Last week I woke up and just started crying my eyeballs out. I just couldn’t keep the tears from flowing. It was one of those days I felt I couldn’t go through alone, and I had to reach out for help.
I was so deep down in the dumps.
It was time for the big leagues to come in and yank me out of my depression. And so I called my mom.
It was that serious I had to call my mommy.
And what was it that was bringing me down so bad?
It was a simple theme I’m sure so many of us women face.
The theme of feeling like a failure.
I felt like a failure.
I felt like I was failing my body physically, I felt like I was failing at my job, and I felt like I was failing at my marriage. (And then because I had to call my mom for help in the end I felt like I was failing at being an adult.)
And where did all of this come from you ask?
Let me tell you the story.
As I write this I am 7-months pregnant with my first child and have been on bedrest for my pregnancy for the last 5 weeks. And I still have a lot of weeks ahead of me, until my son is safely born and in my arms.
At 23 weeks I was deemed “high risk of pre-term labor” due to a cone biopsy I had to have on my cervix last October, and along with daily hormone treatment, I have to be reclined as much as possible to keep weight off my cervix.
I was told no physical exertion like exercise, no walking for extended periods, etc. which also included not going into the office at all unless I could guarantee that I would be seated most of the time (highly unlikely) and the final nail on the coffin, no sex at all. Yup, apparently an orgasm could stimulate a contraction and they didn’t want that.
Now I’m fortunate that I can have this bedrest in the comfort of my own home instead of being in a hospital the whole time (that almost happened), and I’m lucky that I can still work from home and participate in meetings via Skype so I’m not completely disconnected from the world and can keep my mind busy.
I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing friends, colleagues and family who keep touching in with me to see if I’m alright — they come over and bring me anything I’m craving, they tell me stories to get my mind off things and stimulate my imagination.
But something was still nagging at me.
At first I boiled it down to the hormone treatment. Heck, this pregnancy had already been an emotional roller-coaster ride of its own and having extra hormones on top of the pregnancy surge was taking it to another level of crazy.
Then I rationalized that being the active individual that I am — constantly meeting and connecting with people, having stimulating strategic conversations, looking at sights and day-dreaming into my own wonderland, traveling the world — seeing the same four walls and peering at the outside world through the flat screen of a TV or computer would drive anyone crazy.
I also had guilt for needing to rely on people for help for simple things, like having my husband do all our grocery shopping, ensure that all my meals were sorted and also run random errands for me, just to name a few. Perhaps guilt was bringing me down cause I was so used to be being as independent as possible.
I also felt guilty if I talked about my misery because I knew I was, no matter what, having a baby in more fortunate circumstances that half the women on this planet.
Still, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of sadness or any rational that came with it. I knew there was something deeper I had to dig out.
Then one day I woke up with a deep sense of failure. That word just rang through in my head and my heart.
Failing my body cause my cervix might not have the strength to keep a baby in; failing at my job because I was unable to be present and physically move around and zip off to do what was needed (what if someone thought I was being a “slacker” at my job?); and failing my relationship because I couldn’t get physically intimate with my husband.
Where was all this coming from?
I always thought I was free from doing what I thought others wanted and needed of me. I thought I was free from judgement and perception of others.
But now, I don’t think so. Just like everyone else I’m sure, I feel the pressure to be perfect, and that I wasn’t “enough” in some way. And I saw this bedrest thing as a setback to being perfect and being enough.
One friend said something very interesting to me which got me thinking. She said, “You’re just trying as hard as every other woman to keep up with the rat race and compete with all the other successful men in your life. You care too much about what they think. But what matters most, is that right now, you realize that as a woman you have a bigger responsibility (and all the strength you need) to make sure your baby is safe and alright. Go win your baby. Just focus on that.”
That was a big a-ha for me.
It was so true what she said about the rat race. And I’m sure I’m not the only woman out there, trying to pursue a successful career, have a happy relationship, and juggle the dynamics of starting a family.
And then another friend so simply put, “You’re feeling so sad because you’re experiencing an ego-death”.
Boom. I felt like a failure at everything because I had defined who I thought I was, and this pregnancy was shaking all that up for me.
