Awaiting conception/Awaiting labor: Thoughts inspired by Heng Ou's "Awakening Fertility"
Updated: May 19, 2020
“For a woman to be ready to fall pregnant she will already have balance and joy in all areas of her health and life...she is at peace regardless of outcome, she has fulfillment and purpose in life already, her relationships are happy and joyful and she lives in a state of ease and flow.”-quote of Lauren Curtain from the book, Awakening Fertility.
The authors describe this rich state of being as “blooming.” Sadly, it is a common experience for many couples to grow discouraged when they are struggling to conceive, producing anxiety that is directly at odds with this concept of “blooming.” Interestingly, but not surprisingly, a “blooming” mindset (and heart-set) is also optimal for that final stage of pregnancy when moms are usually anxious for labor to start. There are many reasons to feel anxious at this stage: Discomforts typically increase in the final trimester such as increased difficulty sleeping, back pain, maybe even some aggressive jabs from baby, among many other nuisances. Along with these challenges, the common practice of scheduling inductions at 41 weeks increases pressure for those who desire to go into labor spontaneously. And quite simply, many parents are just anxious to meet their baby face to face after what can feel like the longest 9 months ever.
While the time leading up to conception is the period in which to “bloom,” the time before birth is the period to “ripen.” We actually refer to the “ripening” of the cervix as one of the top signs that labor is soon to come. Nature is full of helpful metaphors. A fruit tree that is planted in well maintained soil and the right environment will blossom (fertility potential). The soil is a metaphor for our whole self-body, mind, and spirit. Self care includes eating clean, nourishing foods, tending to our thoughts, and feelings, and surrendering to what will be. (For the authors of the book, that is something you can find within yourself alone.) This care must continue as the blossom turns into a hard little green fruit (conception) that slowly matures over the course of the season (gestation). You will see signs that the fruit is getting close to that perfect ripeness, the ideal time for baby to be born, but the exact day will remain a mystery, just as it is a mystery when you will conceive a child.
I believe that trusting in Divine timing is key to finding that peace and balance which the writer describes. While I am passionate about the inner work/journey heralded in Awakening Fertility, personally, I find, that attempting such disciplined self-care and surrender (no easy tasks!) can sometimes leave us feeling like depleted failures if our foundation isn't strong. As much as we know the harm of stress and anxiety in our lives, (especially around our longing to be mothers, or the safety of our pregnancies/births) thinking about ridding ourselves of the stress that is the culprit of so many problems will likely start the vicious cycle of stress and anxiety all over again. The book offers great insight on how to come to the beautiful, blossoming state of gratitude, contentment, and acceptance with the present moment. Accepting what is out of our control is huge, but that does not necessarily lead to this deep sense of contentment where we can have peace in the unknown. The authors seem to acknowledge that seeking to find all of this within ourselves alone may not be sufficient: they write, "You are one facet of a cosmic whole...your body exists in a constantly shifting but harmonious relationship with the greater rhythms of light and dark and of sun and moon." While this picture of harmony in nature is beautiful, and I'm sure many find a great deal of peace in it, it seems to me a rather weak foundation. Can you surrender your life, the deep longings of your heart to an ideal or a principle? Yes, I'm biased. I have known so much peace and contentment and trust through faith in a God who loves deeply and personally, who cares about our lives and our pain. Nature, in all it's majesty does not care about the pain and fear of struggling to conceive or the anxiety of when and how childbirth will unfold.
I believe a great deal of healing and considerable freedom can result from the practices the book explores, but ultimately how do you gain peace that passes understanding, come what may? How do we blossom and ripen in the beauty of who we are created to be as women and mothers? The scriptures are also full of nature metaphors. My life mantra is Psalm 1. I will be like a tree, firmly planted by streams of living water, bearing fruit in its season. Jesus called Himself the living water. Here is a picture of harmony in nature with the Creator. He is the life source: resting in Him produces joy, peace, patience, hope...all the things that can be so difficult to grasp and hold onto, that make us feel more alive. Your desire for more life to come forth is beautiful. When you are in the hoping and yearning phase, it’s helpful to take a few steps back from your daily tasks and habits, and see the beauty of hope in the not yet. To even weep at the beauty of it with God. I truly hope with you for the beauty that will be as you reach for peace and joy right now.