Body

I gained 16 pounds when I was pregnant. And believe me, that was a triumph. I couldn’t keep weight on when I was carrying it. My mom bought my nursing bras, and they were four sizes larger than my regular bras. (Little known fact: I’ve never actually bought myself a bra. I was traumatized by my first bra-shopping experience, and have never participated again. Usually, when asked my size, I will just look expectant and eventually the person asking will guess and I will nod and then we’re done.) Anyway, my point is, pregnancy, like illness, requires you to observe your body as though you’re an experiment.

Breasts, in particular, are fascinating. I thought mine would split. I fully expected them to. Some mornings, I’d sit, waiting for the kid to wake, and watch the veins, and the skin tightening, and think, “It’ll be like a watermelon when you whack it.” And you talk to people about your breasts. About pumping. About latching. About nursing. About how much he eats. How much he keeps down. Breast milk tastes sweet, like rice milk. It’s actually pretty delicious, and the first time I ingested it was accidental and made me feel perverted.

You smell everything. You smell garbage from blocks away. Smells you used to enjoy turn on you. Men’s spiced cologne and any mint toothpaste nearly fucking killed me. I couldn’t focus my eyes to read. The words were blurry. My gums bled all the time. The months after delivery were the only time in my life I’ve had to use lube. It was shocking. I remember feeling like something broke. Like I broke. Whatever me was inside had been consumed by a pack animal. A lumbering, dull-witted creature.

So, you know, who wouldn’t want to do this again? We were talking, today, about making space in my body for another. About cleansing, and acupuncture. About meditation and solace. I am not a stick figure any longer. Not a young woman. And so I have nothing to prove. I know I’m a good mother. I know I am tender and thoughtful and experienced. I have no fears left about motherhood. And I know my partner is even better at it than I am.

Can I make a space as intentionally as I clear away worries? Can I center myself? Focus on my eggs. On my uterus. On my blood. Can I bring another child into this world? And nurse that child against me. And watch our bodies shift. And be as sanguine as I am now. This is the way we are wild, isn’t it? This is the way we transform. Our bodies cradle and rock. Cradle and rock.

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