Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood

Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood

Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood

Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood

Excerpt

Every woman who becomes pregnant brings to the experience her various identities. I am an ecologist, which means I spend a lot of time thinking about how living things interact with the environments they inhabit. When I became pregnant at age thirty-eight, I realized, with amazement, that I myself had become a habitat. My womb was an inland ocean with a population of one.

So I turned my scientist's eye inward and began to study in earnest the biological drama of new life being knit from the molecules of air, food, and water flowing into a woman's body from the outside environment. I looked also at the environmental threats to the bodies of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. How do toxic chemicals cross the tough sponge of the placenta? How do they find their way into amniotic fluid? How do they enter the milkmaking globes in the back of the breast? What are the effects for the child of these earliest encounters with synthetic chemicals? The answers to these questions seemed essential to my new responsibilities as an expectant mother. And they all pointed to a simple truth: protecting the ecosystem inside my body required protecting the one outside.

This book is the result of that most personal of ecological investigations. Part I describes the unfolding events of fetal development, month by joyful month, the nine chapters named for the traditional names of each month's full moon in the agricultural cycle. Along the way, I explore various mysteries: the puzzling malaise of . . .

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