Since first learning about him, I've always thought Descartes was an idiot. Mind/body dualism made no sense to me; who I am is so much about lived experience - lived experience is how I understand feminism, and the experience of ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ community. It's how I make sense of the world, and where I fit (or don't fit) in it.
Then I got pregnant. And my body began to change. Fast. And all of a sudden, there was a gap between my mind and my body, and I started to feel like a crazy person, without cohesion, unable to make any sense of myself. In my mind, I'm still me; the same me I've fought to be since I was listening to Channel Z in the dark until midnight. But my body is someone else's; I wake up sore from someone else's movement, and my stomach and boobs get bigger with someone else's growth. I feel like they don't belong to me anymore, but I have to carry them around and be judged by them; defined by them. People who don't know who I am look at me and see a pregnant woman; that's all I am. And my dissatisfaction; my desire to be seen as me first, makes me feel like a bad mother.
I've been trying to figure out if this is what a feminist pregnancy is, or if this is anti-feminist pregnancy and all about feeling sexually invisible and undesirable, and really, I don't know. Maybe it's both. I do know that I want to be pregnant, and that I want my daughter to have a completely open-ended future, and that I will fight to the death for her to have it. I know it's a privilege to be a parent, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a particular privilege to be her parent. But I don't want to be defined by her; especially not by her not as an individual but just as something that came out of me. I realise now that as much as I love my relationships; being Vincent's wife, my sisters' sister, my parents' daughter etc, that I've never felt defined by them, or ever wanted to be. Being a parent; more specifically, a mother, threatens to define me. As far as I can tell, the women around me accept that, or welcome it (unless they just don't think about it), and it makes me feel separate from them, and think I'm doing this wrong. But I don't feel entirely wrong. I feel like being a separate person, undefined by my reproductive choices, is a fair thing to want. And I feel angry that I didn't know it might feel like this. Pregnancy is an incredibly personal experience, and one that must be different for every person. But I can't believe that there aren't more women who have been through it who haven't felt this way, and if there were, that they didn't say anything about it. In all of the conversations I've had about pregnancy, I've found one woman - one, who is struggling to reconcile head with her changing body. And I've been too afraid of being judged to say to the rest that I resent some of this; that I hate not being me, and that I want to do it all differently.
I don't know if this even makes sense; it's come out weird because I feel it so strongly, and because just saying it feels like an act of defiance. In the same way that it feels like a betrayal of my daughter in what she might see as the role of a traditional mother, it also feels also feels like I'm protecting her and her right to be herself, independent of anyone, including me. My feelings are about me - I'm not pretending they're about anyone else, but my right to feel them go so much further than me, and the best idea I have of things going further than myself right now is my daughter, in my uterus right now. My emotional state makes it hard to think about what I want for her for too long because the waterworks start, and it makes me feel guilty because I can't bond with her in the state she is now and I don't really know why; people always say a woman becomes a mother when she becomes pregnant and a man a father when the baby is born, but it's not true for me - I'm just an incubator who feeds her and carries her around and tries to bond with an idea I have of her, which is her in a few years, not her now, and I try to pretend she's strong and defiant in there and doesn't need me to be all maternal but I can't help feeling like she's on her own and vulnerable because I'm thinking of her as an idea and not what she is. But I know I want complete freedom for her, including gender fluidity, and the chance to be whatever she wants.
I'm going to end on a rant so I don't feel so sad. Since being pregnant, I've noticed more and more that people are using sex and gender interchangeably; from the research I've done, it seems to be an American thing, like saying disoriented instead of disorientated. Except that it's really different. I'm so tempted to be an asshole when people talk about a gender scan, and ask them what the machine looks like, and how sad I think it is that even babies in utero are subject to social construction. The reason it bothers me so much is because understanding feminism and LGBTQ rights depend on the distinction between the two. Sex refers to the junk a person is born with. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles conferred on the sexes, or a person's personal experience of their sex. When we use the two interchangeably, we make sex seem like a biological destiny that determines who we are and what we are able to be like. I completely reject this for myself, and the thought of my daughter having this foisted upon her makes me want to go off into the Amazon rainforest right now.
It's so much more comfortable being a cockhole than an isolated mind with a baby on board.