The language of pregnancy is future-minded, emphasizing not what is, but what’s to come; I am “expecting,” a lady-in-waiting. Meanwhile, everything I read tells me to loosen those expectations: to plan, to nest, but not to cling too tightly to those plans or expectations. Birth and life have other plans.
My husband and I have put great stock in a manual called Mindful Birthing. This book reminds us to relinquish control, to surrender attachment to things like “due dates” and instead embrace what author Dr. Nancy Bardacke refers to as “horticultural time.”
Horticultural time stands in contrast to clock-obsessed industrial time; it is conditional time, the mysterious timing of the garden, “a time span that is in harmony with the biology of living things.” Industrial time hurries, seeks certainty. Horticultural time embraces wonder, mystery, and the art of waiting.
I am restless, to be sure. Not so much from pregnancy, but from inconsistent employment, a feeling of not using my skills in the world. From “not doing enough” in the face so many destructive environmental decisions and policies. And I’m restless because I’ve been rooted, more or less, for four years, after spending more than double that amount of time as a wandering seasonal outdoorswoman.
It helps me to realize that restlessness is not a uniquely human experience. (Really, what is? Isn’t it more fascinating, and ultimately more human, to dwell in that which we share with our fellow creatures rather than seeking out what sets us apart?) Birds feel zugunruhe, a restless twitch, an urge tied to the need to migrate. Even domestic-bred birds who have never migrated feel this ancestral pull. I feel it too. I know why the caged bird flusters.
This is the most fluid time I will ever experience. My body is more water, more blood than it will ever be, rounded and vascular beyond my control, and I am–at least today–in love with the surrender. The wave of my child rises and crests–her alien hand jabbing through my side–and I close my eyes, practicing meditations lifted from earth-mother Ina May Gaskin: a tide comes in, washes the shore, recedes.
From this precipice between not-being and being, I can see both the world without my child, and a world in which she already exists.
We think we own time, that we can spend it like money, that we have some control over how it flows through and over and under us. It is a misconception at the root of so many of our environmental crises: extraction-based economies, invasive species treatments that fail to account for full life cycles and naturally adaptive responses. Living in the desert, high on a mesa in southern Utah’s canyon country, I learned that time is vast and circular; erosion and deposition turn our bodies to dust then rock, and water rushes us back to sea.
I can wait for the emergence of my small sea-creature. For this blessed, hovering moment, let her swim.