Friday, 29 July 2016

Baby Kicks

I heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time last week - it sounded like a steam train! It was a magical moment. But feeling the baby move for the first time was probably the most incredible part of the week. Initially I thought it was just my stomach digesting all the food I'd eaten :) but soon it became clear they were little punches and kicks from inside. 

Experiencing first sensations of baby kicking
With each day and each milestone I feel more connection and more love for this baby. Its quite amazing how much I can sense myself changing and growing more protective of this tiny being in my belly. 

I'm also finally feeling healthy and happy again. The first few months have been pretty traumatic... morning sickness, headaches, parasites, but the worst part was feeling completely unstable - emotionally and energetically. Since April my world has turned upside down and I've had to totally change my perspective and attitude. Just assimilating all the new information that had been thrown at me (along with those wonderful pregnancy hormones) took its toll. 

People have understandably been asking me what I'm going to do, where I'm going to live, how do I plan to raise this baby...? The answer is "I don't know!" But I do know that I will figure it out. I have had to start over from zero a few times now and the one thing I know I have is strength...

I have experienced depression before, much like many people I know, and struggled through it on my own. Then last year I went through a period of having crippling anxiety attacks, brought on by lots of small things that when piled together created a mountain of stress that I just couldn't climb. Blackouts, heart palpitations, nausea and shaking were all coming up on a daily basis for me to deal with. Not fun.

During both these periods I felt like a failure. I thought I was weak to be unable to deal with... life! I felt ashamed and alone. Luckily this time I sought the help of a talk therapist who worked with me so that I could see that I wasn't weak at all. As I wrote down all the things that had happened over the last couple of years she showed me that people who experience anxiety actually have enormous strength and resilience. We have been able to cope with so much that we have broken through the ceiling of our capacity for stress, and flipped a switch in our brain to make our bodies react physically to the smallest of things. 

I think this is the body's way of telling us to take a giant step back and take the lid off the pressure cooker! Be kinder to ourselves - we are NOT machines! As someone who works with energy for healing, I also believe that illnesses like depression and anxiety can occur when our flow of energy is blocked and is not being channelled effectively. When we stifle ourselves by focusing on what we "should" be doing, rather than what we WANT to do.

I am so lucky to have the support of my parents, which has allowed me to take the pressure off myself and really process everything. I've been able to be gentle and kind to myself without (too much) guilt. My body, mind and spirit needed time, love and kindness to prepare... Although I have felt a change in me since the moment I saw the little peanut, it has taken time for me to catch up with my body.

As I write this I am being pummelled from the inside by my unborn baby. Sometimes these baby kicks make me jump they are so strong! The midwife mentioned I might start feeling flutterings like butterflies in my tummy when the baby starts to move... butterflies my arse! :)

Now that's a butterfly :)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Magic Lesson

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Roald Dahl

Coming back to the UK and reconnecting with old friends has warmed my heart and reminded me of my roots, my journey before the "Quest" really began. I may have only lived in Central America for 8 months, but it's impact has been profound, and effected me in ways that I know I am yet to comprehend. During that time I had the opportunity to live among people who accepted me and my beliefs, without mocking, judgment or criticism. It was pretty special.

Special people :)

Since I've been back I've seen how frustrated, sceptical and tired people have become. Politically, environmentally, economically and spiritually. But I'm also seeing some people coming to the realisation that they're not here to just pay bills then die. There's so much more to this thing called life and it's time to believe in MAGIC again. The magic of the inherent goodness and wisdom of humanity. The media has us believing otherwise, but it's there if you're willing to see it.

Since my last post I've had so many people reach out to me offering their love and support... People I haven't seen or spoken to in years! I am truly touched by their compassion and kindness. I feel held. As my expanding belly grows inch by inch, day by day, the passage of time seems more tangible than ever before. With each day I also have a choice - I can either be afraid of the unknown future of the life unfolding ahead of me, or I can accept and embrace it moment by moment for the unique experience that it is, and be thankful. How I choose to respond to the world around me changes my experience of it.

My changing body from Week 10 to 15
Deep down I think most people know that things need to change. And it's a choice we need to make because the change starts with us. Yes, when we live outside, or even on the edge of, our comfort zone we will come up against challenges, which are really just opportunities for growth. They may seem tough, but these challenges increase and enrich our experiences, making us stronger and wiser.

I once heard a young boy say, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space!" I kind of agree with him... because living on the edge means taking chances. Safety is comfortable but nothing changes as we become stifled by habit, and fearful of things that are different. And since space is inextricably linked to time, you're also wasting that :)

Henry Adams said; "Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit." So chaos may actually be necessary for larger scale changes to arise. And there has always been chaos; it doesn't necessarily precede a fall and good things come out of it too... Like new life!

