Body of Mine

Pregnancy was bewildering. People didn't ask what I thought about being pregnant, they asked how I felt. And if that wasn't enough, what I felt was ill. Vilely sick. Nauseous. And truly, no amount of thought and rationalization makes up for vomiting so much you lose 20 pounds in 3 months.

I was about 3 months along, feeling like I had re-subordinated my body to my brain, when I went to yoga for the first time. Imagine, moving your back in parts, curling up to stand up, feeling your spine move vertebrae by vertebrae, not moving your body as a plank. Imagine finally understanding how your body connects to itself. Imagine how moving your hips can release your back, understanding that an inability to quiet my mind is wear and tear on my body. A mind is not the only thing that paces. Imagine that. Discovering your body for the first time, as you discover the child within your body. Awareness, feeling, body emotion. Becoming your own lover.

Pre-eclampsia is inexorable, inflexible, inhuman, beginning the instant a blastocyst begins to burrow in your uterine lining, a relentless march to a forgone conclusion. Gabriel was doomed before I knew he was here. Before anyone knew he was here, his days were marked out in placental decline, kidney failure. His life ebbing away in exact and relentless correlation to the pressure increasing on my arterial walls. Pre-eclampsia is your body, it is you, that kills your children. There is no blind, dumb luck, no second chances, nothing.

I tried to go back, after, but I couldn't. I couldn't go back to that space, I couldn't give my self over to my body. I have refused to listen to my body, filling it with cigarettes and alcohol, stuffing sorrow into bags of white sugar and flour, hiding behind brown chocolate and black coffee. I have plugged my ears, I would not listen.

I have been pregnant 4 times in 16 months, and I am child-less. My arms as empty as ever, and I would not listen to them ache.

There was a need to punish, to batter, to lash. Suffering mind and body together. My body has been speaking, and I will not listen. I ignore. No, more than ignore. I have shouted: Betrayal, murder, unfaithful body. Hurling curses and threats and pain and anger.

I went back to yoga again yesterday, seeking more balance, more sanity. Seeking quietude and silence. Discipline. I spoke to the yoga instructor, and she reminded me, my internal strength comes from my body. I have endured, still endure, I walk on legs that can carry me, I hold my head up on a neck that bears weight. I knit and write and touch with hands.

I am more flexible than I imagined, and through the poses, the stretching, the attempts to tame my mind and bend it to my body, my body spoke, remembered.

It talked of the sickness, it reminded me of death. I went back to that room, almost unconscious at times, with monitors beeping, and drugs.

Mercy. Grace.

It is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, which I must confess seems a bit silly, if only that I always remember Gabe, and your children too. But, perhaps today can be a day to reach out to others and remind them - 1 in 200 babies will die from 20 weeks gestation to 28 days after birth. We are not alone.