I place a hand on my heart and a hand on my belly. I take a deep breath in and say, “How can I best nurture and honor and serve you today?”
The thing is, I’m not entirely sure who I am talking to—the child in my womb or my inner self. And I think that ambiguity is okay.
In my pre-pregnancy days, I usually reacted to the needs of the day. It was easy for me to neglect a meal or forget to take a walk. I could urge myself to extremes, as if my body was simply there for me to manipulate as a vessel that got me what and where I need to be. I didn’t pay much attention to the lines and curves or the ways that my muscles felt after movement. I didn’t pay much attention to how it felt to shower and take in the smells of my lavender cedarwood body wash or to lay my head down at the end of a long day. I didn’t attend to the type of shoes I wore or the way my spirit felt when surrounded by other humans. Those things weren’t on my radar. Before pregnancy, I thought I knew what it was like to be an embodied human being—but I really had no idea.
At 31 weeks pregnant, I’ve discovered and looked forward to feeding my body, taking short walks when it’s hot out, and longer walks when the sun goes down. I don’t push myself to extremes and I’m not harsh with my body, because it’s working with me to create and sustain life. My curves are nearly unavoidable and the lines on my legs and belly are signs of my body evolving to hold something beloved. I love knowing that my muscles have worked to continue to be healthy; and I cannot wait to take my nightly shower and allow the aromatherapy to soak into my skin and soothe my soul. When my head hits my pillow, I eagerly await the sleep before me, even though its depth and rhythm has changed. I can only wear good shoes that support my knees and back, and I am grateful for the chances I get to be in the presence of those that I love.
I had never considered that even before I become a parent, my child will already be teaching me about what it means to exist in the world, from the inside of my body. My mom reminded me to ask myself daily, “What are you teaching me today, baby?” She said that sometimes we have to be open to what our children have to say about ourselves, about the world, about being an embodied human being.
So, I’m listening. I’m listening to what this baby boy is teaching me both about honoring the body that holds his tiny, unborn self along with a beloved soul who has dwelt there for 26 years. I’m listening to what this baby boy is teaching me about sabbath, especially being a person who is driven to do and to go all the time.
I’m listening to what my baby is saying to me about my own body: that it is for me and holy and very good, not because a child exists in my womb but because God declared it as so from the very beginning.
This baby is telling me that to treat my body as beloved is the best thing I can do both for him and for myself.
I don’t want to forget these lessons I’m learning during this unique season of life because I believe they will serve me well for the rest of my days.
I am grateful for the inner child who speaks truth about honoring and serving my body even before he’s entered this world. May it not take a pregnancy for us to claim our own selves and the ways we live out our bodies as beloved and sacred and very good.