Pregnancy in a time of chaos

I think pregnancy tests the minds strengths in many ways, particularly the ability to remain calm when preparing for a natural birth. I mean, I can’t think of anything comparably significant than the  absolute idea of birthing a baby for the first time. We all have to prepare ourselves for so many events in life, but this one surely takes the cake. Mothers are birthing all over the world every second, but to experience the physical and emotional elements of pregnancy day in day out myself, sure is something like no other. 

On my early morning barefoot wanders next to the ocean with my big belly out, I often wonder what passerbys think of a pregnant woman in the times of a global pandemic. I hope that they don’t feel pity for her, but rather that they think she is a strong and brave woman. It would be easy to fall into a victim mindset if I allowed myself to go there. Especially as circumstances tug the mind in undesirable directions. 

The truth is, there are so many women right now who have had the rug pulled frompregnancy during COVID underneath them during these mad times. Their birthing plans have been forcefully altered, losing their key support people that were to be present on their big day. Some birth centres have closed their doors to mothers with bulging bellies, and instead welcomed those to test for COVID. I thought my birth space was the last thing that could be touched. Currently we can only have one person present at birth, some countries won’t even allow for that. 

The thought of birthing without my partner makes me shudder. Women are rebelling and considering home births, or free-births, without any medical assistance at all, just to avoid the harsh changes within the trappings of the medical system, not to mention the high risk of exposure to the virus in a hospital setting. The usual post-birth train of close friends and relatives visiting the newborn are just not possible in these times. I could never have imagined having that taken away.

Every pregnancy has its challenges and I’m certain every mother tries her best to do what is right for her unborn child, including correct nutrition, avoiding known substances that might harm their baby, sleeping only on her side and keeping the mind as pure as possible. To name a few. But even going to the grocery store has become a rather stressful event in ensuring healthy food is available at home. My need for control has taken on a new level. Surely I’m not too alone in that, as we each do our best to get by with the restrictions in place, set by stronger powers. 

I felt I was doing pretty well in gathering my little tribe of woman together prior to the time I found out I was pregnant. I miss them all and wish we could see one another at a time I need them the most. My mum. She is battling rounds of chemo right through all of this. Her immunity is so low that it becomes too big of a risk to be in contact. Besides being on the other side of a policed border. My dad who was due to visit from NZ won’t get to see me pregnant, at least not this time around. While it sounds like a cruel punishment has been handed down on, I know there will be so much goodness to come out of this and I can’t let my mind collapse. 

I was thinking the other day how much of a unique time it is to be bringing life into a world that has in essence, been forced to hit the reset button. By the time our baby is old enough to start comprehending bits and pieces of life, things would have irreversibly changed about the way we live our lives, where others will be kind to perfect strangers and the air in which we breathe is once again pure. I know this baby will be much needed medicine not just for their mumma and their pappa, but for so many who are struggling in these times. After all, we must all remember the delicate dance of life and death. 

Why women were born to surf.And have babies

I recently caught up with a pretty special lady that I met through a mutual friend out in the surf. We each shared our vastly different experiences coming back from Indo trips over the years. Let’s just say her Bali belly was of a different nature to that of a non-refrigerated plate of nasi goreng.  In fact, she’s the only women I’ve met where I’ve recognized the striking connection between surfing and childbirth. I was rather intrigued by her sophisticated transition from a lady surfer to a baby’s mamma. As we sat over lattes at her local beachside café, she gracefully caressed her now six-month old, revealing her lavish smile as she retells the most defining chapter of her life.  

And that’s where it struck me. We jokingly made mention of our cupcake baking besties and their direct experiences of childbirth, and how they differed from those that she knew as surfers. The environment is more of a rough, testosterone filled line-up, where your cute bikini doesn’t mean much in the often dog-eat-dog habitat. And no I’m not talking about the dance of male pursuing female, although I now see it reads alike. I’m actually referring to all the risk factors of surfing, and how it’s a few notches above a mild burn, off a torn oven mitt pulling out that tray of freshly baked cupcakes.

She distinctly remembers hyperventilating on her hospital bed as the nurses attemptedhealthy living to relieve her immense pain with a gas mask. Through belts of laughter, she explained how she ran for the hospital door, ripping out all of her monitors, screaming ‘I can’t do this! I’m leaving!’ as the nurses ran after her.

After realising there wasn’t any going back, and the birth was in fact happening, like right now, she managed to calm her mind, and in turn her pain, from a very different source. One that’s not available in your regular hospital medical cabinets.  She vividly sketched the surface of a calm ocean surface in her mind, breathing deep as she remembered the silky feeling of a summer’s sea caressing her arms and fingertips, as she carelessly paddled through the line-up.

In describing surfing, she explained the all too familiar burning sensation of shoulders and arms, as you desperately desire that one perfect wave. The lifetime of deep fin slashes, bruises, burning reef cuts, jelly fish stings, infections and all other aspects of surfing that seem to add a coat of armour, to what could have been a life baking cupcakes. Not that we hold anything against our cupcake baking queens.

She was of the firm view that women who surf have a higher pain threshold. But I think32204_400218545167_814411_n it’s much deeper than a physical element. Mentally we hold those magical moments out in the ocean in the forefront of our mind. Often drifting off into daydream, far away from our current reality. And I know how much of a lulling effect that has upon flashback. I think the power of the ocean continues to live within, no matter how long it’s been since your last session.

I’m sure there’s that special kinship of once developing in the wound of salty fluid yourself, and that connection to the salt water as a surfer. Something I’m yet to describe in words. As for surfing with a young baby, constantly craving mum’s presence, I’ve never seen a girl so excited to get out into the surf at any given opportunity. It just makes me smile so big. But she just knew in her heart when she was ready. That pivotal moment when she realised there was something bigger to life than just surfing. As for the link between surfing and pregnancy; does it make us invincible? As much as we like to think that, I’m sure nothing will compare to the pain and challenge, we’re just equipped with a certain set of coping mechanisms, that are as unique as our salted gills, absent in our non-aquarian counterparts.