Mamas on Bedrest: What Do You Desire?

November 16th, 2010

I went to a “Desire Intensive” this past weekend with “Mama Gena” Regena Thomashauer. The intensive was just that and along with much pageantry, there was a lot of substance. Mama Gena kept bringing the focus back to, “What do you desire?” It was a question that left a lot of us dumbfounded.

What do you desire? For many of us, the immediate answers are “a good life,” “lots of money” or “a mate”. And let’s not forget the favorite, “I just want to be happy.” But what does that really mean? As Mama Gena pointed out, when we answer “a good life,” we have a vision in our minds of what a good life is, what it looks like, where we’d be living, what we’d be doing and with whom. What is lots of money? Does that mean the ability to no longer live paycheck to paycheck or that you want to be a global economic force? And as far as a mate, do you want a legal spouse, someone with whom you share your life yet may never marry, or a companion but not an intimate partner? It’s these specifics that Mama Gena forced us to gaze upon and to ruminate over to discern just what we want out of our lives.

So I’m taking a page out of Mama Gena’s book. Mamas on Bedrest, what do you desire for the child (or children) that you are currently carrying? When I was struggling with my own pregnancies, my response was simply “I just want a healthy baby”.

It’s true that we all want our children to be healthy. However, most of us have a dream, an ideal, a desire of the type of life we want for our children. Perhaps we want them to be able to go to schools that we were unable to attend, to have clothes or toys or other opportunities that we didn’t have.  Maybe we want to share experiences with them that gave us great joy or to teach them certain things about our families or life. Whatever our desires for our children may be, I would be willing to wager a large sum that it’s more than simply being “a healthy baby.”

I feel this most acutely with my daughter. She was my first successful, and most difficult, pregnancy. I did want her to be born healthy. I believed that once she got here everything else would take care of itself. But in truth, I wanted so much more for her. Yet, when I was pregnant with her I was so worried that I would lose her that I rarely if ever focused on her future-not even the near future just after her birth.

There is a saying in my tradition that goes, “The mother’s temperament during pregnancy will be transferred to the baby.” I have no evidence to back this statement but my if my daughter’s personality and behavior are any indicator there is some truth to the statement. While I was pregnant with my daughter I lived totally in fear of losing her. I spotted early on and had cramping early in the second trimester. I was nauseated for the entire pregnancy and had a barrage of aches and pains. By the time the third trimester rolled around, I just wanted her out. The way she rumbled and roamed around my belly, I think she felt the same way and at 36 weeks and 6 days, we were both obliged by intractable labor and an immediate cesarean section delivery.

Now, 8 years later I have a beautiful and smart little girl who is friendly and outgoing, but lacks confidence and often fears something bad is going to happen. As I have said, I have no evidence that my thoughts during my pregnancy with her somehow transferred to her personality, but I can’t help wondering if there isn’t some truth to the sayings of the wise women in my family.

If I had it to do over I would have focused my energy on being strong and confident in the fact that I was finally pregnant and that despite many of the “road bumps”  I was doing well. I would have focused on the positive aspects of being an African American woman in this often cold and unfriendly American culture. I would have collected mementos and trinkets from family members like my grandparents that had already passed on, who possessed wisdom and experience and who lived such extraordinary lives in the face of adversity and as a result she now benefits from their acts of courage. I was unaware of the mind/body connection then. Rather than lament missed opportunities,  I act from where I am now doing my best to infuse her with all the bits of wisdom that I have amassed.

Mamas on Bedrest, you have a golden opportunity. I understand your fears and concerns about your pregnancies.  However, I want to encourage you to shift your focus from fear and worry to desire. What do you desire for your baby? Dwell on it, dream about it. As it says in the bible,

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”

Philippians 4:8

If you want your baby to have a strong foundation in your family history, ask older family members to record their stories-either in print, via recording or best of all, via video. Read your favorite books to your baby. Play your favorite music to your baby. As the saying goes, if you can believe it, you can receive it.

There has been much written about the power of the mind to create. I believe this to be true. So Mamas on Bedrest, with your abundance of time to create, give in to your dreams and dwell on the desires that you have for yourself, your family and your new little baby.

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