When I found out I was pregnant, seeing the look of joy on Andy’s face was an unforgettable experience. I never knew you could feel such a burst of love, connection and excitement by peeing on a stick! But I’ll be honest, regardless of all the doting support and words of congratulations, for those first few months, I felt fearful and strangely alone sometimes.
Physically, I was changing rapidly and at the same time my mind was racing with thoughts of “my body is going to change, possibly forever.” “Will I lose my freedom?” “Will I be a good mother?” “How is this thing ever going to come out?” I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow I convinced myself that I was the only one experiencing these kind of thoughts and feelings. And lots of other moms-to-be have since told me they felt exactly the same.
When we lose control of life or difficult situations arise, the temptation is to crawl into one’s shell. A shell where we can think as much as we like where no one will interrupt us. It feels safe. But it’s also a very isolating experience, where our struggle is magnified by that sense of isolation. I cannot begin to describe the relief I experienced when I found out that everyone else was facing something similar.
Nowadays, it’s all too easy to Google the feelings we experience, as though the internet has all the answers. But no matter how thorough the answer, it only gives us an intellectual understanding of the issue, which is so far removed from the experience of genuine insight. And that’s where I’ve found meditation to be so helpful on this journey – it has turned ideas into insight, theory into experience, and assumptions into understanding.
Every experience of pregnancy is unique, of course, but there are some parts that are shared by us all.
But meditation alone is not enough – at least not for me. Sure, it’s a vital part of the mix, but I’ve needed community too, a shared sense of connection and understanding. Fortunately, my love of exercise and my daily dose of yoga has provided the perfect vehicle for that, at the same time as helping me to stay as fit and healthy as possible.
Funnily enough, on one of my very first visits to the yoga studio, I met a radiant woman called Siobhan who was exactly the same number of weeks pregnant as me. I immediately felt safe, reassured and comforted to be sharing the experience with someone else. Not just doing the odd downward dog together, but discussing the challenges, trials and tribulations of pregnancy. And I can only imagine this will intensify once the baby is born.
So these meetings have allowed me to let go, to share a sense of intimacy and humanity that is impossible to put into words. At the same time, it has helped me to get comfortable in my new body, to be proud of my bump and to exercise with confidence. The yoga has kept me flexible and supple – qualities which I hope (with a passion) will make things a little easier come D-Day! But most of all, it has provided a place to be present and grounded.
Every experience of pregnancy is unique, of course, but there are some parts that are shared by us all. The need to be still, the need to move, the need to connect, the need to relate, the need to let go and the need to laugh. This is about more than simply hanging out or doing an exercise class. This is being human, part of a community and sharing the experience of life.