Letting go

A few newsletters ago I wrote about the importance of HOW we prepare for something. It made me think of birth “preparation” and what is really most useful for us to practice in pregnancy.

What one thing do I wish I’d prepared more for birth? Not my knowledge on every single eventuality, but my ability to relinquish control over exactly what happened and when. What kind of birth I had. How I experienced sensations. How long it lasted. And everything beyond birth - how to be better at letting go of being in charge of everything.

Preparation to allow myself to stay strong in my centre and know that sometimes I am better served by surrendering to feelings and sensations or a turn of events, rather than trying to change them.

To remember the “preparation” was more a set of tools to serve me whatever happened rather than a means to influence exactly what happened.

Which is a REALLY hard lesson to learn. Of course we want to be in control. Of course we want to influence outcomes.

It's a huge psychological and/or spiritual shift for many of us. No wonder so many of us (me included) hold onto the idea that, in birth, our hard work and breathing practice and visualisations will definitely “work” (actually a lot of the time they may well “work”, as long as by work we mean help to ground us in the moment, to remember we’re not doing anything wrong, that all feelings are valid).

For those of us who have survived thus far by generally feeling in control of things, birth can be a major challenge in which we feel truly unmoored.

It can feel scary to consider that we might have less control than in other scenarios in life. But so much better to be relatively prepared as we become parents.

This is the stuff I wish I'd started to think about in pregnancy. Motherhood is in many ways the biggest of all gifts and it's also a huge challenge where our ability to exert control over the minutes and hours in our day is frequently much reduced. I am a firm believer that all of this makes us grow as individuals, but also that we need to recognise it for the challenge it can be.

It's why time away from our kids, when we only have ourselves to look after, is so vital, so we can reset to come back to the all-consuming state of motherhood. It's why getting those micro-moments to pause can sustain us until we can take a longer exhale. It’s very hard when we don’t have the support we need, and our society creates a frequently lonely experience of parenting.

I whisper “you’ve got this” to myself sometimes, but I understand that phrase differently now. It doesn’t mean “you’re in charge”. It means: you can withstand this hard thing and the experience of not being able to steer it in the direction you want. Everything passes and this is one moment of many.

And I take a long, soft breath in and out. I look to a point when I can sink into bed or a hot bath, by myself! I feel my feet firmly on the ground.