Ari Attack: Mothership
Choices. I’ve been rethinking everything when it comes to sitting in this pregnant body. Everything is playing itself out and I’m not sure I have a say in the matter. I chose to grow a baby. A new path. The seed chose me, and I couldn’t deny the soil or the chance to nurture this new journey. My body is taking up space in many different ways. It’s a space I have to protect and be accountable to — more so than I ever have in life. I am not my body, and at the same time — I am. Responsibility I never considered realistically. Prenatal appointments, epidurals, baby shower dates, giving and giving when I barely have any energy to give myself anything but a nap (when I can.) Was I ready for this? Belly expansion, like a globe — a window seat for a new earth-passenger. Is anyone ever ready for this journey? The universe works in mysterious ways. Re-thinking everything, and forgetting it all at the same time. Forgetting meditations, mantras like “my body is a sanctuary,” but more feeling like I’m running crazy, spiraling.
It’s interesting to realize how not okay I am with claiming my own space. With my body literally expanding. I can do this when it comes to art, or community building. But just me? A friend said, in response to a comment about not being able to tell that my body is showing this alien gift, “we can only tell you’re pregnant because we know you. You’re definitely showing.” My breasts are protruding more than ever before, and are sore as hell. I’ve sucked my stomach in since puberty to give the illusion of a smaller midsection. My great-grandmother said women are supposed to do such a thing. I can’t suck this belly in, so it protrudes more and more. I can hardly tell if it’s food or the baby, so I usually say it’s a bit of both. Sometimes, I wish I would’ve lost more weight before getting pregnant — even though nothing was going to fit after some time. Hearing sayings like, “your body was made for this,” sends my mind into a spiral of perplexing thoughts. So far, my body has been meant for enduring trauma (personal and generational), and surviving. Not only surviving, but succeeding. Working nonstop, and achieving. Proving the world wrong about these brown limbs and bright spirit that shines brighter than any lighthouse, and pushing my family's story further. Creating history. Growing a baby seems no different. I’m almost halfway finished with growing the seed, but then I wonder what the next thirty-plus years of being a mother will be like. Timing is everything, but how was anyone supposed to time this. Sexually careless (or maybe carefree), but that bright spirit light is now shining through my uterus and forming arms and legs. This week, the baby is as big as a mango — or a toy in a claw machine.
It’s interesting to realize how not okay I am with claiming my own space. With my body literally expanding. I can do this when it comes to art, or community building. But just me?
The way people interact with my growing body is hilarious at times. Incredible in many ways, uncomfortable in so many others. It’s dawned on me that I’m not my body — but in the same breath, I am. Many friends and other folk that bear children make this process seem effortless. I’m honored to have them as references, aunties and people whose shoulders I can weep on whenever I need it. I also think about the men in my life. From the supportive familial ones, to the estranged former lovers. Many who I’ve continued friendships with seem different, or have estranged themselves from me since learning that I’m bearing a child. What makes me so different? My body wasn’t mine when I was with them, and it still doesn’t seem like it is now. Why does the disregarding male gaze confuse me so much at this point? These aren’t relationships I’m looking to water, but it’s interesting to watch the unattended ivy finally wilt. Disregarding me like conquered land, which was once an island for them to vacation on.
My body isn’t mine anymore, it feels as if I’m a guest on this land at times. I just regained the hang of this growing a baby thing — for it to change again — week to week. Feeding this little sapling from the nutrients that it’s hard for me to even keep up with. I’m scared. Scared of breastfeeding, scared of raw nipples, being raw and gnawed till beyond sensitive. Will I be able to do it? This is the scariest journey I’ve ever been on.
Was I ready for this? Belly expansion, like a globe — a window seat for a new earth-passenger.
My body is a temple, but for whom? How do womxn do this? Black bodies have been conquered, colonized land for as long as white washed history decides to show us. I think about black women, my ancestors. Those who navigated this stolen land before me. Ones who tended cotton, rice, and sugar fields. Ones whose children, babies, were sold, taken away — right in front of their eyes. Sized up like cattle, and taken away like such. Women who threw themselves, along with their babies, into the sea to spare them the horror of enduring what was to happen on this land. The sharks that followed those ships, devouring those bodies. Black women who watched their children grow, only able to provide what they had, for their children to then leave them for a better life. How do black women bring black babies to earth, knowing the horrors they’ll endure once they’re out of the womb? Is that the safest place the baby can be? Before assigned sex, no racism or hatred — just swimming in warm fluid — safe from the outside world. My mother was (and still is) a human shield for me — and now it’s vital that I do the same. I’m flowing, like the Atlantic — that brought an endless amount of black bodies to this land. I’m growing a history, and praying for a smooth arrival of my gift. But first, to accept my growing body and claim the space it takes up. Disregarding feelings of cowardice, and claiming strength. Epiphanies are all around me, but which ones do I choose to comprehend?
To all motherships out there, thank you.