Here. Now.

I shared the happy news with many people yesterday that I’m pregnant and am expecting the arrival of a little boy in late December. It’s such a happy and exciting time, but it’s also a time of so much uncertainty.

Will I be a good mum? Am I going to mess this little chap up? Will he be as sensitive and complex as I am and how will this impact his experience in the world? Will he be as logical and straight forward as my husband and not be able to ‘get’ me? Does he need to ‘get’ me? Is this too much to ask of him? What about going back to work? Will I be able to return and do a job that I love with as much zeal as I do now? Will I be able to keep up this blog and continue to grow my coaching business? How can I be a mum and still be me? Will I lose myself in the love that I’ll find for this new person? 

These are just a few of the questions that I find myself being inundated with on a fairly frequent basis.

And there is so much out of my control, so much I’m trying to squeeze into work before I leave for 6 months of feeding and staring in wonderment at the little person we’ve made, 6 months of sleepless nights and squidgy baby cuddles.

I care so much about it all – my work, my coaching, my little person, my life – and I just don’t see how all this can fit in.

The expectation and pressure I’m putting on myself is too much.

And then I feel a little baby kick, a movement from the very depth of me. A gentle reminder of this life that is growing. Here. Now. Perhaps this little one will teach me the lesson that I’ve found so hard to grasp – how to let go of control and just be here, now, in the moment.

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A matter of the heart

I was having a conversation with my husband last night and it got a tad heated. Poor my mum who was sitting in the middle of us whilst it was going on, although to be fair she asked the question that provoked the ‘debate’.

It was about whether we would raise a child with a vegan diet or not. This is important because I’m a fairly committed vegan and have been for a while now. My choice is driven by my thoughts about how the mass animal farming industry has many cruel aspects to it and my views about how it’s kinder to the planet to not consume animal products.

Gregg mostly goes along with my preference regarding food because he doesn’t have strong views and since I cook the majority of our food and bake enough cakes to satisfy his pudding needs, it generally it works out well for us. He might have the occasional piece of meat when it’s reduced in the supermarket and he buys dairy yogurts I’m guessing because they’re cheaper than the soy alternative, but apart from that we’re both mostly vegan.

And so I can’t even start to imagine feeding my child all the things that I don’t consume myself.

Just when things were getting nasty in our conversation and the ice queen in me was coming out, my mum said something that made really great sense and cooled the conversation down –

“this isn’t a head discussion for you, Amy, it’s a matter of the heart”

And I could see that this was true. It wasn’t an argument that I could enter into calmly and come to some sort of compromise because it’s close to my heart, part of my moral values. And whilst I live alongside Gregg and respect his eating choices and can be ok with my child making his own choice one day about what he wants to eat, it hurts to contemplate raising a child outside of my ethical boundaries. Because it’s wrapped up in so much more than just food choices:

  • Guilt in bringing a child to this earth when it is already so over populated and the impact on the planet of having children is so high
  • Concern about the future of our planet and bringing a child into a world that may suffer from severe water shortages and a rise in natural disasters
  • Feeling torn about trying to lead a life with as minimal an impact on the planet as I can, but already compromising my beliefs in order to travel the world and start a family.

So where does this leave me?

Hopefully not with you thinking less of me for having strong views about my lifestyle that may not be akin to your own. I am who I am and I respect that you are who you are, dear friend.

Maybe I’m writing this in the hope my husband will understand just a little bit more where I’m coming from and will be willing to support me with this choice and this matter of the heart. Maybe it’s to try to come to peace with some of contradictory feelings I have about becoming a mother and living a kind life. Or maybe it’s about finding a way of moving forward with this matter of my heart.

Whatever it is, it’s good to surface these feelings and to start to work through them to find a way forward.

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Miscarriage

I shared an article I stumbled across about miscarriage on facebook recently and its contents have stayed with me almost a week later. Despite not having gone through the pain and hurt of this experience personally it’s still playing on my mind.

Maybe it’s the close friends of mine who have confided in me about having lost their much desired and loved babies at different stages of pregnancy or perhaps it’s because of the silence of miscarriages that I find so out of kilter with the loud world I live in… Whatever the reason, I want to explore some of the thoughts I have about this sad experience that many women and their partners face.

I hope you’ll bear with me and join in the conversation and share your thoughts. I know I’m probably woefully ill-informed, but I’m coming from a place of wanting to understand. I hope you’ll forgive me for the things I get wrong here.

The silence

I know many people stay quiet about their pregnancy until they reach 12 or 20 weeks as these are the points where the risk of miscarrying decreases.

I understand the choice that some people make to not tell people about the pregnancy. It leaves more space to grieve in private if the pregnancy doesn’t come to term and some people want to go through this process alone.

But I don’t like the assumption that people should keep quiet until 12 weeks.

I have to say, I was a member of the ‘they should keep quiet’ brigade until recently. I remember seeing an acquaintance on facebook announce at 8 weeks that she was pregnant, and my reaction was ‘Isn’t that a bit too soon? Who knows what could happen before 12 weeks. She should keep quiet about it.’ 

But what could happen and why should she keep quiet? The baby could be healthy, or it could not come to anything. And in both cases by sharing her news, would be loved and supported by all those people who had witnessed her joy and excitement…and subsequent sadness and grief.

I suppose what I’m thinking about the silence is that it should be a choice, not an expectation. Without judgement whatever the choice.

25%

Yep, 25% is the amount of pregnancies that will end in miscarriage. And that figure is based on the number of women who register their pregnancy, so there will be those who miscarry at before they get to this stage, meaning that the percentage is probably much higher.

I wasn’t aware of this number until recently and I had a conversation with my mum who said she had no clue about this when she was pregnant in the 1980s.

Maybe a lot of you will know about this number already…and it’s my ignorance showing. But for something so common, it’s not really talked about a lot. And I think that should change.

It’s more than the physical loss

I think there’s a sense, and perhaps it’s my Britishness – the stiff-upper-lip – talking here, that until the foetus looks like a baby and has spent a certain amount of time growing inside a woman, that the loss shouldn’t be mourned. That people should just get on with life. That it was just a bunch of cells that were never destined to grow into a baby.

But I see it as so much more than the physical loss of some cells that were not compatible with life.

It’s the hope of a family, the imagination of what the little person will be like, the expectation and joy of the future that then comes crashing down as the body rejects the baby.

I can see, regardless of the weeks that the foetus grows to, that it’s so much more than a physical loss. And we should have more compassion and be accepting of the grief that people – women and men – go through when they experience a miscarriage.

So where does this leave me?

This post isn’t meant to lead to anywhere. It’s more an expression of sadness and pain I feel for those who have lost a baby. And a gentle nudge for us to perhaps talk about miscarriage more. To acknowledge that whatever the stage where the baby dies, the loss is valid and the grief should be allowed.

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