PART 26, TRYING FOR ANOTHER BLOG SERIES
Waking up early on my own, just because….in a couple of months I will be starving for an extra hour or two of sleep. I remember those exhausted days. Feeling like I would never have enough rest, and never have time to myself again. It almost felt like a panic. The second time was more bearable though, knowing that it would be temporary, but I remember feeling dysfunctional, like I really shouldn’t interact with anyone on most days. How will time three be? I feel like I’m not going to have the option to hole myself in. Between sports and school, I will have too many pickups and drop-offs relying on me. Maybe that will be a good thing, but I know I won’t be the best, or great, version of myself for a year or so.
I’m about to birth a baby. One of the most impactful events of my life, as is this experience of being pregnant as well. I don’t know how to savor it enough. I’m so excited and in love with the process of becoming a mom. How much it cracks you open and transforms you. I want to squeeze it for all the juice I can. What does that even mean to me? I’ve actually collected a lot of information over the years of working with moms, and listening to birthing podcasts and books (which is just about all I do in my spare time). So what does savoring the birth and pregnant experience mean to me?
Something that hits me hard is the ability to let go of control. Parenting is such a tricky balance of wanting to control situations (which is sometimes necessary) and needing to let go of control, and it begins in pregnancy and birth. And then the theme repeats itself throughout parenthood. Infancy: baby doesn’t want to nap. Mom Control: You will sleep! If you don’t you’re going to be a mess for the rest of the day! Mom Letting Go: this is not worth all the work, I should just let you stay up and deal with it. Toddler Phase: toddler won’t eat the lunch you’ve just made and is throwing a fit that you won’t make something else. Mom Control: Listen to me or you’re going to your room! I need to stand my ground and show boundaries. Mom Letting Go: It’s not worth the fight, I can make something different this time. And that same scene continues in various manners as they grow! Pre-teen Phase: the attitude with which you are answered is blasphemous. Mom Control: “Do NOT talk to me like that!” Mom Letting Go: I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.
Now I suppose ideally in all of these situations we’d respond somewhere in the middle, right? I have been through each of these situations, and I know the emotional baggage that I’m left with at the end of the day after responding fiercely, teaches me that I did not respond how I would like. Ideally I think we remain unruffled AND set boundaries. Infancy: I’ll try to get you to sleep for x amount of time and then I’m giving up. Toddler: I will make you another lunch today but next time I’d like you to think before telling me what you want. Or I don’t have time to make you something else today, I’m sorry. If you don’t want to eat this, that’s your choice. Pre-teen: You sounded really upset in how you answered me, is everything ok? These are reactions that I have also tried, and let me tell you, it feels 10,000 times better. You know why? Because you have not just hurt the person/s that you love the most in this world.
Sometimes I hear how my husband or I talk to our children and think, “man, I can’t imagine if somebody talked to me that way.” I try to keep that standard in mind. But of course, someone isn’t making me all my food, bathing me, shuttling me around, wiping my butt, etc. So there’s that too. But, respect is respect. And I think it’s a universal need, at every age.
This presents itself during pregnancy as well, with all the many concerns that arise. My new concern is that the baby may be breech(feet or bottom first) or transverse(sideways). It seems like it’s one concern after another, doesn’t it? Before getting pregnant this time, I remember watching pregnant women with envy- wanting the “full of nurture and life” phase again. But I underestimated how full of concern and fear pregnancy is.
I’m not sure if all pregnant moms feel this way or not. But I’d venture to guess that I’m not somewhere in the middle on what moms experience with this. And it makes me realize how much more people are going through than they let on. I am often asked, “how are you feeling?” and I almost always respond, “Good!” I guess because when I compare to how I could feel, it measures up as “good.” And there’s nothing seriously wrong. But in actuality I am almost always in a state of concern to one degree or another, wondering… are things good? Which isn’t a very good feeling.
So if I were able to strike an ideal balance between letting go and control during pregnancy, it would probably look something like: I can research what to do about this concern, take action, and let the rest be as it will, and remember to enjoy the process also.
During birth I feel like the need for letting go really presents itself. In birth any feeling of fear or restriction can interfere with the birth process. Because birthing a human through your pelvis requires all the letting go you can muster! Birth requires a big surrender. And they may end up being a surrender to an outcome that was not what you had in mind (c-section or NICU?) WE never know what the journey or outcome will hold. So savoring the birth experience to me, really looks like embracing acceptance and mastering opening up. There are many different theories about how to do this: lighting, music, etc. I’m not sure that any of these things will make a difference to me- I know accepting the pain has been the most challenging hurdle for me. So, before birth arrives, I suppose I should learn some more skills on accepting and allowing pain to take over my body- and open up to it. THAT is how I can do my best to savor this birth experience.