But my friend is, and when I suggested we spend time together now that I am back in Tucson, she invited me to attend prenatal yoga class with her. This was a shock to me, as I didn’t know she was pregnant, let alone 5 months along and doing prenatal yoga.
As y’all know, I love throwing myself into new experiences with abandon to see what happens and how I feel, so I instantly accepted, excited at the prospect of experiencing something new even though I don’t meet the “qualifications.”
So I showed up at the class and introduced myself to the class as my friend’s immoral support, and felt welcomed by all the lovely ladies. The teacher informed us that we could go to the bathroom to urinate as many times as necessary, and we got started.
The class consisted of communing with my baby and relaxing my pelvic muscles at least a hundred times while doing gentle yoga poses. I learned a great new stretch for my patients with sciatica, too. I loved the class, and the teacher’s energy. It was lovely to be part of the group of pregnant women...
Until I wasn’t.
"Relaxation Pose" (Savasana, "Corpse Pose")
I felt tearful, sad, demoralized, and jealous of all the pregnant women around me. And then a little part of me felt superior for NOT being pregnant, since I was the only one other than the teacher. And she birthed a baby less than a year ago, so I was still able to feel superior to her in this context.
But the superiority complex was a defense mechanism. The truth is I was jealous, and overwhelmed by the strength of my emotional reaction. I had felt perfectly at home throughout the class, visualizing communing with the baby in my belly. I had managed to completely block out my inability to grow a life inside my womb.
Despite the intensity of my internal reaction, I managed not to cry. I figured that if I started crying, half the class would start crying along with me, for entirely different reasons. And it wouldn’t be fair to them, since they are chock-full of sob-inducing hormones right now.
So I swallowed down the bitter pill and felt lost at sea in my emotional tempest, out of my element. After the class ended, I talked to the teacher and my friend about it, but my feelings were understandably foreign to them. So I swallowed them again.
But they’re not gone.
I don’t envy them the struggle. No, wait, I’m lying. Yes I do. Even the miserable hard parts. I envy those, too.
But those of us who can’t bear our own children are stigmatized as well. Less of a woman. Barren. Spinster. Damaged goods.
When I share with someone how strongly I feel about wanting to bear children, and how much it hurts that I can’t, I am invariably subjected to the same tired platitudes: “it’s not that bad. Don’t think about it.” “You can just adopt!” “Why don’t you go work in a day care or something? After that you won’t want kids anyway.” “You’re lucky. At least you don’t have to worry about birth control anymore.” “Believe me, you don’t want to get pregnant. You’re better off that way.”
The above people mean well, and many of them are even right. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less when they simply don’t understand, don’t hear my pain, don’t see me. Yes, there are plenty of ways I can still have and raise babies and have kids and be a parent, but… it’s different.
People tell me platitudes to make me feel better. *I* tell myself the same things to make me feel better. But the truth is I want to grow a baby inside me, and it hurts that I can’t. But I’m learning through the pain and dealing with it.
My Last Prenatal Yoga Class
But I don’t expect I’ll go back.
So my first prenatal yoga class is also my last.
And I’m okay with that.