As I mentioned in my last post, I went to a hippy pregnant lady event at a local yoga studio this weekend. In reality, the event had a more official name: “Birth Professional Meet and Greet.”
I went because, well, I’m kind-of a hippy pregnant woman. Also, I was told there would be free foot massages (there weren’t). And then there’s the fact that I always think I’ll enjoy a group event before I actually get to said group event and remember that I’m just not much of a joiner.
The meet and greet was in a new yoga studio in town. When we arrived (my significantly more pregnant friend Emily joined me), the studio was almost full. The lights were dimmed and woman in various stages of pregnancy were sitting on folded yoga blankets arranged in a circle. There were no men in the room. And there were several prominent bellies. We’d heard beforehand that the biggest belly would get a free henna tattooing. The second biggest belly would get a free belly cast. Emily was clearly in the running, but she had no interest in either so was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
After the last few people arrived, we began with intros. Then we had a guided mediation. And finally there was a sharing of our pregnancy fears and a drawing for raffle prizes. There was lots of talk throughout of home births, natural births, placenta encapsulation, belly wrapping, doula services, prenatal yoga, and hypno-birthing. At some point we also broke into the offering of snacks at the center of the circle. Things were looking as I had expected them to be.
The intros, though, surprised me. After living in Iowa City for five years, I’m used to hippy mothers being pretty liberal and, well, non-religious. But at least a third of the woman who introduced themselves mentioned God and/or being blessed and/or something about their children being a gift from God. I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable with this, but I couldn’t seem to help myself.
I’ve realized, living in Lubbock, that I have a prejudice about religious people. I assume, though I know this isn’t always the case, that if they love god, they probably don’t like me. By which I mean, I assume that all religious people are homophobes. Clearly this is not the case, but it’s a stereotype I can’t seem to shake. And sitting in that circle, where I was meant to feel included, I realized I mostly just felt like an outsider.
Yes, we were all pregnant hippy ladies, but I was the only one who mentioned having a wife. There was one single mom, who I bounded with in my head. And, of course, there was my friend Emily, who is cool as shit and writes about transgender people in history. But otherwise, I felt like I was in a room with a bunch of Martians. Which was totally not the point of the sharing circle of hormonal bliss, I’m pretty sure.
This feeling of otherness was only exacerbated when, at the end of the gathering, I heard my named called for the one prize that apparently every other woman there wanted: a “Birth Story” photo session with a well-known local photographer. The prize, I was told, included having the photographer present for my entire birth and then having her come to my house two days later to take adorable pictures of my newborn.
“This prize has a $750 value,” said the doula drawing for the prize. Then she announced my name and everyone looked at me. I knew I was supposed to communicate pure joy via my facial muscles, but mostly I just felt disappointed and shocked.
I had just made a wish that day that I would win something. But what I’d meant, when I made the wish, was that I’d win one of the writing contests I’d entered. Not that I’d win a woman to take pictures of me while I tried to push a watermelon-sized baby out of my body.
Hence feeling like an outsider. A room full of women are jealous that I’ve just won something they want and there I am thinking about my career and how winning this birth story photograph probably means I won’t win any of those writing contests, and in fact, that most likely I’ll never publish anything again, and, in fact in fact, probably after having this baby, I’ll never have the motivation to do anything for my career ever again for the rest of my life.
I tried to smile, I really did, and perhaps I was somewhat convincing.
Afterwards I realized that if I could only find a gathering of atheistic hippy pregnant women obsessed with their career and yet strangely superstitious about said careers I might finally feel like an insider somewhere. In the meantime, I’ll probably go back to the next Birth Professionals Meet and Greet in the fall. They had some good snacks and, really, they were pretty nice. Also the gift bags included a $15-off coupon for placenta encapsulation. How can you beat that?
*I’ve had some time since to research the Birth Story photographer and to talk with her, and I think it actually might be kind of cool. And, as another friend pointed out, even if it’s not cool, I could always write about it 🙂