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Episode #14: Birthing This Podcast is Like Birthing My Baby

Okay, so not literally of course. Giving birth to a podcast could not possibly be like it was to give birth to my baby. What I want to say is that when I was pregnant with my baby, it was a very private and personal experience. Growing my baby inside of my belly was a sacred time for my baby and me and except for the regular visits with my ob/gyn and a few sonograms, it was a lot of quiet time for my baby and me. When my baby first kicked – and continued to kick inside of me – that was just between the two of us. Because I was having my baby on my own, there was no partner to talk to my baby, to touch my belly and to wait for a kick and to discuss baby names for a boy or for a girl. There was no partner to discuss with whether or not we would find out the sex of the baby. It was my decision and my decision only that – while I wanted to do an invasive test to find out if my baby was healthy – I did NOT want to know the baby’s sex. And as my baby grew inside my belly, and spring came and the winter coats came off, people I didn’t know – especially some women – would notice my pregnancy and say things like, “How much time do you have left? I bet you can’t wait to get that baby out of there!” As if it were a prison sentence. What were they saying? I can only assume they were saying these things to me through the filter of their own pregnancy experiences, so what had their pregnancies been like? Jesus. I was in no rush for my baby to come out, for my pregnancy to be *over*. I felt healthy and strong and kept up my pilates and yoga practices – with a few modifications over time – until the day I gave birth. I remember that with the earliest signs of labor while I was debating when to call my doula to tell her it might be time, I was doing “cat cow” on my living room floor to relieve some of the slight pressure I was beginning to feel. During my pregnancy, I ate healthy as I always have done and my only consistent craving was for an avocado a day. I would eat them right out of the skin or peel with a spoon and a little tiny sprinkle of salt, to bring out the flavor. I’d always give the last bite to Bogie, my little black pug, who was 2 and ½ years old at the time. I remember wondering why I was craving avocados of all things – except for their obvious deliciousness! – turns out that “avocados are full of good fats, high in dietary fiber and a great source of folate. Folate is especially important during EARLY pregnancy, because it can reduce the risk of birth defects.” Well, that seemed like a good enough reason to me to eat avocados throughout my entire pregnancy as I continued to eat them beyond EARLY pregnancy. I didn’t have any other cravings I’ve heard other women have and I didn’t binge on sugar and carbs – I wasn’t *eating for 2* – I was eating for myself and a growing little baby. I DID drink wine – a couple of glasses – and I dared anyone to give me a hard time about it. Even my ob/gyn and doula said it was fine. I get pissed off when people – both men and women alike – treat a pregnancy like a punishment period for the expectant mother while everyone else around her gets to have all the fun. No wonder some women asked me, “How much time do you have left?” Maybe the people in their lives treated them and their pregnancies as prison sentences and judged them for wanting to have a couple glasses of wine. I know a woman who did not want to have any children, but her husband did. She reluctantly agreed to give him 2 children and she hated both of her pregnancies because her husband expected her not to drink any alcohol – for the *sake of the baby’s health and development* – during both pregnancies and to make matters even more annoying, her mother-in-law echoed his wishes. Sorry husband, sorry mother-in-law. What the fuck? The mother of the baby or babies gets to make choices for her own body, for her own knowing what’s healthy for herself and her babies. Good lord, if women throughout history and the world couldn’t have healthy babies if they drank a little alcohol or smoked a few cigarettes, the population around the globe would have been wiped out years ago. I’m NOT advocating for getting trashed while pregnant or for smoking while pregnant, I’m just saying that it’s happened that some women have drank or smoked a little while pregnant and many or most of their babies are FINE. I’m not talking about fetal alcohol syndrome where the mother drinks in excess throughout her pregnancy, though I do recognize that the most conservative of medical professionals in this country will advise that *no amount of alcohol is known to be safe to consume during your pregnancy* and that *if you drink during pregnancy, you place your baby at rise of fetal alcohol syndrome*. COME THE FUCK ON. NO amount is known to be safe? Come ON. Many of the women I know – with as many as 4 or even 6 children – drank small amounts of wine during pregnancy and a few even snuck some puffs off of cigarettes. I worry that the extreme guidelines placed on women during pregnancy are EITHER to protect the manufacturers of alcohol and cigarettes and the medical profession from lawsuits in this overly litigious country of the United States AND/OR that this is some conspiracy by men to *keep women in their place* and for women to be *obedient* and *held captive* within their own bodies, just because they are making a baby. What about the sperm of the fathers or donors of the babies? Do the health and habits of the father or donor affect the health or quality of his sperm? Does the health or quality of his sperm affect the health of the fetus? SO many questions. Anyway, back to the woman I know who promised her husband two kids and who did not drink any alcohol during her pregnancies – at the insistance of her husband and mother-in-law – she had two boys and they are precious and I want you to know that she loves them very much. She is a good mom and she continued to be – last I heard – subjected to expectations of how she should behave now as a mother, by her husband and her mother-in-law. It feels like holding a woman captive during pregnancy is a gateway to imprisoning her throughout motherhood, at least during the years while raising their children through high school or even college. I’m not saying ALL men are keeping their *women in their place* and that ALL women are being *obedient* during their pregnancies and throughout motherhood. I think SOME men are controlling and some women allow themselves to be controlled. And some women don’t mind and some do. Some women stay in controlling marriages and some don’t. I am glad that for me, I went through my pregnancy on my own and in my own way. I ate and drank what felt right to me and I gained a healthy 25 pounds during my pregnancy and ONE WEEK after giving birth, I fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. As I mentioned earlier, I had kept up pilates and yoga while pregnant. What I DIDN’T mention is that I had stopped running the day I found out that I was pregnant. NOT because I thought running would be unhealthy for my baby, but RATHER because that morning when I took a few steps running toward the East River for my probably at that point 5 times a week run, I stopped in my tracks and checked for my wallet in my fanny pack. Yep my wallet was in there and I was going to have to head back toward home and stop by the nearest Duane Reade along the way for a pregnancy test. Yep. I had neve been pregnant before in my life but *something* told me I was pretty sure I was pregnant. That *something* was my boobs. They HURT. When I ran. Not when I was standing or walking or laying down that morning. They hurt when I took those few steps running. I went inside the Duane Reade and found the section with the pregnancy tests. Oh my Lord the number of choices! I looked through them all – the ones where they turned into one line or two lines or pink or blue. Was one line or two lines pregnant? Was pink or blue pregnant? What the FUCK? Finally, I found a 2-pack – the most expensive of all the tests – that would give me a reading of either YES or NO. PERFECT. I got into my apartment on the 14th floor – which seemed like a longer elevator ride than usual – and I went straight to the half bath immediately inside our unit to the right. I DIDN’T walk past the kitchen, lean down over the puppy gate to pet Bogie while he slept in his bed, and go inside my bedroom to the master bath. I peed on the stick and worried if it was enough pee. I didn’t drink any water before I ran so that I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a public bathroom along the way, so it was really just a little trickle that had basically kind of spit on the stick. “How much pee is enough and how long does this take?”, I wondered. The box didn’t indicate how much urine was needed, but it did say to wait 3 minutes to check the results. With one minute to go, I checked anyway. YES. HOLY SHIT. I must REALLY be pregnant if that LITTLE amount of a sample gave me the results so EARLY!!!! 

