Whether she’s latched to my breast, curled up on one of our chests, or whaling and screaming as we bounce her in our arms while pacing the length of the house, entry into motherhood (parenthood) has been an awakening to the sacredness of life. A sacredness that we now hold. We hold it literally in the palms of our hands but also in our hearts. We hold our attention on her breathing. We hold space for her little being. I inhale wholeness. Hold. Exhale gratitude. Hold. I have the privilege of being a we. She has the privilege of us being a happy and well-resourced mom and dad.
A lot has happened in the last year. Not just in our lives, but across the Globe. More than ever, I’m aware of my privileges as a gainfully employed White Canadian female who has a full maternity leave, benefits, a comfortable home, a loving partner/co-parent, and a huge community of family and friends who have means. I write this to acknowledge all the parents out there who are doing their best with so much less. Shout out to the single moms, single dads, single non-binary parents. Shout out to the foster parents, the adoptive parents, and those who stepped in when the person who gave birth couldn’t play the role. Shout out as well to those who brought a child into this world unplanned and/or who are stuck with less than ideal circumstances in which to raise a child. Shout out to those who have to figure it all out without having had the opportunity to yet heal their own wounds.
Less than three years ago, I began to hold an understanding of the sacredness of life not through the embracing of birth but through grappling with the sorrow of more than one tragic death. I spent a year studying the law of impermanence with daily walks in the woods. I allowed myself to become undone, unravelled. I became more introverted – withdrawn from the social mechanisms of today’s world. I lost my voice for a while, but gained a new way of listening. I focused more clearly on my best friends and family. I fell back together and came back home to myself. Past wounds washed through me. I learned to cherish every fleeting moment of life, knowing how quickly it can be lost. In the mornings, I meditated on keeping my heart open to counter its desire to shut down. In that process, I practiced dying every night. Literally – a practice prescribed to me by my yoga therapist and teacher: spend one minute lying on your back on the floor before bed and let go of everything – let go of your body, your mind, your ego and surrender to the Earth completely. In that process, I also met my love, Matt, who is now the father of my child.
When I was 36 weeks pregnant, we finished putting the nursery together. Once Matt had slowly but skillfully completed a wall repair, we painted the walls, ceiling, and baseboards. He put together the new crib, which was gifted to us by his mother. I set all the new and used books people gave us in an old wooden tool box that belonged to his grand-father and placed it on the floor next the heat vent and our newly acquired rocking chair. Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I Love You Forever and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes are among the twenty or so cardstock books I can’t wait to read to my child. The diaper pail was the last thing to arrive at the door – one of the remaining items I had initially put on our baby registry, then purchased online myself. All the hand-me down and new little onesies got tucked away in the drawers. Miscellaneous items found their home next to the diapers on the lower shelves of the change table. When the bulk of the work was done, Matt told me that every night that week, he had turned on the light of the nursery and spent a moment taking it all in before coming to bed. I laughed. “Me too,” I admitted. We are more than blessed. I vowed, right there and then, to not let myself forget how abundant our life is.
Holding the Sacredness of Life is not always easy. It’s a practice just like lying to die by your bed each night. When my daughter is peacefully sleeping in my arms or when I set her down and she looks up at me with her beautiful blue eyes and her slant smile, it’s very easy. It’s naturally contagious even. In those moments, I’d go as far as saying that she’s the one holding space for me. In the not so easy times of each day, however, when my shredded body parts are in pain or my nipples bleeding or when we can’t find the equanimity within, it’s a whole other ball game. Reactivity has the potential to bubble up; we ourselves need some some tender love and care. For me, those moments, when nothing we do seems to comfort our daughter, I need to consciously remember that holding the sacredness of life means holding it all: the love, the discomfort, the anxiety, the warmth, the fear, the physical pain, and often the relief that she came out beautifully healthy and whole. She’s here and breathing – a little miracle that grew inside me and whose spirit is widely pure. We love her madly. When I consciously connect to the sacredness of it all, in whatever shape it shows up, my heart melts back to love. I can breathe calmly with her screaming cheek pressed up against mine.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating her entry into this life and who showered us with food and gifts and presence of heart. To all of you who do this (birth and raise a baby) with much less, so much respect is owed. More than ever, I’m in love with life itself. It’s a privilege and a gift to be our little girl’s mom and to hold her life so sacredly in our arms.