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Take Care Of Yourself
Published by Barbara Ratti in take care of yourself · 28 February 2021
Tags: pregnancymotherhoodmeditationandpregnancypositivebirthmusicandpregnancy
My husband and I became pregnant after five years of trying. Two weeks after our fourth embryo transfer, the pregnancy blood test eventually turned out to be positive. I remember the look my husband gave me. It was full of surprise, wonder, and hope. I felt myself shaking. Stunned with relief and joy, I dialed the number to talk to the clinic. A nurse told me that the test result was good and encouraging and that it was to be repeated in few days to check the level of the pregnancy hormones again. The feeling of triumph I had experienced for a few instants suddenly turned into a sense of doubt and fear. There was no certainty that the pregnancy would go on. No assurance that everything would be all right. No guarantee that the struggle would be over.

The second test confirmed the first and an early pregnancy ultra-sound scanning detected the presence of a gestational sac and a positive heartbeat. While my husband showed his dad-to-be enthusiasm by commenting about the embryo dimension and potential, even though he had never seen another one before, I was stuck, frozen in my thoughts of potential loss. When we left the gynecologist office, I could clearly remember only one sentence that the doctor had said, the only one to which I had given importance: “This is just the beginning, the first trimester is the most at risk”. For many days, I felt miserable, powerless, at the mercy of fate. But then I got sick of it. The role of the victim, well, it just does not fit me. Or at least, it soon makes me bored.

Rebirths are so much more exciting than paranoia. Furthermore, a new life was growing inside my womb careless of everything but cell division and development. I had invited that life to come to me so many times, I had focused on it with such a strong desire, and now there it was, there with me, there with us. That was our present reality. Was it worth sacrificing it for fear of what could have followed? Absolutely not. I firmly decided that I would value every single day of my pregnancy as a miracle itself. A few months later, I can claim that was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was the beginning of a marvelous adventure.

I immediately went back to my daily meditation practice. To me, meditation is the easiest way to relax, to recharge and to connect to my deeper self. I soon found out that when sitting still in silence with my eyes closed and repeating my mantra and the sutras, I was no longer alone. It was me and my baby, connected with each other and bathed in peace. Even before the fetus started quickening, I felt that the two of us were engaged in an exclusive relationship. Although I could not name it nor define it, I knew it was changing me. Pregnancy has a lot to do with change and transformation. I chose not to oppose the process. Instead, I observed it with curiosity as my mood, my thoughts, my feelings and my body changed over the months. The earliest signs of pregnancy included mood swings, tiredness, nausea and changes in appetite.

Honestly, years of painful menstruation associated with irritability have trained me to handle mood swings quite well. I explained to my husband that I needed him to be patient because the attempt to have control over my explosive emotions just made me feel worse. We started a habit to make jokes about it. Not during the crisis, of course, but even the most harrowing drama no longer feels that way once the storm has passed.

I already knew that taking long walks at the park calmed me down and had a powerful effect on my energy level. I decided I would go out for a walk every day, even on cold, rainy, or snowy days. When possible, I favored unpaved routes and stopped to hug the trees along the way. I looked at my feet resting on their roots, at the roots anchored to the ground, and I enjoyed a feeling of belonging to the Earth. I admired the variety of branches and the shape of the leaves. I downloaded an app to help me identify plants and I took pictures outdoor. As my belly grew, sharing my experiences with the baby inside became more natural. Talking and singing to the baby became a joy.

When my siblings and I were little, our mother used to sing us to sleep. Not even the complexities of the troubled mother-daughter relationship that later occurred between us could undermine the sense of familiarity and belonging created by that routine. I realized that pieces of those songs were still part of my memory. I searched on the internet for them and dusted them off. I searched for new ones to increase my repertoire. My husband and I recorded our favorites with our cell phones to send them to relatives and friends via WhatsApp. Responses to our initiative made us feel like being part of a tribe. We loved that feeling of shared fellowship. I often listened to classical music, especially piano music by Mozart and Chopin. The music by Italian biologist and composer Emiliano Toso also offered us peaceful loving moments of relax.

Now, this might be getting a little bit too much oriented toward spirituality. The last thing I want would be to give the idea that I spent my pregnancy feeding myself and the little creature only on transcendence. I did not. I rather paid a lot of attention to the food I ate. I made it sure to get enough nutrients, enough water, enough sleep. I took in account that, for our wellbeing, I needed to limit my commitments and to get more rest; that my body would gain weight and that it would look different; that the time would come for birth and I wanted to prepare for it.

Every pregnancy is different and so is every birth. A woman can not have total control over the experiences of making a baby and of giving birth. My way to motherhood taught me a lot about patience and acceptance. I developed varicose veins. The vascular condition required me to wear compression stockings all day long. To me, walking barefoot has always been a great pleasure of life. I have always worn loose-fitting clothes made of natural fabrics. Compression stockings made me feel so uncomfortable that for several weeks I woke up unhappy at the idea of pulling them up. Little by little I became more skilled in wearing them, and as soon as I ascertained that they really improved leg circulation, I just made peace with them.

While attempting to turn varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and water retention into opportunities to enlarge my concept of taking care of myself, my husband and I also had to ask ourselves what kind of birth we wanted. We read a lot and made it sure to have access to different points of view. We finally decided that our home would be the best place for me to give birth. Planning a home birth was an amazing journey. We met skilled midwifes, we took birthing classes and we got to know expectant parents with whom to share doubts, concerns, and suggestions. We learned about the physiology of labor and birth, about establishing breastfeeding, about the advantages of co-sleeping. We challenged our previous beliefs and we welcomed with gratitude the possibility to make the decisions that best suited our needs.

The pregnancy is now close to term. The last nine months have flown by. But, at the same time, pregnancy has been a rich time for self-exploration, for partner bonding and to get ready… for the unknown. With only a few certainties: I want to take care of myself, I want to radiate well-being, I want to nurture joy, fullness and love. Will I be able to keep such clarity during labor, after a sleepless night, or when the time for a long shower becomes a mirage? I probably will not. But it does not matter, I will not need to be perfect. Also, I will not be alone. I will ask for help when I need it. I trust my instincts, I trust my tribe and I trust my baby. I trust my competence and I trust their competence. The baby will be born any moment now. I am ready for the leap. Nothing will ever be the same again. Oh yeah, that is exactly what I mean by “EVOLUTION”!

Kiara G.
Transcendental Meditation

Emiliano Toso
Positive Birth

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