Friday, December 7, 2007

hubris

This is something I've struggled with writing. It's been written in my head a million times - and then erased, knowing that I'd hear the echo of a thousand (okay, there aren't that many people that read here, so let's say dozens of) women cackling with laughter and glee - LET'S ALL LAUGH AT THE FIRST-TIME PREGNANT GIRL! ONLY SHE WOULD SAY THIS!

Today I'm feeling brave. It's nearly the weekend and the hubris is at its PEAK. So here we go.

I'll start by letting you know that I like being pregnant. You've heard the reasons before: the beauty of life, the amazing ability our bodies have to contort and fit this growing creature, the burgeoning promise of what's to come, having a hand in creating an entire person that is bits of you and bits of your spouse and bits of that unknown ingredient that can only mean the hand of Someone Greater. I'm fascinated by this baby and I've never seen her face. I've never heard her cry. I've never held her in my arms or felt the weight of her head, soft as a peach. I've never smelled her. I've never kissed her milky skin. I've never gazed into her eyes. I've never listened to her coo or grunt or quietly sigh. I've simply never beheld this creature, but I absolutely know her. She has been with me in a way no other human being has been. We have spent our days and our nights in restless wonder - and I love her with every bit of might that is in me.

They don't tell you that the one thing that expands beyond the width of your waistband is your heart.

Early on, I was perfectly content to just be pregnant. I didn't understand the women who would talk about how ready they were (even in the first trimester!) to just have the baby already. They talked about how they wouldn't mind skipping over the pregnant part just so they could get to B-A-B-Y. I didn't feel this way. I wasn't ever one of those girls who had to hold THE BABY or touch THE BABY or be with THE BABY. Sure, I babysat and played with my nieces and nephews, but I just haven't ever been, you know, a had-to-have-baby person. Being pregnant was something of a revelation to me, and I found myself loving it. I loved the whole promise of what the Bean was - and how we were going through a whole metamorphosis together. If I could be pregnant for a few more YEARS to have this feeling of almost, of what if, of ??? - I would have been perfectly happy. It's true that this has been a relatively comfortable ride (so far), but I've had my difficulties - so it's not that I was just so peachy and comfortable. Rather, I was happy to experience this peaceful lull of quiet contemplation of the idea of Bean. And having that time of introspection was something I'd welcome for much longer than nine months. Recently, though, I'm beginning to understand the rumbling desire to see her, to touch her, to hold her, to know her in a whole different way. I'm finally at a place where it's not just the concept of Bean that excites me, but the actual girl herself. It's like there's a point where she crossed over from conceptual baby to real baby - and I can't wait to hold that real baby in my arms.

I've been trying to relish every second of this adventure, knowing that I'm one of the lucky ones. You just don't know what's around the corner - or what might happen next that will send your life crashing down around your ears. To this end, I get even deeper when I tell you this: I don't want a short delivery. (Insert even MORE cackling laughter with a side of ARE YOU KIDDING ME from across the blogosphere.) I suspect that I'm going to regret this and eat my own words, but I have a bone-deep desire to experience every little bit of this pregnancy, every little bit of Bean's entrance into the world. I don't want to miss anything, including a 40-hour labor (if that's what it takes). For some insane reason, I welcome it. People who know me best are aware that I have a peculiar relationship to pain. I'm no masochist in any way, but I think that pain is a necessary part of life. There's an old Judybats song, Pain Makes You Beautiful that I just love. Pain transforms us in ways that nothing else can. We deepen. We learn. We can become something (and someone) else through pain - someone stronger, someone braver, someone with a greater capacity to care. There's a reason that gold and silver and all other metals have to pass through a tempering process. Human beings are the same. Without pain, we would be brittle and weak. Without pain, we would have no concept of sacrifice. And sacrifice, my friends, is what makes a loving relationship work. We give up something good for something better. Our little world isn't fond of this message. Our little world tells us that pain and sorrow are the enemy, and it's best to do whatever we can to avoid them. In The Prophet, Khalil Gibran writes,

