I write to you from the depths of the third trimester. I am settling well into the loneliness, heartburn, self-doubt, and chosen avoidance to it all. I am two months away from my due date. I have a major aversion to my husbands cologne, I can no longer bend down to pick something up. I have a major attraction to laying on my left side and clutching my belly while willing everything to be ok. There is this awkward longing that lingers inside me now, a pull that tries to anticipate the future until I learn the hard way that I cannot. I am utterly devoid of any enthusiasm. I am somewhere between the person who drowns over a glass of water and the person who carries the weight of the world on her back.
Somehow, I hold myself calmly in this weird center. These veins of mine pump more and more life into me with each passing moment, feeling my fetus baby stronger and stronger everyday. My biggest challenge is just loosening my grip, trying to understand my own power in this realm of Mother. Soon I will have another baby plopped onto my chest. I will exit the hospital in a much different state than how I entered it. The darkness of postpartum will soon envelope me into another reality that’s beyond measure.
Someone thanked me for my bravery the other day, she was referring to The Letters to My Husband. I have yet to conjure up a response. It’s interesting how we can call truth “bravery,” how we have been so washed by prettiness and good news and announcements that we can’t even admit that we have disagreements with our spouse, that sometimes we wake up and wish we were a trillion million miles away from them. So, if Michelle Obama wrote in depth about her experience in couples therapy, what makes you think I’m going to sit here and waste your time about my union being idyllic? The kindest thing you can do for yourself is to be honest. As I’ve come to learn this seems like an extreme sport to some, like it’s something dangerous, like something they couldn’t possibly do themselves. Their salable narratives are a warm, comfortable place, kind of like how it is for me ignoring the reality of being in the third trimester.
Our priest asked me what my relationship with god is like these days. “What do you look to him for?” he asked. I caught myself reaching for my drawer of polite answers. I am preparing to be a godmom and had to sit in a room with him for an hour. He gave me a shoulder shrug after he asked me that question. A shoulder shrug is like a universal gesture for “c’mon, cut the shit.” I closed my drawer and opened my mouth to let out whatever I wanted to say. I look to god for authenticity. Sometimes I hope god is fixing someone else’s life during the times I’m challenged with greed, jealousy, selfishness. I hope he’s fixated on me when I ask him for help, when I’m trying so hard to anticipate the unknown, like when I’m clutching my third trimester fetus baby. “I can’t relate,” our priest said. No shit, I wanted to reply, but figured it was about time I pulled out a polite answer from the drawer and just gave him a brief, forced laugh.
There are things I have forgotten about, being in my third trimester for the second time. The whirlpool of loneliness and heartburn with a baby in utero. I am so far gone from having an ounce of self-worth, like it just shaves off a little more with each passing day, to the point where I fear when I give birth I won’t have anything left to give, because I’ll be a flat deflated thing, wiped clean of any resilience and determination. But this post is not a cry for help, it is not a parable. It’s my way of asking you to please not be like anyone else.
This post is about the added shame and remorse that society forces upon you. I have let my self-worth depend on my professional accomplishments and social status and number of likes. We have gotten to a place where being honest about your life is called bravery. We throw flowers at the women with lanky bodies, al fresco dining tables, and trips to Morocco. Swipe up to know everything I eat in a day. How have they convinced you that these people that live on the screen have exempted themselves from struggles?
I used to think bravery was putting on the best version of a fraudulent self to get through the day. Like, the days we are so anxious to flee from our infested bodies that we stand in the kitchen and shove cold pizza in our mouths while putting down the picture of the pretty girl in the bikini on the beach. Or beat ourselves down with memories that don’t even matter, like the time you wrote a heartfelt letter to someone and they didn’t respond. People are the captain of their own ship, they’re navigating their own storms and reveling in mirages that aren’t there. That’s bravery. It’s not about fixating about how self-seeking you are, about keeping your true self tucked away in a cabinet. Bravery is about your showcasing your messiest ugliest self, getting lost in your own honesty.
Loneliness leads you astray. This is not a bad thing, I think. But we fight against it, we feel comfortable when are most enclosed within the four walls we’ve built for ourselves. My belly says fuck these four walls, this life of yours is never going to be what you think it is. When you’re lost is the only time to actually sit with who you are, to unfasten the weird cloak of self you feel you’ve needed to build. When loneliness leaves you with a stronger sense of self, dont dismiss it and let society mold you back into a puppy with its tail between its legs. We get so fucking pissed off at ourselves, what if we just don’t do that, okay?
My fourth grade teacher told me I should never start a sentence with “because.” The lesson has followed me here and I still choose to ignore it. Because starting a sentence this way leads me to freedom. Because I wrote an essay about my parents in the fourth grade that won me a prize and it all started with “because.” This is the only space I can manifest an open canvas. Treat your canvas with respect by doing whatever the hell you want to it. Dignity, for some, is creating a canvas of pleasures and shouting them out to the world. Because there is very rare, unique, liquid gold that pumps through our veins.
I’m sitting on a stool near a window at a bakery. The stool is extremely uncomfortable, but worth it since I’m waiting for a cream filled donut and a decaf coffee. This is a shiny world, I think to myself, for me and my son and my fetus baby. An elderly lady tells me I have no business drinking coffee at my current state. I give her a nod, for all she knows I could be deaf.
When you feel every cell on your body pulsating and you can finally let out a deep exhale, freeing yourself from the weight of facade, that’s when you’ll know self-doubt is no longer feeding off you like a leech. That is a reminder for me, but maybe for you, too. Our lives are so full of blemishes and we should consider ourselves lucky. Because this world can hold them all.
I will likely be taking the rest of the month off from bobbie. I will leave you with some things that have had a hold on me lately (Disclaimer: all Motherhood related):
Currently, I’m reading The First Forty Days. This book is an amazing reminder of how important it is to take of the mother after giving birth. The way other cultures honor the mother after childbirth, by rituals, foods/teas, and rest. It puts shame on the way society in the US forces us to “bounce back.” So far, I highly recommend. These reminders are so necessary.
Giving Birth as a Black Woman in America by Naomi Jackson. A beautiful and heartbreaking reality of the risks that Black women face when considering having a child.
Pregnancy After an Eating Disorder by Leslie Jamison. Leslie is one of my favorite writers. This is just a beautiful read and a perspective I never really thought about.
After Birth by Elisa Albert. Actually, I had to stop reading this book almost halfway through. It is an extremely dark story about a woman struggling with her new reality as a first time mom. I hope to pick it back up soon, maybe right now is not the best time for me. I am surprised that it’s such a heavy read for me, because I LOVE heavy.
My friend Laurel’s latest newsletter on the power of saying no!
Lastly, my thoughts on the third trimester: