A Beautiful Life
So....it's been a while. Almost 5 months since I have written or posted on here. I have thought about it almost every day, and yet actually sitting down and putting fingers to keys just hasn't transpired. To say that I have been a bit distracted would be truthful, though a poor excuse. Especially as I have so much material to draw from right now. Let me explain myself. I am pregnant. Deliriously over the moon, couldn't be happier pregnant!!! Here's what I have learned very quickly about pregnancy...it takes up a lot of space in your mind. Perhaps I should even change the word pregnancy to parenthood because I have a sneaking suspicion that from here on out, that space will be forever filled. Every waking hour, and lately non-waking hour (as I sit here and type this in the dark while the world sleeps) is consumed with some thought about this baby. Every week that passes there is a new milestone to look out for and therefore obsess about. It started out waiting for the symptoms of pregnancy to begin. "When will I feel nauseous?" "Is it normal to feel this tired?" Which eventually shifted to "When will begin to show?" Currently, that space is consistently occupied with the question; "When will I feel the baby kick?" I will sometimes lie very still and just wait, with the question circling my brain, "is that it?" "is that something?" It's wonderful. And exhausting.
See for the first three months of this pregnancy I wasn't practicing my yoga, the physical practice, but really what I am speaking of is the invisible yoga...the yoga of the mind which is the entire reason we do the physical practice in the first place. I know the moment that I stopped too. Two days after I found out that we were expecting, I bled. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I called my mom, who called both my midwife and my husband (who had to be called out from his rehearsal), who came rushing right home to take me to the ER. While I waited for him, I crawled into bed and just stared at the ceiling. My mom actually stayed on the phone with me the whole time, but I couldn't talk and could barely breathe, despite her telling me that's all I needed to do. In those silent moments I felt myself become paralyzed with fear. All of a sudden this beautiful thing of being pregnant became extremely scary with the reality of all that could possibly go wrong and my mind shifted. It shifted from its usual place of positivity and light and crept steadily into the dark and stayed there for quite a while. The hard part was I had to wait. At the ER they had taken blood to check my HCG levels and did a scan in which they saw nothing. I was to go back two days later to have another blood draw to see if there was an increase. So for 48 hours down and down I crept into the fear, each thought taking me to the next, sadder more depleted one. As it turns out, and you can guess, my levels rose just fine and I had what's called implantation bleeding....totally normal. But the damage was done. For the next several weeks I was happy, but there was this overwhelming cloud of fear and concern circling my brain day in and day out. The happiness that I felt was just not that full feeling you get from complete happiness. It was jaded. My husband saw it, my mom saw it, I am sure others noticed it as well. My light had dimmed.
Then one day it happened, my yoga kicked back in, and I saw it. I mean literally I saw it, the first sonogram with our little love kicking away happily on the screen, heart beating and everything. What I really saw in that moment though was the truth: I, Sara Packard, devoted yogi and believer in life, had let my fear become bigger than my faith. Of course seeing the baby gave me the biggest sense of relief and allowed me to exhale for the first time in months, but really seeing myself in those moments that followed and how I had been holding on so tightly to fear is what changed things. I remembered that faith is not about seeing but about believing. We have no idea at any moment where our lives are headed, we do our best to work hard at it, to show up for the things and the people that matter but ultimately there is a letting go that must occur in order for us to move forward. We have to let go of the need to control, and to fix and maybe most importantly to know. For me, my worry comes from my incessant need to want to know what's coming next. What something is going to look like, feel like and the consequences it's going to have on my life. As I say over and over to my students, the only thing we can ever really know, is the moment that you are currently standing in. What we have known is no longer, and what we will know is not yet ours. That day after we saw our little babe, I made the re-discovery that my faith must be bigger than my fear if I am going to survive this enormous responsibility of being a parent. Not only must I do this for myself and for my husband, but for that new little life that we are bringing into the world. I want my child to know that its so much more important to let go sometimes than it is to hold on. The things we hold on to become heavier and heavier the longer we keep them but it's when we let go that life really has the chance to happen. In that same spirit, I have also had to let go of the fact that I spent the first few months of my pregnancy not enjoying it as much as I would have liked to. I have found a way to look back at that time with such gratitude. I mean, it's only going to get more intense from here on out and I am so grateful that experience came to me when it did. In Baptiste Yoga, we work a lot with acknowledging when the fear is in the room, or "fear is here" we say. When the fear is here for me and as it was, I acknowledge it, get still, and repeat to myself, "but my faith is bigger than my fear". It's not as if those dark, scary thoughts go away. In fact, I have often thought of the movie A Beautiful Mind in connection with dark thoughts. At the end of the movie you see the three characters of Russell Crow's characters mind, still walking beside him. He says "I've gotten used to ignoring them and I think, as a result, they've kind of given up on me. I think that's what it's like with all our dreams and nightmares, we've got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive."
So I am back on my mat, and I am back in my practice of having faith. I say practice because the thoughts still circle and I work really hard to choose the ones to feed and the ones to give up on moment to moment. Sometimes I fail, but there is no success without failure. Another lesson I want to desperately to impart to my little one. The light and the dark, the fear and the faith, the failures and successes are all a part of what make this life interesting and beautiful. We show up, do the work, and then...let go. Because what fun would it be if we knew what everything in life was going to feel like before it happened? Like this baby kicking...oh wait...was that it? When I feel it, I'll just know. :)
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.