To Give Life…

If the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth are a turning point in a woman’s life, they are not a solution to our life, nor a goal. It is more of a calling that we are given to explore. It is a call to renounce, to let go, to go outside of ourselves toward our own choices, our freedom. This is what we are offered.

Denise, Montréal, Québec

* * * * *

To give life is to accept to become an instrument, a path, a way – to give life form and colour, accepting its passing through me to another.

Josée, Montréal, Québec

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Welcoming new life within

I’ve seen your picture once, through waves of sound,

But mostly must imagine who you are.

Do you dream of me, as I dream of you

Little flutter, little infant, little one?

Ellen, Woodstock, Ontario

* * * * *

I never wanted to know which sex the baby was. To me that’s like opening Christmas presents before Christmas – half the fun is the aniticpation and hearing “it’s a girl”, or “it’s a boy”.

Joan, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

* * * * *

I judge myself harsly for this fear of having a girl. I felt guilty about this while I’m carrying my baby – it’s contradictory to giving birth and opening willingly to a new life. What soothes me is feeling that a girl baby brings reconciliation with femininity, and a gift of healing.

Donna, Granby, Québec

* * * * *

Children are in me as nature and humanity are in Noah’s ark – they are there for me to carry beyond the present world. I am the hen that broods and protects the eggs before hatching. All men and women become my children. I hurt for them, I must birth them. I want them but at the same time, it hurts. It hurts to birth them to life on earth, and it also hurts to no longer have them in me.

Nathalie, Hull, Québec

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Carrying a new life

Surprise! I learn that I am pregnant. After careful thought, I drum up my courage and announce the news to Denis, the love of my life. To my great surprise, he reacts positively and we decide to form a family. We hadn’t known each other very well – we’d met only three months before – but we had talked at great length about the pros and cons of our new life.

Line, Rockland, Ontario

* * * * *

You feel like you’re the first woman in the world to become pregnant. It’s mysterious. It’s fabulous!

Louise, Chicoutimi, Québec

* * * * *

I resent people inferring our lives will change so drastically with the birth and development of our child. They imply limitations, restrictions and demands. They refer to lack of privacy. They do it very tactfully and perhaps inadvertently, but they do it nonetheless. If people would just change their attitude and relax a little, they might see children as simply a loving addition, rather than an imposition.

Leslie, Ottawa, Ontario

* * * * *

Pregnancy is not as I imagined it. I feel inhabited. I have a tenant that I haven’t even met. I know that I am willing to protect and give everything to this child, instinctively, but I don’t feel like a mother. I wonder what I will do when the baby is in my arms.

Sylvie, Hull, Québec

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Dream and Expectations

When I was told the results of the pregnancy test, I said, “I don’t want this baby.” Then, I thought of how I love life, so I kept it.

J., Belgium

* * * * *

Acceptance is not always immediate when a new life begins. The surprise irritates the ego, which revolts, then accepts. Fully accepts, because it is not the child that is unwanted, but, confusedly, the thought of upset in routine to come. Still, it seems to me that carrying a child is not to carry the future, but rather the present. The future takes hold of us after the separation, when we aren’t expecting it…

Anne, Ladysmith, Québec

* * * * *

We started you in Banff

cooking you up between sulphur springs,

wine and sliding skis

through diamond fields of snow.

And we skated in the shade of

Lake Louise’s glacier, balancing on thin steel

over the clear, crazed ice.

We made you with pleasure in the strength

and softness of our bodies, my tadpoles doing

the Canadian crawl

to your mother’s spore, the other half

of who you’d be.

You took root and held, your mother

sure from the start you’d stay.

She called me from a phone booth

to tell me she’d changed

into a song with accompaniment.

John, Toronto, Ontario

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Early Pregnancy

Realization of pregnancy can stimulate many emotions:  awe, fear, reluctance, curiosity, protectiveness and a fierce love. This is a child – there is no turning back to being as we were before this pregnancy.

* * * * *

My third child, Alexander, was conceived on the shores of a secluded lake. His father and I spent a glorious week revelling in nature, picking blueberries, exploring the forest, canoeing on the lake, bathing in icy cold water, snuggling in the cozy tent, and indulging our hormones. I was ovulating.

Pamela, Boggy Creek, Manitoba

* * * * *

Our body is a machine designed for conception. An incredible arsenal is put in place at each ovulatory cycle. All our being strains to come together.

