Extreme regularity has been a life-long concern of mine. Raised by my grandparents who were obsessed with their bowel movements I grew up thinking that chewing laxative gum, eating laxative cereal and relying on suppositories when the going got rough were just par for the course of having a mortal coil. A lot of the women I’ve read about who have also been obsessed with some aspect of pooping, especially that induced by laxative use, often have eating disorders. I have never outright binged or starved let alone combined that behavior with a laxative. But like anorexics and bulimics, my addiction to pooping-on-demand constituted a physical manifestation of an emotional difficulty. My obsession with shitting was never about food or power as much as it was about being really bad at confronting my own feelings. Instead of letting go of useless material stuff and toxic emotional baggage, I made a sport of shedding biological waste. Focusing on how much and how often I pooped was one of the coping mechanisms I used to deal with built-up anger, resentment and disappointment. Fittingly enough, I only realized the depth of this issue when biology stripped of me of the crutch of regularity and I became what I call PC: pregnant constipated.
For weeks seven through thirteen of my pregnancy my bowels moved once every three days and without being able to use a laxative, well, I felt up shit’s creek. Maybe for some folks this is normal, but for me it was like going once a year. Also, the stool was unlike anything that had come out of my ass previously. On average nine inches long and the texture of tree bark, these logs also had the nerve to be thick at the top and skinny at the bottom like baseball bats. On more than one occasion I wondered between grunts if I was shitting a mace. Yet, by the grace of the universe, I have managed, thus far anyway, not to get hemorrhoids. But not surprisingly, the only spotting I have had over the course of my pregnancy has been from my anus.
Countless women suffer from constipation during pregnancy. Hormones causing muscles in the intestinal wall to slacken constitute the primary cause. The expansion of the uterus pushing on the intestines has its role, too. Not to mention the iron in prenatal supplements puts the kibosh on regularity. However, food hanging around in the system longer allows for more absorption, which is a good thing for the fetus. And a few weeks into the second trimester, my poop schedule became recognizable again and thankfully no longer painful. Now, in the six month of the pregnancy, I am pleased to report my intestinal locomotive is running smoothly with the help of fruits and vegetables. I am also clearer emotionally and psychologically than I have been over the past three years.
A novice at experiencing my feelings or lack thereof and then journeying through the subsequent heartbreak or ambivalence to resolution, as I went through this pregnancy rite of passage and it seemed virtually impossible for my body to let things go, I started cleaning house in other ways. In preparation for a residential move, I began shedding stuff in preparation for the baby. I was extremely angry with a close friend for months and I finally told her so. I terminated a stint in therapy that was draining me of money without filling me up with healing. And I put a project aside that hemorrhaged my self-confidence for years and began to research another that coalesces my long-term interests and strengths. When all this began to happen, seemingly out of nowhere, I chalked it up to a deep desire to detox emotionally since I wanted to purify the harbor of myself for my little stowaway. Now, I know that was true, but I also think that my inability to get my detox fix from multiple visits to the toilet per day pushed me to purge in much more substantial, life-affirming ways.
Pregnancy constipation motivated me from a primal place to make room for the new by letting go of the old. And frankly because we are all so full of brighter and bigger and more interesting things, the shit that had formerly been the center of my attention isn’t even missed. My mother has described childbirth many times as shitting a dining room table and besides helping to prepare me for labor my mother’s metaphor also reminds me that ushering in a new phase of anything, including my life, requires a lot of purgative pushing. For me pending parenthood has been like a spiritual enema. The heavier my body becomes the lighter I feel, mainly because I have a renewed sense of tunnel vision. Only for the first time in my life I am focused on what will come out of my vagina in a few months instead of what will come out of my anus tomorrow and the day after.