Evidence of What I Did to Celebrate Summer Solstice… *Cough*

Baby Not a Wiccan, 11 Weeks

Note to Facebook friends: This is a secret you’re getting clued into about a month early! I’m waiting a few more weeks to blab to the general world about this news, but I’m going to explode if I don’t actually write about it now. So please, if you’d kindly not mention it and bask in the glory of the smug satisfaction of knowing something most people don’t, I’d appreciate it. Grazie.

After almost a month of having no energy at all and doing very little housework, a week of my chest feeling like Wee Folk had been kicking me in my sleep, and a vast array of general weirdness I chalked up to my first hardcore fibro flare-up in half a year, I was cooking green beans one night and nearly threw up on the stove. The next day the nausea kicked in full blast after a nap, just about the time I needed to cook dinner again. It was at that point that I decided to immediately go out and get a pregnancy test, gingerale, and soda crackers, sparing the fiancé the fact that I was getting a pregnancy test.

When the test’s confirmation line turned before the control line, I thought to myself Shit, this thing is broken. Then a second or two later, I realized that the stick was telling me that I was, in fact, pregnant.

It wasn’t denial, and I wasn’t completely clueless as to what was going on. The cravings kicking in almost immediately gave me pause. Just a few days before I took the test, I was joking with my mother about all of the problems I was having and that maybe I was pregnant. We’d been cleaning a house that day, and a cowbird spent the entire five hours I was there flying from window to window following my movement and pecking on the glass; when I got home to research into what cowbirds mean, part of it was about neglecting children… Neglecting? Not exactly. Or, well, okay, neglecting the signs and lacking the bravery to confirm things. The thing is that I was trying not to set myself up for disappointment.

There came a point sometime last year where every time my period started, I felt a stab of disappointment. We weren’t trying to conceive, but we weren’t trying to prevent it either. I was getting tired of hoping only to turn around and start the cycle of let-down a few weeks later. So I guess when combined with my cycle being off whack from a car accident in February, I just managed to convince myself that I was being neurotic. I was used to being late. I was used to heinous PMS. And I was used to experiencing something I can liken to opening every single present under the Christmas tree only to find the one thing you really, really wanted and asked for repeatedly wasn’t there as a child.

So on July 16th, I took a pregnancy test. I’ve taken a lot of them in my life (irregularity plus general neurosis = I should have bought stock in pregnancy tests), but this was the first time I had a positive result. I was over-the-moon for a few days before I got really, really sick from it all. The week after that found me in St Louis taking agri-business classes and traipsing around farms in the area in the middle of a heatwave. Then upon returning home, I just continued to sleep all day and night, finding when I was sleeping I was sick to my stomach constantly. I’ve yet to throw up, but you spend 4 weeks constantly nauseated, eventually you find yourself kind of wishing you just would.

On top of being sick, I’ve constantly worried that something was going to happen. The most amusing part of this is that I’m slowly starting to feel better, and I find myself even more worried… My symptoms are going away!!! What does that mean?! The rational side of my brain obviously tells me that my body is finally adjusting to massive hormones. However, I come from a family filled with difficult pregnancies and heartbreaking endings in regard to them, so I have almost an inherited fear of something happening that I’m trying my best to work through. This is a new level to the battle for mindfulness and self-awareness that I’m swinging through. Observing these thoughts and feelings then letting them move on has not been easy. I keep practicing. It’s all I can do.

This pregnancy, despite me feeling like crap, is going great. Today, as I said, I hit 11 weeks. My doctor was incredibly excited to pick up the heartbeat on Doppler (170bpm) at 10 weeks through my chub (though she didn’t say the chub part… That’s me. Ha!). The dating ultrasound the next day revealed a kicking, hiccupping miracle living inside me.

And this is a miracle, as far as I’m concerned, or a very large blessing from the gods… Or both.

Female Mysteries and Menstruation

Ah ha! I found Pagan Blog Prompts tonight, and I think it’s finally pulled me out of the “what the crap am I going to write about?” slump of the last few days – Especially when I want to be well-researched on anything I write about. However, I can talk about what things mean to me without having to pick up five books and filling out a notebook or two on the subject.

This week’s subject is one of my favorites to terrorize all the males in my life with: Menstruation! It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, and if you’re a friend you know I’m always willing to inform you when I’m on my menses.

Lately I’ve been so busy looking at the larger cycles in life that I’ve missed out on the smaller ones. The moon and I haven’t been spending enough time together, for instance. I was shocked to find out that the moon was full and not new the other night. Then came the fact that my face broke out and I couldn’t figure out why. Well, a few days later I started menstruating, and I had one of those “Oh duh!” moments. It was much like the reaction I had to the moon being full. I felt like a bad Pagan on some deep level.

I’ve never hated my period. I’ve groaned a few times when I’ve bled through pants, stained bed sheets, or generally made a mess of something accidentally. I’ve lived through horrible cramps, acne, and mood swings that make life miserable. The fatigue is the worst. The inconvenience of going out is horrible. And the bloating? Ugh, don’t even get me started.

Still I don’t hate it. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m living with what will most likely end up being diagnosed as fibromyalgia, but I can take the small inconvenience of my period in stride.

Like most girls of a certain age, I waited and waited for my first period. I welcomed it. When I got it, I felt accomplished and womanly. I was finally a woman – At least in my own mind.

My cycle started when I was twelve. Six months later I read The 13 Original Clan Mothers by Jamie Sams, and while I don’t remember most of it, I do remember some of the things she said about menstruation. I think perhaps that it shaped my views early enough on that it left me in dumb confusion over my friends cursing their natural cycles.

In preparation for a healing quest, Jamie Sams explains that a woman will take a minimum of three days of silence and retreat every month while she is menstruating. During that time a woman only does personal activities and refrains from communication (Imagine three days away from your computer or cell phone once a month!). She doesn’t cook for anyone. She doesn’t have sex. Et cetera, et cetera.

I think in a way I’ve taken those thoughts into myself and really let them bury deeply into my mind. They speak to me. And most months I find myself thinking carefully about this lesson I learned, but doing very little to mirror something that completely speaks to me. I do refrain from sex, and I try my best to contemplate the female mysteries.

Yet I find myself longing for a little more spiritual connection to it all. In this fast-paced world, it’s hard to carve out a time of sacred healing. It’s nearly impossible to take off three days of work at the start or end of your period unless you run like clockwork or your job is very, very easy-going. With just a single living partner, I find it difficult to not cook or do any sort of housework for three days, because my sense of fairness tells me I shouldn’t do that to him.

Maybe, though, we don’t have to be so extreme as to take three days of silence. Maybe we can simply take an hour a day during our “time of the month” to sit and find a way to heal – be that taking a bath, creating something beautiful, or simply taking a nap.

(And while I’m on the subject of “lady things,” I truly feel the need to stand up and say that as Pagan women, we should attempt to reclaim our cycles. Part of the way of doing this, I feel, is to switch over to sustainable sanitary products. Cloth pads, the keeper, sponges, whatever floats your boat. And if you just can’t stand the thought of it, at least consider switching over to something like Seventh Generation’s feminine hygiene napkins. Not only does it help you become more aware of your cycle, but it also does something good for the Earth! We all want that, don’t we?)

In this year of attempting to get back into the swing of all things spiritual that I’ve put off for a few years while attending to other types of health, I’m making a promise to myself. I’m not going to ignore my cycle and what my body tells me about myself during that time. I will take time to honor the feminine power and mystery within me. I will go back to cloth, and I will be proud to be a woman.