Pregnancy and Self-Reliance

I recently got a suggestion for a blogging topic from a friend and reader, Michele. She asked,

Do you ever feel “helpless” with being pregnant? What, if any, adjustments did you have to make as a pretty self-reliant, get shit done type?

I love this question because it provides some insight into the way people see us versus the way we see ourselves, which is especially interesting the blogging world, where we’re often communicating with strangers.

I’m going to tackle the second part first. Lean in close, because I’m going to whisper a little secret to you.

I am NOT actually a get shit done kind of person.

Me, sitting on the couch… NOT a get-shit-done type!

One of the symptoms of my depression (or whatever you call it) is that the connection between wanting to do something and actually doing it is largely missing in my brain. I spend a lot of time sitting around or laying on the couch desperate to get up and do something and not able to actually move my body to do it. It’s not usually vague desires, either – I’ll be sitting there knowing exactly what I want to be doing but unable to make the motions to do it. The few things that I manage to do – take care of the pigs, write blog posts, etc – sometimes take an extraordinary amount of mental struggle and effort to keep up with.

I realize that blogging can create an unrealistic view of these kinds of things. There’s not much to write about the days I spend laying on the couch despondent. I write about the interesting things happening in my life, but people might take away an unbalanced view of how much space and time in my life those things take up.

Also, I’m not much into physical labor and might not be even if I weren’t depressed. Joshua is. This means that the things that “we” do are a lot of times mostly him doing the doing. I try to be accurate about this when I write, because I want to give credit where credit is due, but since this is my blog and my voice it might not always be clear.

For example, check out my recent post Animal Adventures. I reported on a lot of happenings in that post, all of which I was present for, participated in, and which were important to me, but if you’re really paying attention to the language, a different picture might emerge. In that post, I basically mention two things that I did: I researched the treatment for the chick and took Buck’s bandage off. There are about four main things that I characterize as “we” did: We got Buck in the truck, treated the chick, fed the chick to the pigs, and went out looking for the missing pigs. Everything else, Joshua did: Joshua secured the coop. Joshua led the pigs back home. He handled the dog and talked with animal control. He rigged a catch pen for the sheep and held Buck still.

So, there’s a lot of doing in a post like that, but a great deal of it is Joshua’s labor.

The other word Michele used to describe me is “self-reliant”. Now, that part is a different story. I do consider myself self-reliant. I don’t think it’s an accident that I am paired up with Joshua. It’s not like I consciously chose a partner based on his get-up-and-go, but it’s probably not a coincidence that I don’t have any and Joshua has a whole lot. If I were not with Joshua, my life would look differently based on what I can do for myself alone, but in the meantime, the things that we do together are still things I think of as me doing for myself. It works the other way, too. Joshua appreciates the ideas that I have and the ways that my desires shape the things that he does. For instance, he’s said to me, “Thank you for pigs,” because in a world without me, he never would have owned pigs and they’ve added a lot of enjoyment to his life. There are ways in which Joshua’s labor greatly contributes to the pig project – he built their shed, for instance – but having the pigs and the details of their care are driven by me. Joshua and I take care of and support each other. People work best when they are interconnected, and it’s okay to take credit for the ways you’ve connected yourself to other people.

The other interesting word in the questions is “helpless”, which is another funny language thing to me. I would never describe myself as helpless. I’m not sure I’ve ever in my life had a feeling I would call helpless. I’ve felt a lot of other things, maybe even the same feelings that another person would call helpless, but that’s just not a word that resonates with me. I never fail to take care of myself, at least on a basic level. I think I’m smart, I think I’m resourceful, I think I’m adaptable, and I think that whatever happens I’ll come out just fine.

I thought about this question the other day when I was tired and needed to rest and then a chicken died, and I had the ideas I wrote about in What’s Happening Now. I’ve had a few emergency situations in my life or extreme/intense experiences, and they tend to come out of nowhere. It’s not like you get a notification that there’s going to be an emergency in 10 hours, so you need to take a nap now and get a good meal in you. And it never matters what kind of state I’m in, there’s always more of me available when I need it. The last time the sheep got out, I was already tired, and then I ran around the field 9 months pregnant, and I was both emotionally and physically sore at the end of it. But that can always wait. I always have enough to do whatever needs to be done, and the falling apart can always wait. That’s one of the valuable things I get out of situations like that, and the more dire emergencies I’ve been part of – the certain knowledge that I have reserves, I have inner resources, that even if I don’t use them very often are there when I need them.

But, ultimately, to get back to pregnancy specifically, I think I understand the questions, and I think the answer is that pregnancy hasn’t been much of an adjustment for me, overall. I get tired sooner and more frequently than I did before, but I’ve always felt comfortable napping and getting as much sleep as I need. I have a little bit harder/slower time moving around, but I’ve never been a 1st-across-the-finish-line type. I’m a little moodier, but I’ve always been pretty damn moody. A great truth I’ve been pondering over the last couple of years is that I’m always myself. It doesn’t matter what new situations come along, I’m still me, even if it’s a different me. So, pregnancy has been a relatively easy adjustment, because I’m still here, just  being myself.