The Ever-changing Pregnant Body

I watch my body balloon and everything familiar about it disappear. Movements are more planned. The ease and flow of my being is stifled. I wait anxiously for some instinctual maternal haze to fall gently down around me and relieve my frustration.

Leslie, Ottawa, Ontario

* * * * *

I grieve for my smooth, moulded, sassy-slim body. I now inhabit a softer, comfier shape with blotches of still-pigmented skin to remind me of the linea nigra (black line) which mysteriously appears so gradually on a pregnant belly that you can never say exactly when you first noticed it. Does it come so we mothers can visually signal our status to each toher? Stripes for service to the species. Decorations for courageous infant-bearers.

Merryl, Baie D’Urfé, Québec

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Pregnant Perceptions

When I was pregnant I felt like a luscious tropical fruit walking around. One of the maternity dresses I sewed for myself was a pink mumuu. When I wore it I felt like a pink cloud floating in the sky.

Munsie, Santa Fé (New Mexico)

* * * * *

They tell me you’ll be a bundle of joy but right now you’re a pain in the ass.

Leslie, Ottawa (Ontario)

* * * * *

I bask in the warm rays

which make me sleepy and slow

loving my round full body

causing it to glow

Amelie, Ottawa, Ontario

* * * * *

I loved being pregnant and full and alive and feminine and woman. I loved looking like a whale and walking like a duck. I felt strong, I felt confident, I felt alive.

Julie, Acton Vale (Québec)

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The adventure that transforms woman and man into parents – giving life, bearing life, protecting life.

* * * * *

I have known for over a week now that I am pregnant, ad I have felt a growing tension. Pregnancy is a unique experience. It is little understood by men, and so different for all women that one feels very much alone. I feel so many different things. Often I feel fear of the unknown. I feel ill at ease and uncomfortable with my body changes. I honestly can’t say I feel particularly maternal or overly enthusiastic about the whole thing. But, there are moments; moments when I feel a very quiet joy, a very personal well being for the small creation within me.

Leslie, Ottawa, Ontario

* * * * *

This is for me the greatest mystery: hundreds of children are born every day, but this will be our child, our unique one. Since I have no prior experience to tell me what any of this means, my excitement is so great it almost hurts.

Mike, Aylmer, Québec

* * * * *

If life in the womb is truly so very important, women could do a lot to change the destiny of the world.

Leslie, Ottawa, Ontario

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Living with an abortion

In my dream, I am at a health clinic which is set up in a gymnasium. I am an apprenctice nurse under the supervision of a matron-like senior nurse. A young, very fragile woman is rolled in on a cot. I know that she is me and that she has just had an abortion. She is very ill and weak. The head nurse turns to me and says: “She is your responsbility, you take care of her.”

I approach the young woman and give her all the proper “medical” care. But I am very detached and cold and do not truly “take care” of her.

In the next scene, she has transformed into a foetus-like form in a cold metallic kidney-shaped hospital pan. I know that I’m responsible for her and so I put her on a burner to keep her warm. I leave her there to continue my chores, I concentrate on placing the medication in the cabinet in alphabetical order. I am so absorbed in this task that I completely forget about her until I smell something burning. I turn around and she is completely charred. I feel sick to my stomach and woke up.

I was very troubled by the dream:  I couldn’t grasp what it was all about, except that it certainly had a strong meaning for me. I decided to do a visualization exercise to work through my dream.

While lying down, I recreated the inital images until I felt I was “back in the dream.”

I visualized every scene of the dream until I got to where the young woman is rolled in on the cot. This was the crucial point… I knew that the final turn of the dream depended on what happened here. I asked myself:  “What would I like to have happen in my dream so that I can feel good about this?” The answer was clear:  “Love her and really take care of her.” Which is what I did. In my visualisation I massaged her head, her hand, and stroked her hair.

Sudeenly, something shifted in the imagery and in me. In the dream her stomach started to bloat and became the size of a fully pregnant woman. As this occurred I experienced the exact same bloating. I flowed with this very strong experience in my body.

Another shift occurred. The imagery faded away and I truly became the young pregnant woman. This was no longer an imagery in my head but a strongly felt physical experience. Lying on my back, I surrendered to the experience. It only amplified. The more I surrendered, the more it become clear that my body was telling me I had to go through labour and childbirth.

