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Why We Don't Need to Return to Our Pre-Pregnancy Anything

We often have a strangulated, paradoxical relationship with change. We belong to a natural world that is in love with sketching, erasing, and re-imagining, and exists in the mystical pursuit of replacing each cell in every living body. Even the universe is expanding. But often we take this idea and compress it, bend it, and staple it to the type of change that suffocates new cycles and technology. The type of change that is screaming at us about what we need to do, and be. The type of change that throws rocks at our window while we sleep.

Pregnancy is a physical renovation. Our blood surges, our bones loosen, even our hearts burn. We become comfortable with carrying our futures within our bodies, in such close proximity that their possible impact is indecipherable. It is like trying to read a book with our nose pressed directly against the pages. Then the elevator doors open, and sometimes we are catapulted into Oz, and sometimes we are left at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, with no clear navigation home.

Our postpartum bodies then experience a magical reconstruction, and we get handed a single flashlight on this raw path of motherhood. Just enough wobbling, wavering, brave light to decipher the next step. It simultaneously stretches our skin to iridescence, and births a million unexpected concussions of joy. It alters all of our relationships, and heat welds people to our lives we didn't even see coming. There are less milky platitudes, and more pure flints of clarity, like the successive clink of pebbles at the bottom of a well.

We were instructed that the intricacies of pregnancy are temporary, but the manuals we read were missing some pages. They forgot to tell us we would need to sprout another antler of patience, we would require our strength to settle in different places, and the things we don't understand would feel like the most important things that have ever happened to us. We thought we were bringing a child into our interpretation of the world, but instead they would rearrange us into their own.

Then comes the part where we confuse all of this growth, and tilling of the soil with losing something we need to retrieve. We break off pieces of who we are to barter and trade them for who used to be. We rent ourselves out to a perception that isn't true anymore. Perhaps motherhood unraveled us a little. It made us aware of how we are gloriously unfinished. Maybe that's the point. Now we get to take our fresh gifts and plant new seeds, and live out our beautiful unfoldings. We're not deleting our former selves. We are simply constructing more layers.

There may be years when it appeared as though we added more bricks to our pile, but likely there will not be any years in which we unearth more of the geography of our hearts, and are worked on in a way we absolutely never expected.

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