the middle path. in considering unassisted childbirth, by which i mean giving birth by myself without the assistance of a birth attendant aside from perhaps my husband, i find myself caught between two opposing viewpoints, each pressuring me to conform. on the one hand is the notion that there is a danger inherent in childbirth and that having no assistance risks being unprepared for or unaware of something going wrong. on the other hand, it is not radical enough to merely consider, or to have a backup plan or to believe in the benefit of assistance. truthfully, either side should be supporting what i know to be true about myself and should support my intuition in either circumstance, calling for either need - the space to be alone or the need for support. which is why i have chosen a middle path wherein i have both a support person on call and the option to not call them. and even the option to call after having already felt the need not to - the option to change my mind. and yet - i go and i read the viewpoints of one side and feel wholly inadequate for trusting my own intuition, or for providing for the unknown, as though it could somehow jinx me despite my belief in support as an option and not a cop-out. the truth of what i will need i cannot begin to predict. i cannot know the path before i walk it. it will reveal itself and i will reveal myself in the process. i will learn the truth of what a moment calls for, but it will not be this moment, it will be that one. there is no way to prepare or to predict. the same goes with all matters of parenting and of mothering. i am for instance, scared to death in part, of what nursing will be like as i've never done it before, but only pumped breastmilk electronically for thirteen months. i am scared that i will have trouble, that it will hurt dramatically, that i don't know proper holds or latching techniques. i have cause in my past to fear this. there is doubt buried in my history from the guilt of aleksander's defect and the terrible lack of a nursing relationship between us. i cannot help that. though it was impossible for him to nurse, there will always be the question in my mind that perhaps i simply did not try hard enough. even though i have forgiven myself and made my peace with that aspect of our relationship, a former me asked it and it will hang forever now in my memory. and so i seek out ways to have resources for the support that i could potentially need despite my strong familial support and my intense committment and my personal desire to breastfeed. there may be trouble nontheless and i believe that it is in my best interest to know ahead of time where i can go to for outside support or instruction when it may be what i need. and does this belief in the skill and knowledge of others betray a doubting of my own abilities and the potentiality of my biology? in understanding and appreciating the misgivings of biology and the potential complications of breastfeeding, is it really a vote of no confidence cast for my qualification as a breeder? does the fear that i've already admitted to really say that i ultimately believe that i am built incapable, that i would be hard-pressed to figure it out without the assistance of experts? is that what i'm inferring between the lines? an inherent self-doubt in my own faculties? or can i be confident yet cautious? is that possible? or is the superstition of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, of setting myself up for failure more accurate? fuck that. i believe whole-heartedly in my ability, and yet at moments i waiver for whatever reason and am unwilling to struggle at length simply to prove myself some master of instinct, some champion of biology, the ultimate mother. i will do what the situation calls for and fall for neither a machismo independence nor a weakling dependency. i am, after all, what i am.


i am a birth junkie. as soon as i gave birth the first time, i was hooked. i read tons of books, always wanted to chat with pregnant moms (not that i come across them too often), love birth stories, etc. when we decided to try to conceive a second, i looked forward to being in it again, thinking that somehow it would be different than my first pregnancy.

and now i'm here and in a lot of ways it is different than my first pregnancy, but in a lot of ways, especially the emotional aspect, it's the same. i wouldn't say that i'm feeling depressed per se, but something feels sorta off.

when i would talk to moms-to-be while not pregnant, i would always want to hear about the truth of what they were going through, but it's really not what pregnant people talk about because it's generally not what people want to hear. people don't want to talk about the enormous change that you're undergoing - how it's changing your life and how you feel about it. people want to talk about names and sexes and ultrasounds and all the stuff that we preggos talk about. but i just feel there's something else here, underlying everything. it was there the last time and it's here again.

the truth is that i'm terrified of having two children. i'm worried about everything that could go wrong with the new baby. and i wish so badly that there was some way for our culture to recognize this enormous change that we are going through - before i'm 7 or 8 months along and am thrown a baby shower (or in some rare instances, a mother blessing ceremony of some sort).

