Sunday, October 23, 2011

Five Lessons Learned While Waiting for Labor to Begin by Leta Hamilton

My house is a mess, and I don’t feel ready to have a baby, but my body is saying, “READY! READY!” Can’t I have everything exactly the way I want it before bringing this baby into the world? There is nothing in my medical history or past birth experiences to merit anything other than a vaginal delivery of baby #4. I know, for me, this is the way it is meant to be. For other moms, a scheduled c-section or induced labor is par for the course. And while a part of me may envy their foreknowledge of when and where their baby will come, I also have a deep reverence for the route I am going. In this time of “any time now,” I am learning five important lessons about what it means to be at peace in an uncertain world.

1. Not knowing when my baby is coming forces me to be present in a way that is otherwise rare. I took out my calendar this morning and looked at my plans for the week, knowing that they may or may not happen – and also knowing that if I missed a meeting because of bringing new life into the world, it would be ok. I am grateful for the opportunity to be present with my body, my family and my schedule. It is a refreshing change from the norm!

2. The waiting and the messy house gives me an opportunity to work on those areas that mean the most to me and let go of the rest. What can I live with? Where do I want to deploy my energetic resources when every time I walk through the house I feel like a whale swimming through molasses? Today I showed my husband where the baby blankets, newborn clothes and diapers were. Secure in the knowledge that I won’t have to think about these things when I am pushing out my baby, I feel like that is pretty much it – we are ready.

3. I am practicing self-compassion and taking the time to rest so I have the energy to do the things I most want to do. Yesterday I had three things in my schedule and I did none of them. Today I have two things that I don’t want to miss and I have the energy to attend them because I took other, less important things, off the agenda yesterday. I am learning how to make compassionate choices that create more harmony within. Physically, I may feel like a whale, but the peace that comes with self-compassion more than makes up for it.

4. Looking into the future is a game. Will he come before or after Halloween? He may be born on Halloween for all I know. All of this uncertainty is a metaphor for how life treats us generally. There are always unforeseen events in our existences. This is a given. Having this time to deal with a big unknown gives me tools for dealing with the surprises that I know are forthcoming. Giving birth over to nature allows me to participate in the cycle of life in a way that is congruent, not adversarial. This flow brings overall peace and I am grateful.

5. Finally, the mystery about the exact day and time I will go into labor brings complications into the picture that serve to enhance my ability to surrender what I cannot control over to the universe. There is a saying, “If you have a problem and can do something about it, why worry? If you have a problem and can do nothing about it, why worry?” It will be alright, no matter what mania surrounds me in the first moments of active labor. I know this. I may not be ready for a nighttime birth with my two year old sleeping next to me, but I know that in the moment I will have a solution. This is faith and a sprinkle of it over my overall approach to life has much needed benefits to my peace of mind.

All of the above are guiding lights toward a peaceful heart in the midst of chaos. As every mom knows, family brings an abundance of that. I know this time of waiting is a deepening of tolerance for whatever mayhem awaits me. With 4 kids ages 7 and under, I need this growth to my spiritual perspective. It’s perfect just the way it is – whale belly swimming through molasses and everything.

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