I've been feeling the outward call to action in response to the injustice and tragedy in our country. The need to do something, anything. And while there are great organizations to support and resources to gather we also need the reminder that transformation begins with us. In our own internal landscapes, with our families, our neighbors, and our communities.
This wonderful post from Paula Kuka is a great reminder:
I hope you'll be able to make some time for reflection this week. Looking at our own values, lives, and actions so we can use this amazing gift of motherhood to make the world a better place through our own actions and as role models for our children.
While we do often have support around us, giving birth is an experience we go through alone under any circumstance, pandemic or not. Birth is happening in your body, with your body, and ideally, with your full participation of your own internal experience. It’s a Heroine’s Journey. (A Hero’s Journey is the masculine experience of adventuring out into the world, whereas a Heroine’s Journey is the experience of going inward to heal and reclaim our feminine power.)
Though it is a solitary journey, we can support and bear witness to each other, share our experiences, learn from each other, and build a new world that works for all, together, as a result.
There are many ways to experience the Heroine’s Journey. Pregnancy is one of the most tangible. Pregnancy is an internal, alchemical process, as you build a human in your body with your body. Creating, holding and growing life where there was none before. Please allow that to sink in. Really. If we understood the miracle of that, we could no longer have violence against women. Nor could we have violence against anyone who’s life was created by a woman. And we would trust women to know what’s best for her body, her life, and her family.
Owning this sacred, internal process is vitally important, now more than ever.
We cannot go on ignoring the sacredness of the lives we women bring into the world.
The Heroine’s Journey does not stop with pregnancy and birth. It is, however, an essential first step to the rest of your life as Mother. No one else will be Mother to your child but you. You may have proxies, but no one else will ever fill that role but you. No one will know and advocate for your child like you will. Partners, family members, friends and caregivers have their very important roles to play, but you alone are Mother. No one will give birth but you. No one will Mother but you. And no one will give birth to you as Mother but you.
We have to trust ourselves and each other to know better than anyone about our own unique experiences.
Pain isn’t without purpose. It is designed to get our attention and change our behavior.
For example, physical pain tells us to stop walking on an injured foot, or that we’re dehydrated and need more water (or that it is time for a baby to be born!) Emotional pain can tell us it is time to leave a job or make a change in a relationship. How do we learn from our pain in a way that allows us to grow and thrive?
Life is messy. It’s constantly changing. Nothing is meant to stay the same. Sometimes changes come in small ways: we try a new recipe, take a new class, meet a new friend. Sometimes those changes are bigger: we change jobs, move our home, get married. Other times those changes are extraordinary: we get pregnant and prepare to give birth. Becoming a mother is an extraordinary change. Like death, it not only changes our circumstances, but it also rocks us to our core. We are forever and irrevocably changed by the experience.
And it’s messy.
And you are experiencing this extraordinary time in the middle of another extraordinary time, a global pandemic.
Talk about messy.
Before a caterpillar becomes a butterfly it turns into a soupy mush in its cocoon. That cannot be a pleasant experience. And it is certainly messy. The caterpillar literally gives itself up in order to become something completely brand new. This is what motherhood is about. I don’t mean that you give yourself up to be whatever your child needs, though there is an element of that. What I mean is that you give up the caterpillar you once were to become the butterfly you were meant to be.
I've been following the amazing Paula Kuka on instagram (@common_wild) for a while and had to share today's post with you all -
Her illustrations and captions capture motherhood so authentically. I feel connected and supported just looking at them and knowing there are SO many other women who relate to her work and her posts.
I never would have thought that an artist from the other side of the world would contribute to my feeling supported!
Mother.ly did an interview article featuring another of my favorites:
Hope you find some joy and comfort (and maybe even support!) in her work.
There was just a really great recent thread on our companion list serve about essentials for a hospital birth - especially items not covered by the basic lists available online. Here are what 10+ moms in our community shared...
Happy Mother's Day! It's a day for US - to feel celebrated, appreciated, and supported.
But many of us are finding this especially hard with stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Everyone is overwhelmed and we are doing more than we ever should on our own. We were meant to give birth and raise our babies and children in community!
Many of our conversations over the past few weeks have been about our traditional sources of support disappearing with COVID-19 - just a few of the ways we've heard your plans unravel:
-My doula can't come to the hospital to support me in labor
-I can't introduce my rainbow baby to my best friends
-My husband may miss the birth of our second child because my in-laws can't come to help
-The (relatively) quiet maternity leave I had planned to bond with my baby is now filled with toddler tantrums and homeschooling
-My sister who was supposed to come be with me can't fly in from California
-Daycare is closed and I can't get any work done with my kids at home
-I am feeling anxious and don't have anyone to reach out to
We've also heard so many creative ways to ask for (and say yes to!) support even amidst a pandemic - here are a few ideas:
As painful as it is, grief is an emotion we must allow for in the cycle of life. We must truly surrender to this part of living before something new can fully come into being. Autumn arrives every year. The trees give up their leaves in order to fertilize the earth for the new growth that will come in the spring. In the Celtic tradition we give up our “maidenhood” in order to experience “motherhood.” This transition occurs later in women’s lives these days, so there are more aspects of ourselves to let go of. A lot more to grieve, like the career that was once fulfilling now seems unimportant, even trivial. Especially in light of the pandemic.
As an acupuncturist, I watch how emotions move (or don’t move) through us. Grief seems to be the most difficult for modern humans in our culture to experience. It’s such a full emotion. Grief has its way with us until it’s done, and it’s never completely done.
In Chinese medicine each season is associated with an emotion. Fear is the emotion associated with winter, the next season in the cycle of living after the grief of autumn. Unlike grief, which is a full emotion that requires us to experience it, fear is an emotion that calls us to action. There is danger and we must respond.
Sometimes that response is immediate: we quickly move our hand away from a hot burner, or we step back onto the curb when we see a car speeding down the road that we didn’t see before, or we grab the steering wheel back when our teenager is learning to drive and is about to turn into oncoming traffic (two down and one to go in driver’s ed for me!)
Sometimes fear feels more like anxiety and panic. So often when we’re in panic, we behave as if the danger is as imminent as pulling our hand away from a hot burner, and we make rash decisions that are often more harmful than helpful.
Pregnancy and early motherhood are already filled with uncertainty - the added layer of a global pandemic may make it feel close to impossible to make plans and decisions.
What about my birth plan? Or family and friends who were going to come and help? What about childcare? Or any of the other plans we had for the next few months?
Here's an article from Motherly about how to adapt your Birth Plan. One of my favorite questions from the article: Are you making decisions out of fear or in confidence?
Thoughts on pregnancy, birth and motherhood.