As I prepare to give birth (TOMORROW!!), I've been thinking a lot about fear.
Traumatic events--be it deaths or illnesses, violations of trust or physical injuries--leave a psychological scar. The more traumatic the event, the deeper the scar. I picture these scars as actual, literal dead spots on my brain, places where neural pathways have been forced to detour. In the years since my brother died; since I've struggled with a gastrointestinal disorder; since I've undergone physical therapy, surgery, and more physical therapy for an injury; since I've experienced multiple rounds of treatment for infertility and two pregnancy losses, I've developed quite the network of detours.
These detours are Fear and Anxiety. Somewhere, in the midst of facing life's challenges, my brain started to believe (or hope, anyway) that it could avoid pain if it predicted it. I could prepare myself for disaster and disappointment ahead of time, I thought. And so began my habit of cataloging Worst Case Scenarios.
The logical part of my brain (which thankfully still exists, though it is sometimes cut off by road blocks) knew that this would never work. Bad things, hard things, kept happening, and they kept hurting. All my detours did was make the time between events (good or bad) miserable. They functioned like literal road detours: they were cumbersome, winding, and inconvenient. They were frustrating. They seemed to lead nowhere. And yet I'd been using them for so long that they'd become the actual path.
This pregnancy has been difficult for me. After so many failures, success feels too good to be true. From what I've heard from other women who have experienced pregnancy after infertility, this is common. It's hard to trust that something we've wanted for so long and worked so hard for is possible. There have been times, many times, over the past 38 weeks that I've let myself follow those sneaky, snaky backroads.
And what I've learned is this: that's okay.
When I'm able to be mindful of the detours, when I am able to recognize the patterns of fear and anxiety in my thinking, when I am able to acknowledge those patterns without judgment, the road disappears. The road doesn't need to exist. The moment is what matters, and it is a space both defined and infinite.
Tomorrow I enter the unknown, and whatever combination of joy and fear it brings. But today? Today I am nervous and scared and excited. Today I am here.