I realize I haven’t written much about the actual experience of being pregnant. At least, not publicly. It’s very easy to tell people about back aches and sore hips when they ask how the pregnancy is going. The truth is, there are physical discomforts and I sometimes let them detract from this experience, but on the whole, I love being pregnant. It is cliché to describe it as such, but I feel like a walking miracle. There is something completely fantastic and almost mythic going on in my belly, and I feel very honoured and lucky.
It amazes me to think about how minute the very possibility of conception is, how the circumstances have to be just perfect. And it happened. And then as cells divided and she attached to my womb and her parts fused and formed, she thrived. She kept growing and my body, my actual body, fed her and fostered her as she survived the first trimester.
For those of you who’ve never been pregnant, the first trimester is a whole lot of hesitation. It is tentative. I never knew if the pregnancy would last until I got to the end of it. I couldn’t quite celebrate it until week 13, and yet I had to succumb to a body that needed more food, more water and made me feel permanently seasick. I was making a big commitment, physically, to a baby you don’t yet know will survive.
Of course I gave it my all, took my naps, drank my water and obeyed my cravings for moose meat, cheeseburgers and lemonade. And I made it to week 13 with the first hints of a baby bump.
Since then I have fully embraced pregnancy. I am an incubator, an oven. I live my life but my body belongs to the little girl inside me.
I am so glad we decided to find out the baby’s sex. I was so sure it would be a boy, I’m not sure why. Just maternal instinct (gone wrong!) I guess. I envisioned taking him to hockey practice and had already bought little blue onesies. Then I lay on the ultrasound bed in September with the cold goopy stuff on my abdomen and watched the technician examine the baby’s features, measuring parts to make sure it was healthy. Then he got to the lower half, pointed out bent legs, shins, and then of course I noticed what was between them. It was very clear we were having a little girl, and I started to cry as he continued measuring her abdomen, her brain and her heart. My girl.
Now I can feel her moving around in me, kicking her arms and legs against the walls of my stomach skin. It feels just like someone poking or flicking me, only the sensations come from inside. I love waking up with a smile to her little kicks, and settling down with a good book on the couch only to burst out laughing at the hyper baby conducting a 3-ring circus in my belly.
I am surprised at my swollen belly when I catch sight of my reflection and love rubbing my hands over the skin as it stretches further and further. I love feeling what side the baby is lying on, and I am full of anticipation to meet her. I can’t wait to find out what she looks like, what her personality is, how she’ll smell and what she’ll sound like. I have a little less than 4 months to go, and I am full ready to get growing, be round, eat more and put my feet up in lieu of being busy.
My pregnancy is like being a front-row audience member at the world’s greatest show: watching this baby’s growth through the veil of my belly, waiting for the moment when she is revealed to the world.
Religion is always a touchy subject, at least to me, because I don’t want to insult anyone who might be especially sensitive or defensive about what they believe. I’ve learned that people who can take a joke about their big ears aren’t always the same people that can take a joke about their god. Anyway, that said, I am not so sensitive, and as long as someone isn’t try to recruit me or convince me of something, then people can do their thing, and I’m good with my made up religion.
I went to Catholic school until high school gradation. It wasn’t a uniforms-and-nuns Catholic school, but in Elementary school we learned about Jesus stories (parables) and how to have mass, and got the sacraments as they came (Penance, Communion and Confirmation). In high school, our school would still incorporate Catholic practices and morals, celebrate mass and all, but the actual Bible teachings slowed down the older we got. A world religions course was offered too, making sure we had the chance to learn about what else was out there in terms of organized religion. I thought this was fair.
I don’t agree with many of the tenants of Catholicism, but I am really thankful to have been raised with a formal belief system. I am glad that I was taught ideas of heaven and hell, sin and moral responsibility. I am glad I was given the chance to question teachings freely and draw my own conclusions. I wouldn’t call myself a practicing Catholic today, but I still practice prayer and I like going to Church at Christmas and Easter, if not to worship Jesus than to at least reflect philosophically on the basis for the celebrations, like family, love, forgiveness and such.
