Being pregnant makes me feel pretty. For the first time in a long time I don't feel self-conscious about my body. It's not that I didn't like my body before, it's just that I felt very aware of its imperfections and inability to be tiny and slim. I wear pants now, heck, I even wore just leggings to teach my class today. I sometimes feel like my classroom full of 20 something year-old, mostly male, unmarried students are totally unsure of how to approach the fact that I everyday I come to class a little bit rounder. I think sometimes it makes them nervous, but there are also days like today when they seemed excited and curious and as supportive as students are allowed to be. Teaching is such a funny thing because I feel like mutually, teacher and student, we care a lot about each other and want the other to succeed, but at the same time, we know almost nothing about each other's personal lives and only see each other for such a brief period in our lives.

Being pregnant is so interesting. I simultaneously can't wait for it to end and also wish that I could be in this state always. I will be the first to say that I am terribly uncomfortable most of the time, but I also, like I said above, feel more comfortable with and in my own body than I have in a long time. I get worried about how I will feel when the roundness in my belly is gone. Maybe I feel so delighted in my body shape right now because I have always loved roundness and circles. My artwork is always full of round shapes and brushstrokes, I like round words, I would much prefer a circle to a triangle or a square. I think there is a lot of comfort in the way that a circle never requires you to define a beginning or ending. There is a softness and a kindness to the way that a circle just lets you in without being abrupt or loud, you just sort of move your way into the shape. I feel like my round belly also completes the fact that I have a perfectly round, charlie brown head, and my eyes, instead of being olive-shaped, are round like the pit of a fruit. A friend once told me, before I was pregnant, that my body reminded them of a snowman. That made me secretly very self-conscious for a long time, however well-meaning the compliment/declaration was. I now see her point though, except I feel like a snowman with legs. I didn't mean for this whole post to be about my body, but it is. Sorry if that is awkward. My body though is much on my mind as of late and I am quite impressed by the whole affair. I will leave you with a picture and a poem.

Venus of Willendorf

Who carved the first taut stomach? Sharp tool held between deft fingers, shaping limestone round as sunrise. So small I could hold it in the palm of my hand, or in secret. Was the statue an attempt to capture the supple hills of a body that moves like an ocean under the surface? Was it hope for child, was it praise?

Now, I am wild with new heaviness. Peonies, full moon, cup my hands together and look inside. A subtle movement outward into the world, and still thoughts move ever inward. I am searching the veins around my heart. I touch my stomach often, rub my hand across the underside. Surely everyone must notice the way I round, the blood in my cheeks.

Maybe it was Eve who made the Venus and painted it a soft earthen red.

I hiked through the hills at the top of a canyon where the air was thin. I wanted to lie down among the fallen granite and blooming wildflowers. I thought about the tiny stone woman with no face. I wanted to hold her up, just to make sure she really does look like me.

side note: The Venus of Willendorf is the oldest accounted for piece of sculpture or artwork that we know of today. It dates back to about 22,000 BC. Little is known about the sculpture or its purpose, but many call it the first Venus, which seems rather appropriate.


LJ said...

This is absolutely beautiful. And I have to say that being pregnant made me feel like I was the most stunning woman in the world.

And the fact that Adam loved my round shape too helped things along a lot.

And your poem is lovely. Just lovely. We were born to this. Amen.

Cait said...

I love round things as well, pregnant bellies (mine and others) delight me more than any other anatomical feature. Thank you for being so honest with us... you are so undeniably beautiful inside and out. I love your writing.

kathy w. said...

I love this. Thanks for sharing it.

And I know what you mean. I loved being pregnant. I think all the ways we're socialized to think about our bodies are put on hold for a few months when we're pregnant and we get to just inhabit our own skin without worrying about what that looks like. Wonderful, isn't it?