“I see the beautiful curve of a pregnant belly shaped by the soul within.” –Hafiz
(quoted in The Art of Pregnancy)
Today we’re heading over to my parents’ house to see my brother and his wife for the big “gender reveal” of their baby! They had an ultrasound last week and had the sex of the baby sealed in an envelope (and then baked into cake pops) and are traveling here to share the surprise with their family. While permission has been given for me to talk about their pregnancy in my blog posts, I find myself hesitant somehow—this is their journey and their experience! However, let me just say that I had no idea how excited I’d feel about their baby. I really look forward to having a niece or nephew! My brother is nine years younger than me. I also have two sisters. My brother and I had a conflictual relationship in childhood and our personalities always clashed a lot. I occasionally worried about who he’d end up marrying, because I was pretty certain that he’d choose someone “clashy” and we’d gradually drift apart and rarely see him. However, my brother grew up to be an awesome man (he was actually an awesome kid too, he was just high impact—much like my second child is—and it was hard for me to cope with that energy as a pre-teen/teen/young adult woman) and now he has an awesome wife who is not clashy at all. In fact she pretty much feels just like a sister and I love and appreciate her. They are planning a homebirth with a midwife and I can’t wait to keep talking birth together! On New Year’s Eve I helped them listen to their baby’s heartbeat for the first time and it was one of the best experiences of my life 🙂 There is a lot of “everyday sacred” to pay attention to pregnancy as well as in parenting (and life!) and several topics caught my eye this week. The first was this short post on First the Egg:
The person leading the service asked the congregation to think about and support, among other groups, “parents and all those whose primary spiritual practice is caring for children.” And I’m so tired–so tired–because we never get decent sleep and we’re always ‘on,’ and I have so little self left over for creativity or meditation beyond the practice that is parenting (one act of care and then the next and then the next) and the practice that is writing (one word and then the next and then the next). And it felt goofy even at the time, but a wave of gratitude washed through me. I felt recognized in a way that I never, ever do outside my household. I felt like I was sitting amongst a community that could see what parenting is and what children are. Articulating that parenting is an intellectual, emotional, spiritual discipline and practice is both powerful and rare…
Reading Molly’s post brought back to mind my own post on breastfeeding and parenting as spiritual practices:
I calculated that so far in my life I’ve put a baby to my breast more than 12,000 times. Even if I only experienced a single moment of mindful awareness or contemplation or transcendence or sacredness during each of those occasions, that is one heck of a potent, dedicated, and holy practice. In the unique symbiosis of the nursing relationship, I recall a quote from the book The Blue Jay’s Dance (1996) by Louise Erdrich about male writers from the nineteenth century and their longing for an experience of oneness and seeking the mystery of an epiphany. She says: “Perhaps we owe some of our most moving literature to men who didn’t understand that they wanted to be women nursing babies.” (p. 148)
I also absolutely loved this blog post on bringing the sacred into a hospital birth:
As a doula, one of the largest roles we take on is the job of environmental modification. In simple terms? Atmosphere.
Many times, we are the weavers of the “bubble”, so to speak, that mother will labor in – be it the physical atmosphere (furniture, objects, beloved items), the sensory atmosphere (sounds, smells, textures), or the emotional atmosphere (tension, ease and calm, excitement, and love).
All of the amazing doulas I have come across use elements of the above principles. Time and time again, I hear stories of “my awesome doula who used a soft voice when I felt frantic” (setting the emotional atmosphere), or “the soothing sound of piano that really grounded me in early labor” (setting the sensory atmosphere). We can be the key builders, setting the tone for the overall experience, utilizing whatever mom has discussed early on as her needs, wants, and wishes…