Being pregnant has changed me already. I used to struggle with my own sense of femininity, always feeling like I wasn't quite womanly enough. This was something I had been working on, knowing it was all about self-perception. But since this baby has come into my life that struggle seems to have disappeared. I'm yet to fully understand why, but maybe its partly because I'm in awe. I'm in awe of how my female body just KNOWS what to do and does it. It shows me that we are all here to fulfil a purpose and, no matter what that purpose is, our bodies know how to do that... WE know how to do that. Its chemical, biological, physical. We all know how it FEELS when something is right, or wrong - normally its somewhere in the gut. More often than not my body knows before my mind, and all I ever needed to do was believe and trust in these magical feelings.

I've decided I'm going to make the most of every moment, every inch and every sensation. There will always be someone out there who wishes they had the things that I have - my experiences, my opportunities. So I'm going to surrender to the chaos and enjoy the magic show!

Friday, 1 July 2016

Life Unfolding

This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done... and its only going to get harder.

Most of my first trimester was spent in Guatemala, where I not only had to deal with the idea of being pregnant, but battle the intestinal parasites I'd contracted whilst handling the constant nausea, fatigue, dizziness and mood swings of pregnancy. There was also the small matter of the Zika virus being prevalent in Guatemala, and with the rainy season here there were more mosquitos, and therefore, more of a threat of infection. So I left my home at the lake and headed to my parents home in England, where I could get healthy.

An English country garden

My Mum and Dad have been phenomenal - I am so lucky and could not ask for better parents. Although, what I didn't expect was this sense of guilt... I feel bad every time they tell one of their friends that I'm pregnant and then have to try and explain the whole situation. It seems unfair that because I'm not married or in a serious relationship we aren't met with an automatic look of joy and "Congratulations" when delivering the news. Yes, things are complicated but that doesn't mean this is a tragedy.

Of course, it can feel like a tragedy from time to time. Right now my best option is to live with my parents in the town I grew up in, yet have no close friends to call my own. I have no job and no savings. And despite all the kind words of love and support I've received from friends and family around the world since my last blog post, I have never felt more alone. I don't know anyone who is or has been in my position... who could possibly understand and relate to what I'm going through? I've gone from wild travelling woman, to ideal candidate for the Jerry Springer show!

Reading pregnancy and birthing books doesn't help because they all talk about how your partner can make everything easier. From birthing classes to emotional support - everywhere I look I am being told that I can't do this on my own. Even my old friend Ayurveda has turned against me, emphasising the great need for the mother to be surrounded by the love and care of her partner!

Summer reading

With all these pregnancy hormones swirling around inside me its hard not to break into tears when I start contemplating my situation in more detail. I get even more emotional when I think about how my feelings might affect the baby. The books tell me, "your baby receives physiological support from you on a continuous basis and also picks up on all your feelings. So when you feel loved and supported by your partner, so does your baby, absorbing all your endorphins." (Dr Gowri Motha) Great. Knowing that sends me into a downward spiral feeling like I'm letting my baby down by getting upset and stressed, and negatively affecting it on a physical level as well...

At times like these I reach out to a couple of very dear friends for words of wisdom and comfort to pull me back from the brink. I am so incredibly lucky to have some amazing women in my life who have truly been there for me, loving me and holding space for me, even at a distance. You know who you are :)

There are times when I wish that I didn't believe that this is my calling, and that an abortion was an option. But even saying those words hurts my heart. I cannot and will not ignore the feelings I have for this baby.

Last week I had a scan at the hospital. My Mum and Dad excitedly came with me, but in the end I decided to go into the ultrasound room on my own. I wanted this experience all to myself :) As the sonographer pressed into my belly through the icy cold gel, I saw it... It was a real baby! No longer just a grey peanut, but a bouncing (literally!) little baby. I saw its tiny feet and hands and as it wriggled around I felt its contentment. Maybe I'm doing an alright job afterall...

Baby at 14 weeks

After measuring the baby it was dated at 14 weeks, making my official due date Christmas Day. Talk about a gift!

Its funny when I think back to the beginning of my Central American adventure, and how I'd asked the Universe for "life-changing love". And instead of falling in love and finding a partner to change my life, I fell pregnant and will getting a baby for Christmas. The Universe has an interesting way of delivering exactly what you want, it just may not come about how you had envisioned! You can't get more life-changing than becoming a mother.

"... you might have tried to stack the odds to make the arrival of babies more or less likely to occur. Yet new life still arises or doesn't for undecipherable reasons. You cannot decide exactly when the sun shines and plants grow. So too, you can't control the flow of universal consciousness. All you can do is trust in life unfolding as it is." Naomi Chunilal

(Reading list consists of The Mindful Mother by Naomi Chunilal, Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin and Gentle Birth Method by Dr Gowri Motha)