This past week, we welcomed our second daughter, Noelia, into the world. Her timing was truly impeccable. Contractions started early in the afternoon and then gradually picked up through the evening, but not until I was able to tuck my older daughter cozily in bed. Then I sat on the couch, and started timing my contractions. They were picking up in intensity but their timing was all over the place. My midwife and doula both told me to try to relax and get some sleep, and then BAM!, 4 minutes apart, 1 minute in duration, one after the other after the other.
My poor husband whose biggest nightmare has been being alone with me and having to deliver a baby in the car threw everything together and essentially drug me to the car so that we could head to the hospital. To his great relief, we made it safely to the hospital and no babies were birthed on the way.
After all that I've been through over the past two and half years, I had a lot of ideas about how this labor would go. I thought I would feel a lot more zen and able to appreciate the process of labor being done through me. Well, let me tell you that in reality, it was HARD AS HELL, and really nothing about it felt zen. All I wanted was for it to be over, and then when it was over, I felt incredibly disoriented and disconnected. Those feeling passed, of course, as they always do, and even thought the experience didn't feel very zen and spiritual, there was something that really stuck with me from it.
With both of my girls, I've opted to do natural births, which of course means feeling lots of things, but primarily unbelievable PRESSURE. As labor progresses, the pressure gets bigger and bigger and bigger. The thing is, if the baby is going to come out, you have to relax into the pressure and even welcome the pressure. The greater the pressure, the closer you are to holding a baby in your arms. The more you tense up against the pressure or try to avoid the pressure, the longer the process takes.
About an hour before Noelia was born, I was feeling rather miserable, and the contractions were coming faster and stronger than ever. My doula was coaching me through the contractions via zoom because of Covid 19 hospital restrictions, and she said something during one of them that struck a cord deep inside me: "
Katherine, it won't get bigger than you."
Even though the contraction was as intense as ever, those words brought a sense of calm and peace into my body like true things always do. I knew that what she was saying was true for the contractions, but i knew that it was also true for whatever experience I encounter in life. It won't get bigger than you.
The monsters of terrifying or depressive thoughts and the torrents of strong emotions and bodily sensations that come with anxiety and depression can feel like they will absolutely engulf you. However, the reality is that regardless of the storm they seem to create, they are only shadows, passing energy. They mean nothing about you, they can do nothing to you aside from create feeling, and they will never ever get bigger than you.
What might change for you if you really knew that whatever thoughts or feelings plague you will never get bigger than you? Your panic attacks, your intrusive thoughts, your depressive thoughts, your suicidal thoughts - none of them can get bigger than you. You are the one who sees them and experiences them, but they are nothing more than blips of energy that your personal mind made up from its databases of old, bad psychology. You don't have to run from them or even take them into account anymore. You also don't need to figure out what they mean or where they came from. All you need to know is that they won't get bigger than you. Most likely, just like with birth, whatever painful thing that is passing through you is trying to pass through so that it can be released, so that whatever shitty stories invented by your psychology that may have silently plagued you for years and motivated your behavior can come to light so that you can be free of them.
So go ahead. Melt into the pressure, welcome the pressure. It won't get bigger than you, and seeing who you really are underneath your experience will make your life bigger and more wonderful than you probably ever dreamed.