I was living in New York City when I found out I was pregnant. It was the happiest day of my life. My beloved, Solomon, and I had been trying, so it wasn’t a surprise, but I was still in a state of shock as I walked down 2nd street on that crisp, March morning. All throughout the day, I felt the presence of this new being inside me, and I was blissful knowing that I was placed in charge of carrying this life from one dimension to another. The 8.5 months following that moment were something like a dream, a bit of a nightmare, and wholly surreal. Up until that point, I had been a fairly stable, independent soul with a flair for adventure, and I was in love. In love with life, in love with New York, in love with being female, and in love with a man. At the time we were long distance, so I still felt like I had my independence, and I enjoyed every second with the utmost gratitude and the sense of wonder that comes with being a woman living on her own in the 21st century.
We decided to move to California after we found out about the pregnancy to be with my paternal grandmother. Pregnancy is one of those things that you never see coming. Even if you knew it was coming, or wanted it to come, when it actually happens, the reality of it is a combination of enchantment and mourning. I was mesmerized by the process–the miraculous symphony that was taking place inside without me even trying. At the same time, I mourned the loss of my autonomy. I now had to think about another person, and I couldn’t escape, because the person was inside my body. This, for all intents and purposes, was a revolutionary act. To agree to be a mother is a revolutionary act for a woman, because it is the ultimate sacrifice. I didn’t know the real meaning of being “single” until I got pregnant. For me, pregnancy was a constant ebb and flow of sheer terror and pure joy at what could be. Every move was considered, everything I ate was questioned, and every thought was scrutinized. “Will this hurt the baby? Did I just traumatize my child? What can it hear? Does it feel me when I cry? Laugh? Sing?
Early on, I was very ill and could not tolerate most foods. Light bothered me. I couldn’t listen to music. Even certain people’s voices made me sick. Apart from the physical strains, I was also an emotional train wreck. I wasn’t prepared for the utter loneliness that comes with the territory of this journey, especially before you start to show. I suddenly became an outsider, silently suffering and unable to express exactly why. I felt like a barrier had been placed between me and the world, and no one could see or feel it but me. This was very isolating, and I found myself battling depression and anxiety, and although it was transient, it was very powerful. I couldn’t even ask Solomon for help, because I didn’t know what I needed help with. I no longer felt like the confident, secure, strong woman I thought I once was. My body was changing. My thoughts were erratic. I was being broken down, prepared, softened for the arrival of our baby, and in hindsight it all seems so obvious, but while in the throws of it I felt as if my whole world was crashing down faster than I could pick up the pieces.
Day by day, life became more tolerable. By the 4th month I was able to eat again, although my capacity to deal with everyday stresses had dropped drastically. We decided to go with a group of midwives to deliver the baby. We wanted the least invasive approach, so all throughout the pregnancy, we had no ultrasounds. We didn’t know the sex, and we wanted a drug free delivery. Everything about prenatal care was overwhelming for me. I hated going to the clinic. I hated that I had no idea what to expect during the delivery. I was perpetually irritated by all the questions people asked, all the horror stories other women were so eager to share. If it was up to me, I would have had my baby in the forest against a tree, with the squirrels and mice as my audience and God as my guide. I just wanted a healthy baby and an easy delivery. All I could do was wait and see, and pray.
At 42 weeks and after a plethora of attempted “natural” inductions, I went into premature labor. I say it was premature because I knew the baby needed more time. Solomon and I knew the date of conception, and it was a week after the proposed due date, but for arbitrary reasons the midwives refused to push it back, and unfortunately the law does not allow midwives to deliver babies after 42 weeks gestation. After 12 hours of labor, we were transferred to the hospital because I wasn’t dilating past 3 cm. I knew in my heart it was because baby wasn’t ready to come out yet, but fear and ignorance took over and we found ourselves at the last place we wanted to be: the medical corporate nightmare of the hospital.
Despite our fears and hesitations to give birth at a hospital, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the staff was extremely accommodating and sensitive to our needs. After a total of 38 hours, a few bad decisions and some good ones, we finally met the One who was inside me all those months. Solomon was there the entire time, helping me push, and gently walking me down the final stretch of this road. Phares Joseph came to Earth on a Thursday at 11:48 pm. The feeling of pushing him out and holding him in my arms was indescribable. In an instant, I was transformed into a mother. I was staring into the eyes of a human being who came from the other side, who seemed to know so much already, and who stared back at me with dark, piercing eyes. We were utterly in love.
Although I did end up having to take drugs, most of my expectations from pregnancy to delivery were fulfilled. Phares was born and he was healthy, although he was put on antibiotics out of fear of infection due to my waters being broken for so long. After 7 days of fluorescent lights and medical jargon, Solomon, Phares, and I stepped out into the world as a family for the first time.
Thinking that pregnancy would prepare me for motherhood, I quickly realized that, just as with pregnancy, nothing can prepare you for the job of Mother. The old me was gone. It died at the hospital, and I was reborn into something completely foreign. My body was in shambles. I could barely walk or sit down. I had no control over my bladder. My once-filled belly was now a vacant sack of what felt like loose air. To describe the way I felt would be futile. I was experiencing life in the most outrageous way, and I felt completely lost.
I also never felt more like a woman.
When I think about myself as a woman, some things come to mind. I think about our powers. I also think about our beauty. And I think about the qualities of the Divine feminine, which encompass the former. Women reign in the spiritual domain. We are not meant to dominate in the material plane. Why would we want to? It goes against the very nature of the feminine spirit. We are first emotional, second logical. Logic is masculine. The material world is masculine. It is left-brained, it is anti-nature, it is output. Feminine is receptive, intuitive, kind, life-bearing, creative. When Alexander the Great decided to conquer the world, it was because a woman told him he would. Women are the seers into the unseen dimensions, and for that reason man cannot help but be amazed, even–dare I say–slightly afraid.
What I am realizing now, two months after giving birth, is that femininity, in its essence, is trusting the unknown. It is allowing the currents of life to take you where they may, under your subtle control. For me, femininity is not about taking power, because femininity is power. It is nurturing yourself, your young, your partner, the world. It is gentleness and kindness, it is what guides the masculine force, it is inspiration.
Being a mother has filled me with a sense of love that goes beyond time and language. It’s the kind of love God must feel for His creation, otherwise why would we be given such a gift to behold? Being a mother has also been the most difficult experience of my life. My identity is scattered. I’m moving towards a future self I cannot see or fathom, and I am wary to say the least. I am slowly re-introducing myself to myself, finding any fragments of who I was and trying to fit them into this new skin. I feel alone, yet I am attached to a tiny human who depends on me to survive. The world that was once so familiar to me is now a scary, unpredictable place that I feel alienated from. And despite having the most loving, supporting partner and father there is to have, my struggle feels uniquely feminine and other-worldly, and so it’s an internal process that I must grow with in the solitude of my inner reality. The irony of it all continues to astound me.
Each day brings its struggles and challenges, but I am incredibly grateful to be alive during this time. I want to continue, to move forth in finding my own way as a woman and now as a mother and wife. I want to raise Phares to be a man of discernment, a man who knows the respect a woman commands, a man who is aware of his own feminine aspects. I want him to help heal this planet, and to know his purpose as a protector and gatekeeper of Love.
May we all find our peace in the chaos.
With that, I will depart. Eternal gardens of spectacular Light,