Friday, July 31, 2009

I Broke the Butter Dish and Other Confessions of Late Pregnancy

Yes, I'm the one who broke the butter dish. And the last of the glasses that Derrick and Kendra gave us. And one of our few remaining IKEA stoneware bowls. I'm always clumsy during pregnancy. Well, I'm fairly clumsy all the time. Something about the hormones and the physical changes of pregnancy just exacerbates it.

But strangely, I have felt anything but clumsy this pregnancy. Being pregnant this time around has been pure bliss. I feel beautiful, divine, big, powerful, capable, joyful, grateful beyond reckoning. It may be because this is likely my last chance to experience pregnancy. It may be because I am keenly aware of so many around me who are yearning to be pregnant, or whose pregnancies are truly difficult. But somehow I have been able to abide in each moment of this experience, to cherish it for what it is, to revel in this partnership with the divine in creating a body to house a precious spirit.

I laugh at the less-than-stellar moments of pregnancy: the now cumbersome belly, the ridiculous round-ligament pain, the multiple trips to the bathroom (some coming less than 5 minutes apart), the hips that hurt in the morning and leave me walking like an old lady. And then I cherish them too. When will I ever feel this again? Even the pain and the discomfort are precious. They are teachers, reminders of how alive I am, how fortunate I am to be a mother, how worthwhile the fruits of this short season will be, how short this season truly is.

I think it is also a blessing to have a summer baby. I visit my garden in the mornings to tend and weed and water and harvest, the warmth of the sun radiating through me. The squatting and the bending and the reaching are wonderful preparation for my physical body. The widely opening flowers, soon to be ripe with fruit, are a comfort and companion to my mother-soul. The effortless green and growth are nourishment to my spirit and a gentle example of our equal needs, the garden and I, for nourishment and tender care.

In my favorite birth book, Birthing From Within, there is a powerful exercise. It is one I teach my BFW classes and doula clients. It is the process of choosing one's Deepest Question. Like affirmations, it is a way of bringing mind and body into congruence. Even more powerful, to my mind. In asking the question over and over, we invite ourselves to live the answer. And as I live the answer now and the next moment and the next moment, I can know with surety that I will still be living my answer as I give birth and learn to mother a new child.

My question through the latter half of this pregnancy has been this:

How am I opening to this moment?
Each time I ask this again, I feel myself crack open just a little wider. I feel my heart open, my mind open, my eyes open, my hands open. I feel myself opening to and embracing the joy, the humor, the aching hips, the gentle nudges of my baby each morning, the nervousness about having five children, the breaking butter dishes. I am opening to all of the possibilities this particular birthing adventure might take, to the love and kindness of friends and family and strangers who are eager to share in this experience, to the wonder in my children's eyes as they marvel over my hee-uuuge tummy, the adoration and devotion of my dear husband. I am claiming and embracing it all, without apology, with an inkling that I just might be one of the most blessed women in existence right now.

My preparation for Coco's birth was an exercise in trust, a warrior-like need for battle readiness, almost an existential crisis. (I frequently pull myself into the-chicken-or-the-egg type discussions about this. Was Coco's birth my most intense because I was so intense about preparing for it, or did my spirit know how desperately I needed that intense preparation for the phenomenal experience to come?)

This experience has been so incredibly different. It has been one of curiosity, gentleness and steady, calm assurance. Perhaps I am living the calm of the warrior. Coco's birth taught me that I am made of tougher stuff than I ever imagined. Perhaps my spirit really knows what's coming and I'm in for an easier ride this time.

Either way, I'm ready. Open. Grateful.

I'm in no hurry to part with this little one, to end this treasured experience. But I feel the end coming soon. And when it comes, I will open body, mind and spirit and let my little one come from my body to my arms.

And the opening will have only begun.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Heather,

I really enjoyed reading this post. I hope you are doing well and that your little one is here or coming soon!