I am 9 months pregnant now. Joyfully, yet also with a doze of uncertainty, I am awaiting my daughter. I have been a home to a human being, a small universe to a soul that chose us as parents. I am so grateful for this journey, this task and the calling that we have answered.
Because it’s not that I always wanted to become a mother. I was so excited about life as it is, free, full of adventures, rumbling the world, enjoying partnership and romantic relation. I felt like I had everything that I needed and a kid would just take it away or change it in a way that wouldn’t be attractive for me (for example my body or lifestyle). I also had an open heart for adoption. Being aware of how many children in the world are living without proper care, made me feel bad for creating even more life, instead of giving love to the one that is already here, alone. Add to that the awareness of how fucked up the world is, with all the wars, injustice, pollution and climate crisis. All this has discouraged me. Yet, I was keeping an option of becoming a parent open for the time when I turn 30. Not much before that I actually started feeling the instinct to “find a father for my future children”. My body, the chemistry in my brain, my soul were becoming hungry for fulfilling this need. I was also satisfied as a professional, at that time I had already been working constantly for 14 years of my life and felt ready to settle, slow down, enjoy different values in my life. The superficialities like traveling or wealth became less attractive and I felt longing for simple living, focused on primitive needs like building a home, cooking delicious food, having the closeness of family. The calling that I felt was telling me that this is my goal, my purpose, that this is a part of my life that will open new doors for me, help me with everything that I have been struggling with so far.
And it wasn’t false. I do feel changed, inspired to be more patient, open, humble. My instincts are stronger, my need of hustle is (a bit) tamed, I feel divine, feminine power of all the women and deep connection to my roots. I understand my body better and respect it more. I am closer to myself and to my partner, family and friends. But it’s not that it all came easily to me. First of all I have to thank the therapeutic meditation for guiding me how to digest all those changes within me. Second, it is an ongoing process I started 5 years ago. Pregnancy has definitely not only risen the stakes but also the intensity of my emotions, which without therapy and proper tools to deal with extreme internal challenges would be very hard. I am worried for the women that don’t feel prepared for this journey and do not ask for help or are open about what they are going through. I have been told by the conscious mothers that
“pregnancy is bringing the best and the worst, the darkest and the brightest”
With that envision, once I reached my first bottom, the darkest corner of my head where there’s fear, loneliness, misunderstanding and nasty whisperers, I wasn’t surprised and knew it requires my love and work to climb up and bring back the light. But many women suffer these “bad trips” alone, in silence, judging their feelings. That’s why I find it super important to talk about how we really feel during pregnancy and motherhood, to stop keeping it a taboo when we are exhausted, angry, lost, sad. Because it’s OK to feel that. It is a new role in our life, something we have to learn from scratch and go through hardships to become stronger, get to know and understand ourselves anew. The same process awaits us once the baby is with us and we have to take care of it 24/7, remembering at the same time to take care of ourselves and then the relationship, and then the house and then the job and then the social life and then our passions… It can be overwhelming. And I find that the only cure is to slow down.
When we stop rushing, time slows down.
Sounds ridiculous, but I found it so simply true. I have decided (and been able fortunately) to work through the first 5 months of pregnancy to later take it easy and focus on just… being pregnant. Not many of us let ourselves do that and not many also have the possibility, financially or health-wise. I listened to my body and mind and did what they were asking me to do – rest, put work aside, put distractions aside and be here in the moment. “Presence” was the word popping in my head by the end of 2021 as a new year’s resolution and it is something that has been inspiring me for quite some time already. But it’s only now, thanks to outer factor, which is expecting a baby, when I let myself dive into it completely. It’s as if I needed permission, a reason, an excuse to stop rushing and running around, doing “things”. And I’m pretty sure we can all relate to that. These days everything has to be instant, fast, done yesterday. The level of anxiety and uneasiness is so high that we are not seeing how beautiful life could be without it and that it is only up to us to stop this craziness. I had the privilege to stop mine and realized that I can do more, when I’m not in a hurry. I have been always anticipating the next move. Before I finished eating one bite I was already putting another in my mouth, not tasting the variety and complexity of its flavors (both literally and metaphorically). I’ve spent a wonderful time with my Uruguayan family, learning from them how to live slowly and without expectations. Even though I came back in 7th month to an unfinished apartment that we had to move into, I managed to keep “under control” my anxiety of having everything in order and I was reaching to the lessons I’ve learned about taking it easy and slow. The benefits of that are my mental and physical stability. I notice more of my surroundings, I appreciate small things more, I am able to listen more carefully, both to myself and others. And what is surprising – I am able to do more, as if I had more time. It really does pass slower than before. I can be preparing a lazy breakfast without looking at the clock and still make it for a 1-hour yoga exercise, shopping, cooking, replying emails, retouching pictures, reading, watching a movie, meeting friends. All that without stress or rush, which, by the way, I believe comes from us trying to fit more in a day than we are capable of. Do you believe that we don’t know our limits? Imagine this – we put this pressure on ourselves of being productive and doing impossible things all the fucking time. Adding more and more responsibilities, saying yes to everything, trying to not a single opportunity pass by. But instead of feeling fulfilled and satisfied we are drained from energy, we do everything unmindfully, we get easily distracted, we are forgetting things and very often we get angry. Of course it is hard to slow down and face your own mind in silence if you haven’t given it any attention before. That’s actually why we stuff our time with tasks and stimuli. So both topics in paragraphs above are strictly connected and you can’t do one without the other.
