For months I have been talking about sharing my experiences on motherhood, or what I like to call my milken stupor. It’s gotten to a point where my tiny human will be in college before I share a single thing because I just can’t seem to get things exactly right. I know this is a flaw and it is one that many people and organizations ignore at their own peril. So in the spirit of just getting started I will hit the Publish button today. I will exercise my bias for action!
While I have many drafts of many stories hanging out in the cloud, I will share the mantra that I developed a few hours before heading to the hospital to give birth. I have several friends about to make this journey and if it helps them, then it’s so worth it.
This mantra was written as I sat on my couch and realized I was in labor. I was with my beloved dog, Maslow, a canine I find so adorable that I publicly declared there was no way my baby would be as cute as him (It turns out I was wrong). After returning from a walk, drinking a ton of water, and being 100% certain I was in labor, I took a few moments to sit with the fact that this was one of the last times I would ever really be alone. From now on there was going to be another human, a non-negotiable human, that I was responsible for all of the time. Suddenly she would be…here. After coping with that semi-truck of a realization I began to panic. But the panic wasn’t regarding the aforementioned holy crap moment. Oh no, it was about the physical stunt that was about to go down. I started timing my contractions and then I started to cry, knowing that in the next bunch of hours, I’d be giving birth.
While pregnant, I’d had my moments of fearing this process but it didn’t take my sleep away. Women have been having babies for all of time and in much more difficult and dangerous situations. In fact, preparing to bring a baby into this world has forced me to acknowledge how lucky I am to live in a place where maternal and infant mortality rates are not a cause for serious concern. The fact that more than 800 women die each day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, almost exclusively in developing countries, is a painful and shocking figure.
As Maslow sat by my side and I wondered exactly when I’d head to the hospital, I will admit that my thoughts got the best of me. I scolded myself for not preparing better and then grasped at one of the only things I could do in the time I had left. A mantra! I could develop a mantra.
A strange fact about me is that I’ve been trying to develop a personal mantra for years! I’m serious. I’ve known for some time about the benefits of mantras. We hear about it in meditation, healing communities, and coaching. In one of my favorite graduate courses (Appreciative Inquiry taught by David Cooperrider) we discussed mantras and still, I’d never come up with one that stuck with me. Even my Childbirth Class touted the benefits of a mantra for concentration and pain management during childbirth. If there was ever a time for me to do this, it was now!
So here it is. This is what I scribbled down, over and over, while I waited for my husband to come home to tell him we’d probably be having our baby girl soon. I copied it over and over before calling my parents a few states away to let them know that their first grand child was on her way.
For My Meaningful Life.
Seek joy, banish guilt.
Create structure, thrive within.
Share knowledge, pursue purpose.
Stay present, be loved.
It is nothing fancy but it worked. These phrases, repeated over and over, did help me through my delivery. I am also happy to say that this mantra has stuck with me and when I get overwhelmed with all that’s happening around me, I return to it. I’ve made one change, though, to accommodate my tiny human that will never leave me alone.
For Our Meaningful Life.