At this moment, the life inside me is 9 weeks and 2 days old. They are size of a strawberry, with a heartbeat, a head, a butt, and little nubs for arms and legs. And on an ultrasound, they look like a little peanut shell!
At this point, I take nothing for granted because pregnancy is so precious and precarious. I mean, you're not allowed to tell anyone for the first 3 months! Literally anything could happen, for any reason. We won't get into the loneliness of that silence...that's for another day. For me, this is about the ideas about pregnancy put into my head over the course of my life, and how it all becomes sort of meaningless the moment you see the words "pregnant" on the test screen.
What should happen was at first a false reality painted by my middle and high school health teachers, no doubt designed to scare us into abstinence at best, and condoms at worst. Becoming a teen mother will "ruin your life" they said. I didn't dare think otherwise. Those girls waddled the halls with big hoodies and a cloud of shame. That would not be me. Now, what should happen is dictated to me by White women on the internet. Middle class at best, wealthy at worst. College educated and with big opinions about what will make my pregnancy successful, how to parent, what to buy, and how to manage a "threenager tantrum". Should I just delete instagram now or..?
My body should carry a baby safely for 9 months, that doesn’t mean it will.
I should be able to get pregnant right away, yet I only know a few women for whom that is true.
For the first trimester, I should be able to continue all of my same physical activities, yet I am so f*cking tired, and no one told me I may get asthma?!
I should follow the most strict dietary guidelines… only fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, no dairy, and a very small amount of simple carbs. Except every time I put a piece of lettuce in my mouth, I gag. AND I LOVE SALAD, OKAY? My body just doesn't want that shit right now.
I should not eat sugar, or I’ll be exposing my child on early onset obesity. I'm not craving sugar, but all I want are carbs, which are basically sugar, so either way I'm doing it wrong.
My partner should not be older than 50 or I’m exposing my child to genetic mutations. I saw this when I flipped through What to Expect When Expecting at Barnes and Noble. I did not buy it because I read 3 passages and I thought it was classist and rude. For the record, my doctor said that this is NOT true, AND my husband is 54, healthy, and could kick anyone’s ass!
I do not like being told what to do. If anyone who truly knows me is reading this right now, I have to imagine they're at least cracking a smile given the way they've seen me go off at the slightest hint of repression or oppression. I’m a Black woman, Capricorn, and I’m from New Jersey. “Headstrong” is probably too weak of a word. But here’s what I’ve uncovered over the past 9 weeks and 2 days. Read carefully, I don’t want you to miss this… regardless of any guidelines and the guilt that I have felt from time to time for not following them- my body knows exactly what to do! *GASP* I promise. It’s real. I know most of us are disconnected from our bodies and our emotional well-being even though we spend hundreds of dollars per week in the hopes that some fitness expert (like myself) will help pull us back to center. I need you to know that it's all bullshit. This is my career and yet I am telling you- no one can supplement your own awareness and knowledge of your own being.
I've experienced a good amount of adversity and pain throughout my life. I imagine that as I begin to parent and things come up, I'll share them with you. For now, I can say this- because of where and how I grew up and the relative lack of knowledge around mental health skills for Black girls, I was forced to feel my feelings. I sat in the shit many many times because there was no giving up! Even if it was imperfect, I knew that my only way out was through. And today, at almost 34, my ability to listen to my inner being is one of the things I love most about myself. That is the nugget I'm holding in my heart (I should put it on a post-it like an affirmation actually) because the more I let other women’s voices on the internet tell me how to be the right kind of pregnant woman, the further I get pulled away from Ashley and what she needs.
So here’s my truth right now- sometimes, all my body wants are simple carbs, so I eat them. Pb & J, Ellio's Pizza, chips & dip.... Sometimes, all my body wants are citrus fruits, so I eat them, too! We buy a whole baggie of Mandarin oranges and I crush 3 or 4 at a time! Whole milk? Grass-fed cause I'm still a little bougie, but yes! And I am not a milk drinker ya'll! I've been lactose intolerant for forever... until now :). Ice cream and candy? Nope, not so much. It’s just not what I want.
There are moments where I’m so exhausted I could cry. In other moments I feel like running a marathon. That’s a lie actually, I do not want to run for hours on end, but you get the point.
There are days where my lack of productivity makes me feel anxious (which was true even before pregnancy, let's be real). Other days I’m so proud of myself for not feeding into this idea of productivity = self worth.
Suffice it to say, this pregnancy, like life, is a journey. It has to be done one day at a time. I am on an amazing journey with an incredibly smart and intuitive body that knows how to keep me safe. I also understand enough about good health and movement that I know I'm not going over the edge in a way that would be harmful to either of us. The things I read are sometimes useful, but lots of times they are not. And thats ok! I'm taking my vitamins and doing the best I can each day. So yeah, I'm growing a life in here, but I'm also growing a new sense of trust and self-worth...maybe some of these women could think about adding that to their list of "shoulds" ;)