I don't want you to be a gentleman.

I listen to pop music in the car, I'm not sure why because the lyrics always drive me bonkers, but I guess it's fun to sing along to and upbeat background music.  I always end up thinking way too much about the messages sent in song lyrics and lately the one song that's been driving me bonkers is Shawn Mendes' current song:

I won't lie to you
I know he's just not right for you
And you can tell me if I'm off
But I see it on your face
When you say that he's the one that you want
And you're spending all your time
In this wrong situation
And anytime you want it to stop
I know I can treat you better than he can
And any girl like you deserves a gentleman
Tell me why are we wasting time
On all your wasted crying
When you should be with me instead
I know I can treat you better
Better than he can

First off, as a woman, KTHXBYE for your opinion on my relationship and your assertion that you'd be better for me.  Just what I need, another man telling me how I should live my life.  The song should be re-titled, "I Know I Can Mansplain You Better."

Cynicism aside the word "gentleman" stands out to me.  And it's a word that I kind of want to be done with.  It's veiled sexism at its finest.  Because I don't want men to be gentlemen to me, I want them to be decent humans who treat other humans who happen to be women like they treat male humans.  They respect women the way they respect men.  They honor women the way the honor men.  They pay women the amount they pay men.  They fight for women to have the same privileges and rights as men because they are fellow humans who deserve that.  

You can treat her better?  Why don't you fight for her rights?  Speak up when your shitty friends are slut shaming girls.  Be an advocate for equal pay.  Stop saying things like, "she's just being hormonal," and saying that things done weakly/poorly are done, "like a girl."  I don't want your condescending gentleman shtick.  I don't want you to bring me flowers and open a door for me.  Get in the trenches and be a real advocate for women.  Maybe she is dating a lame-o, but being a gentleman isn't what she needs.  She needs a feminist.

Control | Release

Childbirth (and parenting in general) is such a balance of control and release.  I'm a naturally controlling person.  I like to know as much as I can going into a scenario.  I remember traveling to Paris for the first time and doing as much research as I could just about the airport and how to travel around the airport and to and from the airport/Paris.  I looked up maps, read blog posts about navigating the airport, searched out how to get on the train that took you from the airport to Paris, exactly how and where to buy the tickets to get on the train.  I feel like I'm pretty good at winging it and figuring things out on the fly, but if I have anxiety about something, I like to suss it out and get as much understanding about it as I can.  

I grew up with an extremely medicalized perspective on birth.  My brother was an extremely sick baby, given only weeks to months (max) to live.  And with a dad in medicine, specifically concerning sick and premature babies, I got a very singular view of what could happen during/after pregnancy.  And that view was very negative (or at least very focused on the complications that can arise).  At the same time it was positive in a way, knowing how amazing medicine is and how incredible modern medicine is.  My brother who was supposed to have died after only a few short weeks of life is currently thriving in his late 20s, thanks to the incredible procedures, many of them brand new or experimental, that have kept him alive.  At 25 weeks along, my baby is definitely now in the realm of being saved even if it decides it wants to come out prematurely.  It's pretty incredible.  

But all of that history and knowledge conflicts with my own desire to trust my body and have the most natural birth possible. So much of my view of birth has been so baby-centric, the mother is merely an obstacle to get the baby out of.  But now, as a pregnant woman, I desire so much to be an active participant, and actually, the central focus of the process.  The message that it's no longer about me, or that I no longer matter now that there's a baby involved feels so alienating and discarding.  Like, I was important until I became a mother and now I'm just a second fiddle to the child I created.  While I know there's a mental shift that occurs when you have kids, and you do lose some of that self-centeredness that you have as a solo human, I also know that to be the best mom that I can be, I also need to be a full person.  And I need to be a full person in birth too.

I hear a lot of doctors (and non-doctors too, actually), make fun of women for wanting to have a certain birth experience.  They make fun of them for thinking that the birth process is about them or important in any way that is separate from getting a healthy baby out of them.  For believing that the birthing experience is a profound, spiritual, transformative event that is sacred in addition to biological.  And really, arguing with them feels futile, because you feel like you're made into this selfish, ignorant hippie who doesn't care about the outcome of the baby.  Which is never true.  No mother going into birth cares more about her experience than having a safe and healthy baby at the end of it all.  But ignoring the link between supporting women through birth and their ability to actually give birth more ably and successfully seems like such a common occurrence in the medical community.  

I will be (well, planning) giving birth in a hospital.  There is a huge part of me that would love to have a home birth or give birth at a birthing center.  But I can't shake the knowledge that, if something ends up going sideways, I need to be down the hall from people who can revive my baby, not a car ride away.  I've kind of been ignoring the birth part of this whole pregnancy thing, mostly because it feels so distant.  I haven't even really felt really pregnant due to not showing much throughout the first and most of the second trimesters, not having any morning sickness, and generally feeling pretty normal.  But, holy cow, I only have 3 more months until this child decides it's too cramped inside of me and I need to start focusing on doing what I can to ensure I have the support I need to pursue my desire of a natural birth.  (side note: it feels so backwards that after thousands of years of having no other option but to birth naturally, we now feel like we have to fight to birth naturally).  At the same time, I know that, like all natural things, birth is wild and uncontrollable.  It's unpredictable and spontaneous, and having a plan isn't going to ensure much at all except that I might be sorely disappointed.  

