A few years ago, I sat at my friends kitchen table and witnessed the intricate interactions between her & her 5 year old daughter. I observed the conversations, the negotiations, the relational push & pull of a need to be close and a desire for space and independence.
I studied closely and it scared me. Why?
Because as I wore my sleeping one year old daughter close in a sling, I could not imagine ever having a 5 year old and managing this comfortably. How would I know what to do? Where will my required skills be acquired? And yet logically, one day I knew of course that the chubby fingered, wide eyed & hug loving baby in this sling would, one day, be age 5... and 10, & 16...
I held the comfort of a warm mug between my hands, and voiced my thoughts...
"I can't imagine what it would be like to have a five year old, that scares me."
Friend - "I couldn't have imagined what it would be like to have a five year old either when she was one... but they grow, and you grow, and things change naturally... and it all just feels normal when you get there".
It's obvious isn't it...
And yet can't we find many instances in our lives when a leap ahead in time in our thoughts - imagining a future where things are changed - has felt dauntingly immense & unmanageable, only to get there and find that it's simply the next obvious step and everything that has gone before has simply led up to this moment?
Perhaps a first year University student watches the third years steadily wait outside of finals exam rooms, holding stationary encased in clear plastic bags, and not feel ready for that yet.
Perhaps a new employee attends a meeting where, if they were honest, they have no clue about the content or language used, and wonder how it would feel to be your bosses, bosses, boss... eloquently able to articulate to staff the intricacies of language & a sound understanding of what needs to be done.
Perhaps a person witnesses the joys & struggles encountered by parents of very small children & babies, and feels petrified by the huge task of one day being responsible for another persons life & well being.
As human beings, we have a tendency sometimes to jump ahead...
seek out problems where they don't exist, engage the neo-cortex - the thinking, reasoning, organising, learning, problem solving, thoughts & ideas formulating part of the brain, and provide it free reign in all kinds of colouring in of our future experience, and not always with the most useful of results.
Now, as I type this, I'm aware that just outside, above my office window sits a swallows nest. And I'm pretty sure from past years experience, that this nest contains some eggs which are currently being dutifully & carefully warmed by mum.
Now I bet (and I'm not usually a betting person) that when this pair of swallows first began building their nest (apparently it takes a pair of swallows approximately 1200 journeys to build a nest) they didn't look into the future and find the whole thing daunting.
I'm sure that, when the female came to lay her eggs, she didn't have any nagging doubt in her mind about her own bodies ability to lay these eggs safely & easily as nature intended.
And I'd be very surprised when those chicks hatch their way into the outside world (and we know when they've hatched... you wouldn't believe the amount of bird shit a family of swallows can create) if they witness their parents flying & returning with morsels of food and worry that they might fail at flying or be useless at finding worms.
We see it throughout nature...
creatures who don't have the same level of higher order thinking than us just getting on with it, just doing as nature intended. I always find Ina May's words "We are the only species of mammal that doubts our ability to give birth." rather pongnant, and this quote always delivers a reflective silence between myself & my hypnobirthing clients.
But we can't get away from it can we?
This higher order thinking neo-cortex of ours that likes to colour in our experiences before we've even had them. The worst imagined birth experience... the worst imagined failure at early parenting... So what can we do?
Fast forward a few years & a once first year, now third year uni student is steadily waiting outside an exam room, holding her stationary in a clear plastic bag. Well prepared.
Quite a few years later on, a once fresh faced employee addresses a meeting in her senior management role, eloquently articulating a sound understanding of what needs to be done to a room full of staff. Experienced & knowledgable.
The time comes for a woman & her partner to give birth to their baby. Calmly, comfortably & with complete trust in her birthing body.
Because they instinctively responded to difficult thoughts or feelings & sought to address these, recognised any gaps in preparation required, sought out the knowledge to empower, practised techniques to facilitate a smoother & easier birth & re-framed their own internal landscape until that future time, childbirth & early parenting, no longer felt dauntingly immense or unmanageable &, actually, everything that has gone before has simply led up to this moment... and it feels right... right now.
I sat with my daughter this evening and we made a list of all the friends she would like to invite to her fifth birthday party. She chose a circus theme & wishes to dress up as a gymnast or trapeze artist. I gazed at her for a split second between important decisions & witnessed the intricate interactions between us. I observed our conversation, the negotiations, the relational push & pull of a need to be close and a desire for space and independence, and it feels exactly as it is & should be.
Sometimes to be fully prepared we can to seek out new knowledge, learn a little and experience a lot.
And the next time you look towards a future event with any sense of unease, trust that, if you don't yet have all the resources, you will most likely have them by then as you trust in that part of you that knows exactly what resources you need, and how and where to find them.
Contact me if you feel you would like to feel more comfortable about your upcoming birth, and add to your own experiences, all the knowledge, techniques & changes you require so you can feel fully prepared for one of the most significant times of your life.