Pregnancy journal: First thoughts: On bodies, on homes, and big disturbances caused by tiny things

I have been journaling since I learned I was pregnant, and meant to start sharing these writings immediately after my previous announcement. Life intervened, of course, but eventually we’ll catch up to the present moment!

I wrote the following eleven weeks ago, on July 18, two days after taking the home pregnancy test:

It turns out that the number of weeks one is pregnant depends on how one is counting. To me it makes more sense to approximate the date of conception, but many people go by date of last period.* So, depending on how you calculate it, I am between five and seven weeks pregnant. I’m not really thinking of “baby” at the moment — it feels so abstract — but the internet tells me that what will eventually become a baby is, right now, somewhere between the size of a sesame seed and that of a small raspberry.** A tiny instigator of change, sitting there in my abdomen.

Seeds, nuts, legumes, etc, arranged in a circle on a white tea towel

I suspected the truth for several weeks before I tested, but there wasn’t enough evidence to make the leap from suspicion to action. Many of the symptoms of early pregnancy are similar to those of PMS, and others are also familiar: digestive disturbance, a feeling of motion sickness, etc. I only took the test when things started to feel weird in a way I hadn’t previously experienced — and quite suddenly. I went from feeling a little less hungry to feeling downright queasy. I was dizzy first thing in the morning. My breasts were so tender I winced during hugs. And there were times when I was so inexplicably tired that getting out of my chair felt like, if not an impossibility, at least totally pointless exertion. And there were other potential signs: a little bit of headache here and there, a random cold, a feeling of tightness or fullness in my lower abdomen that made it hard to get comfortable in bed — even at this very early stage!

The other night I lay there wondering how anything as tiny as a raspberry could be causing so much discomfort, so early in the process. As I thought about it, though, a metaphor arose quite naturally. I had been struck and deeply moved, while observing my sister and her newborn son, to realize that she had been his home for the first nine months of his life. I pictured my body making a house where there hadn’t been one previously. I thought of construction. I thought of tearing down walls and erecting new ones, of setting foundations, of installing insulation and plumbing and wires, of laying floors and putting in windows and doors, of painting and lighting and hanging curtains and bringing in furniture. To the humans instigating these renovations, this is all normal activity, but I imagine if you asked the house how she felt about it, she would say: it’s exhausting, all this preparation. There’s always something new happening every day. It feels strange. And that’s just the process of making the residence; it isn’t even making the person who will live there, which a house doesn’t do — but which I am. So it’s no wonder everything feels wearying, even if my new inhabitant is still only about the size of a bean. My body is preparing.

Speaking of my body… one of the things I’d always feared about pregnancy (and having children in general) is some kind of takeover by the body of the mind, of my personality undergoing changes I was powerless to stop, of being brainwashed into doting motherhood and — scariest of all — liking it. I do have a strong sense of my body taking the reins now, of my mind taking a very deliberate back seat. But to my surprise, I feel happy about it. I don’t think it’s brainwashing, because it reminds me of how I’ve felt after a really good massage: my body getting its due, reminding me of its deep wisdom and capability and strength, the brain acknowledging (sometimes with a shock) that existence requires teamwork. It’s like my body and mind got together and my body said, Hey, look, I can do this. You can definitely support me, but I’m going to have to do the heavy lifting here, and my mind replied, Much as I hate to admit it, I’m at sea here, but you seem to know what you’re doing. So I’ll cede leadership to you for awhile.

And so, my body is in the front seat now, and I feel happy — not because I’m Making a Baby (that part still doesn’t feel real), but because my body is such an easier manager than my brain. My brain has a lot of opinions: I’m doing it wrong, I should be doing more, I need to push through this tiredness, if I only tried harder I could be different than I am, etc, etc. My brain is ambitious and makes plans, and scolds me when I don’t make good on them. My brain is, in fact, rather mean to me. Us. My body, on the other hand (on both hands?), is considerably less linear and, oddly enough, more confident. I think second-guessing is an invention of the brain; it doesn’t seem to be something the body does. My body isn’t concerned about goals because it only really has one: to survive, and then, to thrive. And I’m already doing both. So it’s contentedly humming along, building its little house, and as long as I see to its needs, it really doesn’t complain, nor does it ask more of me. And it’s so much easier to listen to my body right now, because my brain isn’t front and center yelling at me about what it thinks I should want.

So yes, it’s early indeed, but so far I’m finding pregnancy really enjoyable. It’s isn’t always comfortable, but it is, to my huge surprise, relaxing — at least compared to the near-constant and often cruel self-flagellation that is the life of an artist!!!


*I can see why they do this, but I can’t get into it. The first two weeks of pregnancy = a time when I wasn’t actually pregnant? Nope. It is supremely important to me that my pregnancy was a choice. I don’t want anyone foisting a pregnancy on me when I wasn’t pregnant — even in the name of calculating the pregnancy that I am actually having.

**Circle of tiny things, clockwise from top: sesame, brown jasmine rice, pearl barley, split pea, chickpea, pinto bean, chocolate chip, two kinds of cardamom (the larger one is a Thai cardamom pod), raisin, almond. I am pleased with this illustration for many reasons, one of which is that almost all of these items are also colors that people can be.