I thought maybe after getting all these thoughts out I might come to a point or conclusion, but maybe I just needed to get them out of my brain and into writing.  Parenting and childbirth are such hotly disputed subjects.  It seems like everyone has a strong opinion about the right way to do it, and will fight you tooth and nail to get you to agree with them.  Part of waiting to announce my pregnancy until I was 23 weeks along was due to wanting to put off the advice-giving for as long as possible.  As soon as you are with-child people feel like they have carte blanche to start pumping you full of advice and opinions.  It's been lovely to stay out of that.  Even the stuff like, "Oh enjoy that sleep now, as soon as baby comes you'll never sleep again!" feels so unnecessary.  And it seems to be never ending.  "You'll be wishing for those newborn days when you're in the throes of the terrible twos!"  "Terrible twos!  Just wait until you have a teenager!"  

I'm afraid the internet has played a large role in pitting parents against one another regarding parenting and childbirth decisions.  As much as I love the internet and getting to be a part of a larger community online that I don't have access to IRL, it can also be a breeding ground for online bullying, putting other people down from behind a computer screen, and seems to make people unusually certain about their opinions (or at least causing them to confuse the distinction between fact and opinion). 

Entering the Cocoon

I'll be honest.  Moving to Alaska was not an easy decision and even though we are here now, it still doesn't feel quite "right" in a way.  After going back and forth for months about whether to stay in Tacoma or move up to Alaska, it ultimately made the most sense to move up here, primarily for medical care financial reasons, but leaving Tacoma felt really bad for a lot of other reasons.  

In almost every other decision I've made, I've been the sole person involved.  It's easy that way, because the decision affects me and no one else, so it really simplifies the decision making process and how I feel after making the decision is very straightforward.  This was one decision that really makes me feel like I made the right decision logically, but I know that it affects Dan much more negatively than me.  My job is mobile, Anchorage is my hometown, my family lives here, my medical care is affordable here.  For Dan, he's leaving a place he grew up, all his friends, his job, the house we bought and cared for.  So my confidence that I made the right decision for my medical care and pregnancy/newborn support is twinged with a lot of guilt and heartache surrounding what feels like tearing my husband away from a place he very much loves.  And while I know that it was a decision we made together, I feel a lot of responsibility for causing the move.

And, to be frank, it doesn't feel like a move "up," if you will.  We are living with my parents, which, at 30 years old, isn't #lifegoals, if you know what I mean.  We are living in an apartment above their garage, so we have our own separate living space, but there's still that feeling of, well, failure I suppose, in a way.  Going from being independent homeowners to moving back to the house I lived in growing up, it's not easy.  

I want to feel independent and grown up.  I know that this time is in many ways a cocoon for me, and maybe both of us.  And I feel so so so grateful to have a family that can provide a cocoon for us as we make this transition to parenthood.  I'm trying to choose to be positive and seeing this time as a true cocoon time, where we will inevitably emerge stronger that we were before, more independent, and more equipped and able to be the best parents we can, in a financial situation that allows us to move "up."  Ideally a cocoon isn't somewhere to stay forever, and it's also not a place where you revert back to your caterpillar self.  I'm trying to keep that in mind as we enter this somewhat uncomfortable space of being cocooned.  I imagine a caterpillar feels a bit uncomfortable, going from being able to scrunch around freely to being all wrapped up and stuck in a cocoon for who knows how long.  And not knowing what he'll look like, what life will be like when he emerges.  I feel that way very much.  The uncomfortability of not knowing what life will look like as a parent, how we'll cope with it, how I'll be able to be a businesswoman, wife, and mom all at once (even though I know it's more than possible based on how many amazing ladies I see doing it).  

People's lives on the internet can seem all insta-perfect and wonderful, but that's never the whole story.  While I feel a plethora of mixed emotions about moving, pregnancy, parenthood, and more, I'm doing my best to focus my attention on staying positive and having a great attitude through all the change that we're dealing with, because really it's one of the few things I do have control over.  Doing my best to take this in stride and take each day as it comes.

Something's Growing

It's been a while since I've put pen to paper, or rather, blinking cursor to vast white expanse.  This post will actually end up sitting in my drafts for a while, as I haven't yet announced that I'm growing a human, but so much of my thoughts and so much of the decisions we're making right now revolve around that.  