Flat on my back, all alone, I spread my legs wide, pushed and pushed until I lived through a beautiful experience of childbirth. Once I felt “the child” was out, I placed him on my stomach and basked in the wonder of birth. I was serene and fulfilled. My body had brought my abortion of fifteen yeras ago to a close. This was my first and last post-abortion experince. It was a though my body had to go through all the steps between conception and birth before completely letting go. I was amazed by the power of the body to carry forward its deepest needs.

Suzanne, Hull (Québec)

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We may not always understand why a woman chooses to abort a pregnancy, but we must recognize and sympathize with her sense of loss.

* * * * *

For whatever reason you decide to have an abortion, you always end up saying sorry to someone or “something” but rarely to yourself. A long time ago, I had an abortion – I had three children, and problems with my husband. I told no one. A few years later, I went to have my cards read with a group of friends. The woman dealt the cards and said “You have four children.” I thought – Ha! She’s wrong, and told her, “No, I have only three.” She took my hand and very gently said, “Yes, but you lost one.” I went home that night and cried for this lost child, and realized no matter how much you deny, an abortion leaves a scar.

* * * * *

With so many tests that can now be done, it is considered the parent’s fault if a handicapped child is born. This is the subtle message we received from some people. If we had been told during our first pregnancy that we would have a child with Down’s Syndrome, we too might have considered abortion. Now that we have Maria we realize what a terrible wrong that would have been. At six years old, she is a happy, healthy, loving child.

Doug and Sandra, Nova Scotia

* * * * *

Who would you have been,

shadow baby?

Where are you now?

Veiled in secrecy and shame

Shrouded in me.

I carry you everywhere

I feel your bittersweet weight in my arms,

on my hip.

I hold you close as I hold your younger sister.

You would have been

will always be

my firstborn.

My god I miss you tonight and every night

even as I cry

My body, my choice.

Merryl, Baie d’Urfé, Québec

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A baby but no father…

The chance to have a baby was wonderful for me. He is healthy, but the one thing I can’t offer him is a father or a good friend. For us both, I hope one day to meet such a good person and I hope that being with him will change my life completely, and I will follow him everywhere, or almost.

* * * * *

The weeks pass and each day he distances himself from me a little more. We haven’t made love in a very long time. He no longer desires me. We talk about it. He explains that he now sees me more as a mother than as a woman (read mistress, lover).

It’s nighttime, he hasn’t come home yet. I’m sitting on the bed, crying. A moment ago, I felt the baby move for the first time. I need him to hold me, to feel his tenderness. I had been hoping for a long time that he would accept the idea of having a baby. I hoped that my expanding belly, the growing collection of things for the baby, and the positive comments of freinds and family would wear down his resistance and instill in him some enthusiasm for being a father.

I went through this pregnancy alone, far from my family and childhood friends, who live in another city. My partner became a phantom. He works later and later, and accepts all invitations extended to him. The baby’s room is now ready, there is only him missing now. I’m hoping it will be love at first sight when my partner sees his son. I want so much for the three of us to be happy.

France, Montréal (Québec)

* * * * *

Oh, Yes! I definitely would have another child… But this time, not alone. With the father.

Rachel, St-André Avellin (Québec)

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Carrying Your Child Alone

For many couples, a baby is the first real challenge they encounter. The uncertainties, questions and adjustments of the first child threaten the relationship. They must be ready to change their habits, to break the cocoon which nurtured their love, to make room. The couple as a distinct entity ends, and the family begins. Some are not able to manage the transition, and the relationship fails. Those able to overcome these hurdles broaden the limits of their love and find their relationship strengthened.

* * * * *

I was too conscious of the fact that we weren’t in agreement on the best way to raise a child. The anguish, the duality. Two opposing poles trying desperately to join but making sparks.

Line, Québec, Québec

* * * * *

Telling my partner I’m pregnant makes him distant and anxious. I’m torn between my own deep happiness about my condition and the reaction of the man I love. I feel like shouting from the rooftops that I am expecting a baby, but out of respect for my partner’s feelings I keep quiet.

A smoky bistro on Peel Street. We talk about the baby. He broaches the topic of abortion, saying he doesn’t want any more children. My heart and my world stop for an instant. No, he can’t be asking this of me! This baby makes me so happy. All the theoretical talk about abortion is now meaningless; this baby exists! It is inside me! My decision is irrevocable: I’m keeping this baby. I want it! At the risk of sending my life into turmoil. At the risk of losing the man I love. He sees it as a decision against him. A one-sided gesture, which does not take him into consideration. I can’t, in good conscience, do otherwise. Some women may choose abortion, but for me it is impossible.

France, Montreal, Québec

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