I’ve been reading this book, Great With Child, by Beth Ann Fennelly. It’s a collection of Beth Ann’s letters to one of her former students, Kathleen, who found out she was pregnant while moving to Alaska with her brand new husband, away from her family and all of her friends. At first I was somewhat frustrated by the letters, because Beth Ann is completely romantic, poetic and mystical about pregnancy. Although I'm not here objecting to Poetic Attitude in itself, I do object to it being the only way that women are allowed to talk about being pregnant. In some ways, I think it sets a woman up for feeling either disappointed or inadequate when she doesn’t feel poetic, romantic and mystical about her own pregnancy.

But if a woman admits she doesn’t really feel romantic or poetic or mystical about being pregnant, or that she doesn’t feel well at all, and consequently doesn’t really like being pregnant, she becomes an already-bad mother: Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

I get Tsk-ed a lot.

I kept reading the book anyway, partly because I’ve gotten used to being frustrated with most things written about pregnancy, and also because the letters are short and perfect for the bathroom.

Yesterday I read one particular letter in which Beth Ann talks about the anxiety that comes at the end of pregnancy: eagerness to see the baby, hold the baby, love the baby, etc. I identified with all of this. What was more surprising to me, though, was the sadness she felt after her daughter was born. Not because she was in any way disappointed with the “final product,” but because her daughter had spent all this time inside her, was now outside her, and could never be inside her again.

As eager as I have been to have you out in the world, that letter made me realize that maybe I should enjoy these days as much as possible, since you’re mine and I’m protecting you.

And I never can, ever again.

©2008 Dr. Lacy M. Johnson All Rights Reserved.