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

Later he writes of pain,

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy,
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

In my life I've learned (through pain, through sorrow) that the point isn't to search for happiness or comfort, which are both incredibly fleeting. The point is to search for peace. It's a quiet distinction - one without the fanfare of pomp and consumption. My greatest hope for the Bean's delivery - assuming general health for her and for me - is a deeper respect for the sacrifices we've made and will continue to make for her well-being. Some kind of palpable connection to this journey of ours. I know that the deeper she is carved into my being - into Chip's being, the more joy we will have that she is gracing our lives.


I reserve the right to rescind parts of this statement. I might get my first taste of a contraction and be all THERE IS NO WAY I'M LIVING THROUGH 1 HOUR OF THAT, LET ALONE 40. We'll see. In the end, that's one of the charming things about pregnancy and childbirth: we have so little control over it. It's in someone else's hands, and I'm totally okay with that.

10 comments:

The Wife said...

I have this amazing friend.

Her name is Whimsy. A

nd someday she is going to realize that she is already beautiful and already strong. She is going to cackle with laughter at this knowledge.

I am blessed to be along for the ride.

Thank you for being my friend.

And for letting me be yours.

Tessie said...

Well, you are ALLOWED to like pregnancy! I mean, *I* didn't, but plenty of people do! I don't think that's worthy of flaming at all.

I wasn't scared of labor. At all. No reason to be, unless you are a total control freak, which obviously, you are not. If you look forward to it and welcome whatever happens you are WAY ahead of about 75% of people and setting yourself up for a great experience. I'm very excited for you. It'll be great. Pain and all.

Artemisia said...

This is a wonderful, wonderful post. Oh, my. I wasn't expecting to be so moved by my Google Reader.

I am not a mother, and I don't intend to be. However, I do mourn that I will not experience pregnancy. Thank you for sharing. It means a lot.

I agree whole-heartedly about pain and the awareness and gratefulness it brings to those who experience it. It is not something to be scared of, it is something to be experienced, relished even.

As you so eloquently said, both pain and happiness are fleeting, but peace is truly everlasting.

Enjoy the ride. You and Bean both deserve it.

Pam's Place said...

Beautifully, beautifully said. You have brought back sweet memories of being pregnant for my only daughter many years ago. I, too, loved being pregnant.

I strongly suspect you will not have to retract a single word of what you have written here. You'll endure with grace. And you will feel a joy that comes with delivering a baby that you already love and have waited for with anticipation. I'm so happy for you.

tearese said...

just don't be mad if you do everything natural, and at the end you suddenly have to have a c-section....like I did. I was upset about that for quite a while! And they do tend to be rather common in your neck of the woods.

ailene said...

I enjoy pregnancy as well! Although I do get to a point where I say, "Okay, let's just have this baby already!" That comes somewhere between 7 and 8 months of pregnancy... when I feel like someone is inflating a huge rubber ball inside my gut and it's about to burst at any given moment... plus the constant feeling of feeling like I've been kicked in the crotch...

As far as the labor... I delivered my first two children without medication, and plan to do so with my third child as well. The first part of labor is kind of fun and exciting, when it doesn't hurt so bad... but when it starts to hurt... I'm grateful to have short labors. Any amount of time in that amount of pain will seem like a long time anyway.

stacie d said...

however it ends up - long, short, drugs, c-section, hard, easy, whatever - it'll be wonderful because it'll be your experience & your story & your beautiful new family!

Erica said...

I'm a snooping blog reader Amy, it's Erica Sturges. So happy for you! Reading your post makes me want to go through it again. Sometimes when I look at Sofie I try to imagine her all snuggled up inside... as much as it was uncomfortable at times I also miss her tae-bo sessions!

Swistle said...

How come only women have to experience this pain, this symbolic sacrifice?

Swistle said...

(I was beseeching the heavens, not asking you personally for The Answer!)