Embracing the Tiger
I’ve got to be honest. I’ve been rather lackadaisical about this second pregnancy. I mean, getting preggers again after only 18 months since Em’s birth has made me feel pretty “been there, done that” about this whole thing. I’ve actually felt quite guilty about my lack of nervousness and anticipation.
But now, with a little over 10 weeks to go, that famous nesting instinct is starting to kick in pretty seriously. I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways we can make our home more comfortable, more safe, more baby-friendly. I make lots of lists: lists of what we should pack in our hospital bag, lists of positions I should get into when laboring, lists of important phone numbers, lists of music I might want to listen to in the hospital (Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Eddie Vedder, Regina Spektor…), lists of important things to remember when caring for a newborn… lots of lists, to help me feel like I’m a prepared mama. And with every list I make, I get more and more excited about the little monkey’s arrival.
Well, excited AND nervous.
Quite nervous, to be honest.
If all goes well, this pregnancy will end in one of two ways: I will give birth to this baby naturally, or the baby will be delivered via c-section (my second). I’m kind of nervous about both options.
I never got to experience natural birth with Em. I never felt a single (uninduced) contraction. My water was manually broken by my midwife. I never got to see what my body was capable of in terms of birthing unassisted. So I don’t know what labor REALLY feels like. I keep giving myself pep talks, telling myself that my body is more than capable of labor, that I am strong, that women worldwide have been doing this for eons and eons. That if it is meant to be, my body is meant to deliver this baby. I think of other women who have labored naturally, and say to myself, “if they can do it, SURELY I can do it.”
If my body does not go into labor naturally, or the uterus issue which may have prevented Em from being born naturally pops up again, I will be undergoing a second c-section. I wasn’t a big fan of my first c-section. I found being numbed from neck to toe disconcerting, to put it mildly. I found not being able to feel myself breathing, due to the spinal anesthetic, more than disconcerting – it made me feel panicky and helpless. So when I think about going through the same procedure again, I give myself more pep talks. I tell myself I already know what to anticipate, which should make me less fearful. I tell myself that when I go through the same procedures and yucky feelings, I can concentrate on the positive, and focus on the fact that I will be holding my baby within minutes of his delivery.
Sometimes the pep talks work, and sometimes they don’t.
So, inspired by my nervousness about both impending scenarios, I have decided to work on a project. I am going to create an image of a tiger that I will take with me to the hospital.
Why, you ask? (or maybe you don't, but I'm gonna tell you anyway)
Back when I lived in L.A., I attended a seminar on Joseph Campbell and his writings on the mythic hero. The instructor of the seminar was wonderful, and compared mythic stories from multiple cultures, as a means of showing the commonalities between each culture’s concept of “hero”.
This was of course years and years ago, so I remember very little about the specific stories, but I DO remember one story (I think from Chinese culture) about a hero who was very afraid of a tiger chasing him, until he was instructed by his mentor to turn around and embrace the tiger he so feared. When the hero finally mustered up the courage and turned around to embrace the tiger, the tiger disappeared.
I’ve had this little story stuck in my head for years now.
It’s a story that informs my parenting. When Em is scared of the dark, or a buggy, or something else unfamiliar, I try to show her how not to turn away from the thing that is scaring her, but to face it head on, and discover that it is not actually so scary after all.
And now I have the opportunity to embrace my own tiger. I have the opportunity to not only face, but embrace my own fears, and recognize that they are a product of my own mind.
So I am going to make myself a little image of a tiger, to take with me to the hospital. When I feel myself getting nervous, I will use the image of a tiger as a focal point, as a reminder that I should run toward my fears, and not away from them. Hopefully this will help my fears disappear.
Parenting with imagination. Or at least trying.