I’m still pregnant, heading into week 26 this week, spending a lot of time feeling tired and hungry. This pregnancy, during which I am only part-time employed, living much more simply than when pregnant with my first child, makes for a real slowness and awareness of the minute movements of time and life. I started feeling this baby moving inside me at week 16, it’s true, and within the past 2 weeks, she’s been dancing up a storm on all parts of my insides. I am lucky because I can actually stop what I am doing and pay attention to these small movements, which feel so big inside of me, and notice my reactions to them.
Mostly I am happy to be feeling confirmation of life growing inside of me. Mostly I am grateful to be able to build more on this land than just farms, just community. Mostly I am aware that my world focus has gotten so much smaller these past months than ever I was allowed to be before. And mostly that is a good thing.
Except when it’s not. Yesterday I attended a really lovely, well-organized and spirited rally and sit-in as part of Rising Tide’s work to stop a fracking pipeline through Vermont. 60 people went into the governor’soffice to demand attention to this issue, and over 30 stayed in the buildinguntil getting arrested at around 8 pm last night. I didn’t make it inside to the sit-in, but was able to enjoy music, speakers, chanting, and friendliness among the 200 odd folk who stood outside in solidarity.
The thing that struck me most about my experience of this was that I had an intense sense of dissonance throughout the rally. I felt disoriented. I felt tired. I kept on looking for other pregnant women, or women with small children. There were a few. I felt lonely and confused. I managed to say hello to one or two people I knew, but expressed the sentiment-- Today is a really pregnant day for me, but I had to make it out for the rally. I had such a sense of the bigness of this rally, the level that was trying to be affected through political action and civil disobedience. And it felt just weird, somehow disconnected with what I am focusing on just now.
I am also reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. This text unpacks the systemic racism of mass incarceration, and the legal buttressing that allows for a reproduction of the injustices and oppression of Jim Crow in our current moment. Arrest, detainment, prosecution, incarceration, and life after release mirror the legal segregation and discrimination of Jim Crow. It’s painfully obvious. It’s sick and wrong.
As I read this book, in between moments of deep fatigue and midwife appointments, I find myself again aware of a dissonance in my body. How can I be so completely focused inward and still make any sense at all of this vast and brutal system? How does it sit with me, to be living so small, when there is so much bigness to work on?
It’s kind of too much. I want to watch television and eat chips. I want to dream of an ease of life that doesn’t exist for anyone. I want to think I am bringing up children in a world where we actually do make a difference to the bigness of injustice. I believe that, and it’s hard to hold it next to the smallness of my life right now. All I end up thinking about is the knitting of life in me, the uncertainty of what is to come in the next weeks and months.
I’m 41 and planning on a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). Because of my age, my weight, and the type of suturing I had done (with no knowledge or consent), I am told I have a 35% chance of success. I am working hard to say no to this quick decision, categorization, and looking to work with others who can act hopefully because there is so little certainty about any of this, and hope informs outcome. I work on this knowing that this is what is best for my child-to-be, and best for me. I also work on this because I know fundamentally that what is happening to me is not a medical experience, and no matter how much I am medicalized, my body, this life, the prospect of being a parent again is so much more than what I am being told.
I have some awareness, some sense memory of working with the multiple levels of self, group, system, of mind, spirit, body, in workshops, movement meetings, therapies and relationships-- but never have I felt this so acutely within myself. It’s like all the levels are jumbled up inside of me, and I feel carried along in a stream that I have no control over. And so I kick, I stroke, I wriggle and pull myself along. I take it in, I gulp life like breath, and seek faith to bring me on and further down the way.
I am just one body in the world, wanting to live well and with health. I feel the intensity of my desire to know myself as whole and well, just as I feel the intensity of the life in me growing and wanting to be in the world. I know there is a connection between this highly personal experience and the work of world changing. I feel it, and yet can’t know it, just now. I can only remember that there must be a connection between all of these levels, and hope I can see them more clearly, when I have come ashore.