A year ago I gave birth to my very first child. A fact captured and detailed forever in time by my latest book, the diary of my pregnancy, Dear Poppyseed, A Soulful Momma's Pregnancy Journal (out July 2013), and by a new docuseries about pregnancy, to be shown on Sky Living in the not too distant future.
Babies are essentially a whole lot of physical work in preparation, distractingly physical. There are many magazines and articles available to tell you how to prepare your body and your home. Often this revolves around hoarding nappies, purchasing all manner of equipment (most of which will go unused and sold later on ebay for a steal), preparing a nursery, buying cute outfits, eating healthy, avoiding toxins and reading all and any books on what to do once baby is here. All of this we tend to do whilst wholeheartedly avoiding any thoughts about the birth, labour and it's aftermath. But my concern is your soul, your inner you. It is important to recognize that your soul requires a great deal during your nine month journey to a whole new life.
As a spiritual author, it was my mission to make my pregnancy soulful, if not entirely spiritual. Spiritual is suggestive of mantras at dawn, long held yoga positions and an ability to float off into the ether. Whilst pregnancy was a tap straight into a spiritual part of myself, the ever growing belly made floating off anywhere a huge improbability. So rather than aiming for a spiritual nine months of child production, I decided instead to take it down a notch and go for a 'soulful' approach. Here are some of my essential soul tips for your baby 'to-do' list...
Becoming a Better You
Being 'baby ready' is so much more than purchases and the inevitable pushing. If this is your first child, you will have been told a gazillion times that nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind yet to come in the form of cute toes and googly eyed madness. That may be true, but you can make heartfelt attempts to sort your self out. You can do a whole lot of growing up. You can deal with your inner issues, your angers, your resentments, your bitterness, your issues with your parents, your addictions etc. You can make yourself the very best you that you can be in preparation for then devoting that very best you to your child for circa 18 years. You may not solve all your complexities, but you can certainly make a start. Start to become aware, clear the path to the next step of inner growth that baby will inevitably bring.
Whilst I was pregnant I coincidentally attended an NLP course which brought me face to face with many of my demons, and forced me to assassinate them. I found that pregnancy brings with it a bunch of hormones, and with each hormonal attack you are gifted the opportunity to hone something in yourself and to change the way you think, for the better. You may not be attending a relevant mind altering course, but you could read a bit of self-help, meditate, talk deeply to partners and friends, listen to your inner self, pay attention to what your hormones bring to the surface, become aware of your own thoughts.
It's important to mention that hormones are never just 'hormones' they link us to feelings within our hearts and souls that we previously denied, yes they may cause eruptions that aren't pretty. But just because a mood swing is hormonally based, doesn't mean their isn't something real and gritty that needs addressing. So next time you lose the plot because your partner / mother-in-law / friend does something untoward, stop, question what about it really upset you? How does this clash with the life you perceive after baby is here? How does it offend the life you have now and the life you hope for? Be honest with yourself. Pinpoint your fears and regurgitate them time and time again until they become small and inconsequential. Once any volcano of emo has subsided, think rationally about how you are gonna fix you. Cleansing your inner space is a vital part of getting baby ready. Hormones can be the gift that catalyse this.
Meeting and Greeting
One of my greatest pleasures in pregnancy was connecting to my baby's soul. So many mother's do this unconsciously, rubbing their bellies, singing a song, thinking of and imagining their child. It's so easy, and so innate, but bringing it to the top of your 'to-do' list, over and above purchasing a crib, can help ensure a smooth transition from bump to baby.
You truly can get to know your child, you can make them feel loved. Just because you can't see them yet doesn't make it unreal. I wrote my diary to my daughter, chock full of my own love, my learning, my heart on a page. I grew closer and closer to her as the nine months passed. I felt I knew her. When she was born I realized I did know her. And since she has been here, she doesn't surprise me, I knew her before she was a physical reality, before she crowned, before she was bundled into my arms. Your relationship with your baby is likely to be one of the most intense of your life, and can begin even before conception should you choose it to.
Embrace the Experience - all of it
Pregnancy, with it's host of symptoms and ailments is an experience. Every second of it. I for one had the most painful burning nipple sensation during the first trimester. It made me cry. It was horrific. But I chose to embrace it. I chose to see this as a test of my metal. Because we all know that birth is looming and stinging nipples ain't got nowt on a dilating cervix!
With this in mind I chose to supplement my pregnancy and birthing experience with hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing took the fear out of the lead up to the birth. It also brought me and my husband closer together as we spent time through hypnobirthing releasing fears, thinking positively and embracing a perfect idea of birth, together as a unit. This brought him more closely into the equation, that is too often very mummy-centric. In all honesty my birth didn't quite go to plan, but hypnobirthing helped level the ground. I didn't have a mountain to climb. Indeed it made me look forward to all aspects of birth, because pain wasn't an option, only the giving of life.
Getting 'Baby Ready' is so much more about you than you ever dreamed. A baby changes everything and as momma, that starts the moment you decide you want a child. It is intensified by the knowledge of a baby in your tum. It is vitally important that you take this gift of time to get a little soulful, oust your demons and smooth over the quirks in your mind. Pregnancy is the greatest inner journey you might ever take, get ready for the pregnancy glow, flow and inevitable grow!
Dear Poppyseed A Soulful Momma's Pregnancy Journal - Out July 2013 published by Soul Rocks Books
Alice Grist wrote her first two soul-inspiring books and found herself asking, 'so I'm spiritual...what next?' That question is now answered. It seems, that what is next, is she is pregnant. Indeed she and her husband have nine months to embrace a transformation more powerful than any spiritual awakening she ever dreamed of! Whilst simultaneously straddling real life, coping with attacks of hormones and finding a path forward as parents after a decade of doing what they please! Alice reveals the tricks and trials of a soulful pregnancy, whilst also admitting to and fully illustrating the all-too-human moments that can befall any momma to be. Whilst bridging the very human and the super soulful Alice takes on her pregnancy with gusto, blazing an inspirational, hilarious and emotional trail.