I sat on the floor with my skin stretched to the last place it could go before stretch marks would become inevitable. This room smelled of things too natural for my mainstream nose to identify, but by this time I was grouping all of these ‘natural’ scents as either patchouli or herbal tea and calling it close enough.
They called this place The Womb Room and filled it with pillows and books on natural birth, breastfeeding, gentle child rearing and other concepts that were foreign to me then, but would become my life. I would know these ideals forward and backward and filter them as I saw fit one day, but this was far from what I could accept at the time.
This space sat atop a doctor’s office ran by a woman who my sole similarity with was that we had both conceived babies, though at different times and under different circumstances. So maybe I just mean we both had functional uteruses. Later we would find enough common ground for her to sway me from an unnecessary procedure, but for now we were aliens.
Having no idea what to do with pregnancy I had been influenced into attending a prenatal group there, comprised mainly of women who would have home births with this doctor or have her attend their natural births at a birthing center. I believe I was the only person in the group who had poured out a bottle of vodka after their positive pregnancy test to keep from drinking it. I’m sure I was the only one who took the test in a bathroom stall at a bar.
Later my rare visits to this place would include pictures where women pointed out ‘orbs’; talks of spirituality over religion; and the most sincere emotional support between women who carved toys out of wood found on nature paths and served one another hummus ground from beans at home with the varieties being determined by what had sprouted in their gardens that season.
Tonight I was here on the floor for my own ‘Blessing Way’, which my crunchier than thou sister had arranged for me and explained as a baby shower without the presents. Since I knew no one in town, she had invited every one of her friends who I had ever met, even once, casually on the street. The challenge of remembering everyone’s name was not one I was equal to, but these ladies rallied and strung sea shells onto fishing wire and folded origami fish and created a beautiful and shockingly meaningful mobile on a beautiful piece of drift wood.
Someone, possibly the person who would be my ‘doula’, a concept I barely grasped, gave me a small pink rock, vaguely the shape and size of a conversation heart. Another stranger who had been recruited to play the role of my support team exclaimed to the gift presenter “What a great heart shaped rock! You are the best person at finding heart shaped rocks!”
This would be the defining moment of the event. Who were these people?! I could tell you of my friends who could make the best martini; who had the best corsets or heels to borrow; who to borrow DVDs from; who threw the best dinner parties (me), and who could always introduce you to the hottest guys…
But who was the best at finding heart shaped rocks? NO.
Who were these people, and how would I ever fit in here?
Suddenly it’s 6 years later, this very week. That particular group of women never became my ‘crew’, but I have been back there a few times and can wing it, almost like a native speaker. When I go I don’t wear my black heels with the zippers up the back and they seem to assume I know what the benefits are of the particular root tea being served; or if they know I still don’t, they don’t let on. We are kind to each other, if less than friends.
And what do they think when they hear about the beautiful child that likes to whittle and craft and collect interesting rocks?