Yes. Yes. Yes.
My first pregnancy was blissful, until I developed a weird rash on the right side of my belly a week before my due date. At first I thought it was a spider bite, and went straight to a local walk-in clinic. The doc took one look and said, “Staph.” He prescribed one of the few antibiotics safe for pregnancy, and gave me a very stern talking to about the risks of my baby being exposed to the infection. I left my bliss in his office. All of my confidence drained out, replaced by fear. Visions of cuddling skin-to-skin with my sweet new born morphed into visions of protecting her from certain infection, switching soft blankets for a body condom… my anxiety went through the roof.
After a few days, the antibiotics didn’t diminish the rash, and I made an appointment with my dermatologist. I love her. She is smart, quirky and wears wicked-cool glasses. I lifted my shirt and dumped out my fears, which, as it turns out, had very little to do with the rash. My fears were about the gravity of what was about to happen to my body, to my marriage, to my identity, to my life. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t do this. She smiled at me, and looking me right in the eyes, said, “You are so strong. You’re going to be just fine.”
Sweet relief. I walked out of there with a diagnosis of contact dermatitis, a sample of cream that cleared it up completely, and a renewed sense of strength that can only come from the words of another strong woman who has been there. Her voice made all the difference.
I was unburdened. A few nights later, I gave birth to my daughter. Looking back, I am amazed at how penetrating these two experiences were. I saw myself as a force, and my standard motto for most things, including birth, was “bring it ON.” It startled me when the first doctor’s fear-based approach obliterated my confidence, and days later the simple words of encouragement from my dermatologist restored it completely. To be a parent, you have to be a bit insane, and a bit stable. And since you’re in a constant state of change and flux, you’re naturally more susceptible to the feedback around you. The messages you expose yourself to during your preparation for the arrival of a baby can make a huge difference in your ability to access your strength.
When I recall the moments in my life when I felt the strongest and most resourceful, it was at the births of my two children. Other things that feel challenging wither when I compare them to that power. That you are even contemplating taking on responsibility for a life means that you are innately strong and capable. Remember that no matter what your birth story winds up being or was, you made a person, you brought or are about to bring a person out into the world, or you’ve chosen to adopt a baby and add a sweet life to your family. Nothing can diminish this, absolutely nothing. You are strong. You can do this. And if you already did this, DAMN. You did this.
BPP Sanity Savers:
- Be mindful of the way you talk to yourself while preparing for your baby. Be gentle and encouraging.
- Surround yourself with positive friends and family members who bring out the best in you.
- Remember that your strength transcends the arrival of your baby – it is always with you.
Here’s to Strength and Sanity,