When I Was Pregnant

by Laura Uplinger

My pregnancy was a privileged one.

My husband Hal and I were deeply moved at the idea of welcoming a new person to this planet.

Within a week after having conceived, I clearly sensed changes in my body’s fluids, and my mood seemed immersed in a smile. With reverence, I rejoiced at the + indicator of the pregnancy test. Yes, we were expecting!

The following months were filled with delicious anticipation: who was coming to share our lives?

For the previous twelve years I had been studying and heralding the importance of a pregnant woman’s state of mind, and was aware that now my inner life was being translated moment-to-moment into my blood’s biochemistry, permeating every fiber of the baby growing in my womb. What a momentous affair!

I was thankful for my good health and our beautiful home in Washington, DC.

When Thomas Verny invited Hal and me to serve on the Board of directors of the Pre-& Perinatal Psychology Association of North America— PPPANA*— our pregnancy had just begun, and we considered this honor an early present from our child.  

Alice Bailes was to be my midwife; I had chosen her at a talk by Michel Odent, several months prior to conceiving. I announced to her, “You will be my midwife,” “Are you pregnant?” she asked, “Not yet,” I answered. She smiled. Little did she know that I would be almost 24 weeks pregnant at my first visit in her BirthCare office in Alexandria, Virginia.

To simply be me at my best was a daunting task, a fascinating and humbling enterprise. I was surrounded by friends, books, and music that inspired me, and took walks along the banks of the majestic Potomac. Trust, friendship and reverence accompanied me; they were my offering to the universe.  I somehow felt I needed to “unlearn” what the “student and professional me” knew about embryology and prenatal psychology. This was a time for enhanced communion: Life was working through me. I had become the vessel for a new body, and this little one needed more from me than an intellectual performance. I was to give the very substance of my being.

That summer I traveled to the south of France and immersed myself for two months in my spiritual community at the Bonfin, Omraam’s summer retreat place. Every day, hundreds of us greeted the sun’s first rays in meditation, listened to gorgeous conferences (which I often translated simultaneously into Spanish) and sang in a marvelous choir. Delicious natural foods, the bread of companionship with old and new friends, quiet solitude, prayer, beloved books, and lots of laughter favored with the scent of lavender and fertile earth. Hal was there with me for several weeks, and we even went hiking one daywith another pregnant coupleon a nearby mountain.

I was fortunate to have learned much about pregnancy, birth and babies long before embarking on the journey of pre-birth parenting. Shouldn’t this happen for every future parent? Shouldn’t schools teach how we are born and formed in the womb, especially now with the advent of epigenetics? I so wished that pregnant women all over the world would enjoy opportunities at least as good as mine. I felt something akin to the sinking uneasiness we experience when relishing a meal while knowing that so many don’t have enough to eat…  When on earth will we collectively address the making of a human being? Let’s apply the power of prenatal life to solve our heath and social problems, and give to our planet a robust, creative and peaceful civilization!  

Then it was time for a nurturing visit to my parents and friends in Belgium, as well as a few days in London to attend my brother’s wedding, before returning to Washington and assisting Rima Laibow in her chairing of the 4th international PPPANA congress Frontiers and Frontlines of Human Development. The partnership with Rima, her brilliance, energy and radiance, was a wondrous inspiration to me.   

Something, though, was sorely missing: being with other pregnant women, the blessed synergy that takes over when expectant mothers partake in activities like singing, painting, weaving… Omraam had envisioned a plan for the heads of state all over the world:  

“I shall ask the government to develop lands well exposed to sunlight in some of the most beautiful places of the country. And on these sites, I shall ask them to build houses of a style and colors that I shall indicate. There will also be parks and gardens with trees and flowers, fountains […]. In these settings —with room and board paid by the government— expectant mothers will come and spend their whole pregnancy, in a beautiful and poetic atmosphere in which they will read, go for walks and listen to music…”

It was 1988, and I so wanted to sojourn in such a cradle. Alas, in spite of significant discoveries in the fields of embryogenesis, biology, obstetrics, neuroimmuno-physiology, and transpersonal psychology, which corroborate the relevance of the teachings of many spiritual traditions, no government had yet embarked on the path of fostering conscious pregnancy. 

But Hal and I committed to this plan more strongly than ever, fully understanding its relevance and urgency, certain that in a near future humanity will fathom the relevance of prenatal life, and humans will finally be well formed and well equipped to live a fulfilling, intelligent and generous life. 

Two days past my due date I woke up in the middle of the night with strong contractions three minutes apart. They were “silent” contractions: I could sense my belly tensing up, but no pain whatsoever. I felt elated. Birth was knocking at the door—what a glorious rendezvous! 

We were ready to meet the baby “outside.” I took a luscious shower while Hal started a fire in the living room fireplace. Alice Bailes arrived and three hours later a peaceful little girl, Sarah, was born in our living room by the fire’s enthralling light.

My mother had told me that her labors were painless, and I had witnessed one such labor in a Brazilian maternity ward, but I did not expect to birth without contraction pains. My cervix effaced, fully dilated, I pushed slowly, sometimes even sleeping between contractions. (Had I been made to lie on my back strapped to a hospital table, I would have been furious!) I felt solemnly connected to every woman who had given birth before me; it was now my time and I could savor the joy of deeply surrendering to the powerful flow of labor. 

Why is this kind of birth so rare? Why are so few babies born without crying, their gracious hands open and relaxed, their gaze ready to penetrate us—oh so sweetly? Shouldn’t all women be allowed to birth their children in intimacy and serenity?

Such experiences set the stage for a harmonious breastfeeding, and enable us for the joys of parenting, while clarifying and easing its conflicts. There is much we can offer to the generations to come, so that they are prepared to embrace Life.

*PPPANA is now APPPAH, the Association for Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology and Health —  www.birthpsychology.com 

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