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The Next Adventure

{Protection bracelet, in Greece}

Back when I finally made the decision to start this journey, which seems simultaneously lifetimes and moments ago, I wrote in my journal, “A baby could be the next big adventure, not the end of adventures.” I also quoted Caitlin Moran in one of those journals, saying, “In the twenty-first century, it can’t be about who we might make, and what they might do, any more. It has to be about who we are and what we’re going to do.”

And now, after a bit of a winding, emotionally complex road, I’m almost exactly twenty weeks pregnant. Halfway.

{Protection bracelet, 19.5 weeks pregnant}

And it still matters a hell of a lot to me what I’m going to make and I’m going to do.

First, as you can probably guess from the timing of this announcement, writing about conception was never going to happen, and I’m not going to be writing extensively about pregnancy. In fact, I haven’t talked extensively with almost anyone about pregnancy. Pregnancy has felt like something personal to me, something temporary, and not something I want to make part of my identity. Which is funny, because the number one work related question out of people’s mouths is, “Is A Practical Baby next?” And perhaps sadly, it’s not. There are a ton of reasons why, but most clearly, I know that I want to give this tiny, brand-new person a chance to grow up mostly offline, just like I did. But it’s more than that.

As a blogger, there seems to be an expectation that once you get pregnant, you become a mommy blogger (troubling term notwithstanding). That, much of what you have to write about is going to have to do with pregnancy and parenting. But the trick is, unlike what the whole culture told me to expect, I still feel like exactly the same person now as I did before. The same person, with roughly the same interests. Turns out I’m not very interested in researching items to be purchased for the baby. (I hate researching items to be purchased.) Turns out I am very interested in decorating the baby’s future room (I love decorating rooms), and buying toys (I love toys). But mostly, I’m interested in things like vintage heels, food, excellent TV shows, making jokes with my husband, and my work. In fact, I’m really, really, interested in my work. Turns out, all that cultural messaging I got about how everything would change and all my opinions would all shift after I got pregnant was wrong. I’m still just me (now more easily trapped by the couch).

But I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you. I had expected my whole life that I would be someone who loved being pregnant. I admired pregnant women, and it seemed so magical. But it turns out, on most days, I don’t like being pregnant very much at all. Pregnancy has been hard for me. I don’t like to dwell on it, because let’s face it, physically, pregnancy is hard for almost everyone. But for me, pregnancy has also been emotionally difficult, and physically alien. And it turns out this isn’t even rare; it’s just a closely guarded secret.

For a long while, I was eaten up with guilt. I have so many friends who deeply want to be pregnant (or, perhaps more properly, would like to have babies), and now, I’m the one that is. So shouldn’t I pretend to love it, out of simple gratitude? But the interesting thing has been that my friends struggling with fertility have been the ones who have most readily accepted me, wherever I am on any given day. They know more than anyone that this whole process is difficult and fraught with societal expectations of how we should feel. They know that societal expectations will screw you, every time. They tell me to just show up and be me, and if I don’t like pregnancy most days, so be it.

And as I’ve started being more honest about it, I’ve had numerous conversations with women who said, “Are you just so happy? Are you loving it?” And I said, “No. Sadly, not really.” And then they whispered, “Me neither. I thought the whole thing was totally weird. I just thought I wasn’t supposed to say that to you.” Solidarity fist bump ladies. Being a woman is complicated.

So here I am, at twenty weeks. What I can tell you about my pregnancy is that it’s been an adventure. It’s been a Team Slow and Unsteady adventure and an adventure into my own internal geography. But it’s also continued to be an outside adventure (at least when I’m awake and not napping). Here is me at fifteen weeks:

What you can’t see is that I’m standing on the arm of an unsteady couch, at an APW Hair & Makeup shoot, trying to get the shot (I did), and that several people around me are looking slightly freaked out. That’s the best sum up of my pregnancy so far. Me, out there, doing my normal thing, terrifying onlookers.

And thus it will continue. Onwards to November. Onwards.

*****

P.S. While I feel strange accepting congratulations on something so far outside of my control, and something I have such complicated feelings about, I will absolutely accept solidarity fist bumps from all the ladies, wherever you are on your journeys. Being a woman is complicated, and I hope that we can all share that complication together.

Photos: First photo by me from my personal collection, second two by Emily Takes Photos

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