22 June 2012


This weather - thick and hot, with scents hanging in the air - makes me feel sick to my stomach, but somewhat fondly so. I have somatic memories of severe summertime morning sickness, coupled with the most brutal loneliness I have ever experienced.  These sensations lodged themselves in my cells four years ago, and whenever the weather is like it is today in Boston, they resurface and remind me how much has evolved since then.

This morning I drove by the Hilton where I had to jump off my bicycle so I could throw up in their outdoor trash can (that is after having already thrown up while riding my bike, which takes skill).  I remember walking up Washington Street in the South End, leaving from work at the acupuncture clinic and going to meet my friend at Pho Republique (we miss you, Pho Republique) for clear soup, the only thing I was able to keep down, and pausing on the way there to barf into the grass. It was hot (the weather). I was ill in so many ways, and again, felt utterly alone.

The loneliness came from not standing by my own side. It's true that I was isolated from others, partially due to the de facto isolation that comes to newly pregnant women (how I wish it wasn't so): don't tell anyone, keep this secret, no one can know until 12 weeks, etc. etc. I also chose isolation out of the real shame I felt for being pregnant at all. That it was entirely my fault. That I was ruining someone else's life, complicating matters. I did not want to celebrate, did not know how. Plus I felt like God was punishing me, in a protracted, insulting way.  I'd get up in the middle of the night to throw up. I had no energy and couldn't even practice yoga for fear of passing out or vomiting during class. In lieu of giving up the much-needed income that came from teaching yoga classes, I chose to confess to my yoga students and studio owner that I was indeed (fewer than 12 weeks) pregnant which is why I was eating a rice cake 40 minutes into the class and spending most of the time instructing from a seated position on the floor. Not because I was legitimately hungry, per se, but because if I did  not do these things I would be sharing more than they really want me to share, from a kneeling position in front of the commode. Supta Pukeasana, I think that pose is called.
So wrong, yet so accurate.

The loneliness trailed me through my days and shrouded me at night when I sought to be (had to be out of necessity) invisible in my own home, blended into the corner of the couch where I sat every night, unable to move much and stationed close to the bathroom.  If I could just become invisible, just annihilate myself completely, maybe I would find relief in the form of not hurting anyone else.  But I couldn't. Not only did I have to persist on behalf of whoever had made her home in my body, but the seminal wound that I had carried with me was entering its final phases of healing.  This first trimester of my pregnancy was the "healing crisis" (before it gets better it gets wayyyyy worse), and with the exception of two dips immediately after Selah was born and about six months later, the trajectory began upwards from this point in time.

One of the most characteristic aspects of my isolation at this time was actively and painfully alienating myself from one of my best friends.  She represented to me a reflection of acceptance, deep love, and self-worth that I was absolutely unable to summon in myself.  She saw me, she took care of me, she asked me gently to question the state in which I found myself, not with the suggestion that I end the pregnancy but with the acknowledgment that perhaps things could be different.  The clutch of my pattern gripped tighter (especially around my throat), and I severed her immediately and callously from my life.  It is a testament to the bigness of her heart and depth of her compassion and forgiveness that, last year when I called her on Father's Day to apologize and re-open the lines of communication, that she was willing to speak to me and hear me out. I didn't tell her anything that she didn't already know, and she was more gracious in her patience and openness than anyone I have ever known. I feel deep gratitude for you in my life, Audrey Miller.

Others were able to reach through my own personal Pigpen cloud of nausea and self-derision, like the acupuncturist who knew that I was pregnant even before I did.  That rascal. He kept saying to me, "What's going on with you? Something is different. You have this beauty and sweetness to you." And I would lift my crabby head in his direction feeling like a slug in a manure pile and say something like, "Mmmggghhhaaapppphhhtttbbbht. You have no idea what you're talking about. Leave me alone." But then he'd go and rub my shoulders while waiting for his next appointment to arrive, or make little "aww" sounds at me, for which my persistent grumpiness was no match. All I had wanted anyway was to be seen and touched without pretense, and incredibly those who had in fact seen me (the midwife, another acupuncturist) refused to call my state by name to me. I can understand why, we are actively conditioned out of saying to one another, "Hey, I see you. Just wanted you to know." for fear of whatever kinds of reprisals may come, but it's something that, with compassion and the ability to hold those reprisals as you'd hold a toddler having a tantrum, will ultimately expedite and cushion our healing for one another.

Telling my parents that I was pregnant also helped to lighten the cloud. Their excitement, along with the love and hugs from my grandmother and aunt who were visiting at the time, were enough to spark that little voice in me that said, "This is okay? Wait, this is a good thing? You're happy? Someone is happy for me? For us? I can do this?"  My mom saying, "I never thought I'd live to see the day!" has so much more of a profound meaning to me today than it did at the time, when it was just a poignant joke.  I'm dumbstruck by the timing of events in my life and life in general.  The other night while watching Selah dance around the living room singing some adorable song that she had made up I turned to my sister and said, "I wish mom was here. I bet they'd be having so much fun together."  And this thought makes me miss her and makes me a little sad, but I am also so glad that they had a chance to meet and know one another at all.

I don't want this post to make you sad, it shouldn't. So much has changed in four years and I look back on that Amelia with empathy and only a slight longing that she had been more empowered. But it was training. I'm stronger and more resilient and hope that I can see others more clearly as a result of that time.  And, as I drove into work this morning (one of my last driving commutes! yay!!) and felt the heat on my skin and the memory of nausea float through me, I knew I had to contribute to my healing by writing. Thank you again for witnessing me. Stay cool.


  1. You're so wonderful, Amelia. Your posts are always so beautifully written and honest. They (You!) inspire me and push me, and I can somehow always relate to them in some way (in this case, the early pregnancy nausea and loneliness).
    I, too, like to reflect on years that have come and gone, the timing of life events, growth as human beings. Thank you for sharing.
    Hope to see you sometime around Cambridge/Somerville!

  2. Amelia,

    If I were you, I would feel AWFUL for that Amelia, not just empathetic toward her. Scared and alone, isolating based on a needless shame and fear of judgement, wounded deeply, and having trouble taking care of herself, never mind nurturing a tiny life in addition.

    I hope that you look back at that Amelia and wish that she could have asked for help, let people in, let them ameliorate (ha!) some of her pain. I don't know if empowerment would have helped sick and alone Amelia that much. Comfort would have.

    Cutting yourself off from Audrey and all of her genuine loving sweetness must have felt necessary at the time-- realizing your mistake must have been raw.

    You can still feel awful for that Amelia and appreciate all of training and wisdom you received from these experiences and wouldn't take them back if you had the chance. "What doesn't kill us" and all that.

    I feel happy for the current Amelia-- Selah's a peach and so are you.