Posted by: alegra22 | October 27, 2009

Deo volente

world conqueror During my research for the novel I came across a few interesting beliefs about pregnant women. Don’t ask me the Who or When or Where of these beliefs because I’m lucky if I’ve retained anything at all in my sieve of a mind. Thirty plus research books I have dumped into my brain and I would be lucky to recite something like this:

Yeah, well, these people? They uh, like, feared pregnant women. But like in a good way. Because pregnant women have, like, one foot in this world, one foot in the grave. So it kinda like makes them powerful and stuff.

Pregnant women were considered spiritually powerful and I think ‘unstable’ was another popular word.  Not only are they placed in a state of physical precariousness, their bodies doing all kinds of crazy things to make room for the development of this new life, but there has also been the belief (one that I share) that their minds and spirits go through a similar process. I think the source I came across described it as a ‘psychic instability.’  Basically, as their bodies stretch, so do their psyches.

You can log on any website devoted to pregnancy and find sections about lucid dreams, raging emotional responses, strange ‘nesting’ behaviors, and the wild thought processes that go on with women while they are pregnant. (Of course, since I have just made a descriptive list of myself on a normal, non-pregnant day, I would like to point out that in contrast I actually behave very sanely while pregnant. Really, I am a very boring pregnant woman.) What strikes me about this is the reality that at no other *natural* time does a human being contain another human being in her body. A pregnant woman is really two people. Right now, there are two hearts beating in my body. On an hourly basis I am surprised by a foot or elbow or hand poking out of the side of my belly. When I rest on my side with my hand on my belly, I can almost grasp Joaquin’s legs or arms. Even on the third pregnancy I find myself surprised by it; fascinated and obsessed by the strangeness of the experience. How can it not place a person in an extraordinary state of being in the world? Of course we have strange dreams and raging emotions!

I look at it like this: For a period of roughly nine months, women are host to another universe. For another six months or more, that universe, even though it is now outside of the mother’s body, does not recognize that it is a separate entity. A baby believes she is  part of her mother for the first months of her life. And, I believe a woman’s body/mind becomes rewired to remain connected to that baby.  Prior to Sol, I could sleep through my husband’s snoring. Now, I wear earplugs and still wake in the middle of the night from a dream about my children crying before they cry. I can hear their upset through the walls when everyone else in the room can only hear the television. My old ‘solo’ nervous system became several times upgraded to ‘maternal level 2’. Now, I am working on ‘maternal level 3.’

A few days ago, my good friend Vanessa — who shared the same due date with me –went into labor and gave birth to her boy at 31 weeks. As far as I know, there was no warning; the pregnancy was normal, progressing as it should. It reminded me of one of the most fundamental ways I believe becoming a parent transforms a person. Never mind surfing big waves to place me in the rawness of each moment, being pregnant or having children is a day to day wake-up call that plans are only plans. There is no such thing as security — anything can happen at any time. Vanessa’s experience  stopped me in my tracks and reminded me that as I navigate the anxieties of big and little daily decisions, that everything in my life is:

Deo volente

God willing

God willing that we are granted this day, this moment. It can be so easy to get caught up in believing that as I make plans — such as worrying about covering tuition fees for my children for the next 15 plus years — I am worrying about predictable bogeyman. When really, I am blessed if my children make it home from daycare and we are a complete family for another evening.

When I became a parent, my entire being became divided and distributed into my children and I realize every day how fragile life is, how much is at stake, how little I can control any of it. This is the beauty of how parenthood has us walking with one foot planted firmly in the world, and in one in the grave. It is the power of having my universe extended into that of my children.

We make our plans. We dream. We prepare. We worry. We celebrate.

We whisper “Deo volente” as we climb up to the top of the playground after our children.  We let go of our fear and throw our hands up to the sky. We  step back and let our children believe that they can stand on top of the world without falling.

God willing that we stumble into these moments of joy.

Deo volente that the ground beneath us is soft should we fall.



  1. Man, you make me long for that experience again. Not really… well, maybe for a few hours.

    Ok, maybe not, but I do enjoy reading about your journey.

    • I know I will look back on this time with the nostalgia that can only come when you are not hoisting around a massive belly and feeling like a sponge-creature, but right now, I am getting pretty close to being done with the pregnancy! I love feeling Joaquin move around. I love that part of pregnancy. The aching-can’t-move-feel-cumbersome-and-waddlish part? Not so much.

  2. You have once again reached inside of me and stretched me open to a new way of seeing/feeling/experiencing, Alegra. And once again have me in tears after reading one of your essays. Thank you for your….yeah, you know.

    • And thank you for always receiving me with so much love Heather.

  3. This one left Grandma sniffling. Your connection to God and the process of living the life you have been gifted with humbles me.

    • Love you Mama xoox
      Pre-kids I remember coming across something about the only way to raise your children without losing your mind to worry was to ‘let go, let God’, or, ‘start believing in guardian angels’…I fully get that now that I am parent. And boy, oh boy, I think about all the times I tortured you by running off to Mexico with my surfboard or paddling out at Bodega Bay ;o)

  4. I’m trying to think of something un-guy-simple-like to say, but can’t. So, I’ll just applaud your God willing instead of God why attitude.

    • Guy-simple is always welcome :o)
      I just sent out a NaNoWriMo thread on Facebook – trying to coordinate some ‘write-ins’. Greg, Tomi, Nina, Tomara, Maggie, Heather Elise are in, how-about-you?

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