Today I am officially full term. But, that is not what this post is about – it’s just to tell you that this week on the blog will be a little pregnancy chatter heavy. And identity. And feminism. And all of that, because I am realizing they cannot be separated for me. Everything is a big stew of lady parts, my lady parts specifically.
On Friday a bunch of my favorite people from the office went to happy hour to wish another one of my favorite people bon voyage, as she was promoted and is now moving on to a different office. I haven’t been able to go to these events because by the time Friday rolls around my energy reserves are tapped out… dry as a bone… and I just want to go home and maybe have a pizza night with Kamel and then go to bed by 9:00pm. This was not always the case – I was a do-er! I was fun! I was social on Wednesdays and always up for happy hour and group gatherings! Bring it on!
Pregnancy for me has been saying a lot of no. Sometimes it is empowering, but other times it is really disappointing. And here is where identity comes into play.
I can’t take off my pregnancy. I can’t leave it at home or get it a babysitter. I can’t have Kamel look after it. It is on me all of the time. It is obvious to the world all of the time. And it is my job to protect it, not just sometimes, but – you guessed it – all of the times. And on Friday, when I had to leave early from the gathering to catch a train home, when I had to decline adult beverages for my soda water with an orange slice. When I had to have the same conversation I always have about how I used to drink, yes I did, and have the same people with their shocked faces say, “Really?! I can’t even imagine it!” it all just became overwhelmingly sad.
I am not always one thing. I am always lots of things, and I have always gotten to decide which one of those things I want to highlight at any given moment. Sometimes I am professional Lauren. Sometimes I am Kamel’s wife (yes, sometimes I am… and sometimes he for sure is Lauren’s husband). Sometimes I am creative, writerly, MFA Lauren. And sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I’m not a wife, or a writer, sometimes I get to be nobody at all – I get to wander around, go to a movie alone, go shopping by myself, no one knows me and I can blend into the crowed and just be with myself. Everyone is lots of things, I am not unique in this.
But now, though pregnancy is coming to a close (eventually), I am really struggling with being easily boxed into 1 thing. I am pregnant. I am going to be a mom. And this means something to people. It means that strangers can ask me when I’m due in the elevator when I would much rather just stand there, being quiet with myself. It means that every single person I come into contact with, who doesn’t know me at all, can make a comment or ask me personal questions. The guy at the sandwich shop, the lady in the lobby, co-workers, and strangers on the street, people on the train, people on planes, everyone has advice or kind words or a guess on when I’ll pop.
But ultimately, at the moment, it means I am not free to be all of the other parts of me. I can’t separate myself from this one thing. Pregnancy and me are the same. I take it with me everywhere. I never have a night off, I don’t have the luxury of staying out too late, having just 1 more glass of wine when I shouldn’t, taking spontaneous roadtrips, or even just…. being invisible. And this scares me, because I don’t want this to be what it’s like to be a mom. I want to have babies and I want to add this hat to my other hats, but I don’t want it to be ALL of who I am.
And just like I could have never anticipated what pregnancy would be like, I know that I cannot anticipate what it will like to have my child placed on my chest and have that relationship be forever. I don’t know what it will feel like. And that scares me too. I don’t want to suddenly change who I am. I don’t want to suddenly be ok with being only 1 thing. And I really don’t want the world to only see me as 1 thing. Simplicity is dangerous because it is false and limiting. And pregnancy, though a finite state, is a very long time. And I’m worn out with it. I need more than this. I’m ready.