary to think the sexuality piece might profoundly shift. A piece that has been a cornerstone of our relationship, a piece I revere so deeply that I now feel in some way is slipping away from me.

So searching for my ass is commensurate to this transition from knowing myself as a sexual being into an inchoate pregnant/mother/sexual identity. Here I am, constructing a sense of self through a period of transition whose end point I can't see, whose path I can't predict, and whose boundaries I can't define. In many ways the sexuality I know and experience feels antipodean to an identity of motherhood and yet from a certain standpoint pregnancy is inarguably the consummation of sexuality and motherhood is its offspring. Ay, there's the rub. Being a mother is not anything I ever dreamed about, I didn't have an a priori definition of motherhood ready to go when the pregnancy test gave the two thumbs up. Motherhood is not the pinnacle experience of my life's destiny. It is no accident I chose consciously to delay this long. I was deeply satisfied nourishing my own growth and development as a human being, partaking in the experience of education, relationships, living abroad and the intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth that comes with the expansion of personal horizons. And there within I have great hope for our child. This child, this little human being is not a replacement for something I had, it is not a proxy for what I haven't had, it's not an accessory to my ego, it is not an object, she or he is not my property, he or she will not be some possession I will use to fill up an emotional vacuum inside of me. This child is going to be a little individual. Thus the beauty of this process is it provides Marc and I a golden opportunity to introduce a human being to the world. To provide a foundation and set of guidelines our child can employ, supporting him or her to navigate the complexities of modern human life.

But just because I'm giving birth to a new life doesn't mean I stop being Liz, I will not efface my sense of self and sacrifice my Lizness at the altar of some antiquated definition of motherhood as "no-self". What good am I to a child if I erase myself? But I also know at times my "self" will not be at the forefront of my psyche or be the focus of all my attention. I've had the luxury for most of my adult life to think self indulgently about myself. So what happens to me when this human being arrives and becomes embedded in my psyche and in my heart? I just don't know... The fact is I am already becoming a different Liz, not erasing but shifting in an enigmatic and at times deeply unsettling way. The fact is, some days I wake up and I just don't know who that different Liz is going to be.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Once Upon a Time.

So my friend Ashley ( told me I should write a blog because I write well. However having read many people's blogs I realise that is actually not a prerequisite to writing a blog (not directed at you Ashley). I woke up this morning, or rather I got an elbow in my kidney and snoring in my ear from my unrousable fiancé who at this moment is sawing logs, god bless his pickled liver... anyway I woke up this morning and began reading Ashley's blog and thought to myself, hey this could be fun, I like reading about Ashley and in mentioning her in my blog I hope thus she will mention me! So this is a flagrant act of narcissism.

However in all sincerity why write a blog? If not for the simple act of catharsis of putting (sic) pencil to paper and revealing my thoughts to my community of friends and family, then for the ability to maintain a historical archive of this rather extraordinary journey into motherhood. But oooo boring snooze zzzzzzz... I say the word mother and I feel an overwhelming urge to take a nap. My therapist says that when we talk about difficult subjects we are not ready to face, a common defence mechanism is to fall asleep. I say bully to defense mechanisms (other defense mechanisms include neurosis, intellectualism, humour, regression and the one I most often encounter in people -- repression and reaction formation). NOTE: you will be tested later on your knowledge of defense mechanisms.

But actually deep inside, I want to gossip about family and friends but if I talk about my family, well I enter into forbidden territory and need to weigh my rather infantile desire to complain with having to be a reasonable adult and accept that people are the way they are, look past whatever behvaioural details and take notice of the love and generosity that exists. Yet, having been trained in the ancient art of therapy I can smell family dysfunction at 20 paces, I feel a tingling sensation at the base of my spine when I am in the presence of triangulation, my ears start ringing when I can smell the brimstone of enmeshment AND using the powers of the force (for those who are therapists have a high mitchlorian count, we are much like Jedi) I can see through people's armour and recognise their weapon of choice. For example, the ever piercing dagger of "guilt trip", the bitter nostrum of "I'm your mother you should listen me", the velvety seduction of "we love you, but...", the infuriating "I'm her mother and I can say whatever I want" and who can forget the classic paternalism of "you shouldn't be doing that, we know better...". And what do I learn from this? Will our child when he or she gets married and bring home their future soul mate who when first setting eyes on me will think "gadzukes I have inherited a Monster in Law!!!" If history tells the tale then I suppose I am the latest in a long line of in-law sagas which extends a unbroken chain undoubtedly back to caveman days where they would argue about how to slaughter a mammoth, how to skin a rabbit, how to cure meat, how to properly gather berries and I can almost hear the echo through time of "NO that's not how you start a fire you caveman, here give me those stones you useless neanderthal!!!!". But why do I get so triggered? why do I even care what family thinks and says about me? well because they are my family!!!! and in writing this there is simply no solution. Thus I shall I suppose continue this experiment and try to find ways to constructively channel my energies without offending or being self serving.

At this moment Marc is still snoring. It sounds a bit like a grist mill and a jet engine. I count my blessings... at least he's alive.

However if I am completely honest with myself, I'd rather have my family than be alone, I'd rather have my mother than be motherless. I'd rather have my in laws because without them I wouldn't have Marc, without them I'd have a lot less support and not be able to experience their world, and their values. One of the great things about growing up is learning that at a certain level it doesn't matter how my families act, what they do, right or wrong, stupid or enlightened, I just love them because they are my family, they are loyal, they are fierce and would I really be so different were I in their shoes???. It's not always logical, it's not always rational and certainly not always beneficial but as my grandmother always taught me, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So upon retrospect I think any vinegar I feel I should be let go for, the temporary satisfaction that comes with whining about family would be replaced by the dull ache of feeling foolish and childish. The reality is I am about to encounter the other side of a fence, a developmental mile post in many people's life... the parent side of the fence, the mother side of the fence, the married side of the fence. Nothing triggers me more than the words Motherhood, Wife, and Daughter in Law. How do I claim those roles as my own, maintain personal integrity, not slip into the pitfalls of patriarchy, paternalism and the dull seduction of routine, doing what's easy, following what everyone else does? Well first of all I will NEVER drive a minivan. And... I will write this blog as a testament to me (see narcissism!).

A brave new world stands to be discovered and I embrace all elements of it. Grace and gratitude are my motto, humour is my sail, love is my steadfast companion and friends & family are my witnesses. I hope you join me on this journey, if not for my writing skills then for my company. For like back in the caveman days after the fires got lit, the mammoths were slaughtered, the meat got cured, sitting on soft rabbit fur sheets and drinking mulled berry wine, they would talk, tell stories, play with their children and love one another. I pay homage the ancient human tradition of sharing and squabbling for without it none of us would be here. And the little one inside me is just the latest drop of water in the bucket of life.

So I will clean up last nights mess, make Marc a cup of tea and be myself, future wife, mother, companion, friend, lover, daughter, in law and now... blogger.