So, here I am over 12 years later, abou to give birth to a podcast! Just a quick update on my little family, if any listeners are tuning into this episode before previous ones – Bogie is about to turn 15 and I had a baby girl, who is about to turn 12. For the past few months, I have been recording podcasts and uploading them to the cloud. They are only for me right now and I know that I want them to be public. I know I want to share all my stories and I want to INSPIRE people – maybe even have them CRY with me, LAUGH with me or AT ME! I tell stories about the things I care about and how I react to them and I tell the stories of my life, and there are so many to tell. At this moment, I have 4 pages of future episode topics and the list grows every day. I am generally a pretty quiet person and prefer to share my stories one-on-one – and some stories I don’t share at all. Some people who knew me as an adolescent or who have known me as an adult, might disagree that I am a quiet person. I guess what I mean is that up until recording these podcasts, I’ve really only told PARTS of SOME of my stories, not ALL PARTS of ALL OF my stories. Really, I realize that I’ve only been sharing TIDBITS or anecdotes about my lie, not the whole picture or context behind my stories. These podcast episodes are an opportunity for me to go DEEPER into my UPS and my DOWNS and the process of writing and recording is a long one. Each episode – whether 9 minutes long or 23 minutes long – takes 3-5 hours total. It’s an iterative process to write each story because I like to do so – using pencil and paper – and I re-read what I’ve said and pace around our apartment, often talking to myself out loud – while I figure out where to take the story next. I guess this isn’t like my pregnancy at all in that I didn’t have control over the gestation period of a human baby and I DO get to choose how long I *cook* this podcast and its episodes before I birth them into the world. The part that is similar though – between making a baby and making a podcast – is that I am in no rush. I am in no rush to deliver all of my stories – or even a lot of my stories – into the world for all to see and hear. This is a private time for me as I deeply reflect on my experience and as I even get to know myself better. There is the self I have presented to the world – you know the one, *I’m fine* or sometimes the occasional *this thing sucks*. But mostly, it’s *I’m fine* or even *I’m great* and I shut out the noise by netflixing every evening and all weekend, getting lost in other people’s stories. These past few months, I have limited netflixing to weekend afternoons, AFTER I’ve written and recorded a podcast or two – AND read from the lovely stack of books I picked up over Memorial Day weekend, just at the unofficial start of summer. The books are all written by women – many of them women of color and some are part of the LGBTQ community. And I am in love with all of them and their vulnerability and courage to share their pain and joy. I feel like I KNOW them and that they and I are the same person. Their stories inspire me and I want to inspire you with mine. WHEN I AM READY. Because when my stories are out there, I don’t think my life will be the same. When my daughter was in my belly, caring for her was the easiest it would EVER be. She was fed when she was hungry, she didn’t need diaper changes and her sleep was whenever she wanted. When she was in my belly, no one else could hold her and feel her, only I could, and caring for my daughter was not messy then, as it would be after I gave birth. There would be poop-up-the-back-of-her-onesie as only breast-fed babies could poop! There would be her crying in the middle of the night – for a short period of time – until I breast-fed her back to sleep. There would be all the laundry of baby clothes and burp cloths and when she was older, food over the side of her high chair and parenting decisions and the opinions of other people – and *all the things*. All the things that weren’t private any more – just between my baby and me – and all the messes . What will it be like when I birth this podcast? My privacy will be gone. Some of my secrets will be known. There will be opinions. Some people may like me, some won’t. I don’t think I’m worried about NOT being liked, because that’s not really new to me. Some of the people I have loved the most and the longest don’t like me much. And that’s none of my business. What other people think of me is NONE OF MY GODDAMNED BUSINESS and this podcast isn’t going to – or intended to try to – change any of that. This podcast, these episodes, these stories are for me – for myself – to unearth from the DEPTHS of my SOUL – to HEAR for myself and to, when the time feels right in my heart, to share so you can hear them, too. Maybe you listeners will feel like you KNOW me and maybe you’ll feel like we are the same person. Because we ARE.

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