Week 25: Spiritual Motherhood
OK, so I couldn't really think of anything better as a title. After all, Ina May Gaskin took the already cool title of "Spiritual Midwifery" for her crunchy-granola birth book years ago. Still, it gives the reader some idea of what I've been going through, a gradual transformation that is just now starting to really blow my mind.
My apologies for skipping over week 22-24. Life sometimes gets in the way, and we got bogged down with ours in our growing family. Nothing big to explain, but it was more or less tied up in Holy Week and Easter celebrations. Add into the mix that my husband finally started his new job with his old co-workers, and all the details that go along with a job change, and you get why I didn't have time to sit a write. I did, however, take plenty of time to THINK. :-)
We read in all those pregnancy and birth books that pregnancy and childbirth are natural, normal events that have taken place in the lives of women and families for eons. We read about how best to care for ourselves during pregnancies, in order to offer the best start for our babies. We read about how to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for the work of labor and birth. We read about breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, parenting alternatives, balancing family and work, etc. so on and so forth. We get together clothing for the baby (the layette), prepare a place for the baby to sleep (the nursery), buy the carseat, install it in the car, map out the best route to the birth place, blah-blah-blah. We go to this appointment and schedule that test, along with all the other hundred non-pregnancy-related things that come with living life. But how often do we read about and think about that very important, oft-neglected aspect of bringing new life into the world: the spiritual aspect of pregnancy and birth?
I've had several pregnancies like that; that's just how things are, after all, aren't they? Well, this time around I wanted to do it differently. It took me a while to come to this decision, it crept up on me gradually, but the transformation in my spiritual life has been amazing. Remember back to my earliest posts, how I was plagued with fear: fear of another pregnancy, fear of family not being supportive, fear of losing another baby. What I learned, though, is to trust. In order to come to a better place spiritually in this pregnancy, I needed to trust, to take that leap of faith and go with the flow.
So, what have I been doing to help myself spiritually? This journal is a major force in my spiritual pregnant life. While I don't always get to contribute regularly, the act of sitting and writing down my thoughts helps me to look at things with a little more perspective. Why do I consider it a spiritual activity? Because it forces me first to slow down and take time to think, then to write, read, and try to come to some point that makes some sense. And when I take the time to slow down and do these things during this process, I come closer to my center, which puts me in a closer relationship with the One who created me. So, really, anything that makes me slow down, think, and put things into perspective is a spiritual activity for me. Sometimes it is reading certain things, sometimes it is participating in religious events (public spirituality), sometimes it is prayer.
I read a wonderful poem at a women's group at my church a few weeks ago. I think the imagery is particularly good for relating to pregnancy and birth, especially this pregnancy for me, how it is unfolding. It is called "The Butterfly" and is written by Sister Therese Even, SSND. The first and last stanzas are the best: "Not too fast, not too fast Let it grow, let it last Nature knows when and why...the butterfly." The rest of the poem is about how someone found a cocoon and basically forced the butterfly to emerge before it was truly ready, which resulted in its death. The butterfly has long been used in religious imagery, especially in Christianity, symbolic of passing into new life. When we labor and give birth, we come to a point where we must "die" to ourselves, yield to what is happening, and let go. The less we fight the process, the less we try to force things along at a pace that is not right, the more normally things unfold, beautifully, like the wings of the newly-emerged butterfly. At the end of the meeting after the poem was read, we received a small butterfly pendant on a ribbon. I will keep mine near me when the birthing time comes, to remind me of the mini-death I must go through to bring forth this new life.
Physically, everything is going very well with this pregnancy. The baby is growing and it is still such a joy to feel the movements inside of me. I seem to be hungry all the time now, which tells me that baby is growing and needing more from me than previously. Still, despite all the eating I've been doing, I've not gained any extra weight, maybe a total of 5 lbs. Of course, I started out fairly overweight to begin with, so that has a lot to do with it. My metabolism changes during pregnancy, and I guess my body uses the fuel more efficiently. The lovely spring weather has re-energized me, and I've been able to get out and walk with the little guys more regularly. I have to force myself to get moving, but once I do it I feel better. I still don't have any hip problems that I used to experience with my other pregnancies, so I guess it really is the new bed that is making the difference.
Until next time,