I don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross and literally was raised from the dead, but that doesn’t make me sad. I still believe he was a guy that had some profound teachings and incredibly wise guidance that is still applicable today. To me, it doesn’t change things or matter if he literally walked on water or cut one fish and fed a hundred. I look at it as a way to tell a story, and the message is what’s important. I don’t believe in an Immaculate Conception, but that doesn’t change the way I think of Mary as the mother of all mothers, the sort of female talisman or figure I can worship. I don’t think a man-made religion like Catholicism is without flaws and logical holes, like how women cannot lead religious celebrations, or how priests cannot get married.
I like to think what I practice is a tailor-made religion that helps me to be morally accountable for what I do and say, and helps me to live a meaningful life with spiritual foundations and faith. It goes something like this:
I say prayers every night to thank God for all the wonderful blessings in my life. I also ask him to help me with anything I might be struggling with. Usually this goes something like, “I’m having trouble with this, please give me the strength and courage and/or wisdom to get through it.” I’m still responsible for my actions and outcomes, I’m just asking a higher being for some help, you know?
I pray for other people, if I think my prayers or good vibes might get to them and help them in some way, whether by actual “prayer power” or by my transmission of positive energy. I guess that sounds hippy-ish, but I definitely believe in good and bad energies.
I also think yoga, when practiced as a form of worship, totally brings me to a higher appreciation of God. It helps me see the beauty of a breath, a tree, the building blocks of the universe. It makes me look at things as incredible intricate and fascinating creations, and I worship the dude behind all that. I am not sheepish to say that while doing yoga, and focusing all my energy upon the higher power, I have definitely had out of body, euphoric experiences. That is the closest I’ve ever felt to God and I can’t deny that power.
I wanted to be married in a Church, because even though I have reservations about the Church as a political body, I absolutely wanted God to be a part of that union, of that declaration that we would be together forever. I am not so stubborn or set that I could not get over the bureaucratic aspects of the Catholic Church.
That is the difference, I think, between being inclusive and exclusive. I am not a practicing Catholic because I do not agree with a lot of the decisions church leaders have made. I don’t think there needs to be that kind of dividing line: If you believe in abortion, or sex outside of marriage, you can’t be a true Catholic. Well, maybe not to you, but I can still believe in God and practice religion, spirituality, right?
I am more than pleased to attend different Churches: Baptist, Lutheran, I am not against any Church. I would gladly worship God and the beauty of the universe at a synagogue, or in meditation like a Buddhist. I think there are so many ways to just be thankful, to appreciate the beauty of what God and the universe have put together here, and that a religious label doesn’t necessarily need to be stamped on top.
That said, I am all for those of us that do call themselves Christians, Catholics, because their lives are made better by their Church. That’s what it’s all about! Find what works for you and go for it. But if someone does something different than you, don’t be so quick to tell them they are wrong. Let them do them.
Midnight Date in my pajams
I had just curled up into bed with my fabulous pregnancy pillow and my dog lying at my back. I heard steps on the wooden planks of our porch and alerted the canine that now was a good time to barrel towards the front door squealing in excitement as “Daddy” was home from his work shift. I smiled from the bed at how happy she was to see him and waited for the steps to sound their way down the hallway and into our room. They did, as expected, and in walked the cop.
“Hey, the northern lights are out, want to come see?”
I love midnight dates! So I wrapped my fluffy housecoat on and slipped on a pair of his shoes. We stood on the back porch, and I could see a turquoise-coloured haze shining behind the mountain known as Ross River Hill. The lights in town took away from the spectacle, he said, “we better drive out to the airport.” So we raced around to the front of the house and into his police truck to drive to the airport, about five minutes away.
We pulled onto the tarmac, turned off the truck lights and stared up at the sky. Streaks of green danced up from the hills across and over everywhere. We sat there in the dark black night watching our own private light show.
“Hey, I saw a shooting star!” I proclaimed with glee. I never see them! I always have to pretend I do because everyone else sees so many but this time I really did! It was a magical midnight date.
We finally turned around and drove home, leaving the beauty of the dancing northern lights above us and behind us. We saw a drunk lady staggering around and she flagged us down to ask for a ride to her friend’s house. We kindly obliged, and as she sat in the back seat, we asked if she had seen the lights.
“Oh really? They out tonight? Right on! The stars, you know, the lights, it’s amazing,” she said. Well put, albeit succinct and slurred.
We dropped her off, drove home, and I jumped back into the still-warm duvet and pillows, my jammies still crisp and cold from the outside air.