Becoming a Mother: Changes Abreast by Insiya Rasiwala-Finn

What’s inside your lingerie drawer?  Sleek and utilitarian is probably how I would describe most of my underwear.  Cotton has always felt great against my skin and I used to think it was more practical to spend my clothing budget on what adorned me on the outside, rather than worrying about the underpinnings.

But over the past two nights, I’ve trawled the internet to inspect handmade French lingerie, and debated spending the $ for one of Panty by Post’s silky hipster panties.

I can tell you for certain that I didn’t see this coming.

It may have had something to do with the fact that I’ve never really had breasts – that is except for a short period during college when I took the curve enhancing birth control pill.  But tired of the moody effects of the pill, my body quickly eased back to its normal shape, yes I had curves, but they were almost non-existent and frankly, I liked that.  That’s what allowed me to be active, surfing, running and yoga-ing with a body that was slight, strong and pliable.

Yes, I’ve never understood our cultural obsession with larger breasts, a surgical option to look like a lactating mother, and that too, without a baby.

——-

Then, earlier this year, I got pregnant.  My body, with its heightened sensitivity and hormonal onslaught reacted like a brittle autumn tree hit by a wild fire.  Almost overnight, the tremors in my chest sprouted breasts, until there they were; real breasts that no longer felt comfortable under my normal clothing.  I could no longer run easily, the twists in my yoga practice required more space and most importantly, I could not subdue them in a tank top, these perky creatures demanded a real bra, and my lululemon sports bra and various yoga tops just didn’t make the style or comfort cut anymore.

Of course the irony was, that while this visible offshoot was taking place in my outer body, on the inside my body was creating a placenta, that incredibly adaptive organ that would nourish my baby through its evolutionary journey over the next few months.  Outwardly, my body wore its natural equivalent to a breast enhancement proudly, but my insides churned, a sign that my placenta was securing its rightful place in my uterus, my nipples were sore; and the last thing I wanted was to have my very attentive husband’s hands or lips anywhere near my painful, tender breasts.

Much has been written about pregnancy and sexuality.  Some women reportedly feel very sexually alive while others feel the opposite.  At my first midwife appointment, I was handed a binder on birth resources that also contained a government issued handbook on sex during pregnancy, outlining safe and comfortable ways to adapt to a woman’s changing body…  I flipped through the pages and wondered, in my nauseous and fatigued state, would I ever feel sexy again?

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Fast forward to today, past the awkward second trimester where to most it was still not evident that I was pregnant and my changing shape still felt awkward like ill fitting clothes.  I have six weeks left until our baby arrives – unless things change – and I have gotten acclimated to my breasts, while my belly has caught up to my largesse.  Unexpectedly, I feel comfortable in this new shape of curves and softness.   Which makes me think about the biology of procreation and how it somehow manages to muss together all our carefully crafted distinctions between the profane and sacred.  From the earthy sensuality of lovemaking emerges creation.  And our female bodies become vessels for something larger than ourselves.  The reason my breasts are voluptuous is so I can nourish our baby with milk.  Like all expectant mothers, I am an industrial designer’s wet dream, an intricate, perfect machine, functional and aesthetic all in one.

Isn’t this the ultimate tantric equation?   Where there is no distinction between sacredness and life?  Where every living moment is sacred in and of itself.  As a Yoga teacher, one of the things I wrestle with in classical Yoga, is our attempt to control the body’s natural desires in order to transcend it.  These last seven months of pregnancy have been the opposite.  Just as my Yoga practice has changed, with my body learning how to support itself in new ways, I have had to surrender to the rhythms of evolution and its claims on my body, my emotions and my mind.  My body, once so cold that I wore two pairs of tights in Vancouver’s mild winters, is now so warm, that I cannot even touch my partner (who naturally runs hot) at night – it feels as though I am scalding myself.  My digestion varies from meal to meal, I fall into dream-filled, lucid sleeps that stay with me each morning; I cry when I read an encounter about natural birth; and while I wake up early with an energy spurt, by 11 a.m. I need a nap.

What I’ve learned through all of this, is that there are no blueprints for this journey.  All that advice that well-meaning friends and strangers ply you with is yours to accept or deny.

I’m not sure how the next few months will transpire, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the soft feel of silk on my skin and marvel in my strong and beautiful body as it goes to work preparing to birth and nurse a new being, oh yes and hopefully enjoy some pleasure too.  It’s all part of the same continuum.

 

 

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