I don't feel like I'm the type of person to be pregnant.  At least in our culture.  I'm so tired of our culture and the confined boxes it constantly tries to put people in.  Being pregnant is like being shoved into the tiniest box, which is a bit uncomfortable as you're supposed to be growing.  Everything tells you to be one way, or to feel one way, or to do things one way.  I remember being only 5 weeks pregnant, in Maui, and reading in my pregnancy app that I probably wouldn't feel like squeezing into a teeny bikini, to which I replied aloud, "screw you, I'm in Maui, yes I do want to don a teeny bikini."  And so the pregnancy-fat shaming seemed to begin.  

But it's a double edged sword because then I get that person coming up to me at the buffet line at a wedding covertly telling me that I was lucky that I could eat whatever I wanted for the next 9 months.  Which also confused me because, hi, I'd like to remain eating and feeling healthy, which means not shoving my face with ice cream and fast food for the next 9 months.  Yes I will be gaining weight, but being pregnant is not an excuse to eat unhealthily with no consequences.  And I can eat whatever I want any time of my life.  I choose to eat or not eat certain things to maintain my health.  A fetus isn't a get-out-of-unhealthy-habits-free card.  And since I haven't had any morning (or other time of day) sickness, I get people saying stuff like, "well, you might later."  Thank you?  I'm so glad you're wishing nausea and vomiting upon me later on in my pregnancy because I haven't experienced it during the typical time.  

And then there are feelings.  Or the lack of them.  I see pregnancy announcements everywhere with phrases like, "over the moon" and "tickled pink" and honestly I don't feel those things.  It isn't because we aren't looking forward to the future with this new person in our lives.  Sure, we weren't "trying," but we also weren't being super strict about our birth control method, so I knew it was a possibility.  I don't have feelings of love and awe towards the thing that's inside me.  I don't feel like a mom, and I don't know what that even means.  Conceptualizing pushing a human out of me and then having it be in our lives forever just isn't happening for me.  I don't know when it will hit me.  For all I know it won't be until it's out of me.

I get the sense that the way I feel and how I talk about all this could be off-putting to some people who can feel those "over the moon" feelings, and who can't wait to hold their infant in their arms, and who feel in love with the tiny baby growing inside them.  I'm pushing back against that seed of shame that I'm already screwing up being a parent by not feeling the "right" way during pregnancy.  

I remember reading Mellisa's blog "Dear Baby" which she wrote while she was pregnant with her first child.  I remember wanting to do the same thing for my future baby, write letters to them while they were in utero, but here we are and I'm like, "I don't know what to tell you except I imagine you will LOVE orange juice based on how much OJ I'm ingesting these days."  Nothing profound to tell them.  No huge orations of love and amazement.  I'm not a feeler.  I'm a thinker.  I often wish I felt more often and stronger.  As a woman, I feel expected to feel strongly.  But my feelings are deep currents, usually lingering below the surface, not producing waves.  Articulating words to encapsulate those feelings is especially difficult.  Thinking comes much more naturally.  But I get the sense that I come off as unfeeling and curt because in my communication with most people I'm all information, very little feeling.  In fact, when I write emails, I almost always write out the email how I normally would (all info), then have to go back and insert pleasantries and "feelings," just to ensure I don't come off as rude or uncaring.  I imagine men don't deal with this same pressure.  I wonder what it would be like to not feel the pressure to be touchy feely.

I hope I disappoint you.

Having blogged for 8 years, I've had a few run ins with saying things that rub some people the wrong way.  Sometimes people say stuff like, "I'm disappointed in you," and after having had this happen recently I realized that, actually, I'd like to disappoint you.  Because the pressure to say the right thing always, to never offend anyone, to always be agreeable, and to never discuss topics that are controversial... it's strong.  The internet can turn into a pitchfork wielding mob of townspeople at the drop of a hat, trolls can say hateful, cruel things under the guise of anonymity, and misunderstandings due to having no external communication cues abound.  Being an internet person can be weird, let me tell you.  

But what I realized is that I don't want to be someone who never disappoints you.  Because real humans disappoint.  Real humans don't have the same viewpoints as you sometimes.  Real humans have PMS and have bad days and get salty.  Real humans want other real humans to recognize their realness and approach it with the same grace you'd like to be given.  I'm tired of the internet polarizing and turning people into saints and demons.  It's a false dichotomy.  Nobody is a saint.  Nobody is a demon.  We're all just people trying our best, sometimes being awesome, sometimes falling on our faces.

I've heard people say that because I have a "large following" and a "voice online," that I have to be extra careful with my words, and while I agree to a certain extent that "great power comes with great responsibility," but I also believe that one of the greatest responsibilities I have as a writer is to be a real person and share my vulnerability and that means not hiding all the not so awesome stuff that comes with that.  I don't want to be perfect.  I don't want to not be able to make mistakes.  I don't want to live in fear of a pitchfork mob because I lifted the veil of perfect inoffensiveness and, oh shoot, there's a real person under there.  So I hope that I have or will disappoint you.  I hope that you'll disagree with something here.  I hope that you see my mistakes and recognize that, on my side of the computer screen, there's a real live human being.