I’m moving romantically around the community garden with the wind in my hair and the sun recalibrating every cell in my body. I am Stephanie Alexander; alchemist of nutrition; inspired and inspiring. I will live off the land, raise chickens, make jams and preserves and offer one to the elderly lady next door. I run my hands through the soil, redolent with new life. I am Mother Earth.
I’m also pregnant and a little constipated, but mainly Mother Earth.
I’m at work, a community inclusion program for people with disabilities. We decided to plant a herb garden. I sniff the rosemary in a nearby plot, so wholesome, so country.
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow…apparently.
There’s nothing like being pregnant to thrust you into tomorrow. Life for 9 months is one giant tomorrow. Time is an acute presence in your consciousness. I realise early on that no matter how I feel about being pregnant, it’s kind of like flying (not a fan), I’m on that plane until it lands. I’m riding it out, the good and the bad.
We start by digging a hole. I’m not sure how deep so we just keep digging until we have a small trench. Possibly too big for a small basil plant-it could double as a war bunker. Isn’t dirt good for plants? More dirt equals more good, right? We pluck the basil out of it’s container and dunk it in the hole. Is that it?
My attention turns to my burgeoning paunch. I’ve started rubbing it, like a magic lamp. I think of the poem ‘Welcome to Holland’ by Emily Pearl Kingsley. She compares pregnancy to preparing for a trip to Italy; she buys the phrase book, does her research, then as she steps off the plane the hostess says ‘welcome to Holland’. It’s a metaphor for having a child with Down’s syndrome, a sudden change in plans: not inferior, just different, unexpected.
I don’t know whether to buy the phrase book for Italy or Afghanistan. No one tells you their war stories if you’re not part of the club. I’m already pretty narky no one told me about the constipation.
We cover up the little gangly basil plant’s roots with dirt. I guess we sit back and hope for the best now?
I was at an expo for babies on the weekend. Well, less for babies and more for the people who push them out and have access to a black AMEX card. It’s all bright lights and shiny people and prams and screaming babies. Did I just step into the seventh circle of Hell? ‘Would you like to talk about child safety?’ one stallholder attempts. ‘No thanks!’ I respond merrily.
Everything is new and improved, safer, environmentally friendly, child friendly, organic: the only solution for nappy rash. I can’t even process nappy rash right now. I’m still processing that the little figure on the scan in my tummy is an actual human who has burst into the passage of time and will live and love and die and watch Netflix.
My friend and I make a beeline for the alcohol-free wine and down 10 samples in short succession. We convince ourselves it’s actually really like wine and buy two bottles each. The pram can wait. I’ll worry about child safety when the child stops being a figment of my imagination and appears bloodied and victorious, screaming and gulping for air on my chest.
I guess I’m a procrastinator. There’s being organised and there’s being baby organised which these women (and men) are hell-bent on doing. My idea of being organised was to buy a stuffed toy turtle from the op shop-one of those really realistic looking ones made by National Geographic. It’s pretty cute. What else does a baby need? Here’s your turtle!
I have no idea what to anticipate and don’t think any amount of nursery preparation will prepare my heart and mind for the life-altering appearance of this child. I already feel a strong lioness instinct emerging and am sure I will feel new depths of love.
I hope by providing the right soil, sunshine and water I can raise a healthy happy kid without all the price tags and brands. I don’t want them to be stuck on the consumerist treadmill but to get out in the soil and chickens and rosemary and be renewed by nature. At least it’s a starting point in a world of tomorrows.