Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Beyond
My entire adult life I spent paranoid, doing everything I could, not to get pregnant. My parents were young when they were married and I came around 6 months after their wedding day, so it was pretty obvious that I was not planned and the horrors I heard about becoming pregnant without trying, really could come true. (They have been married for thirty years, three kids later, so I hope they forgive me for writing so candidly about their humble beginnings, but really anyone can do the math...)
Now as a responsible, married, self-aware adult close to thirty, I thought all I had to do was say ‘OK I am ready’ and WHAM, a baby…
Of course I am realizing this really isn’t the case, and after my first experience becoming pregnant, and then having a miscarriage, I started to doubt my body's ability to do the one thing I have been hoping for my entire life.
I have wanted to be a mom since I can remember. Growing up, I thought being a mom would be the best job in the world. My mom WAS my world and I wanted to love something as much as she loved me. I remember as a child responding to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I told the adult I wanted to be a mom and their follow up question of, “Well that is nice, but what do you want to do for a job?” I was so confused, that is a job, right?
As I grew older I started denying that I ever wanted to have kids, since it was clear in my mind that you could either have a career, or be a really good mom. Most of all, I wanted to do it the ‘right’ way. No judgment to anyone and their family situation, it was just drilled into my head to wait until marriage to have a family.
I remember feeling such a sigh of relief, a sense of ‘I made it’ when I was happily married without kids. Then shortly after that, still no kids, you think – CRAP something is wrong with me! Why did I spend so much time completely paranoid?
Pregnancy is a CRAZY thing! We just think it is ‘normal’ since that is the way we all came to be. Once I really started reading up on the subject, it is actually much more time sensitive, with only a few days a month that can produce the end result of a baby. Then if you can line things up perfectly, and become pregnant, there is still a 30% chance things might not work out in the first 10 weeks.
Now this is certainly not an essay to encourage people that are not ready to have children to care a little less about something so important. Milwaukee’s teenage birth rate is one of the highest in the nation and I do not mean to belittle an incredibly important decision. Rather I hope to reach out to the women and men that are ready to start a family and struggling with miscarriage or pregnancy in general.
Miscarriages suck. I don’t care how far along you are, it is one of the worst feeling in the world. It is physically draining, and mentally you fear something is wrong with your body, your partner has no clue what to do or say, and you pretty much just feel like crap.
Once I built up the courage, I told a few friends, and suddenly I found out about so many other people had experienced the same thing. So why are we so silent? I understand it would be dreadful to have someone share their good news with you and for you to say, “Be careful, this is what happened to me...” But why do we feel it is best to keep silent if it happens to us?
This blog is a way for me to break the silence, start a dialog, and give people tools to work through their own loss. We all need a way to feel better and let go of any guilt, shame, and worry for the future.
So this is where yoga comes in to play –
There are many valuable parts of our yoga practice that can help someone return to their body after a miscarriage, and that can even help a partner process their unspoken worries and fears.
Breath – Our breath is the most critical tool we have to let go of our mind dwelling in the past or reaching into the future.
Use your breath to become more present. You can take a simple mantra – ‘peace in/peace out’ as you breathe. To de-stress I love Kaki Pranayama – exhale out of your mouth through an imaginary straw. This forces us to exhale a bit slower, telling our body we are safe and it is OK to relax.
Getting Back to your Body – Take any asana/physical pose practice nice and slow. Feel each part of your body as it moves in and out of the pose. Make sure you focus on the parts in your body where you carry tension – your neck, jaw, shoulders, hips. Find poses to relax. Maybe start to heat things up, taking more active poses, but slow with the intention to connect with your body.
Intentions – This is where the powerful magic of our yoga practice happens, but it is best to be set at the beginning of our practice and revisited as we work through our physical practice, and really let it go of it all at the end. Think about what is really hurting, you might feel a tremendous loss, you might feel it is your fault (it isn’t at all, but know it is OK to feel however you want to feel). Create your intention from there. “I move past my hurt, and my pain, to find forgiveness and strength.” Revisit this intention in between every standing series, and change your intention as you need until you can pull back the layers and let something else go.
Lastly, let yoga serve as a tool for you through your pregnancy/adoption, and parenthood.
Becoming a parent is one of the biggest, most amazing commitments you can make. It takes tremendous energy and care to be a nourishing parent, and for that, it is essential to nourish yourself as well. Find the time for breath work, get into your body, and set your own intentions. Your children will thank you for it.