Two to tango
Let’s not also forget that it’s not only women that go through the pregnancy but partners too. In the beginning, my urge of becoming a mother was so strong and blind that I couldn’t appreciate the process we have been living through to mature to a common decision. I was joking that we’re doing everything to be parents, but not the actual baby-making. From time perspective I appreciate so much all those conversations and fiery arguments. It has come to my understanding also, that men have to consciously choose to be fathers and play a part in their child’s life. I have seen future fathers create a bond with the baby when it was growing in the belly and they have been fully engaged in labor and later in taking care of the newborn. This is something very rare and very precious.
You need two conscious people to create life and enjoy this adventure.
Sounds obvious, but not many people realize that they decide on having kids without even considering if they are truly ready. The risks, the responsibility, the idea for upbringing, the partnership, the economical situation – all that has to be talked over and resolved in a relationship. And once you’re pregnant or the baby is here, it’s pretty hard to think less emotionally about these things. To avoid pregnancy blues and post-partum depression it’s so important to have support from your partner, be on the same page, have a plan that you both believe in. In long term it’s also important to figure out what to do about work and providing for the family. Many women end up staying full-time with the baby even though it doesn’t make them happy and it wasn’t their need. I have seen my friends feeling miserable playing the only role was left for them – mothers. It’s OK to feel like this and it’s OK to want to have social life and professional career. It’s even very necessary to keep it up to stay healthy, both mentally and physically! Because of a long existing pattern of men working and women taking care of kids many of us do not even consider a different division of duties. For me, it was important to make it clear before I undertake parenthood, that I believe in 50-50 rule, sharing baby-caring, work and me-time. Of course it may change, but it feels great that we have an understanding in how we want to live as a family and as partners. While I am getting closer to due date I feel like I want to spend way more time at home with our new born daughter instead of going back to work as soon as possible – something I have carefully planned before I even got pregnant. Being open to change is another significant thing that brings easiness in both relationship and your own experience of pregnancy.
Nothing will be the same as before. Or will it?
Next invaluable wisdom I got from my pregnant friend (that she heard from our wonderful midwife) was that
“Nothing lasts forever. Today is like this, tomorrow may be completely different. Do not get attached to anything.”
It was echoing in my head each time I would feel morning sickness, back pain, heartburn, sadness, tiredness or excitement, rush of energy, etc. Pregnancy, labor and later motherhood is one constant unsteadiness and unknown. Some parents tell us with terror “You will never sleep again!” and some are saying that parenthood has been great. For some it has changed a lot in their lifestyle and some maintained the same one. The lesson here is to let go of expectations and perfect images. My pregnancy was impeccable physiologically so I was visualizing and planning an intimate home birth, yet life showed me once again to never hold on so dearly to one specific idea, because surprises await at every corner. It is crucial to be open to absolutely anything. I accepted this miraculous experience as something I have no control over, yet I can do my best to be healthy and do the same for our baby. I came to peace from the beginning with the fact that I can have a miscarriage, that the labor may end with a c-sec or that our daughter may be born with genetic abnormalities. All that is possible and I found it liberating to embrace it. Thanks to that my pregnancy has passed nearly stress-free, despite the uncertainties and some concerns from doctors. For many it is more unsettling, because…
The general idea of pregnancy and labor in modern world is terribly misguided
When I announced that I am expecting a child, many people told me “now you have to take care of yourself”. It was a bit annoying to me, because no one even considered that I was properly taking care of myself before that. Behind it stands the assumption that women live as they will and when they get pregnant they suddenly have to change their lifestyle. It’s one of the least harmful ideas that people have about this subject. More noxious ones are really disturbing. Some see pregnancy as illness, some are afraid to do anything while being pregnant to not hurt the baby. Some would follow random recommendation of taking progesterone, even though they are completely fine, because they don’t understand pregnancy, biology or trust their instinct. For many labor is just pain and fear, which creates this need of avoiding it, speeding it up, going straight to induction, epidural or c-sec. It all takes away the experience of authentic, profound presence in the process of bringing life. Pregnancy can be easy if you get into it way before you start trying to conceive. It all begins way earlier, in the way you live, treat yourself, what you eat and how healthy you are. Birth also can be a positive experience if you learn about it and prepare your body and mind for it. It can be a magical, natural, beautiful, ecstatic and empowering ceremony if you only see it as such. There is a huge lack of knowledge and awareness around these subjects. We believe in what we see in the movies – the waters break, suddenly you feel terrible pain and minutes later the baby comes out screaming. We also believe in what others are telling us without even checking with a reliable source. I wish there was more education around natural pregnancy, birth and lactation and that we gave more credit to traditional and natural, less clinical or medical methods of health maintenance. I took my knowledge from experienced midwifes (who in contrary to gynecologists are more open to natural solutions, whilst doctors only learn how to treat pathology, not maintain health) and mindful mothers (the ones that are open to talk about all shades of pregnancy and motherhood and ones that have been consciously preparing for it and learning about it).
