Normalizing, not Pathologizing
I am unafraid to say, I have felt extremely well throughout this pregnancy.
Save the first 8 weeks where I slept like a hibernating bear and watched the entire series of Seinfeld (on repeat), pregnancy has made me only minimally uncomfortable. My shoes & rings still fit. I still work on our land for 6+ hours every day. I taught yoga right up to 34ish weeks. And at 38+(?) weeks I'm still sleeping like a baby.
I know that this isn't everyone's experience. It's extremely important to normalize tough pregnancies .. every woman, and every pregnancy, is different.
But normalizing healthy, comfortable pregnancies is equally important.
It's shocking to me how many people I pass on the street on these hot July days will say something like "I'm so sorry" instead of "congratulations" when they see my watermelon-sized belly. But if there's something we've learned about ourselves after 2020, it's that we're a culture that connects most readily on tragedy, suffering, and dismay.
There's a fear that sharing easy, healthy, empowering pregnancy & birth stories will alienate women who haven't had that same experience. And so they don't get shared. And so the prevailing narrative is one of discomfort - or worse, fear and pain.
I had heard so many awful pregnancy stories as a young woman, that I was terrified what becoming pregnant would do to my body and the implications for how that would change me as a person.
My experience doesn't mean anything about your experience, the way yours doesn't make meaning of mine. Our experiences are as different as the babies we birth.
I also recognize that my privilege - primarily in having access to the type of lifestyle that affords me and my baby peace, like being able to spend most of our day in nature - isn't accessible to everyone, and that really matters. It highlights the fact that the resources to promote healthy pregnancies aren't privileges, but rather rights that we should be pressuring government, culture, and society at large to support the accessibility of for everyone.
It's also crucial to acknowledge that *not* participating in any "screening" is part of why my pregnancy hasn't been pathologized. Especially since, similar to cancer screenings, testing doesn't move the needle on outcomes. This is a fact.
We'd love to blame genetics and we'd love to blame fate, but it's also just physiological fact to say that the way we treat our bodies pre-conception and during pregnancy has an effect on our pregnancy journeys, our births, and our postpartum recovery. This truth doesn't mean anything about each of us as individuals and it doesn't have to do with morality. It doesn't make us good or bad people. It's biology. (If you'd like to learn a little bit more about the biology of healthy pregnancy, we cover it in Reclaiming Fertility.)
So whatever your pregnancy journey is, share it. Chances are there is someone out there who needs to hear it.
photo from em @sharethesoul