The "Mother" of All Transitions Part One: Pregnancy
When we got pregnant-- after over two years of trying, I was over the moon with happiness. The previous two years had been fraught with tension, monthly disappointment, and the gnawing tick-tock, tick-tock of my biological clock, which seemed to be speeding up as the months and years went by. After getting a positive pregnancy test (on Mother's Day, no less) it felt like I had an incredible secret that I wanted to shout from the rooftops. I cannot recall many times in my life where I felt more happy or alive.
However, because I'm on the sensitive-anxious spectrum, my joy was soon overtaken by worry. "What if I miscarry?" became a frequent refrain in my head. Now that I was actually pregnant, the possibility of loss seemed too terrifying to imagine and also too possible. I was scared to breathe for fear I might miscarry this beautiful wish that I had been longing for. The possibility of loss had never felt so present and so scary before.
It wasn't until my dear therapist Sheryl Paul suggested that I get into nature and go for a walk, that some of my anxiety dissipated and I was able to rein in the specter of fear enough that I could breathe again. Over the years I've found that a surefire way for me to regain my center is to take in nature in one of its many forms-- be it gazing at the moon and stars, sitting by the sea, or walking among tall and silent firs. When I'm in places such as those, the inner chatter dissipates and I'm able to hear my Big Self. The Self that is connected to something greater than the "little me" who sometimes gets caught in the web of worry and discontent.
After that day of bathing in nature, the anxiety receded. When the anxious part of myself would pipe up with a "What if..." I was able to turn inward and do the work of soothing that part of myself who has a hard time sitting with uncertainty.
It is a strange thing to be growing a human in your belly. I could see the outward manifestation of my belly getting larger. I could feel what started off as butterfly flutters and what transformed into real honest-to-goodness kicks, but I couldn't see my baby. And because of that, I had to trust that no matter what happened I would be okay and our baby would be okay.
Aside from sensitivity and being prone to anxiety, my "advanced maternal age" (as doctor's like to call it) contributed to my fears that it all could go horribly wrong. I had just turned 38 when I got pregnant and had heard all the stats about fertility going into decline after the age of 35 and the risk of complications skyrocketing.
However, when I tuned into my Inner Wisdom the refrain was always the same, "You are safe and it will all be okay." Over the days and months of my pregnancy I had a few daily practices that really helped me to ground and stay connected to that "still-point" that lives inside all of us. Perhaps one or more of these practices will be resonant for you.
Journaling: Over the course of my pregnancy I kept two journals. One in which I poured out my fears and connected with my own Inner Wisdom. And another, in which I sent letters to our unborn son, letting him know how much he was loved already. The first practice helped me to steady my anxious thoughts and connect with my own source of guidance. The second practice helped me to connect more deeply with my growing belly and to feel more of a connection with the little baby that I had yet to meet.
Reiki: When I was pregnant I would give Reiki to both myself and our unborn child. I would place my hands on my belly and send my little one light and love. During these times of silent communion, I was able to feel a deep connection with the little person growing inside of me. Even now, I have a daily Reiki self-care practice that helps me to connect with my breath, ground, center and soothe. It is non-negotiable time for me to turn inward, connect with life-force energy and revitalize.
Prayer: At the end of the day, when I'd curl up in bed and the dark thoughts would sometimes overtake me it was helpful to simply pray. I'm not a religious person (in the sense that organized religion doesn't resonate with me) but I do believe in the power of prayer. Sometimes all that was needed was some quiet time, with closed eyes and a silent prayer that my husband and I be guided and supported as we embarked on this journey into the unknown.
When I was pregnant, little did I know how much my world would be rocked by the birth of our little guy. Stay tuned for The Mother of All Transitions Part Two: Labor and Delivery.
I would love to hear from you in the comments. What was your pregnancy journey like? Or if you hope to become pregnant what have you been struggling with?