I’m eight months pregnant and just beginning to understand on a visceral level how I am losing my autonomy.
My pregnancy was well planned out. At the age of 30, I knew that I was going to try to get pregnant around the age of 31. So, I tried to do all the things that I didn’t think I’d be able to do after I had a child.
Gabriel and I traveled. To Iceland, Germany, Switzerland, Dubai, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. I got drunk with friends, fell asleep with my makeup on, and washed it off in the morning before heading to bottomless brunch. I read books on frivolous topics and put phthalate-rich perfume directly on my skin. I ordered Thai food for delivery and spent hours binge-watching movies and serial television in bed.
After a while, it wasn’t all that fun. I didn’t have a problem cutting down as I prepared to get pregnant.
Purposeful indulgence is the same as working very hard, in that way. Doing it for long enough makes it routine and it loses its distinguishing qualities, whether they are positive or negative. After it’s all over, you forget about how most of it felt -- you just remember that it happened, and feel a moment of emotion. Then on to the next.
But maybe those memories will sustain me through parenthood. When I’m drowning in a river of dirty diapers and laundry and being sonically assaulted by my baby’s cries, I’ll be able to recall walking along the glacier-fueled waterfalls in Iceland and know that I had my time. Long dinners with red wine in Hong Kong. Afternoon tea in the Middle East. Time and space to be alone...
I prepared for all the things I wouldn’t be able to do, but I did not know enough to prepare for the loss of autonomy over my body and mind.
Unless you’ve been pregnant, or partners with someone who is pregnant, you would not believe how gross and taxing the process is. You become a slave to eating only safe foods, falling asleep from fatigue at odd hours, and peeing around the clock. You endure the indignity of waddling when you walk and having to take breaks in order to walk up a couple of flights of stairs. You’re so huge that you’re squeezing into your maternity clothes, and your shoes no longer fit.
I haven’t even mentioned any of the gross parts. Google them if you want, they are really horrifying. You think that you will be the exception. You will not.
I’ll get over the physical restrictions eventually. It’s not a big deal. I’ll forget mostly everything about them. But my mind will never be free. I’ll always be thinking about my daughter. I’ll always be using my mind to try to clear a better path for her. This will consume far more time and energy than any of the physical challenges in the long run. This is a permanent change.
I dreamt about her last night. I saw her face, and she smiled at me. And I thought I might die from love.
I don’t have control over a lot of things that happen in life. This is only becoming more apparent with time. But I wanted her so much, and now she’s almost here. She’ll be arriving in six or seven weeks. I know it’s going to be hard, but also that I’ll forget about most of the loss. I’ll find new ways to be free. We’ll grow together.