It was at the end of October last year that I decided to write this blog regularly and reflect weekly about all the things that I was learning to love as they were. Little did I know that shortly after starting what was supposed to be a year of reflection, instead of counting down the weeks of blogging, I would become infinitely more interested in the countdown to the arrival of our first baby (we found out I was pregnant in early December).
Then this week, as I got to the bottom of the ‘things-to-do-before-the-baby-comes’ list, it seemed like a nice idea to pause for a moment and reflect on my pregnancy experience. The plan was to write this super-positive blog post about how amazing it has been, and how wonderfully I continue to feel physically, emotionally, and mentally even in my last days of it. Also, I was going to write about how I did not think any of this was down to pure luck and share all my insights and tips for creating such a positive experience.
So I kept trying to write. I spent days rereading and restarting over and over again, disliking my choice of words, or the slightly ‘I-know-it-all’ tone that the writing was coming out with. And despite (or maybe because of) my efforts, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere – it all just seemed like too much drafting, crafting and ‘efforting’. (Recently, I have been really inspired by interviews with Alanis Morissette who also had a home birth and is a big advocate for attachment parenting which we resonate with – and she says that when she feels like too much effort is required in her creative process and it is not flowing, it means it’s time to stop and go have a sandwich.)
This morning I woke up just before dawn and had an instant desire to sit down in our terrace with my journal and a fountain pen. And then it happened – the flood of words with no filters of positivity or any pretension about knowing anything at all. I wrote about how impatient I am slowly beginning to get with each day and each night that passes when the baby has still not arrived (we’ve now passed the official due date). Fears burst out about being behind these timetables, and how home birth can only be possible if we don’t get to the point where induction might be required for medical reasons. My imagination soared on to worst case scenarios that could follow from that, and how, as a result, this absolutely beautiful intention that we have held for the last nine months would dissolve into nothing, leaving me devastated, disappointed, and robbed off of the kind of natural home birth experience that I so badly wanted to have.
I scribbled on about how birth feels like such a ‘public’ event. From the very beginning of pregnancy the belly becomes a public property to touch and to comment on. It remains that way to the very end when everyone wants to contribute with their date predictions or urging to ‘just do it’. As much as I love the care and concern from which all this attention originates, I have now disabled all notifications on my phone to keep myself sane. As an ex-sender of innocent (but frequent) ‘has the baby come yet?’ messages I used to think nothing of it. Now being on the receiving end of multiple similar ones, I am beginning to find them irritating as it feels like I have something on my ‘to-do-list’ that I am ‘failing to deliver on time’ and I have the whole world to nag me about it.
I also wrote about how overwhelmingly strange it is not to work for the first time in more than a decade and not to know when or how or if I will be returning the work. Over the last three weeks since I started the maternity leave, my over-achiever’s mind has found it difficult to really switch off and enjoy the space of just being rather than constantly having to do or plan something. The simple but scary truth is that I have absolutely no idea what my new assignment (or promotion as my husband so beautifully called it) of being a full-time mom will require of me.
At the end of my journaling, I realised that the only way this blog entry will be a true and authentic reflection of how I feel at this moment is if I add a question mark to its title (previous drafts were worded more along the lines of ‘Ready!!!’). Yes, I have had an incredibly positive pregnancy, and yes, I still feel that it was not due to luck, but that what I chose to do, think and feel created the experience. If anything, the whole nearly ten month process has left me with greater-than-ever trust in the deep wisdom of our bodies and faith in babies’ choice of how and when they want to arrive for their mission on this planet.
However, despite all the amazing practices and insights that have brought me to the here and the now, can I honestly say that I am ready and that all of this guarantees the outcome I wish for our baby’s birth? I found the answer in the words of Davini Malcolm, an Australian actress and a founding member and director of The International College of Spiritual Midwifery:
“Not necessarily, but the surrender that is born out of this type of birth preparation provides a strong foundation for whatever unfolds and allows a more readily accessible communication with yourself in labour and beyond into motherhood.”
And now, I think having a sandwich doesn’t sound like such a bad idea…