At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
Yesterday I made the mistake of clicking through on an article somebody posted on Facebook. It was some kind of photo editorial celebrating birth. I should have known that all it consisted of was pictures of women heaving and crying in labor – and lots and lots of blood and grey babies. My immediate reaction was revulsion. I've never been good at gore, but what I really reacted to was how these pictures portrayed the women. The photos were being celebrated as empowering and beautiful, but really it just showed their subjects’ pain. Their faces were often obscured, too, in favor of highlighting their bodies, and the result was that it highlighted the way these women's bodies had turned into ovens of life. It's not a bad thing that women's bodies bloat and grow in order to create something. But in the attempt to capture intimate moments of birth, these pictures somehow portrayed women as nothing more than crying conduits. There was no glory for these women. Lots of tenderness, but nothing transcendent. It was the most animalistic I've ever seen women portrayed. Peter Singer is a gross, gross man, but I think he's on to something when he says that humans and animals are most like each other in suffering. Humanity was not destined to suffer and when we do, we demonstrate that which is most carnal about our existence. Though many women want to glorify the birthing process, it seems to me that the pain involved - the wrecking of the female body it entails - is not a sign of glory, but a reminder that in our rejection of our creator the mark of God's image in even something as glorious as childbirth has been horribly disfigured. Pain is not transcendent. Pain does not make something meaningful. Mothers sacrifice much to give birth to their children, but in that sacrifice itself there isn't hope. Like everything else that is painful in this world, it too can be a monotonous and wearisome reminder of the "banality of evil."
That being said, last night was the most I've felt a "maternal longing" in years. I'm ready. It's February and we plan to go off birth control in May. I have to admit that since Christmas, I've been really bad at remembering my birth control. I keep forgetting to refill it and I've been worse at taking it on time than ever before. We've been doubling up the protection since I started school full time, so I don't think there's any chance my slip-ups could result in getting pregnant. But I think subconsciously my brain knows that it's close to no longer thinking about little pills and it’s just slowly letting go of things.
Right before I went to bed, I had to search for a stock photo of a baby for a blog post for work and it was the first time in who knows how long that all of the sudden I wanted a baby. Last Tuesday at women's Bible study, I found myself not being able to care less about all of the babies in the room. But yesterday, I helped C. into her pink coat and owl hat and all of the sudden, I was ready. I've never liked babies. I've never understood them. But I've always loved little kids. As I lay in bed falling asleep, I thought about having little kids in the house and receiving little hugs and I knew the timing was right. I will be ok if we can't get pregnant, but for now, it's just good to know that I'm ready to wrap up this stage of life and to delve into trying the next.
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.