Welcome to the first of our series, Birthing Ayurveda, where we follow one woman's pregnancy experience week by week—from a positive home pregnancy test all the way to delivery.
Finding out that I am pregnant is probably one of the most frightening things I have ever experienced. This pregnancy was completely unexpected. I actually took the test to prove to my husband that he was wrong about me being pregnant (he has always had this annoyingly accurate intuition).
The fear that I experienced this week was all about how life would be different. My husband and I had plans for our life. Work hard now, and then spend a good portion of our lives volunteering, attending spiritual retreats, meditating. No hard and fast plans, but definitely dreams—dreams that did not exactly involve children.
We were also really comfortable with our relationship. We were really happy, and finally, after years of medical school and residency when we had little time with each other, we were enjoying our new life together—a good morning routine, lunches together, sometimes working together at a coffee shop. If he needed to travel for work, I often could accompany him.
But, a kid? How would this little child change all of that? Would our relationship and friendship change? How would we get that precious time together that we hold so sacred?
I have to say that our greatest asset for helping us navigate through all this was our friends and family (and trust me, there was a lot to navigate through). That and praying for strength and guidance.
Truth is, our minds are so limited. They are bogged down with ideals, opinions, judgments. And, my mind especially is very stubborn. It just does not want to let go and yield and surrender because it loves control and predictability. But as we all know, life is not predictable, nor is it controllable (biggest lesson of my life this week). One of my teachers that I spoke to this week told me that the first trimester is all about surrendering and facing your fears. She was dead on.
It took a lot of counseling from our friends and family and a lot of meditation to help us accept that simple truth of life. And it was their support that helped us digest it easier, because, as scary as it was, we were not alone. And as I spoke to more people, I realized that we weren’t the only ones that have felt this way. In fact, I was surprised to learn that even in planned pregnancies, these same fears can come up with just as much intensity.
As my husband and I were driving to Albuquerque this week to see Dr. Lad, we heard the song Shut Up and Dance at least five or six times. Finally the fourth or fifth time, we took note of it and listened to the words closely and realized what a sign it was to just…shut up and dance.
Even with the best birth control and best planning, sometimes pregnancy happens. It is our destiny and duty to serve this soul to our highest ability. Rather than fight the journey, it is so much easier to just dance our way through it with joy and faith.
Easier said than done. But here are a few things that we started doing this week that have helped us tremendously in countering the vata that was bringing so much instability to our minds and hearts.
- Daily routine. This is vata’s best friend and was certainly my best friend this week, especially on the days where I just felt lost and confused. I brushed my teeth, and scraped my tongue, performed my self-massage, followed by pranayama (gentle Nadi Shodhana, Brahmari, Utjayi, and Utgeet are fantastic in pregnancy), and a hot shower. Self-massage or massages in general, if done when toxin (ama) levels are low (look at your tongue!), are perfectly fine and very soothing and relaxing for mother’s to-be. Just use gentle strokes and less oil for a more vata pacification effect rather than a detox effect. When in doubt, consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner.
- Meditate. I began every meditation by reciting some recommended verses from our scriptures. Then I let go of my mind and focused on that stable place in my soul that is separate from my mind and all of its judgments, fears, and dramas.
- Talked to Charlie. Long story, but yes, that is our nickname for the little one. Every night before sleeping we assured Charlie that we would love and serve him or her to our highest ability without attachment, anger, greed, or ego. We asked for forgiveness for all of the fears and emotions that we were working through. We asked for strength to be the best parents we could be. And we asked for forgiveness for any shortcomings that we will have in the future.