there's something intensly intimate happening here. i look for my belly button to pop out and search for my linea negra and that feels real to me. that feels like the truth because it's about the physical evidence of my changing in a way that not fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans is not.

i want so badly to understand how i feel about being pregnant. i have so many conflicting crazy emotions and yet i feel i have nothing to say about what i'm going through. i feel ironically paralyzed to describe or to understand or to have the language for the profound change and growth that i am undergoing. when i go out in public, or begin to think about me and my pregnancy in a public realm, i feel that it's discounted to a level of normalcy it does not deserve. i'm certain that it doesn't help that i'm a stay-at-home mom to begin with, so feel generally undervalued and invalidated as it is.

part of the emotion i cannot name or describe, that itch, that nagging in my brain, could be the baby itself - there growing inside of me, an individual. there's also a lot of it that's just about me. how i'm changing. how i'm growing. i have to encompass another person, another soul, if you will, and how does one really do that without being a god of some sort? how can i be bigger than myself? that's what this is. that's what i struggle with. learning somehow to grow outside my borders and finding myself irrevocably changed on the other side. what is that? it can only be spiritual. i am drawing up the energy of the world and it is more than me, yet i am so small. it's just too much to understand. the earth and the universe are tumbling around inside me and beyond me and somehow i swallow it and grow and grow and grow, yet can never fit everything. i am growing beyond myself somehow, yet coming back, overflowing who i am... it's like when the universe sprang out of visnu's navel. that's who i am - visnu lying on the bed of the cosmic sea...


week 15
i'm getting much bigger...
i've become so very festive. i decked out the mantle and the front porch with garlands. i've been burning christmas-scented candles every night, though normally i'm not much of a candle-burner and aleksander wants to blow them all out anyway. i'm feeling so very sentimental about the holidays, even though we're atheists. i can't help but love family and warmth brought indoors during the winter. i can't help but adore the magic of transforming a time so desolate and dark into a time full of life and light. the juxtaposition is essential for me. it will get me through the winter, and is, i think, even more essential now due to my highly emotional and volatile state. but regardless, i have gone a bit nuts. a friend's mother embroidered a stocking for aleksander a couple of years ago, and when i pulled out the holiday box, i discovered that it was the only stocking we had. so i went out and bought three more (one extra for the new baby) and embroidered jon and i's names on two of them. i also got the aforementioned christmas-scented candles. i did what is so appropriate for american's to do at this time of year - i spent lots of money for almost no reason at all. unfortunately, it did make me feel better. the tree, we saw earlier, here's the mantle...


our christmas decorations (what few there are) are in a box with accroutements of all the other holidays, so aleks was a christmas bunny:


at times my inadequacies are immense; the reach of my insecurities vast. and i know not how to quiet the voice inside of me, the ache for more than i am, for more than i have or perhaps even need. how do i quell the hunger for an image? how do i remind myself again that i do the best that i can, that we all do, that no one is perfect and few even really pretend to be? how do i tell myself that who i am is enough; that what i do is good, valuable, adequate? why can i not feel at every moment my own worth and know unquestioningly that the path i am on is the right one? or why can i not simply consider the alternatives without digging holes in my heart in the process? why can i not consider without judging? is it simply the language of our brains? must we categorize every tiny thing to be either good or bad, right or wrong, like us or different? are we not designed for nuance, for subtlety? because all i see in the world are people doing something more right than i do it. all i come away from any situation with is self-judgement, or conversely, superiority, and truthfully i'd rather feel neither as they leave me so empty, so void of value. i'm sick of feeling like i don't measure up to some impossible standard. more aptly, i'm sick of the impossible standards that i set for myself. where does it come from? what purpose does it serve? i want only for my children to not feel this, to know themselves worthy of love and confident in their choices. i want them truly to know themselves and to not second-guess everything at every turn of all the corners. it is exhausting to feel the weight of all that i am not so consistently. i am ready to be done with it. i am ready to be who i am without question and without fear.