MB said that perhaps the most profound advice she was given by her writing teacher was this: “Write like you speak.” Well, I must be one long-winded, run-0n-sentence speaking, fragment-offending, hyphen-loving, bump-on-a-log who pauses a lot with ellipses…
Because my ambitions for a “quick update” always end up like this:
I am almost 37 weeks along in this pregnancy and am stunned by the speed at which time has passed. When I realized last week that I was supposed to have had my birth kit already ordered and my home birthing supplies ready, my heart jolted with a wee bit of that “oh shit, this is really happening…ANY day!” Then, my birth tub was delivered last week (can’t wait to soak in it!), my woman-tribe hosted my divine overnight Blessingway up in the pines of Payson (photos to follow shortly), and I hosted a Birthing From Within immersion class taught by Guru Brooke. My lovely Maisha also helped create my belly cast, which I’m delighted to be gifted with (photo below). Thus, this week will be full of preparations such as washing towels for the birth, getting baby clothes cleaned and folded, stocking up on high-energy, high protein foods, and even deciding what sheets I want on my bed and how I want to arrange the items for my birth altar. It is time for me to prepare and bless my space, that of both my heart and my home.
Everyone asks “How do you feel?” It seems like such a multi-faceted, overwhelming question to answer. It has so many dimensions; how do I feel physically, or emotionally, or mentally? My belly is big and shape-shifts every single day. Baby has been head down, then breech, and back again quite a few times. My face is chubby, my hands and ankles swollen. My sleeping patterns are becoming a bit off, as they seem to do in late pregnancy. My hands become numb every single night while I sleep and so my knuckles are sore. The muscles in my legs ache in the morning. Thankfully, most of these symptoms subside shortly after I get up and get (slowly) moving. Heartburn and indigestion reared their ugly heads in the already-cramped space of my belly and have been unwelcome houseguests the past month. I’m ready to kick them out for good. The donut cravings are here to stay.
Tonight as I wandered out of the bedroom after a pee break, Jason extended his arms out, empty bowl in hands, and asked if I could return it to the kitchen sink for him. While the kitchen was indeed on my pathway to my destination (office), it was a slight detour. So I huffed and whined “Noooo”. With an air of resentment, I grabbed it anyways just as he responded “No? Really? Is it really that big of a deal since you are on your way there anyways?” With my pregnant ass already waddling its way down the hall, I half-snipped “Jason, EVERYTHING is a big deal when you are pregnant!” That statement sums up the physical, emotional, and mental state of an almost-due pregnant mama. It’s all a real big freakin’ deal.
Emotionally and mentally, I’m almost there. After the Birthing from Within class and then “The Ultimate Blessingway” – as is shall hereby be deemed – , which was steeped in intense ritual and beautiful rite of passage (as well as 2am dancing, a girly sleepover, nudie pregnancy photos, and tons of chocolate)… I feel prepared for the journey of labor and birth. Like a warrior sent to battle, I’ve been blessed by mothers, given physical and internal implements of strength, and affirmed my sacred role – and that of my baby’s – in this impending birth. Weights have been lifted, experiences and emotions validated, healing hands laid upon my body, and chakras re-opened and invigorated. Time now passes with intention and wisdom, leaving bittersweet tracks in its path. I am in soft, mama-warrior mode; experiencing alternate moments of serenity and surrender as well as those tinged with the fierce breath of fire.
the gentle flow of water
the infinite expanse of sky
the dancing flames of fire
the firm cradle of earth
elements of our terrestrial sphere
elements of the feminine and masculine combined
elements of a birthing mama
these things I need
these things repeat in me
Creating and nurturing those special moments with Kaia and my husband that could be the last of them as a family of three has consumed my life. It is a tall order that mushes my heart up in a million ways. Sometimes I watch as they flutter by in a flash of a second, my arms not nimble enough (or energy not ramped up enough) to wrangle them in time. Other times, I encircle them, breathe in the smells and sounds and visions and textures of them and capture them within my core. I pull Kaia to my lap more often, bring her cheek to mine, and gently pelt her over and over with kisses. I have a date night with my husband this weekend as a means to reconnect, rebalance, remember, and usher in the reality of our new baby. To unlock and open my heart and body in preparation for the labyrinth of birth, I need to snuggle them both more, look more deeply into their eyes, and embrace moments of utter silliness.
I have days in which the birth I envision unfolds before me without pause or distraction… as if I’m watching a moving reel of an event that has already occurred. Then I have nights in which I think too much, too hard, too long about details and logistics and my mind becomes cluttered and tired. There are the hours in which I am blissfully at peace with my baby’s intentions for the birth, welcoming the mystery…and hours in which I lay on my bed maniacally attempting to palpate my belly and determine baby’s presentation, asking asking asking begging pleading for baby to turn. There are hours in which I moving through my day with prideful ease – keeping a clean house and succeeding at putting Kaia down for two incredible naps – which suddenly become interrupted with Kaia pouring hot pink nail polish on our just-cleaned cream-colored carpet. And then I spiral into meltdown mode, where reality crashes around me and I feel like a jackass of a Mama who can barely come up with the energy to feed my kid some decent food. There are nights like last night when my Braxton Hicks surges began to intensify, my belly cramping, and I seriously contemplated whether labor was upon me…until I ended up frantic on the toilet – then on the cool tile floor on all fours, my head resting on a roll of cushy toilet paper, breathing and almost crying through stupid diarrhea cramps, while complaining to Jason “I’d much rather be in labor!”.
I must shed those things
in the physical world
that chain me down
I must release
and fly, float, wander
a great mythological creature
I had set a practice of asking the universe for special items and offerings to come to me for my birth altar. And come they have. Between my circle of friends and family, and my own searching, I’ve collected twisted roots from a tree that resemble an umbilical cord, rocks that sound like healing and soft driftwood my soul-sisters collected on a hike during The Ultimate Blessingway. And a pencil drawing of a tree nymph from MB, incense and affirmations from Jeanette, pottery from Maisha and Marinah, a “My Mama is a Birth Warrior” newborn tee (and tons of comfort food cooking) from Brooke, and a vision board that I created for the birth (see photo above). There comes great pleasure and reassurance from arranging offerings blessed with love, held in hands that have caught their own babies and the babies of many others. Collecting and composing these emblematic items within our home is a ritual of sorts, a soothing meditation.
Today, Kaia brought in a rock while playing outside and handed it to me with an impish grin. I asked if it was a rock for the baby and she giggled when I said “Oh, can you go collect more rocks for the baby?” Always ready for an assignment, she scampered out the door in her purple dress and purple Crocs as she repeated “Baby rocks, baby rocks”. Minutes later, she arrived with three rocks in her hand and set them in a row on the desk. Each rock was progressively smaller in size, and when all four were set beside each other couldn’t have been more symbolic our expanding family.
Later, she brought another one in. Nested safely inside the rock was a rough outline of a red heart. And that one red heart held every unspoken, unwritten word in history. “Mystory”.