This post was written a few hours before I went into labor with my daughter. I could not know the labor that was to come (or that I would go into labor soon after), nor could I know how madly in love I would fall with my beautiful Madison Grace when she finally uttered her first cry. Regardless, the lesson I spoke of in the post is one I took with me into my labor experience, and one that I will need to be continuously reminded of as long as I live and breathe. I suspect the same will be true for you too. Enjoy!
February 16, 2016
Of the many surprises pregnancy has presented me with, perhaps the most profound one of all – and the lesson I will surely take into the rest of my life – is the art of patience. Surrender. Relinquishing control – or rather, the illusion that I have control over anything. At all. Ever.
On the surface, it appears as though we have control of things. We choose what we eat and when. We choose the people we spend our time with (and those we don’t). We decide when to go to bed, when to work out, what to wear, where to work.
But are we really in control? Or is all of that just an illusion, one that we’ve created in order to make us feel a sense of stability and power over our lives?
Ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. You’ll have to forgive me. Pregnancy has had that effect on me (it would on you too if you saw the miraculous ways in which your body changes as the months roll by).
But seriously. We may eat all of the right foods but have a genetic mutation that predisposes us to high cholesterol. We may have to stop working out the way we want to because of a genetic predisposition to osteoporosis or arthritis.
Science has come a long way in explaining how the body works, understanding and mapping the human genome, and knowing how genetics can affect our likelihood of developing or not developing certain conditions. We may know how the body works, but can any of us really explain how all of our organs got here, perfectly placed, knowing exactly how to operate and when?
I never spent much time thinking about that until I got pregnant. In no other time of my life have I come so up close and personal with the irrefutable fact that though I think I know how my body works – and that I have control over how it looks – in reality, I have absolutely no freakin’ idea (and I can eat and juice as much kale as I want, but nothing is going to keep my stomach flat and tight during pregnancy. Baby and uterus are growing, and no amount of green veggies is going to stop my stomach from getting bigger!).
Did I have conscious involvement in the creation of this child? Yes. But also, no. Consciously I wanted it to happen. And I did what was necessary to increase my odds of making sure it did (in my fortunate case, I just had good ol’ fashioned sex). But did I really have any control over her coming into the universe?
My body did that for me. Science can explain how it did, but logically, I cannot comprehend it. Once the deed was done, I went about my day, exercising, eating healthy, working, breathing, living. All the while, physiological processes were going on inside me, none of which I was aware of. The sperm. The egg. The fertilization. The conception. The ensuing growth of this little nugget into a full on human. I had absolutely nothing to do with that. I didn’t tell the sperm and the egg what to do. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t even know it was happening.
Sure, once I found out that I was pregnant, I did everything I could to stay healthy, eating all the “right” foods and the “right” amount of protein, exercising until modification became necessary, letting my body rest when it needed it, watching it in awe as it expanded to accommodate the life growing inside me. But let’s not kid ourselves: those things may have increased the odds that the baby would be healthy, but they didn’t completely control that outcome.
And now here I sit, 9 days past my due date, struggling with the idea of surrender and control. My body has been stretched to its max. I don’t recognize my once flat stomach. I’ve got an extra layer of fat around my legs and arms, presumably to provide the maximum amount of nutrition the placenta needs to nourish my baby. I have surrendered to the process up to this point. But now comes the final piece, the ultimate piece of the surrender puzzle: I have absolutely no control over when she’s going to come out. The due date is just a guess, a number written on a page. It doesn’t mean anything. But I have made it mean something. The doctors have made it mean something. We have made it mean that she’s late. We have made it mean that the more past the due date she goes, the more danger she could be in. I don’t want to believe that, but I can’t help but to entertain the thought. And now, because of that, I’m frustrated. I’m so frustrated. I find myself asking over and over again:
When will she come out? Why hasn’t she come out yet? What am I doing wrong? What can I do better? Is she ok? Should I let them induce me?
I’ve done everything I can possibly do to get her out:
Evening primrose oil
Sex, sex and more sex (may be TMI but semen softens the cervix. Incidentally, sex also keeps your husband happy. Everybody wins!)
Bouncing on a yoga ball for hours at a time
Chinese herbs (that taste like poop, by the way)
I even took an hour and a half long pilgrimage to a restaurant in Studio City that serves a salad known as “The Salad” because it’s rumored to cause women to go into labor within hours of eating it (spoiler alert: it didn’t work for me. It has now been 4 days since I ate it.). They say the secret is in the dressing. I say it’s a load of crap.
I was totally relaxed about baby’s due date until the due date came and went and the doctor wanted to schedule me to be induced a week later. Why? I asked. Because the placenta could start to get old, and you could start to run out of amniotic fluid.
I refused to be induced right away but agreed to a non stress test instead to make sure all was well. It was. It is.
But after that appointment, the frustration continued. Why can’t you just come, baby?
I ran through the list of things to do to get her out again, and did them diligently every day (yes, that includes sex, though at almost 10 months pregnant, I felt like a beached whale. Not sexy. Not even close.). But the more I tried to control the outcome, the more I realized how silly I was being.
In the last 9 and a half months, my body has done all the work in getting her to this point. Besides the sex, I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Nothing. So why on earth do I think I can have any control over when she comes out? It’s such an illusion.
My body created her without my conscious control. It will get her out. When she’s ready, it will get her out.
And so the final lesson of this pregnancy is to let go. Surrender. Understand that I have no control. Yes, I can do things to help the process along, like stay calm and stress free. Relax when I need to. Listen to my body. Get prepared for her arrival. But I can’t control when she’s going to decide to come out. That’s her choice, not mine. And I don’t want to take that away from her. And I don’t want the doctors to either. But there again is yet another lesson in control. If it gets to a point where the doctors have to intervene, I’ve got to let that go too. Because maybe she does need help getting out. And who am I to say otherwise?
It’s such a back and forth. But such is life, is it not?
We can do all the right things and still not end up with our dream jobs. We can eat all the right foods and still end up with cancer. We can hope and pray for the partner of our dreams, put ourselves out there and never find them.
But that’s not to say that we shouldn’t continue to try. Ideally, we would plan what we can, execute on our plans, and then leave the rest to God (or whatever higher power you believe in). Trust in the universe. Trust that things are happening as they are meant to.
Now that I am so far past my due date, with every cramp, I find myself asking: is this it? I get excited. And then nothing else happens. And then I get disappointed. But then I have to remember to just surrender. I need to trust that I will know it’s time when it’s time. When I’m in it. When the pain can’t be ignored. When there is no more question.
And so it is with life. Whether it is a relationship, a job, a wish, a hope or a dream:
Can you surrender? Can you let go? Can you do the work and then leave the rest to God/the universe/faith? Do you have faith that the process of life is going to work in your favor, even if at times it seems like it’s not going your way? Can you find the lesson in the frustration? Maybe that lesson is the way to what you truly desire.
I don’t know if that’s true, but I have to believe that it is.
Either way, this baby is coming out sooner or later. My only job now is to step aside, trust the universe, and let it happen as it is meant to.
Until then, I wait. I sip my tea. I meditate. I write. I go on with my life, life as I know it now, life before baby.
Ok, universe. Ok. I surrender.