Working in harm reduction I have heard people describe certain substances in a way that they “turn up the experience.” Some drugs will synergistically turn up the effects of others, while other substances have the ability to turn up the experience of the music, the lights, the emotions. Sometimes this amplification is a desired and desirable effect. Other times it can push things right past a threshold of what could’ve worked, been held, been enjoyable.
I have found pregnancy thus far (5 months) to be a “turning it up” experience. When I am hungry, it’s real, it’s pressing and if I don’t address it my blood sugar could crash and I could end up feeling intensely nauseous. (which by the way, can we talk about how hard it is to eat to raise your blood sugar when you are on the edge of vomiting? I have been really grateful for bone broth, miso soup, soda crackers and gummy candies). When I am tired, it’s all over, I probably won’t make it to the end of the show or have the oomph to do ‘just one more thing’. When I’m tired I lay down and promptly pass the fuck out. When I am frustrated, same thing. When I am sad, you’d better bet there are tears, and not just little ones, but huge whole body shaking sobs.
Being the host to a developing life is a fascinating thing. Many people describe the experience as beautiful, magical, and precious. I don’t want to deny other people’s experiences, but for me, my adjectives are more perplexing, puzzling, interesting and really fucking weird. I can feel this proto-kid moving around inside me now, it’s gotten strong enough that I can distinguish between it’s kicks and flips and my gas. I am acutely aware of the ways that tending to my needs is a process indistinguishable from tending to theirs. If I am well, my body, their life support container is maintained, they will have a better chance of being well too. I wonder if that is a part of the root of the ways that girls are socialized in our society to tend other’s needs, maybe it is tied into a biological thread, carried through generations of gestational experiences. In a way, this crossover paradox is where taking care of your own needs is taking care of someone else’s needs. Self care, community care, caring to the flock. Pregnancy is where the lines between these things blur into oblivion.
Caring to the flock is something that has also been turned up for me. Being pregnant and a farmer I have noticed the ways that my observations of and interactions with my farm animals have shifted. I have always had a strong emotional connection with the animals I am raising, but this season I’ve noticed, that especially the baby animals are getting even deeper in my feels. This becomes challenging when some of these animals are being raised for meat production. I decided after raising pigs last year and having a really hard time come slaughter, that I would become less emotionally connected to the pigs this year. I wasn’t expecting the pull of pregnancy to find me endeared to them as much as it has. I am grateful for our team, including a woofer who has taken a real shine to the pigs, so that I am not the one to walk all their meals up to them. I notice when I do, I linger, I clean out their tub. I nest for them in the ways that they can’t, offering my opposable thumbs to move things around for them and try and create the best zone possible. I watch them and take note of their interpersonal dynamics. I see the bullies and favour the meak. I try to pet them, even when they bite me, and I sit with them and connect to a level that I assured myself I would try and avoid. The baby chickens tractor was parked immediately outside my bedroom window for a few days, I layed in bed and watched them drink. I seem to know when the cats and dog want out and am roused from sleep by their needs. My body is shifting to be tuned into the needs of those in my care.
As shifts happen within my home, guests coming and going, challenges between me and Andi, even differences in temperature. All of these things is also turned up. Little things feel immense and permanent in ways that they aren’t. My mood regulation is shot. Some of the tools that I would usually use to help me manage things feel outside of the healthy possibilities. I am working at avoiding adding things to my body that could potentially have harmful effects on the spawn within. Those around me kick back at the end of a hard day with a cold hard drink, and while sipping on my non-alcholic version thereof I dream of the effects of a light buzz. Alcohol isn’t even my drug of choice, but while abstaining there is a way that the memory of it can feel glorified. I know that it will probably be many more months until I am able to feel comfortable to trip through timespace without having the effects of that cause some sort of negative impacts (even if only my guilt, concern and fear) to the kid growing inside of me, who will be solely nutritionally met by the by products of my body when they come through to this side.
Pregnancy is really hard work. It’s also hard to feel everything turned up and to have the sense of responsibility to a tiny vulnerable creature ever present in every single decision.
Much gratitude to those who have met me with care and understanding and patience and solidarity. Your support is not just appreciated by me, but by this squirming kicking flailer who is already coming to know what a strong community they are having the opportunity to be born into.