"Guarding your peace is not selfish." - Maryam Hasnaa
When I was pregnant with my first son, I went through an enormous amount of stress with family members. I had already come into my marriage with suitcases packed with fear of rejection so I'm sure I was a magnet for it. I had developed a bad habit of wanting to please everyone. I wanted everyone to be pleased with me. So, I tolerated crossing boundaries and disrespect to avoid the pain of feeling what was being thrown my way. I allowed untruths to be told without confronting them, all to avoid a confrontation. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings but clearly, mine was being destroyed.
Throughout my pregnancy, I felt fear that paralyzed me and I didn't know why at the time. Looking back now, I realize that the stress I felt had my nervous system going crazy and my brain and body responded accordingly. I would have thoughts of losing my baby or someone coming in to take him from me. I went months without sleeping at night because I was afraid to close my eyes. The moment I closed them, a nightmare ensued. I was frightened out of my mind. Literally.
When it was time to meet this active baby, a rollercoaster ride of emotions overwhelmed me. It was finally time for us to see his face. It was finally time for me to hold him in my arms after carrying him in my womb. He would still be close to me but this time, I get to kiss him. I was ready.
So, here we are in the hospital and I'm ready to push out this bundle of love. Without going into the gory details, I'll just say he got stuck and he panicked. Not only did he panic, but the doctors did as well. We all did. An emergency C-section is an understatement to describe what I went through. It was more like an emergency t-section as they cut me down and across to get him out before he choked to death. I was afraid, he was afraid, my husband was afraid, my mom was afraid, and every healthcare professional in that room was too. The first space he was introduced to was filled with fear.
I watched my son go through his growth stages afraid. He was afraid of making a mistake or making the wrong choices. He was afraid of disappointing others who had high expectations of him. It was more comfortable for him to do nothing rather than to get something wrong. He was crippled by anxiety in situations he didn't know how to handle. It was heartbreaking to watch because as his mother, I knew where it all came from. The journey to courage was a hard one but he didn't have to walk it alone. Today, he's strong, courageous, and searching for a challenge. Again, he didn't have to do it alone.
If you are pregnant, be careful of who you are around or what overwhelms you. A "good pregnancy" is more than just taking prenatal vitamins and eating healthy food. There is a sacred spiritual component to giving birth. When people suggest that stress affects the baby, listen. It's okay to remove yourself from chaotic situations that may rob you of your peace and ultimately the peace of your baby. Make sure you are intentional about who is in the room and what is in the room. Your space should be as sacred as the process. Cherish and protect it accordingly.
As your children grow, you will have to walk through the fire with them. They will never forget the sacrifices and courage it took to do so. Helping our children tackle fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and confusion with courage will help to sustain them through the many challenges they will face when you're not here. Both you and your children will be better for it.