“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”
– Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
That Friday afternoon was quite different to my usual end-of-the-week wind down. Usually doused in gin, lemon and tonic, I found myself, instead, physically shaking and staring in shock at the one person who makes me feel safe. Positive and confirmed in an instant. Fuck. I hadn’t even finished peeing. Adrenaline, panic, ecstasy and fear shoot through my limbs at a rapid and unbearable pace. He makes a sound – an honest release of happiness, and tells me to give in to his embrace. Ok, we can do this.
No physical changes at first, but my thoughts have altered. My body, even though still entirely mine, is in deep conversation with my mind about adapting to the idea of hosting somebody else. Soft cheese, cured meats, champagne; avoid, avoid, avoid.
4.30am and I am wide-awake. I also need to pee. What could I eat on the way to the bathroom?
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
– Maya Angelou
I’ve developed a crush on my yoga instructor’s assistant. Her name is Poppy, she wears a green unitard and her hair pulled back into a low bun. She’s in her third trimester, so I follow her practice in the safety of my own living room, the laptop’s light assaulting my eyes. Poppy is graceful and considerate of her body and her bump. I feel clumsy and off balance — an un-mystical creature still in my pajamas, no bra, and my hair out.
The weight of the self-doubt in my mind suspends my thoughts between my own instinctual responses and my own inevitable fears, creating a tension that sits low in my belly. Poppy says I should breathe.
“Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” – Ina May Gaskin
There is a new female landscape building inside me, paved with advice from my closest ladies, the garden seeds have been sown by my warm and softly spoken midwife. I can see the view from my new home that has now welcomed in its new guest.
My maternal side is taking over. Having questioned its existence in the past, today it feels as though my body is louder than my mind. It is moving my entire physical self towards pure acceptance. I let go, rejecting anything armed with pace or stress, making room for natural light at lunchtime, time with my own mother and afternoons in bed.
With only weeks to go, I am surrendering to the fact that my body is about to endure something far beyond anything I have experienced before. I am told to imagine myself ‘opening’ and ‘blossoming’. I read about ‘the high’ and ‘the rush’. I start to dream of your voice, your little rhythms and your tiny waddle. I’m excited to meet you…
Dear baby, if you are a to be a man, may you carry equal amounts of strength and delicacy, and if you are to be a woman, may you find your own voice and be generous with your instinct.
Portraits of Yasmine Ganley pregnant with child by Ophelia Mikkelson
Super 8 film still by Veronica Crockford-Pound
Creative direction by Veronica Crockford-Pound
Film stills from
Yasmine Ganley by Ophelia Mikkelson
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