embarking on a journey

The last two weeks I have filled my calendar with time set aside to catch up with different groups of friends.  The time has been precious to me and full of laughs and reflection.  I’ve told a couple people about the fact that I’ve realized that I almost subconsciously stuffed date after date with my friends into my last couple weeks before becoming a mom, and one of them mentioned “get it in now!”

I see what she was saying, but that’s not really the way I am looking at it.

I know things will change after we have this baby, but my friendships and life will go on. To me, I’ve looked at the time I’ve carved away for my friends over the last two weeks as time spent in reflection with them before embarking on the journey of labor and motherhood.  This idea reminds me of one of the best (having not gone through labor myself yet) articles I’ve ever read on the stages of labor — The Holistic Stages of Labor, written by Whapio Diane Bartlett and shared, when I read it, on my doula group’s blog.  In this article, Bartlett writes about the first stage of labor as one of “embarkation.”

And I do feel a sense of embarkation — a sense of a journey I am about to embark upon.  My bags are packed — literally and figuratively — and I can feel my body moving closer to labor (although I know it could still be a couple weeks away.)  I feel her shifting downward, with more pressure between my legs, and have been losing bits of my mucous plug over the last couple weeks (and more than ever over the last couple days.)  My Braxton Hicks have started growing just a bit more uncomfortable, and accompanying those I have been feeling mild menstrual-like cramps sporadically over the past week and a half.  So I feel like I’m standing on a shore, looking out to sea…about to embark on one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

With one friend I reflected on the past.  We drank Thai iced tea and talked about darker times in our lives, and the things we had to face to be where we are today. With another we talked about marriage and change…about what it means to recognize and face dysfunction, and create a new life for yourself apart from that.  She and I also talked about the way I have learned that my mother cannot fill the role I wish she could as I embark upon this journey, and that while I have accepted that, I still wish things could be another way.  This weekend a larger group of girlfriends and I went to brunch, which to me became almost a celebration of womanhood.  They reminded me of the strength and diversity of all my female friends — all so very different yet so the same, and all so strong.

These last couple weeks have been a special time of reflection for me.  I can’t believe I am so close to embarking, but yet I am ready.  And hubby is beside me, ready to go on the journey with me, as much as he can as my partner.  I suppose this means I will be manning the sails and he will be coaching me as I put to work all the lessons of the past nine months, reminding me of the strength and tools I have to make it through the storm if there comes a time I am afraid I cannot navigate us safely to the other shore.

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