Louise, Chicoutimi, Quebec

* * * * *

I had just learned that I was pregnant. I was touched, trembling and closed. Closed to the world outside, for a while, so I could listen to what was happening within me. I could only tell that I was expecting in a whisper, to a gentle listener. Now that my tummy announces my condition before me and in spite of me, I feel less constrained.

Louise, Boucherville, Québec

* * * * *

We have used natural family planning since 1974. We have really enjoyed being aware of our fertility, and the times when you are able to use the fertile time of a cycle to conceive a child are very special.

As it happened, day 21 fell between the two weekends of our local pre-marriage course. We were giving the Natural Family Planning presentation. So, while pointing out the benefits of NFP, we showed them our pregnancy chart, and explained the significance of the 21 high temperatures. The young people spontaneously cheered and congratulated us. Father Frank, when he thanked us for our presentation, assured us that “you do not have to do this for every pre-marriage course!”

Trudy, Lyn, Ontario

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Agonizing choices

I’m proud of this big belly. It’s like a statement: “See, I can do it, I’m a woman.” But when I’m with a friend of mine who can’t conceive, I’d like to tuck it away somewhere. Her pain, sadness and frustration break my heart.

Louise, Chicoutimi, Québec

* * * * *

How was I to know that, at the last minute, I would change my mind about a tubal ligation, and feel powerless to stop it under the circumstances and in that atmosphere? I felt so pressured; step-by-step I had moved along the pathway of that decision all through the pregnancy. I found out too late that the rule of three C-sections is just a generalization and that my uterus could have sustained a fourth child. Too late, because the ends of my tubes were lopped off and can never be repaired. That’s what I’m dealing with right now, privately, quietly.

I must be crazy, or at least foolish, because I did this to myself by my reluctance to put a stop to it, to speak out, because I thought my uterine goose was cooked anyway. There is no one that I have confided to, except my partner. Women never reveal to each other the pain they feel over the loss of their fertility. Chalk it up with the “I was right back into my old blue jeans when I left the hospital,” myth.

It’s not like I could discuss this with anyone. My friends are past the baby stage, having started much earlier. I tried to draw them out on it, without success. “Don’t get depressed about it,” was the most they could say.

And I don’t want to give my mother something she can throw in my face, some ammunition she can use to get back at this generation, which has so many choices, however agonzing. My mother regretted having children and made us apologetic for our own existence.

Some days I cry endlessly. But there is no point.

Trudy, Darmouth (Nova Scotia)

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Fertility problems

The child – living symbol of the loving bond between man and woman; pledge of immortality. The child focuses hopes and ambitions, mirrors dreams. Where is my child?

* * * * *

My husband and I came to terms with the prospect of life without children after his bout with a life-threatening illness. At the time the desire for children was inconsequential compared to the idea of losing your life partner.

A reprieve was granted. My husband was well again and we began to settle into a relatively happy marriage. The need to have a child unfortunately does not go away – you just repress the emotion, the anger and disappointment, the envy at watching your pregnant friend’s belly swell, the tears that fall without warning during a diaper commercial.

Lisa, Lasalle, Québec

* * * * *

Through Serena, I went to a public discussion on infertility while pregnant with my fourth child. My sister-in-law came with me as she was still in the fertility testing stage. An open discussion afterward had me speaking with some of the infertile women. Most of them were overjoyed at my state (seven months and very obvious), glad that I didn’t have the longing feeling they knew so well, and happy because of the joy they know they would feel if it ever happened to them. I felt apologetic and told them so. One woman embraced me and assured me I had nothing to apologize for, nothing to feel guilty about. I came home emotionally drained, but spiritually lifted, knwoing how lucky I was to have this baby inside me.

Joan, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

* * * * *

We have been blessed with one boy, now five years old. I have, in the past, desperately wanted a second child. But because of secondary infertility this dream has not been achieved. My husband and I are still grieving this immense loss.

We absolutely adore our son. But at times I wonder if our family life would run more smoothly if Kevin had a sibling for a playmate. He often tries to be a part of our conversation and I feel caught between his world and my adult world. He is better, though, at playing by himself for stretches at a time.

We are reconciling our situation by telling ourselves that we have tried very hard to have more children and it just wasn’t meant to be. Loss is part of living and we must now get on with enjoying our lives and continuing to delight in our son.

Elizabeth, Ottawa, Ontario

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