I never in my life thought I’d have a baby. Seriously. I was always one of those people who spouted about overpopulation and my own independence – motherhood was just not on my list of things to do.
But when I found out I was pregnant, and in a stable relationship and a good place in my life, I was overjoyed. The timing was perfect. And as I approach the final month of my pregnancy, what I’m struck by most is how regular an occurrence this whole pregnancy thing is (after all, we all came out of our mothers’ wombs), and yet what an incredibly miraculous thing it is each and every time.
Yes, calling it “miraculous” is cliche, but I’m actually creating another human being inside my body! How else can I describe it? Here’s my story so far.
Discovery – “Ohmigod! I’m pregnant!”
I am at a music festival in Washington state, camping for the weekend, expecting my cycle to show up at any minute and make my weekend just a little less fun. I’ve got no energy and tender, swollen breasts. Come on, I tell my body, hurry up and get it over with! But this is getting weird. My cycle is always regular, like clockwork, always 28 days.
But by day 30, 31…I begin to suspect…my husband and I are giggly and excited by the prospect and although we had not been trying to get pregnant, we were not taking precautions against it, either – happy to allow it to happen if it did. We decide to wait a week before taking a pregnancy test, just to be sure.
And yes, I get the little plus symbol: positive. I begin to tell my closest friends but decide not to tell my family until a few months have passed. I’ve always felt more comfortable sharing my life’s intimacies with my friends than with my relatives.
These first few weeks of knowing I am pregnant are a bit surreal. After all, I don’t feel different. I’m just me, my normal self, but with the knowledge that a tiny, invisible life is forming way deep down inside me. I smile a lot.
And So It Begins – The 1st Trimester
Then one evening, right around the one-month marker, a wave of nausea hits and I have to lie down to let it pass. Uh oh. Now the pregnancy is real. Morning sickness? Ha! How about midday and evening sickness, too? My entire life begins to revolve around my stomach. What can I stand to eat today? How many hours will this wave of nausea last? Will I actually be able to throw up (and subsequently get some relief)?
I throw up once a day, sometimes twice, and keep a barf bowl handy wherever I am. Vomiting is actually a relief because it gives me a brief respite from the nausea and that’s the time when I can scarf down a meal and a prenatal vitamin. Holding down my food is never a problem – just getting the appetite to eat in the first place is!
My vitamin of choice is New Chapter Organics “Perfect Prenatal” because it’s made completely from food and herb extracts – there’s nothing synthetic about it and it doesn’t make my nausea worse.
I know my body is doing a lot of work, creating a heart, a brain, a nervous system – but a few times I cry and say “I don’t want to be pregnant anymore!” I don’t really mean it, of course, but 3 months of nausea, heartburn, spaciness and exhaustion will make you wish for any escape.
I’m experiencing some existential introspection, too. There’s something about creating a new life that makes me very aware of my own mortality. Not to be dreary, but it’s very clear to me that I’m bringing in a new person who will live a life and also, one day, die. I see my future death with a clarity I’ve never had before. It’s not depressing – it just makes me want to appreciate each day of living even more.
The Good Part – The 2nd Trimester
And then, it starts to clear up. Those difficult months of exhaustion are behind me and I am energized! Whoa! Right around month four I start to feel better than I ever have in my life. I feel like my superpowers are activated and I’m the most beautiful woman in the world! Of course, hardly anybody can tell yet. My belly is popping out, but right now it just looks chubby.
I’ve known since before I got pregnant that I would want a homebirth, and after meeting with a few midwives I choose the one I like the best. She makes home visits and always spends at least an hour with me at each appointment.
After taking care of the clinical stuff, we chat about life in general, health issues, even sexuality and husband stuff. Her physical advice for me is to go for a walk everyday and have plenty of sex (not just for the intimacy, but because semen contains prostaglandin, which softens the cervix and will help it dilate when I’m in labor).
She instills in me a great deal of confidence about my body’s ability to bear a child and is impressed by my healthy diet. I’ve been vegetarian for years, and am basically sticking to it for the pregnancy, but I’ve craved and eaten meat a few times so far – antibiotic-free, of course. I listen to my body and give it what it wants, which mostly turns out to be good stuff, anyway.
At about 4 1/2 months I decide to join a health club so I can make use of their saltwater pool. Turns out they have bellydance class, too, which is a lifesaver as my pregnancy progresses. I get a few aches and pains, mostly an achy left hip, but hip circles and other bellydance moves help relieve it. I take it a little slower than the other women in the class, but I know I’m healthy and the muscle isolations are excellent for my changing body.
People ask me if I’m having any weird cravings. Honestly, no. Sure, there have been a few times I’ve wanted to eat foods I don’t normally eat, like spaghetti with meatballs, or raw tomatoes. Or the time I wanted lime yogurt – it absolutely had to be lime, no other flavor would do! But nothing out of the ordinary or bizarre. Never, ever have I wanted pickles and ice cream. Not at the same time, anyway.
As the baby moves inside of me, I become more and more aware of its presence. When it first started to move, I thought perhaps I was having gas bubbles. Everybody said I’d feel flutters, but it feels to me more like little bubbly bounces. Nevertheless, it’s a good feeling, and I’m getting more excited.
