I have been playing with the simple question ‘why do we have different experiences?’. Here is the result!
Each step we take on our Childbearing Journey, we are constructing our experiences. We draw from the energy that keeps our proverbial lights on and fires burning, we take a few strands of thought, pour on consciousness, and swirl it all around.
Our ‘thoughts’ begin to come to us in utero, and as tiny new creatures, this is how we process the vibrant concoction of sensations that are our first experiences. On the most basic level, babies are conscious that they are. Though they do not conceive of themselves as a separate entity, much less a person, they are aware of experiencing something.
By the time we grow up, that cup of sensory data has been combined with a spoonful of ego, a handful of schema, a dash of culture, a cup of sensory data, a drop of knowledge, a pinch of habit, assorted memories, and a dab of common sense. It is all in there in our thoughts, mingling in our consciousness.
Warning! Contents May Vary
Depending on the balance of our mind mix, some ingredients may dominate others. We have our feelings, our sense of self, basic structures for interpreting events, our social background, the messages we are receiving via our senses, our ideas about what is true, accustomed modes of thinking, and some guiding intuition about what is going to feed us best in that moment. It is from this heady brew that we experience ourselves, our bodies, and our world.
All the mental ingredients, that we develop as we grow, add greater degrees of complexity to our experiences: Whereas babies and young children have a more narrow range of meaning making options, they have a natural inclination to select healthy ingredients more of the time. Adults have a great deal more choice in terms of the meanings we create about the things that happen to us, but this can lead us away from the intuition that helps keep our younger counterparts on an even keel. As a result, the quality of our experience can be quite variable depending on what our consciousness is working on at a given moment. As with diet, we get used to feeding ourselves from a repertoire of staple foods, which we are in the habit of creating and consuming often. The degree to which we nourish or deprive ourselves with these staples has a huge impact on our sense of wellbeing and our happiness.
Discovering There Is A Bun In Your Oven
To explore how and why similar experiences vary, I have written about my experiences of getting a positive pregnancy test. I have had this event occur four times, and the mechanics are almost exactly the same. However, each instance was a unique experience, and very much felt that way.
Each time I discovered I was pregnant, I found myself perched on a toilet seat, holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand, with a deep sensation in my stomach that would say ‘Oh!!!!!!’ If it could talk. A stunned moment, a crashing silence, a heartbeat, then a torrent of thoughts. Each time I was sitting on a different toilet, at a different moment in my life, with a different stream of thoughts, creating very different feelings….
The first time I was in a guest house in Lisbon, about to fly home for Christmas. The pregnancy was not very planned, but welcome. We had been floating the idea of starting a family. I wanted to get pregnant. We had not been ‘trying’ just not preventing either, and it turned out that we had conceived a child. We got a doctor’s appointment the next day, just to check, and he confirmed that this was the real deal. I was eager to become a mother, excited, happy, but also had a sense of going down the rabbit hole. A new pregnancy is a new world opening up before you. A shift in reality, where you know that whatever happens, this is the start if a new phase in your life. Still, it was very exciting, talking to the little heartbeat down there, and I relished this new experience of sharing my body. I sometimes got freaked out reading ‘how to’ pregnancy guides, and trying to work out what to change in my lifestyle. I did not want to get anything wrong.
The second time was autumn, our green bathroom, when our firstborn had just turned one. I had mixed feelings, not least because we had only had unprotected sex once, one night when we had had a few drinks, and I had taken the morning after pill the day after. Still, here I was with a very evident line showing that nature had different ideas. I was not sure I was ready. We had decided to try for a second in a few months from now, to give me time to complete my masters course. Our little girl had only just weaned and I had been enjoying having my body to myself. I felt invaded. Then I was happy. Then I was angry. Then I was calm. I was just getting used to the pregnancy a few weeks later, when I miscarried for no apparent reason. Just one of those things. Though it had been early days, I grieved the loss, and felt a palpable emptiness.
The third time was our white bathroom, and a vindication. A few months after our miscarriage, my husband and I had got busy. Spring time was just beginning. I entered the world of tracking ovulation, calendars, cervical mucus, analysis. I watched my body closely after my ovulation date, and picked up a lot of positive signs. I felt pregnant. I knew I was pregnant. I did a test. It was negative. I was disheartened, but still felt pregnant. I still knew. One week and two tests later the little pink line finally appeared. I was excited, relieved, and so very grateful. As the days passed, I moved between excitement and anxiety, but this baby seemed to want to stay put. I was happy to be expecting, but also glad that we had been able to conceive again so fast. I thought it likely that if I had not been able to for a time, then I would have been frustrated and depressed. I could have created a lot of suffering for myself over it, because I found it hard to accept that I could not control this process.
The last time was my parents’ bathroom around Christmas again. Once again, we had been flirting with the idea of a baby, but had not begun to ‘try’. We had had unprotected sex, but not when I was ovulating, or so I had assumed. I had only had one period since my son had weaned, so I guess my cycle had not yet established itself. For a few days I had sensed my body doing something, and bought a test just in case. My dad and I had took the children for a ride on the Santa Express, and as we climbed aboard I felt a familiar hot flush, and resolved to do the test as soon as I could. I didn’t pee for the rest of the outing, and sure enough when we got back to my mum and dad’s house, there was that telltale pink line again. I was taken aback and felt panic at how we would manage three children, how would our family dynamic change, was this fair to the other kids? As the evening wore on I went back and forth in my mind. By the time we were back in Portugal the following week, I knew that I felt a deep connection with this baby, which trumped logistics every time.
So there you have it, my four experiences of finding out that I was pregnant. Same same, but different. I might add that I am grateful to have had each experience, and cannot imagine life without my children being just as they are. Sometimes I have cross, ungrateful experiences too, but the more that I see how my thoughts create these experiences, and that we are fluid and surprising in the way that we show up in the world, the more I love, the more I hope, and the more I appreciate what life can bring, planned or unplanned!
What about your experiences? Do you notice similarities and differences in your life? What creates the experience of difference in similar situations? How did it look and feel different?
What about pregnancy testing scenarios? What have they meant to you?
Go ahead and share with me! Post a comment below or pop into the Mamajestic Facebook Group and tell me.
Lots of love,