Dancing with Fetus

Does baby really enjoy my dancing? He/she only kicks when I stop moving, never protests while I'm going. The only protests are occasional quiet shrieks from my abdominal muscles.

On Thursday I was part of Buzz at Theatre Passe Muraille working with Theatre Rusticle and though I have performed with fetus before, this performance was more emotionally, physically and intellectually intense than other performances.

When I got home and was winding down, I learned something the fetus-adrenalin relationship. Suddenly a karate class was taking place in my belly. Baby has been moving around and kicking lots in the last few months, but this was incredible. I was drifting to sleep, but baby was on an adrenalin high. In my mind's eye I could see the little thing yanking on the umbilical cord saying "More! more!"

Someone said to me yesterday as I relayed this story, "It makes you think about drinking coffee and alcohol while you're pregnant, eh?" It was said almost as though I have been drinking coffee and alcohol non-stop while Fetus has been along for this ride.

Everyone says it's great that I'm dancing and performing so much while pregnant, but then the nitty gritty details of many people's thoughts are that I'm doing something dangerous or risky. Someone actually said to me that having a baby is easy when you're a dancer. "You just take a year off and then come back." I actually laughed at this person. I felt terrible for laughing at them but, "How do you expect me to afford a year off, financially or physically?". Like you can just stop your form for 12 months and pop right back in where you left off. I don't even think the slovenliest of actors would think that you can remain on the edge of your discipline with a year away.

I find the negativity confusing. I am not surrounded by people who do not believe in the value and vitalness of art and culture, but suddenly I am seeing the worms come out of the woodwork, little fragments of belief that an artist should pack up shop while a baby is growing.

"The first six months all you will do is take care of the baby."
No, actually the first six months, baby and I will take care of each other. Baby will come to the studio with me and we continue to dance together. I'll learn from baby and baby will begin his/her life in a creative, imaginative world.

"You're going to have such bad back problems if you continue to dance while you're pregnant."
No, actually if I continue to dance intelligently -- which I think I have been doing for several years now-- my body will get strong in the ways it needs to in order to support the changing body.

"You know Lucy you have to eat more and healthily when you're pregnant."
No, I hadn't realized that. I'm a complete idiot.

A teacher said to me a few weeks ago that people always feel they can tell teachers how to do their jobs because they went to school once and that pregnancy and babies are a similar topic. People feel they can tell you how to be pregnant and a new parent because they were babies once.

Though I know most, if not all, of these people are speaking to me with good intentions, perhaps even a bit of protectiveness for those who know me a bit better, I find it really difficult to filter the negativity. So far in this pregnancy, that has been the hardest part. Fetus is easy.

I am grateful for a break from the well-intentioned advice-givers this week as I've been working with Theatre Rusticle, with a group of performers none of whom have babies or are likely to have babies. They are kind and respectful, but they don't offer up advice. We just get to the work and challenge ourselves inside it. They do not judge my choices and I don't judge theirs. We just make choices bravely all over the place and try to say something beautiful. I love working with this company. Creatively you don't avoid your injury/pregnancy/exhaustion/memory lapse. You just plunge into it and see what's there.

Every morning when I get to the studio I say "Fetus you let me know if I do anything you don't like and then we'll stop."

The only protests I get are my musical choices. (Baby seems to like Radiohead and Steve Reich, Johann Johannsson and Flobots. Not such a fan of Sibelius, Tori Amos or Philip Glass. What can I say?)

Fetus and I have a good dancing relationship. Fetus and my amazing husband Dennes have a good relationship. Dennes and I have a great relationship.

It's our baby and I'll dance if I want to.


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