I’ve chosen not to have an ultrasound because I don’t want to know the sex until the baby is actually born. I’d rather find out for myself rather than be informed by a machine. And the reality is, ultrasounds and amniotic testing may be able to point out developmental problems or diseases in my baby, but at this point in my pregnancy, there is absolutely no way I would terminate. I will find out everything when the child is born, and we will take it as it comes.
The Home Stretch – The 3rd Trimester
I definitely look pregnant now, and I love it! It’s fun to weigh myself at the health club and actually get excited about putting on another pound. Plus the big mirrors there allow me to admire my rounding belly. Thankfully I’ve not put on any excess weight – just what’s normal, and I thank my healthy diet and regular light exercise for that.
The baby’s kicks and movements are getting more defined. I’m not as light on my feet as I was just a few months ago – I have to walk a little slower and I don’t feel like going out dancing anymore. I need to rest more often – bouts of tiredness are taking me over again. But still, I feel great and very, very beautiful. My cheeks are rosy and my husband says he’s never seen me look so cute or so happy. I agree!
We’re thinking of names, but have agreed not to make a final decision until after the baby is born and we’ve had a few days to meet and greet the little person. Since we’re having a homebirth, we won’t have to turn the birth certificate in right away. Every checkup with my midwife is a confirmation that things are going great and progressing normally. She recommend I take digestive enzymes to help me digest protein and other nutrients better (it also relieves the gas and belching associated with pregnancy), but otherwise I’m in optimum health.
I do feel the need for more protein as the baby hits its growth spurt in these final months. I eat eggs for breakfast almost everyday and plenty of nuts. For superfood nutrition I’ve been drinking orange juice with spirulina as well as goji juice daily. I also crave meat more often in these final months and – always listening to my body – seek out the best meat I can find and eat it. I get my greens with huge salads almost daily and when I crave sweets, I’ll usually go for Coconut Bliss ice cream (made purely from coconut milk, agave nectar and cacao). That’s not to say I haven’t had some cookies or Cheetos too, but I keep that to a minimum. So far, no backaches unless I’m on my feet too long and no swollen ankles. Pregnancy is, so far, an incredible experience!
Nesting is kicking in big time and it’s harder to stay focused on blog posts, graphic design or any other kind of work. Sometimes I get all spaced out and have a hard time concentrating. This is all normal, of course – just the hormones. All I want to do is clean house, clear the clutter and prepare some space for our new little roommate. I’m given a sewing machine and take some time to applique’ birds and other cute designs onto the baby clothes I’ve accumulated. Our cat, normally detached, is becoming more affectionate. Does she know what’s to come? We hope she won’t be jealous.
Sometimes I get kicks and movements in my belly that are so vigorous, they take me by surprise. I talk to my baby but don’t always know what to say, since I haven’t met him or her yet. Still, it’s important to talk and sing. Once, my husband was talking to my belly and I could feel the baby move towards the sound of his voice. Incredible! I even started keeping a journal of thoughts just for the baby, something I’ll give to my child when he or she is old enough to be interested.
I’ve made a skin cream out of cocoa and shea butters and coconut oil. I melt them all down on light heat and mix them together and rub this mixture on my belly and breasts almost everyday. So far no stretch marks (although I hear sometimes they don’t appear until after you’ve given birth and your skin is trying to go back to normal). Sometimes I’ll get my husband to rub the cream on me because I still feel really sexy and enjoy being touched!
My belly is big and impossible to ignore, but I feel more like a goddess than ever, and being full with another life makes me want to show it off. I’m not shy to wear tighter clothes and I’m definitely not shy to initiate sex with my husband. This is a great time since, well, we don’t have to worry about getting pregnant! Positioning is awkward, true, but we find a few that work and enjoy.
I’ve been reading voraciously throughout my pregnancy, particularly focusing on books with a positive outlook towards a natural birth. These are the books that inspired me and showed me how beautiful and powerful a woman’s body can be. Even if you plan a hospital birth and conventional OB care, I recommend doing a lot of reading about your choices to make your pregnancy and birth the very best it can be.
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin.
Ina May is the country’s foremost midwife and her story, and the other birth stories included, opened me up to what a beautiful rite-of-passage birth can be, and how genuine medical emergencies are not nearly as common as we think.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin.
This book speaks to the realities of homebirth vs. hospital birth and what every woman needs to know to educate herself about her options, risks and consequences.
Birthing From Within by Pam England.
This book educates about your birth options and natural pain-coping methods, the father’s perspective, if and when drugs are the right thing to use, and how to get deeper into yourself to recognize and release your fears and have a beautiful birth.
Journey Into Motherhood edited by Sheri L. Menelli.
An entire book of natural birth stories, both at home and in a hospital. Yes, there is some pain and fear, but there is also a lot of empowerment and ecstasy. I always felt great, inspired and strong after reading the stories in this book.
Sacred Birthing by Sunni Karll.
A spiritual perspective on the powerful energies present during pregnancy and birth and the subtle, spiritual needs of the mother, father and newborn.