The problem above is connected to the fact, that living in a city, in a fast moving world, is far from what we had way before – keeping family close, helping each other, passing on the wisdom of life by generations. We used to give birth at home or even outside in the nature, with our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, neighbors around. We used to trust nature more than artificial medicine. We used to know more about our bodies even though the medical research was far behind. We used to eat healthier, treat sickness with plants and keep our bodies in shape with physical work. All this is now enhanced, automated, “improved” by progress. But did we as human beings improve? I feel like we did the opposite. Most of all we turned our back on nature. Secondly, we turned our backs on other people. Asking for help and support is not in fashion and “good manner”. What we believe that is more valuable is being self-sufficient and independent. But pregnancy, birth, post-partum and parenthood are far from those values. They require teamwork, close circles of people we trust, togetherness. Also many tend to pretend to be smart, telling a young mother how to do things because they believe they know better. That’s why our modern sisterhood plays such a big role in this part of women’s life. Without honest, openhearted assistance and legit knowledge we are climbing a steep mountain against the wind, but when supported it feels more like an exciting hike, with all peaks and valleys, but way easier. I am so grateful for all the women in my life that I can learn from.
Child = adult
Being able to observe and admire other parents for years I have been making notes on parenthood. There are a few important ones I wish to share.
“A child is not an accessory to your life. It’s a human being just like you, with the same need of freedom.”
Some create life because they’re missing something, the need to fill the void. My parents created me to keep them together. These are all wrong intentions putting on this little human being a condition to play a role in your life that they may not want to play. A child should come with the free will to be who they want to be, free of obligations to fulfill anyone’s wishes. Only then they will know how to love unconditionally. As a future parent it’s important for me to understand, that I have created life that I am responsible for and I am here to serve my daughter, not the other way around.
“We should learn to treat children like adults and adults like children.”
This is something I have been learning my whole life to finally put in words now. If only we realized that what we all need is unconditional love, being loved and to love, feeling safe, accepted, free, understood, we wouldn’t put all those constraints on ourselves while growing up. There is this idea, that a newborn baby needs care, but the older they get the less they need. The fact is that these basic needs will never change. Nonetheless we deny our kids fulfilling those needs by putting conditions, trying to fit an image of an adult person in a modern civilization (“you’re a big boy/girl now”). Of course, we need to become independent, provide for ourselves in adulthood. But what is constant is the fact, that we are emotional human beings and beside food, warmth and roof over our head we also need love. What is even more destructive is being denied this love even in early babyhood. Some choose to train kids to obey and meet the needs of the parents, not the other way (for example not picking them up when they’re crying). It’s a traumatizing experience for a baby that doesn’t know anything else but unconditional love for a person that is taking care of them. It distorts the idea of love, trust and brings up hurt children. In my belief, the fastest way to heal a trauma and understand why some adults act against love is to find when they were denied love (or lost it) and embrace that.
“Your child is your teacher.”
Assume you know nothing and be open to learn constantly – that’s my goal in motherhood. I am excited to meet my daughter and get to know her. I am aware that she will point out where I still need to do some work. She will be my reflection and annoy the shit out if me. But there’s nothing negative about it. I love that idea of seeing myself in parts of her but also letting her freely be herself. With double force she will teach me patience and humbleness. All this homework I believed I have done already I will have to do again with her by my side. Each behavior of mine, that is not serving us well I will have to take apart and put back together. As my midwife said – “The labor is so challenging so you can get stronger for the hardest part – parenthood.”
The journey with no end
Thanks to all this I feel excited and joyful about the pregnancy, giving birth and motherhood. It’s not that I don’t have any worries or struggles. It’s just that I have accepted all colors and shades of this journey. I have learned my ways of dealing with fear, pain, emotional roller-coasters, physical inconveniences. I feel happy to say goodbye to the old Nat and welcome the mother in me. I’m ready to die and be born anew with my daughter. I can’t wait for the challenges of parenthood, keeping an open mind and heart for learning more – about my child, myself, my partner and life itself. It’s like reading a book about us. A book that will last as long as we keep on writing it.