It took me a while to get past my mistrust of pregnancy. After all, miscarriage is so common, and we are no more deserving of a healthy child than anyone else, so of course something would inevitably go wrong and in the meantime I'll just resist it. Yes, these are the fucked up things I told myself. Being the vessel is no joke people.
Alongside my doomsday attitude came a plethora of internal dialogue about my ability to be a parent, my willingness to “part with” my current life, and (my personal favourite) SHAME about how I was sofuckingtired in the beginning, didn’t care too much about eating very well, and definitely had no jam to train and move my body like I had been just a few weeks prior. These thoughts were also quickly followed with further shame spiral and analysis: “Who the hell do you think you are getting upset about being pregnant? Girl, people try for YEARS to get pregnant [myself included] or can't at all and here you are beating yourself up about not working out. Get over yourself.” Not helpful. And here’s some more truth: that internal chatter was not new. These are things I was telling myself unconsciously, constantly. All the time. “OMG I just ate candy. I lead people in fitness and I HAD CANDY. I know better. I’m not setting the right example. God, I hope they don’t find me out. They will know I am a fraud.”
And I still do struggle with these thoughts, often. I am human, and I am finding ways to mitigate this chatter, and have found some tools and strategies to help me change my mindset about pregnancy (and approach life in general). And I’m still learning, always.
Perhaps the worst and best part about all of this experience was that I was fully aware of all of it. And yet it persisted. As a coach, my current knowledge, skill, and the tools in my toolkit alone were not helping. I could feel that I was being called to find my own teachers and that there was something to be learned within this experience. I was also so over how I was feeling that I was more than willing to take the time to commit to shifting.
There has always been something in stillness/yoga/meditation/spiritual practice that I have been drawn to. I got clear very quickly that my mind and body were disconnected and I wanted to re-aligned that circuitry to not only get in a better head space for myself, but more importantly to connect with the tiny human now growing inside me. I was craving calm and something to shut up the endless bullshit rattling around in my head. I also knew I needed to accept that pregnancy is full of things you cannot control and that I had to loosen my grip on it to get to that place of peace. This was not a problem I was going to think my way out of. In fact, it wasn’t a “problem” at all. This was an opportunity to slow down, let life flow, and flow with life for a while.
Here’s where I looked for support, and what I have learned and applied so far:
You can believe in hustle AND flow. I listened to this podcast, and for the first time really understood that there are times to run and there are times to chill. I now give myself permission to chill way more often. After all, growing a human takes a lot of energy!
The antidote for fear and doubt is TRUST. This is an igolu (now Lightyear Leadership) tool that I needed to be reminded of. I have always had an innate trust in the universe to work things out as they should and rarely force my way through things. However, the fear I was feeling about being pregnant had eroded that trust and I just needed to remind myself to surrender and trust trust trust.
I wanted to feel a sense of home. I set up a coaching call with the incredible Jacki Carr to move through some of the places I was feeling stuck and let go of a lot of resentment I had built up. The past few years my husband and I were hustling to get businesses off the ground, always either looking back to keep ourselves from making the same mistakes or looking forward to plan what we were doing next. We were rarely living in the present moment. We were in the rat race and it was creating a wedge in our relationship that I was ready to remove. Jacki helped me to identify that I wanted to feel at home: in my environment, in my relationship, and in my own body. Which to me, really meant being wrapped up in safety, comfort, compassion, love. Once I had this new perspective, I went into action creating a more peaceful physical environment in my home (crystals, essential oils, keeping things tidy), communicating differently with my husband, and communicating differently with myself (hello self-compassion!).
Crystals make for accountability. In the work to shift my environment and after listening to this podcast, I went full hippie and hit up the closest a gem shop and bought myself a rose quartz (a stone of compassion and love). I am not sure whether I feel any differently when I hold it or if it really impacts the energy in my house (I’m trusting that it is!), but its physical presence alone is a reminder. I’ll see it and remember to take the time to sit with it for a few moments, set intentions for self-love and compassion for myself and others, and more specifically, for me to soften into my pregnancy and connect with my growing baby.
Affirmations and mantras work for me. I have heard many people share their own personal mantras and affirmations and thought “ooh, good one”, but I usually forget them immediately, and when I got to sit down with myself to conjure one up, I have struggled to find one that fits. With the reminder to “flow”, I finally landed on “I am flowing with life” – with double meaning: I am going with the flow, surrendering and trusting that things will unfold as they should AND I am literally flowing with life inside of me to nurture and grow my baby boy. [If you're looking for some help with mantra's this book and website have a ton of great resources]
Rigid rituals are not for me. Once I started intentionally seeking out some guidance with how to get my mind right, I became aware of my tendency to want to make a “checklist” for self-care/health. As a goal-oriented person, this has been something I have done many times before. I had a list in my phone of “daily practices” and I found that it actually wasn’t keeping me accountable. If anything, as the list grew, it became more overwhelming and nearly impossible to complete everything in a day and I ended up feeling like a failure. Ironic, no?
On one of the Almost 30 Podcasts they were discussing relationships with food, and one of the girls said her biggest strategy to eat more healthfully was to ask herself “what do I really need?” I loved this simple practice because 1) when I think I need candy, I usually just need to snuggle ;) and 2) I have started to use this question as a prompt whenever I am feeling anxious, tired, hungry – pretty much at any point when I am about to make a choice – to help me make the best choice possible for myself at any given moment, not just as part of my “morning ritual”. This has allowed for flexibility in my self-care practice to happen whenever and wherever I need it (which is definitely not always in the morning), has helped me make better food choices, resulted in less petty arguments, more exercising, and I have a much more calm and collected demeanour, if I do say so myself.
I was hesitant to share any of this experience as it was happening because I was so in it that I would have rambled on incoherently. With the exception of conversations with close friends, I went a bit into hiding with the whole experience. I wanted to sort my shit out and get some semblance of clarity before trying to articulate it. So I’m sharing this now from a clearer place of calm, hoping that others feeling stuck may find some inspiration and maybe even some strategies to help get themselves out of the weeds. I also love learning and hearing about new theories, perspectives and strategies related to all things health & wellness (which extends so much farther out than the physical!), so please feel free to reach out and share! firstname.lastname@example.org