What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I don’t have many bad habits, but there are some. There are vices I would like to give up long before I am met with double lines, a plus sign, or a smiley face on a positive pregnancy test. I don’t drink as often as I used to, since it takes me two full days to recover from just four drinks, but I do love my beer.
In fact, I have become sort of a beer geek and quite the beer snob, preferring quality draft beers with high alcohol content, and I’d like to stop drinking them completely far before I become pregnant.
I’d like to stop a lot of things before becoming pregnant.
Pregnancy is a journey; no one is going to dispute that. But for women and couples who are mindfully planning — as much as they can — for the birth of a child, preparing for pregnancy can be an even longer journey. And that’s before actually trying to conceive! There is so much to consider: fertility, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, age, career, finances, insurance, the strength of your relationship, and why you really want to have a baby in the first place.
It can all be so very stressful.
But, for me, this journey is about more than becoming pregnant. It’s about taking better care of and having more consideration for part of what makes me a woman. It’s about being in tune with the sanctity of femininity and connecting in a more spiritual way to my womanhood and its gifts, including fertility.
During all three of my marriages, there was a time my husbands and I actively tried to get pregnant, I think because it was the thing we thought we were supposed to do...get married and have a baby. I also think there was this incessant need for those men to control me — not love me, not stay with me, but control me. As for me, I think I just wanted a family, never really examining who I was trying to have a family with or why, ignoring mountains of red flags, staying when I should have been leaving, trying to create something I never had. There was no real connection to the process, no preparation or consideration for the truly spiritual experience and profound gift that is creating human life.
My prior lack of physical, emotional, and spiritual preparation and consideration led to multiple miscarriages. My ill-fated decision to fall in love with and marry an addict led to two abortions, and failed birth control led to another abortion between marriages. It was all so exhausting. But, they say everything happens for a reason, and though those miscarriages and abortions were painful experiences in one way or another, I now understand their meaning and have come away from those relationships and pregnancies having learned powerful lessons.
I vowed this time would be different.
I vowed I would take time and take care.
So, after my partner and I decided to start a family, I decided to take this new phase of life in stages, starting with pregnancy preparation. I began this part of the journey quite simply, by detoxing my liver with lemon water and an herbal liver detox tea. The plan was that I would spend the next three months ridding my body of toxins, cutting out alcohol and other vices.
To do that, I drink one liter of water with the juice of half a lemon each day, and an herbal liver detox tea at night, with a quarter teaspoon of fertility boosting raw honey. I made an appointment with my gynecologist for a general wellness check, began exercising more regularly, got back to meditating daily and reducing stress and negativity, overall. I vowed to spend more time loving and learning about myself and my partner, and that I would center myself, focusing on becoming one with my female energy, omitting anything that would be harmful to my mind, body, and spirit during this process.
I’m at a recent taping of MTV’s Wonderland, hanging out with my girl, Lizzo, and I’ve had a beer. Okay, so, I’ve had four beers and as they say, it’s lit. I’m having the time of my life, watching Lizzo perform, then Jeezy, Gallant, and Sunflower Bean. I’m already making plans with Lizzo and the producers to come down to the next week’s taping. I’m laughing and drinking and dancing and I’ve forgotten all about the detox.
Two days later, I lay in bed, still nursing a slight hangover. Well, there goes my detox. To commemorate what felt like a failure, I split a six-pack of beers with a friend that weekend and decided to start over on Monday. I felt this sense of defeat, as if I had foiled any possibility of ever having a healthy pregnancy, which I know is ridiculous. But, it was during the splitting of that six-pack when I realized how much pressure I was putting on myself. I thought, of all the things I’d like to stop doing before I become pregnant, not being too hard on myself has to be top priority.
And, then, I remembered something.
A week prior, Lizzo was a guest on my podcast. During that conversation, we discussed how women’s bodies are governed by society and law. She made a valid point and did it in such a way that resonated with me. She said that our bodies are, “So heavily regulated because we are a natural resource.” Like land, water, food, minerals, precious metals, natural gases and oil, we are life forming, life giving, and life affirming.
We are a source of nutrition and stability.
We are where homes are made.
Planning for, conceiving, carrying, and birthing a baby is a beautiful process. It is an experience never afforded to men and one that many women will never come to know. It is sacred and it is natural and, with a little help from my man, I will be our baby’s only natural resource for nine months. Yes, I need to prepare. Yes, I need to continue to do all those things I vowed to do before, during, and after baby. But, during this phase of the journey, I need not be so hard on myself for having a drink or four once in a while, because before our baby will need me, I will need me.
Work, life, and relationships can be stressful and my baby is going to need a happy mom who knows how to blow off some steam once in a while and not feel guilty about it. So, I’ll have a few more beers while we're still in the preparation stage and know that all is not lost, that I’m still doing what’s best for me, and will do what’s best for this little person who isn’t even here, yet, who I love and worry about so much already.