I’ve always been fascinated by the pregnant body. Now that my own is in such a state, I remain intrigued. Perhaps even more than before.
When someone is pregnant, my perception of them shifts. I can’t help it, and I can’t imagine that I’m the only one whose attitude changes in such a way, however imperceptibly. Suddenly this woman you’ve known for however long is more than what she was before she said the words “I’m pregnant.” It’s difficult to explain this change, but it happens, even if the woman herself has not yet changed in any outwardly physical way. But as I said, she is more. She holds life within her, and this is powerful.
These nine months where we house and support someone who would not exist but for a certain alignment of biological coincidences are incredible. The fact that one person is more than one yet not quite two is a subject worthy of hours of meditation, if not days or months or years. Instead of thinking of me in terms of me and us in terms of myself and my husband, that me includes an us and that us includes a third someone. An x-factor.
Pregnant days, patterns and habits are not the same as they were before those two cells met. Future plans include more unknowns than knowns. More questions than anything. This is probably why our instinct is to seek out all answers, talk over details and decisions like naming and nurseries, breastfeeding and ultrasounds, probably more than we need. Yes, the details are important, and the decisions must be made. But in any other event, with the possible exception of a wedding if you happen to be inclined toward the bridezilla, a decision wouldn’t usually begin so many months out.
It took us three months to find our home, and a matter of days to put in an offer–quite a large decision to make. Our last car was purchased over a weekend. When Mom came to paint for us, it took us an hour to pick all the colors for seven rooms.
The decision to have children was an easy one. The decision when seemed to arise out of nowhere. It was two brains thinking together about the life of this family of ours. It was a natural and organic process of growth. But from this point forward, we are in for some tougher decisions. Decisions that have the potential to effect the next 18+ years of our lives. This is not a car or a can of paint. This is life itself. And it’s intimidating, which I suppose is why we feel the need for some sense of control, however false.
When a woman becomes pregnant, becomes more than herself, people around her ask the same questions that she is asking, they become curious how this new life emerging will impact everyone else’s lives. Even the strangers she encounters at the grocery store. Because as much as we might believe that our actions only effect a few people, we are social animals, which means that with each new member, society itself has the potential to change for the better or change for the worse. The pregnant woman’s body represents this potential. This incredible power.
No wonder we find her fascinating. No wonder she can feel, at times, as though she is losing herself to the creation process. No wonder we ask questions, offer advice, and debate decisions. This is an exciting time for all of us, this period of anticipation and anxiety. We want to share all this when big things happen to those we know and love. And what could possibly be bigger than a whole new life?