Monday, September 16, 2013

Full term

I am waiting... and I don't know for how long.  The first thing I notice in my new twilight world of not yet a mother, but no longer a paid employee, is that time has a different meaning.  My first real sense that my life was changing came when I turned off my alarm - not just for a break, but long-term.  My new life will not be run by the clock, but by the natural rhythms and demands of my baby.  And I realise that this is the first time since my own early childhood that I have been in this situation.  Since we first enter kindergarten (or whatever equivalent we first experience as formal socialisation and schooling) most of us live a life structured by measurements of time - by the hours of the day, the days of the week, and the weeks of the year.  Babies and their full-time carers are one of the few exceptions to this.

And my first experience of unstructured time is in not knowing how long I am to be in this twilight world for.  I could have several weeks... or only days.  So how am I to organise my time?  Do I rush to get the 'to do' list complete, and hope that I can then relax full-time for a while, risking ending up with no relaxation; or do I potter and linger, enjoy the moments as they come and work on what I want to, risking being disorganised and uprepared for baby?  Well, nature provided the answer.  After three days of rushing and feeling continued stress that I would never get it all done in time, my body stopped me.  Last Thursday, I was overcome by what Kaz Cooke describes as an 'ineluctable torpor'.  In a sudden on-set of the 'baby brain' which I have heard so much about, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of anti-motivation, along with a complete and utter inability to make a decision - of any kind - let alone undertake any productive action.  For at least an hour, I believe rather longer (I was somewhat aware of the time as husband's job is still run by the clock and I wanted to talk to him) I wandered aimlessly around my house, with barely a thought in my head.  I don't believe I have ever felt so stupid in my life!  I tried to make a decision about what to do next and was simply unable to do so.  And that was it - from then on I have given in to the fact that this baby will choose when they are going to be born, and in the meantime my number one job is to relax... let my body prepare for birth, and know that the 'to do' list will never really be complete anyway.  An enforced lesson, I suppose, in mindfulness.

And a lesson, I realise this morning, in the true nature of 'intuition'.  As the "pragmatic part-hippy", to quote my own definition of myself, I am an atheist who practices magic.  Part of my magical practice includes an irrational belief in my own intuitive powers - a sense that I am in tune with forces and knowledge outside of my own experience.  It has been something I have felt as supernatural, even though I am entirely convinced that no supernatural world exists*.  Well from today I am including it within my atheist world-view - intuition is real, and it needs no woo to explain it.  The phenomenon which I have called intuition, is simply emotionally-aware applied knowledge.  And I learnt this the moment I tried to call on my intuition on a subject for which I had inadequate knowledge.

I was finding it strange that I had no inkling of how long it would be before birth, especially as throughout the rest of pregnancy I have felt very wise and 'intuitive'.  Where was my usual innate 'knowledge' of what would happen next?  Why had my ability to predict my own future deserted me now, at such an important time?  Well the answer was very simple.  There was no point listening to my body and the baby's, paying attention to my emotions, reading all the signs - when I had no way of interpreting them.  I have never given birth before.  And somehow, in this one area, I had failed to gain much knowledge from the experiences of others.  So I got informed.  I read, I gained facts - from woman who have given birth, and from medical professionals in the field.  And, as if by magic, my sense of intuition began to be restored.  I still don't know when baby will be born, but I am getting much more of an understanding of how impending birth is (for now the answer is 'not just yet').

I want to note that this understanding, as with all things atheistic, in no way detracts from either the profundity or the beauty of intuition.  It is still a wonderful and worthwhile thing to work on.  A logical person my gain all the facts that they desire, but if they do not apply them in an intuitive way, then they will be losing the best use of those facts.  Intuition is a subtle art which requires emotional intelligence.  It is much like creativity - it requires being observant, taking in and being aware of many subtle things at once, then finding the right emotional state to allow the mind to make the important connections between them.  For creative and intuitive types, these processes don't feel like doing anything at all, because they come so naturally.  But I'm sure that anyone could learn it.

In any case, I am re-learning intuition.  And mindfulness.  And patience.  And I'm not even a mother yet.  Goodness knows what lessons that little adventure is going to have in store for me!  One on which I am most curious is whether I will be inspired to write, or if I will lose the ability altogether.  I suppose my few readers will soon find out. :)

*this is partly true simply by definition - if something exists, it is, therefore, natural.