The Waiting Game...

Patience has never been a virtue of mine. I knew when I got pregnant that this would be my greatest challenge, as forty weeks is a long time to wait for such a gift! Despite my best efforts, I have had many moments of impatience, wishing the time away not just to get to the end result, but also to move beyond the uncertain or scary parts of pregnancy.  First, we were waiting with anticipation for the nausea to finally dissipate in the first trimester, and with trepidation to move beyond the early stages when miscarriages happen. Then, it was waiting with excitement for the 20-week ultrasound to discover the gender, and with anxiety as Baby's development was scrutinized. Now, we are waiting to deliver a real, live baby! It has been nine months of eagerly awaiting the joy of meeting our child, as well as hoping for an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy and baby.

Through it all, I focused on my practice to help me stay tethered to the Now, because what is patience if not being present and available in this moment? My asana practice reminded me of, and helped me accept with grace, the miracle occurring in my physical body, while my restorative and meditation practice helped me remain focused on my breath. The breath for me is the simplest, most expedient way to reign in my wild and turbulent mind. However, I must admit the last few weeks have seen a decline in these practices as downward facing dog becomes less comfortable, and my dedication to sitting still for meditation has waned. Naturally, because I am not practicing, I have become irritable, fearful and, of course, very impatient.

Jon Kabat-Zinn says "scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It's the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it." These words ring true for me, as I think of the many times in the last two weeks I have irrationally reacted with anger and irritation when challenges were presented - at the person who sat next to me and lit a cigarette, at the person driving erratically, at the long line in the grocery store..... things that might have annoyed me slightly before are causing extremely angry reactions now, all because my fascination with being pregnant has been replaced with just wanting to have this baby already! I am suffering from a "I want what I want when and how I want it" phase, and the results are less than positive. A few days ago, I decided something needed to be done, and when I took stock of what was happening both mentally and physically, I saw that in allowing myself to feel impatient, I was missing out on a very special time. These are the last few days that my husband and I will be together as a couple. While we are obviously thrilled to be growing our family, never again will things be as simple as they are now. Why not enjoy these moments?

Luckily, Bradford has time off right now, and we are using this time to be with, and appreciate, each other. This might not be a traditional 'practice', but we are practicing the skills of one-pointed focus and gratitude by cooking together, lounging on the couch, talking, working on the house, going out for dinner, seeing friends.... all things that will become infinitely more complicated when our baby arrives. Each moment now seems precious, irreplaceable, and sacred, not to be rushed through or wished away. I am learning (thank you, Jon Kabat-Zinn) that "through it all, we attempt to bring balance to the present moment, understanding that in patience lies wisdom, knowing that what will come next will be determined in large measure by how we are now." In other words, why would I want time to move more quickly, knowing that when our baby is born, all I will want is for time to stand still? In appreciating each moment now, I am practicing how to be a present and awake parent.

At 38-weeks, Baby is full-term and could come any time. Bradford and I are finding the balance between being prepared and going with the flow... though he shows his impatience in his eagerness to time every practice contraction I have! We are learning to be content, santosa as it is called in yoga. For me, I cultivate this by taking deep breaths whenever I feel the turbulence threatening to take over my peaceful mind, taking my cue from B.K.S. Iyengar. "Contentment in the yogic sense of lasting and stable harmony, is encountered through the practice of pranayama, which conquers in its turn the active (rajasic) nature of the mind and makes possible a practice that is both zealous and sustained," Iyengar tells us. He describes the inhalation as making room for what is good, and the exhalation as the expansion of the soul, which leaves us with quiet, grounded insight. Let this practice take root in me, that I may not be "blown off course" despite complications, challenges and the unexpected problems that come with being a mother. Let me appreciate the wonder and joy in every moment that I have with my daughter.

I have always loved Walt Whitman, and this passage in Leaves of Grass perfectly describes my intention for the next two weeks of this pregnancy:

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness,

I can wait. 


Surviving Pregnancy, Sense of Humor in Tact

Utthita Parsvakonasana, with baby bump. 
A few suggestions for expectant mothers....

1. Pick the right partner. This may or may not be the person who knocked you up. A few gems my husband has come up with: "Poor you" (in response to any complaint, groan or sigh... immediately, I know I have his sympathy, and I can move on). "Honey, from behind you don't look pregnant at all!" Make sure your partner says this to you at least twice a week, and mean it.

2. Disregard all criticisms regarding your eating/drinking/exercise habits, your choices about what kind of labor/delivery you intend to have and all other well-meaning but unsolicited pieces of advice you receive. Especially if said advice comes from someone who's never been pregnant before or is a supermodel. Only you and your caregiver have a right to make decisions about what is best for your pregnancy.

3. On that note, blame everything on your caregivers' suggestions.... "My doctor is insisting that I nap at least an hour a day," "My doula said ice cream is really good for me," or "My midwife recommended a half glass of wine every now and again to help me sleep" will silence the loudest critic.

4. Decide that your job is to remain relatively stress-free. Let your doctor panic about the unusual test results or unclear ultrasound reading. Let your partner worry about hospital routes and car seats. Let your family figure out amongst themselves who gets to visit the baby first. Your one task is to grow a healthy baby, which is hard to do when you are anxious.

5. Remember: there is no one right way to do anything, including this. Besides abstaining from drugs, smoking and heavy drinking, there are no absolutes on how to have a healthy pregnancy. Eat well, take a walk every now and again, sleep as much as you can and let go of everything else.

Here are some things I have relied on for education, entertainment or comfort...

Books: Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
            Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
                    ~These books are honest about childbirth without inducing fear.
Laura Mercier Fresh Fig Bubble Bath and Lotion
~Terribly expensive, but the light scent won't irritate sensitive pregnant noses. So luxurious!
Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Foundation
~Combat skin changes and dryness, and fake a pregnant glow.
L'Occitane Verbena Cooling Deoderant Stick
~Free of alcohol, parabens and aluminum salts, with a light scent and lasts all day.

Gap Maternity Leggings and Support Camis
~No uncomfortable over-the-belly panel or underwires to deal with.
Maxi Dresses and Tunics from Anthropologie
~Forego maternity wear. Go up a size or two, and shop the sale section for the best deals.
~Comfortable, supportive and cute. I get most of my shoes from DSW or Zappos.com.

Marie's Donuts in Sacramento
~On Freeport Ave., seriously the best donuts in the world. My favorite: the chocolate bars
Sacramento Sourdough Bread
~Again, a Sacramento favorite of mine. I'll buy a loaf and carry it home on the plane!
Fresh Fruit
~Right now, I can't get enough watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple and grapes.
~Obviously. We like Claussen Kosher Dill Halves (they are in the refrigerated section)
Sparkling Water with Lemon, Lime or Juice
~We bought a SodaStream.... best investment ever! Saves money and is eco-friendly too!

A Mother's Haven (Encino, CA)
~Wonderful classes and baby boutique.
Babies 'R' Us
~Simply because they have "expectant mother parking".
The Green Cradle (Sherman Oaks, CA)
~Organic products for mom, baby and nursery. Lovely customer service.

Best wishes for a safe and easy delivery for my fellow pregnant ladies! All moms/almost moms: please feel free to leave other suggestions in the comment section on your favorite pregnancy remedies... I have six weeks to go and would welcome your recommendations!