Thursday, August 20, 2015

What I have already learned from my unborn baby

 "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." --Elizabeth Stone

As someone who has deeply enjoyed working with kids since being a kid myself, I always knew and felt excited to have a few of my own--yet, even after getting married at 29, and then hitting the big THREE-OH while my husband entered his mid-thirties, I still felt the strong need to wait.

Seeing my friends' adorable babies scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed certainly didn't make the wait any easier. One more year, one more book, I'd tell myself.

After going through over 6 years of college and graduate school, studying to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an author, I knew I needed to establish myself somehow. I knew that finding an agent or publisher was just like finding a husband, a soulmate--dealing with many painful rejections before finding the perfect match, if ever. Then, when my path lead me into independent publishing, it was like giving birth to two babies that I needed to care for constantly, just like real children.

"It's a lot of work," I continued to hear about having babies and having independent books. And while I had an uber amount of experience taking care of little ones and rocking my co-worker's children to sleep, I would continually hear: "You always get to return them at the end of the day."

And then I'd hear that independent authors needed to continually give their books lots of attention to help grow their readership.

It was just over the past year where the itch for real children of my own really began to make me squirm.

"She'll come when she's ready," I reminded myself. More cute babies. More days passing by. More close friends sharing their exciting news. On top of it, I'd hear about how getting pregnant is not always the easiest thing for some women, especially as we get older... Yet, I continued to remind myself that she would come when she was ready. And yes, I say she. I always felt like I would have two charming daughters, just like my mom.

The first time I heard our baby's heartbeat, I was hit with the realization that another person's being existed within my own. Tears welled up in my eyes. Though a tiny blob of a person, seeing and hearing each thump through the ultrasound made it that much more real--she was on her way.

There was one day, just before seeing that initial ultrasound, that I thought I had lost her. Through my worry and fear, I continued to reassure myself: If she's not ready yet, it's okay. It will all be okay.

The first thing I learned from my unborn baby? That our children come to us with their own agenda. They have their own timing, apart from what we hope and plan. I do not believe our children come to us by accident. As a kid, I was always so intrigued by who we are and become as people. Did God choose who we were born to? Did we even exist before being born? Were we merely a spark created on that fateful day of conception? Years later, I discovered stories about peoples' memories of choosing their parents and many aspects of their lives before coming to Earth. That we do not become who we are by chance. The whole concept made so much sense to me, especially since I always felt like I had to have been somewhere before becoming this little girl in Massachusetts sometime in the 1980s.

I know I will have to continue to keep this in mind as my baby grows up--that is so important to nurture and encourage our children's special gifts, no matter what we envision for them. We cannot control them, but we can guide them with our whole hearts, and all that we've learned about ourselves from living. Though we give them life and we help them grow, it is their life to live, no matter what we intend for them or whether their very purpose is similar--or very different from our own.

Next, I learned (not so eagerly) that our children teach us patience before they even enter the world.

Patience is the number one trait we must nurture when having or working with children, but we don't often associate it with a little fetus...until the time actually comes.

The wait between ultrasounds literally drove me up a wall. Was our little blob healthy, growing okay? Did it have 10 fingers and 10 toes? Did it actually have arms? Was it even still in there? Is it a boy or is it really a girl? The more people guessed, the more crazy I became, and the more patience my little one taught me. While I knew all that mattered was that the baby was healthy, I'd hear that it was definitely a boy, or that it was a girl, and the weeks couldn't seem to go by fast enough. Even finding out that the sex could be determined with about 80% accuracy with a good ultrasound "nub shot" picture at 12-13 weeks, I was still going nuts. The ultrasound tech guessed girl. The experts guessed girl. My intuition told me girl. But did it really matter?

 I will be who I am, Mom, do not worry. Have patience and trust that it will all be okay. Relax.

When it was confirmed that she is, in fact, healthy, and growing and developing the right way, I finally breathed a sigh of relief and began to fully enjoy it, especially the little nudges, and wiggles, and kicks, which continually reminded me I was helping to grow a little human being. Creating a body, but not a life.

The third thing I learned from my unborn daughter? Before I got pregnant, I was going at 100 miles a minute. Marketing. Writing. Exercise. Running errands. Cleaning. Coaching. Making dinner. Laundry. Not always sleeping. I was exhausted, and didn't always take time to "smell the roses" as they say. While I did try to make time to meditate, I was not always fully present during many aspects of my life. And even though into my first trimester I began to feel guilty for not getting everything done that needed to be done that day, I learned to feel and enjoy the moment. I learned to fully relax.