Who am I? What does this mean? What will happen to me when the baby is here? And holy sh** was I scared about other things like the pain/complications of delivery and every physical thing that came with that.
Through all this “stress”, I also couldn’t do all the things I used to do to pull myself out of any lull. I couldn’t have a drink to mellow things out, I couldn’t have a cigarette to exhale my troubles away, I couldn’t work up a sweat to purge anything out of my system.
Who was I becoming and what will it take to make “this person” happy (that wouldn’t risk my baby’s life)?
After 34 years of getting to know me, working on me, and settling on me, who am I now?
I’m still in the crux of this and holding on through all the amazing advice and support from the wonderful people in my life, including my mother who simply said, “Why worry about something you have no control over?”
She also sent me this beautiful quote which rings so true:
“There isn’t enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must decide which one will live there.” Anonymous
It was then I realized this was just another phase.
There was something bigger in this that I had to realize and learn about myself and about life, ultimately. And no matter what, I had to keep having faith.
I wrote about letting go some time back, and here was a good example of putting that into practice.
It was time to let go of society’s pressures (including my own); it was time to let go of who I thought I was in career and life; it was time to let go of what others thought of me in any way; it was time to let go of fear when I had no proof anything truly horrible was going to happen.
It was time to say goodbye to my ego and everything I knew that defined me to my own self.
It was a time to be in the moment. It was a time to enjoy this blessing. Embrace the journey. Have faith that everything was unfolding just as it was meant to.
Here I was, granted solitude to be confined so I could embrace a new journey of self-discovery. How powerful it was that this was happening now when soon I will never be alone again for a while (more than a decade!), and my whole focus will have to shift from me to another little being whose own time has come to learn and grow in life.
I clearly had issues to be “perfect” in life, and there was no better time to address and work through it now. Before the new (or some say, real) madness began. And if I didn’t deal with it now, I think it would almost be guaranteed that I would be on a different kind of downward spiral once I had a newborn in my hands.
I was also blessed to be completely alone so I can enjoy this very special time with the being growing inside my belly.
I remember before the bedrest, and while I was busy away on those long days at the office, any kick or nudge from my baby got very little attention while I was in the midst of focused conversation or execution. I would stop once in a while, but never often or long enough to explore it’s magic.
These days, working from home, and being all alone, I get to enjoy all the movements, I speak to my child and promise him lots of love and magic for when he’s here, and I’m learning about his personality already. I already know what he likes and how he sleeps. I have the time to sit in sacred silence and open my heart and soul to the cosmos and send that through to him.
I keep my eye on the prize and all the bigger plus-sides.
Still, I think this pressure I feel is something that will take time to completely dissipate; knowing that I’m not the only woman who feels this way makes me feel that I’m standing in united compassion. I don’t feel alone anymore and I wish for all my sisters out there to be okay and also be able to release this pressure so we can truly enjoy our lives with the ones we love including the new beings we’re carrying and the souls we’re about to bring forward.
“It is said that women in labor leave their bodies… they travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies, and return to this world together.” Anonymous
I hope this article helps someone with their own a-ha so they can begin the work to do what they need to do to release any of their own fears and pressures. And most of all, just surrender and let go and trust that everything you experience in life is happening just as it’s supposed to.
And with that, I leave you with this beautiful 2-minute video which already has over 1.2 million views since being published last month. It found its way to me this morning and the timing for it as I write this couldn’t be more divine.
The description below the video reads:
“Earlier this year, we asked women about their lifestyle — nearly half said they were feeling moderately or extremely stressed & shockingly 40% feel like they’re about to burn out. We weren’t surprised, we feel it too.
“From our everyday never-ending ‘to-do’ lists to the pressure the media puts on us to be the ‘perfect woman’. We rush around trying to do more, be more, give more. But we don’t need to be like this 24/7, it’s not healthy. We need to #LetGo of all this pressure every now & again.
“Sanctuary are on a mission to get women to Relax, Breathe and #LetGo. So we’ve created a film with advice from women who truly know the importance of stepping back every now and then and appreciating life’s precious moments.”
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