What many in my life do not know about me is that I was once pregnant. I only realized it about a month after my partner and I had mutually ended our relationship due to our careers taking us in very different directions that were highly unlikely to be near each other for many years to come.
I was finishing graduate school at the time and was not in a place in my life where having a child made sense. However, for the short time it was true, I found the process of being pregnant magical. While the "morning sickness" was profoundly debilitating (and did not only happen in the mornings) for sometimes a few minutes to several hours per day, in the moments in between, I also remembered with new understanding all the things I had heard my mother say while growing up about how being a mother gave her purpose and found myself re-imagining my life orbiting around this growing life inside of me. I realized that I could make it work because she had... and curiously surrendered to the journey ahead.
My breasts and belly began thickening and swelling, and with every breath it seemed like I could feel how my body was unlocking a new sequence of arranging itself to prepare for this growing life inside to become itself independent of me. It was thrilling, nauseating, terrifying, and transfixing. After a few weeks, when I was sure that this wasn't a missed period due to the stress of the recent move and starting a new job, I slowly started telling a few close friends and a family member. Eventually, I called my ex and told him because it seemed like the next right thing to do. He had a complexity of reactions… but… in the end… leaned in to be the father he had always wanted to become.
It was hard to comprehend, but overall I began adjusting to this new concept of self and village. However, over the next few weeks, my ex- and I started to argue about what happened next. He became tormented and possessive towards what we believed was growing inside my body in a way that horrified me. It felt like my womb had become a tomb that was trapping me and binding me in a nightmare of a relationship that I would never be free of. I didn’t recognize either of us and could tell how badly matched we were as future parents.
At the end of one of these long talks with my ex, I found myself increasingly chilled to my core…. I was immersed in a new darkness that was strangely familiar but different. A special aloneness that cannot be undone happens when people see your body as an object to something else. I found it to be similar but not the same as the darkness that engulfed me after sexual abuse and rape, both of which I had also survived. In those moments of violation, my body became an object for pleasure, in this moment it had become an object for purpose that was not mine.
Now this new adventure I was on was becoming a prison of expectation and attachment to a moment and being that did not yet exist. My body was becoming an object of cooperation and sacrifice to people who had never before believed they had rights to decide my path and what I did with my body. I found my hands increasing covering my belly throughout the day and night in what felt like an attempt to protect myself and this being from what more and more people would become aware of soon as my belly swelled a little more every day. I started having intrusive thoughts imagining the cliche ignorant violations of touch and personal space ahead when people would begin touch my belly without invitation or precedence.
That evening, as my ex- and I's argument ripped apart the beautiful connection we had closed with such profound love and care only a few weeks earlier, I grew deeply quiet listening to his strangled voice trying to assert his ‘rights’ as a future father. Then something new happened in me that I still marvel on to this day.
Click here for what happened next.
About the Author
Ruth Diaz is an organizational consultant and leadership coach on connecting relationships with ourselves and each other at every level. She currently works in Portland, Oregon.