People continue to ask me, "I bet you can't wait until November?!" And as excited as I am to meet my little girl, I know that there are books to be taken care of it. There is preparation to be done before my little one's arrival. There is a gymnastics meet season to conquer. Until November, I will savor every little movement, every breath of fresh air, every smile from the kids that I coach. I will enjoy my 8 hours of sleep, and even the nights I wake up a little too early for a bathroom run, but find that she is awake, too.

And I know that when I finally hold her in my arms, hear her first giggle, look into her little eyes and see bits of myself, my love, but more importantly, this little being all her own, it will all have been worth the wait.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The beginnings and the endings are only illusions

When is it that our lives begin? Is it the instant of conception, the day of our birth, or the first memory we have of our childhood? Or maybe we count our beginnings each morning, as the day begins anew. Some people believe their life begins when their heart finds another to hold its hand for life, or when their first child enters the world. Beginnings are different for everyone, but just like endings, they are hard to pinpoint--the exact moment we step into and truly fill our own shoes. And even still, the beginnings and endings in life cannot be exactly communicated.

I remember speaking with my mother when I was young, wishing that we could take a special elixir so that we never had to die. While I also remember realizing that the world had been around much longer than I had been alive, and that I had to have been somewhere before this life, I was still consumed with the fear that I would lose her, or even myself for that matter, forever. Eventually, as I lived and experienced more, that fear subsided for me.

Many people say there is no proof of what comes before or after this earthly existence, yet I disagree. I truly believe there is so much proof right before our eyes, ranging from simple things like watching a scorching sunset paint the sky, or taking in a deep breath of fresh air, to subtle signs from our loved ones who have passed, to memories of past-lives that children and adults exhibit, to incredible sychronicities. Moments where you just feel and know at the core of your being that you are in the exact right place at the right time.

Last year, I was introduced to an incredible medium by the name of Necole Stephens who explained to me that it is not "dead people" that she sees, but love ones--not loved in past tense--because love is forever. When you consider that this life we are living right now is really only a small piece in time that makes up an unfathomable amount of infinite amazingness, you realize that there is SO much we cannot grasp, and that's okay.

In a way, I think we actually have it backwards. When we lose people, they return to the limitless life we forgot when we entered this body. We are the dead ones (but only if we allow ourselves to be). Our bodies experience the pain (if we choose to wallow in it.) Yet these hardships are part of life. Part of being human. Part of the experience we signed up for to grow. No one said it was going to be easy, but it can and will get easier if you truly believe that it can.

When I wrote my novel, Illusion of an Ending, I almost felt like I was communicating a message that wasn't mine, per se, though I'm not a medium. What if there was a young man who left his life early and who yearned to communicate to his mother and the world not the exact moment of "beginning" or "ending", but that the whole concept of start to finish was just an illusion?

I think it is important to realize that this life, right now, is only temporary. That when we "die" we are more alive than we can even imagine in this moment, pulled down by the weight of our body to the Earth. But that's not the point. We did not come here to suffer. We came here to remember the love and peace and joy and greatness in between the moments of pain. As we let go of our problems and just be, enjoying the short time we have here. As we realize that everything that happens to us is part of plan, which does not solely belong to God-- our own plan to remember and define our own greatness which is One with everything.

We may only get glimpse into our limitlessness. They may come and go, but one thing is for much more exists that we do not see.

"Now he wants you to use your gift of compassion to help people realize that life is far from over. remind them to enjoy the beauty of the earth and to bask in the sheer joy of being alive in the moment. Let the love that exists within you shine. Listen to what the world has to say without letting your doubts overcome you...

"He wants you to know that his life's plan was a short one. In his heart, he always knew that, even when he was a boy. But he wants to assure you that part of him will live on. The way he's touched the world will never really disappear. This is when you must set your grief aside. Understand that there is no death and no matter how much it hurts, you are alive. It is the ache, in fact, that assures it. The pain we associate with dying is actually the harsh realization that we will be okay, and that our only option is to keep going. If we recognize that our suffering won't continue forever, that life persists through physical deterioration, then there is the potential to move through the grieving process, the outcome making us stronger." -- Excerpt from Illusion of an Ending: a novel