Friday, January 21, 2005

Pregnant (not right now)
Shortly after I began blogging, I was informed by a fellow blogger that imshin meant ‘pregnant’ in Korean. I thought ‘nice’.

Korea and Korean meant very little to me, although all that has changed since we bought a Korean car, but imshin meaning pregnant suited me down to the ground. It was, well, pregnant with meaning (Sorry about that. I couldn’t resist it).

Imshin is a nickname made up by Eldest years ago, and long discarded, derived from Ima, the Hebrew for Mom. So pregnant was fine by me. I’m a mother and in order to reach this state I was pregnant. Twice. For nine months each time. And it was nice being pregnant.

You can imagine my surprise when, a few months later, I got an e-mail from someone expressing their amazement (horror?) at my use of the word. I think what he (it had to be a ‘he’, didn’t it?) wrote was something on the lines of “I can’t understand why anyone could possibly want to call themselves that.” As if it were a dirty word, as if pregnancy was something obscene, some terrible malignant disease suffered by those poor unfortunate women, but not, thank God, by us men, heaven forbid!

Not wishing to be impolite to a reader – I didn’t have many of them back then – I think I just answered something nice and ordinary, not letting on how clueless I thought he was. But I’ve had it tickling the back of my mind ever since, giving me the occasional giggle.

I think it’s time to set the record straight, seeing as we women are doing such a pathetic job of stating the case for womanhood, and for the really great things we can do that the men folk can’t.

Lying in bed after Youngest was born, I was overwhelmed by an intense feeling of love for this tiny creature that had just come out of me. It had swept over me almost immediately like a big wave.

This hadn’t happened when Eldest was born. Perhaps it was because I had epidural with Eldest, or perhaps it was because I hadn’t been a mother when Eldest was born. Motherhood is something you have to grow into. But this wave of love on the second time around really bowled me over. I hadn’t expected it at all. In fact, when I was pregnant with Youngest I had been worried that I wouldn’t be able to love her as much as I loved Eldest. I couldn’t believe that there would be room in my heart for both of them. God knows I’m not the warmest, most giving person in the universe.

What I discovered when Youngest was born was that I didn’t have to share the same amount of love between them both. It was like a miracle had happened. My capacity for love had swelled to twice the size it had been before, if not far more.

So there I was lying in the maternity ward just a few hours after Youngest popped out (She did pop out, we almost didn’t get to the hospital in time, but that’s another story), and I was feeling all this love and completeness and contentedness and compassion, all the usual mushy stuff. Bish had said that I looked like a Buddha, before they chucked him out so I could get some rest.

And then I started feeling really really sad. It was because of Bish, you see. In my overflow of compassion, I was feeling so very sorry for him, that he didn’t get to experience for himself the amazing wonderful intensity of what had just happened to me – childbirth. It seemed so unfair.

Get a bunch of mothers together and ask them about the births of their children. Be prepared that this can take hours. I find that all mothers love talking about it, even if it was a difficult experience for them (but maybe not if it was really traumatic). And it doesn’t matter how long ago it was, or how old their kids are - they can be grandmothers.

For a feeling of empowerment, of being really in contact with life in the most uplifting way, for sheer intensity - there is no experience that can come near it.

Breastfeeding is good too.

Update: Maybe not everone sees motherhood the same way. Brrrr.