My pregnancy journey — the reluctancy, lessons, and transformation
As I near the end of my pregnancy in these final weeks, there is a stillness settling in between the past months of creation and the soon-to-come birth. My life is about to significantly change as baby Maya prepares to make her way into this world; my body has significantly changed, and I feel changed. I hesitate to use the word “transformation” as that seems so grandiose; and yet, as I look back, this process has truly been remarkable.
I must first disclose that I did not enter into pregnancy gracefully, at all. And perhaps, that’s one of the reasons this process has been so meaningful, as I have shown up moment-to-moment with full curiosity as to what is happening. Back in August, my husband and I decided to finally “try”. I always imagined having a family and knew I would want to co-parent with him— and that on my death bed I would regret not having a child — and yet there was also another strong part of me who was incredibly ambivalent and reluctant about stepping into the role of mother: Would I feel limited in my own freedom and independence? Would having a family mean I was less powerful in the world? Would I feel trapped? Am I really cut out for mothering? How would a family impact our relationship? Would it mean that my spiritual journey would come to a screeching halt? It was hard to live with very conflicting messages and make a clear decision.
There was a glimmer of possibility one Saturday afternoon as my husband and I were walking to Japantown. We were dreaming up the future and there was a surge of, “Yes! I could see us as parents and consciously raising a human in this world together. It is finally time”. I would ride that inspiration all the way into the bedroom that evening, half holding my breath, trusting this gleaming possibility and this body’s lead. Shortly after trying for a week, I was flooded full of fear, doubt, and in a paralyzing way that left me confused, sad, feeling not committed and ready.
As I do in my habit pattern of fear, I quickly ran away — packed my bags and left to Phoenix for two weeks to process what-the-hell was happening and where this fierce unleashing of fear was coming from. I didn’t get far into the process to arrive at any true clarity. It was Thursday afternoon, and I was in a hot yoga class, and I could tell my body was different. I knew I was pregnant.
My body had chosen what was to come, regardless of all the fears, doubt, unanswered questions that engulfed my enter being a week before. I decided to surrender to this process that day, and there, I began a journey of showing up for this growing life and changing body.
Here are some of the lessons, challenges, and joys I’ve experienced that I hope will bring some ease and companionship for you on your journey:
- Wise, authentic women: One of the most nourishing parts of my this pregnancy has been sharing a weekly Friday call with two powerful women. It’s one hour a week where we sit meditation for 20 minutes, do a short pregnancy reading and drop into what it is we’re experiencing. These two women are very “in the world” — successful, smart, attuned to their inner world — and we all shared similar beliefs around motherhood and pregnancy that did not subscribe to the usual conventions. We spoke truthfully about the physical struggles, dynamic shifts with our partners, changes in our relationship to work, the intensity of emotions that would arise, the fears of the future to come. Having these two women help hold me in this pregnancy, listen non-judgmentally and share wholeheartedly, from the first trimester through this last has been a safe place to reflect and feel understood and heard in this tremendous process of change.
- Listening to the body: The first trimester, I did not recognize my diet anymore. I went from my staple foods of quinoa, tofu, protein shakes, eggs, veggies (seven years of a strict vegetarian diet) to pastas, cheese, meat, carbs. All the foods I once enjoyed, I couldn’t stand. I didn’t know what this new body and cravings were; and yet, it was liberating for my body to choose the food that the growing fetus needed versus my mind telling me what I “should” have. My body hadn’t ever been this clear and decisive in a way I could hear her — usually my mind overpowered with its own ideas of what was best to eat to stay fit and thin. The mild obsession over food choices and a solid exercise routine of hot-yoga-four-days-a-week all went out the door, as my body clearly knew what it needed. In contrast, it was clear how much energy I spent on deliberating over food and exercise pre-pregnancy, body image, and what freedom there was in learning to listen to my body, soften and let go of some of my attachments to vanity.
- Relationship Tune-Up: Suddenly I was so very motivated to work on all unresolved, sticky patterns in my relationship to my husband. Knowing that when a child came into our life, the habit patterns and wounds we projected would likely be amplified by exhaustion and added stress, I began to take more keen notice to all the ways fear and tension would creep into our relationship. I took inventory of how my partner and how I would respond during stress. We both began to become more aware of these patterns, and instead of getting stuck in them for days, we could be able to recover more quickly from that “stress reality” back into “true reality.” We started to “repair” — make amends, let the defenses go, and soften back into intimate connection — that much quicker after any arguments we had. I recently read that one of the most important pieces as a new parent is to “return to love” — and it made sense to begin this practice now. Our relationship over the past nine months has blossomed into a more connected, loving and healthy one by meeting these challenges with courage and fresh possibility.
- Connection: When I first became pregnant, I was awe-struck by how all of us humans come into the world this way. I would look around on the streets of SF and with each passing person would think, “You and you and you, all started out like this tiny blueberry-sized fetus in my belly. Incredible!” There was a sense of connection with the world that hadn’t quite landed as deeply as this new embodied realization that we all come from a mother’s womb — remarkable!
- A Friendly Universe: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed how random well wishes and kindness have been shared with me, especially in this third trimester with a protruding belly. The universe feels kind, warm and sincere as strangers smile, ask about the due date and congratulate me in passing on the streets. They slow down, open doors, give up their seats on BART. I hadn’t experienced the world in quite this way before. And I continue to wonder, what would the the world be like if we were this kind with each other more often, pregnant or not?
- Community Support: I’ve been amazed at the inpouring of support and love from our communities — San Francisco Zen Center and Wisdom 2.0 —those who have been generous, loving and delighting in this future baby. I’ve been learning to receive the generosity of nourishment, gifts and kind attention, and feel baby Maya is blessed to be surrounded by a village of wonderful humans.
- Wholehearted-No: What did not serve anymore was quite clear and direct — certain dynamics in relationships, the way I worked, how I spent my time. I learned to speak up and draw boundaries. I learned to ask for help more, especially from my partner, which was new to be that vulnerable to relinquish control and trust. It feels damn good to let go of control and begin to trust, and I don’t know why it has taken me to so long to get here — thank you, pregnancy, for showing me this.
- Remembering Joy: Knowing that I was raising a being inside me, I would intentionally have more joy practices to hopefully build a happy baby— singing, dancing, enjoyable walks. It was sweet to have a constant reminder that cultivating joy is an important priority.
Pregnancy has been a clearing process from the inside out; the parts of me that had a strong ego grip, and didn’t serve for birthing consciousness into this life, let itself be vividly known. It was a deepening of trust into this body, self and intimacy with my relationship to my partner and the world. It was one of my first true experiences of complete surrender. This process — the non-striving and fully trusting — of meeting life as it is. Being has been medicine for my habitual ways of doing, thinking and constantly becoming.
One of the commonalities that I shared with the weekly women’s group is that we all believed that pregnancy and motherhood is not as powerful or empowering as hustling and engaging outwardly, achieving in the world. As I’ve surrendered into acceptance and trust these past nine months, the opposite seems to be true — it is an inward pull, a grounding into the body in a profound way that has its own quiet clarity and sacred power.
May your pregnancy journey be filled with empowerment, joy, wonder, and discovery ❤