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10 September 2015

September 10th, 2015 § 0 comments

Before this happened I was sure it would become an art project. Now, the more visible the pregnancy has become the more I want to hide it.

Kara‘s comment “really?! that is fascinating.” to the above led me to the circumstances of when I had initially said it to myself and how it still holds meaning while I expose my pregnancy online.

I had only been pregnant once before, as a teenager, and a few weeks after I found out I had an abortion. There was never any consideration what carrying a baby means. I was on birth control for most of my life after that—always ready for sex and hostile to procreation. I wanted children, many children, but not in my 20s. When I got pregnant again this spring—willfully—it happened quickly, immediately, easily. Anything too easy is suspicious. So, in my hypochondria, when I followed along with the daily miscarriage rate graph, I was sure it would be me one of those days. Even 2% is a possibility. The uncomfortable ‘don’t reveal’ period of the first trimester is a consequence of these high miscarriage rates. Some women reveal immediately, like some from the birth club forums/groups I joined. But many of them also had stories of revealing “too early”. That is, revealing and then not having a “viable” pregnancy. (I put all these damn words in quotations because they are horrible and perpetuate a stigmatized and pathologized pregnancy).

Any form of artistic expression would “reveal” my pregnancy and I didn’t want to reveal “too early” to a public that knew I had wanted a baby. It would be embarrassing, awkward, intimate. If anything happened, they would be privy to my body’s processes. As if a miscarriage is your body exposed to whoever knows it happened. A body out of control. I didn’t want that exposure. Mostly, I didn’t want to jinx this baby. I thought (and still do think) if I reveal to too many people it won’t come true. Something will go wrong. Consequently, when the first trimester was over and the sanctioned time to reveal pregnancy arrived I was so taut with these internalized beliefs I only mentioned it on a very strict case-by-case basis. I insisted that J and I confirm with each other if we were going to reveal to anyone. I told my mom at about 6 weeks (over g-chat to make it as distanced as possible) because I was having pains and she’s familiar with pre-natal health issues and immediately had her swear on my life not to tell anyone without confirming with me first. She agreed, “Of course, Of course.”

“Because if you do I will cut you off from this pregnancy and not tell you anything else.”

“I know, you can trust me.”

These were lies as I found out some of her best friends knew. I can only assume the rest of our family in Poland knows too. Why do people take up other people’s pregnancies as if it also belongs to them?  A month ago she says to me dryly, “I respect that you want this to be a complete secret and hide them [the baby] as if they don’t exist.” My riposte, as always, “It’s my pregnancy, no one else’s.”

I got used to the idea that this was my experience and that revealing pregnancy carried with it so much baggage and superstition that I wanted to keep it to/for myself, not to let anyone else in. As if my experience would be taken away from me. I struggled with this when my belly kept growing and summer clothing was not cooperating. And partially my experience has been taken away by other women—guessing my month, asking about first trimester issues, guessing the gender of the baby after I explicitly tell them we don’t want to find out, and so on. The above is a pregnancy culture I don’t want to participate in. I erroneously(?) assumed if I started posting about my own pregnancy I would be complicit in this overbearing culture because I would be pushing my pregnancy on others; that I would be revealing my body’s intimate ways when I want to keep them hidden from view. Except my work deals with exposing the intimate and vulnerable and it’s impossible this be that different. So now, in all of my contradictions, I’m trying to figure out how to keep this mine and allow an audience, an audience I wanted from the beginning.

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