The other week I awoke from a dream. It was clearer than almost any other dream I’ve had in the past 26 years. I can honestly say I felt this dream. Every part of my body was affected as I moved from the bedroom to the bathroom. This dream was the first time I gave birth, in a logical way.
We all have dreams. Ones that don’t totally make sense. Disjointed, odd, nonsensical. This wasn’t that type of dream. After attending 45 births in this dimension, I can say, this dream birth felt almost as real as the ones I had attended while awake.
As I write this, I can still remember the burning as the baby stretched my vaginal walls, the vernix that seems to stick to her body for days. The sensation of her clenching down on my nipples as I grew comfortable feeding her.
I can feel my first walks outside, unsure if my postpartum body was ready to move so vigorously at the market while I collected food, yet feeling so insanely powerful and sure of myself. Feeling a new type of confidence I had yet to possess.
How long does it take for that dream to become reality? I guess the short answer is 40 weeks, but if you begin the journey to conception, you’ll know that the short answer is rarely the case. So let’s go back, back to the first time my partner and I decided, “let’s make a baby today!” I literally giggle now when I think of how naive I was going into this process.
Female. Healthy diet. Exercises regularly. 26 years old. Monthly menstruation. Confident. Good mental health. Based on my description, I along with most other people, would assume that just by making the decision to become pregnant, I would.
Why? Well, what I have learned slowly over the last 2 months of trying to conceive (TTC) (yes, not very long, just long enough to shatter your confidence and then begin rebuilding it), is that the formula for creating a baby is actually quite complicated. And that’s even if there are presumably absolutely no health issues to work with and you’re affluent with fertility in some regard.
I won’t explain the science of creating a baby too much, because that’s easily accessible. But for some insight, in case you are assuming the same as the general population thinking, “don’t you just have unprotected sex?” I’ll break it down a little bit for you:
You’ve got about 12-24 hours where the egg is ready to meet the sperm, and your best bet of that happening is to have sex or inject sperm (not going to assume we’re all involving a penis here) in the few days (your fertile window) leading up to that egg being perfectly ready. Sperm has the ability to live inside the body for up to five days. Once those 24 hours of 30 ish days pass, you’ve got to wait another 25 ish days to start trying again.
To figure out when you’re ovulating, well you’ve got to either pee on a stick every day for about 10 days after figuring out which ten days make the most sense based on your cycle. Or, you’ve got to get a thermometer to run your basal temperature and either record the math yourself or pay for a software to do most of the math for you. Or, you’ve got to have a super regular period and ovulation and do the math. Or a good combo of all three. And then also, pray to whoever it is you like to pray to. With these odds, you’re basically hoping to win that $50,000 off the $3 Bingo scratch ticket you glance past at the gas station. So again I’ll say it, not that easy!
And even if you do happen to yell BINGO, there is a 1 in 3 chance that your body may have started the process off on the wrong foot, and decide you’re going to need to start again.
With all this being said, you might have a supportive partner, or you might not. You might be choosing to do this journey solo, or you might not. But what you will find out after the tenth or twentieth ovulation test, or the first ‘not pregnant’ symbol, is that you are inherently, doing this yourself.
The biggest shock I’ve felt so far throughout this journey is not the uneasiness of getting pregnant, but the disappointment and loneliness I did not know I could ever possess towards myself. The way a piece of plastic could not only make me doubt my ability to procreate, but to be myself outside of procreation. I never thought I would experience so many feelings just from peeing on a stick! And I do want to stress, I am surrounded with great support (my mom literally mailed me ovulation test sticks, hahaha) and consider myself a very confident person.
I’m not writing this to scare people away from conception, but to validate your journey in a way mine hasn’t felt validated yet. In a real way.
After attending 45 births, there is one thing I know for sure, all different people get pregnant and babies are born. After being born from a young mother who was in no way hoping to conceive at 21 years old, what I didn’t know is just how spontaneous conception really is.
When I meet my clients they are very pregnant, rarely do we spend time going over the time it took to get to 30 weeks pregnant. I’ve never paused to consider the journey was not 30 weeks so far, but maybe 136 weeks. Or longer. Or that maybe this is the second or third time someone was almost 36 weeks pregnant but didn’t quite get there.
How often do you check in with people in your life who are trying to conceive? Why aren’t we all sharing the process of creating life in a way that makes it feel like gathering instead of isolating? How is it that trying to bring forth new life has made me feel the loneliest and most disconnected I’ve ever felt to being human?
We are getting so far in the birth world, holding each other through pregnancy and postpartum. Finding more ways to show up for new parents, for all parents. But how do we show up for people who want to be parents? Who aren’t parents yet but yearn to be? How do we hold space for something that isn’t yet conceived?
Well I wish I had the answers. I’m still learning how to hold that space for myself. I’m still learning the patience it takes and the hope I know I can possess if I slow down and listen and trust my body. I’m still battling doubt that makes me want to halt the process, and dreams so real I know my body is feeding my soul to keep me pushing forward.
I’m still processing the process.
Words by Shania Lane
Photos by Jennilee Marigomen