Surprise – by Carolyn Schilling

This week:

For the blog, Ruby Wolf
Written by Carolyn Schilling




My baby has been the most divine surprise of my life. It was not a situation of trying with my husband or fiancé that I’d known for years, while the nursery was planned out and all matchy-matchy. No. She was a surprise; like walking into an abandoned warehouse that suddenly lights up everywhere in neon cursive, flashing poetry you never thought you were ready or worthy to read. So divine in real time.

I was a fiery yet undirected art girl for years and had never fully dealt with the emotional consequences of a previous sexual assault until the end of 2014. It had seemed that I was running from feeling alone through drugs, geographical jumping, and romantic relationships not built in integrity. After trying these failed remedies over and over, It was as though my deepest self knew it was time to change, and that my instincts and purpose of love for another would be what would move me past the level of coping, into the conditioning of breaking patterns and struggles, then onto a fuller bloom of maturity. I had chosen sobriety along with other healing forms a little over a year before I became pregnant at the end of 2015. This helped me get back into my body and thus dance performance, because so much energy returns when one chooses self-construction over self-destruction. My pelvis became a focal point in my movement, and choreography became more grounded and fluid, almost preparing my center of gravity for the change ahead.


And there were many changes. I had to set boundaries with people who weren’t approving of my path to be a mom. Or at least set boundaries with those who triggered more fear and doubt than courage and grace. I went through a few jobs, losing one to sexual discrimination rooted in pregnancy, and another because the environment was too physically and emotionally draining for me to maintain any sort of peace. I fought to find my Medicaid-accepting midwife and health community after leaving a hospital and OB I didn’t trust as they had been selling fear (yet again) in the form of unnecessary tests, yet neglecting to measure my previously operated upon cervix. There was angst in there. And luckily I had music to sing to and friends to laugh loudly with. And I learned not to judge where the support peeks out from. It wasn’t where I first thought I might find it. It was in animals, friends, the comedy of Fred Armisen, coloring, vision boards, nature hikes, thrifting excursions, my beloved cat, drag queens, baths (they are ok during pregnancy – trust me), and even conservatives who directed me to the next, more liberal place that could help me discern my resources.

I was one of three who knew her own due date in my breastfeeding class, and now I have colostrum leaking. I was terribly worried about employment and now I’ve found my own abundance and community. I was paranoid I’d not be cool ever again, but I had avant garde erotic photos published at 22 weeks in a periodical by the female artists I admire most in NYC. I was incredibly horny in my second trimester, so I became better at fantasizing and masturbation. I didn’t know if my cat could cope with a sibling and now I’m writing a children’s book on animal behavior during homelife transitions. I guess my point is: really, it can work out. And I guess my second point is: it will if you know where to reach out and that you are worth reaching out for. Also, Chinese tea works wonders on a cellular level for you and baby, but that’s a whole separate writing.

I’m currently working on throwing away codependent behaviors in exchange for stronger stories. I’m really watching my words. I don’t engage in gossip and I don’t hang around people who are still in victim-mode. I will send them supportive vibes, but I am a mom to my daughter. And I am very protective of my energy. My trickle-down system of love and thought needs to be efficient and positive. Yoga, meditation, dance, reading books to my baby, and taking photos with friends helps me with this. And if I get into fear, I go easy on myself because pregnancy sometimes amplifies the issues that were holding us back from our brightest selves so that we can get clear and strong. Lastly, I’m continuing to develop and heal the relationship I have with my own mother: less judgement, more gratitude.

In the future I’d like to somehow help other women going through surprise pregnancies, and who decide to mother. These paragraphs are a start. I really know what fear can do to the mind and body. More than the perfect maternity pillow (which is so helpful as hips widen and baby gains weight), is a sense of support and nurturance to the mother. I met an employee of a mainstream drugstore chain who lost a baby at full term because her boss wouldn’t let her talk medical-ordered bedrest and her boyfriend was not working at the time. This cannot happen. We need to be there for our mothers! Not deprive them of financial, health, and emotional resources after they’ve chosen their paths. We as a society need to provide support for life after birth, and support all around for women. If a pregnant woman chooses abortion, she should never be punished, as there is not always help for her after she does “choose life.”

As I close this contribution, I plan to sip on my medicinal Chinese tea, take a bath, read a meditation, accept that I’ve spent too much time worrying about needless stuff, let go of any guilt, and figure out what I’m going to wear for my daughter’s waterbirth. She deserves a chic mommy who loves herself. Oh, and today I finally picked out a middle name. Her first name, she came up with herself, and whispered it to me before a nap. It was total magic.