Pregnancy and writing…it’s all practice
Post by Chintana Ahlund
It is said that the present is pregnant with the future. ~Voltaire
Olives and Oprah. These were the first signs of my pregnancy. One morning nine months ago, I woke up craving olives for breakfast. Overtaken by this odd and sudden urge, I found myself plopped on the couch, indulging in a jar of kalamata olives with slices of manchego cheese and watching the Oprah Winfrey Network…for hours!
Pregnancy, I realize, has everything to do with writing. It’s all part of the practice of slowing down, tuning inward and connecting to things that we crave in life…accepting all the daily changes that occur…paying attention to our personal growth and nurturing what is kind and real within us.
Consider what I jotted during my writing practice and pregnancy. A quote from Charlotte’s Web: “Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.” Another one from Winnie the Pooh: “A grand adventure is about to begin.” And a solid piece of advice: “there’s no one way to be a perfect mother. But there’s a million ways to be a good one.”
Pregnancy and writing…it’s all a practice of being present.
Cravings & Growth
Olives. Chicken liver. Mustard. Pickle juice. Women crave the strangest things when pregnant. Writers experience the same thing when feeling creative.
Random and strange foods can serve as interesting writing prompts.
- Try listing a few weird things to eat. Then go. Write for 3 minutes without crossing out on each item.
Cravings contain energy. Use it to write.
- Try writing for ten minutes without crossing out. Begin with, “I crave…”
- What’s growing within you? Write your response. Pick up a pen and go for ten minutes without crossing out.
All writers are familiar with the nesting energy that most women experience during pregnancy. This is a time to hunker down and get focused for birthing. When that novel, memoir or poem is ready to be expressed. Pick a prompt and go. Let the pen flow. Channel the energy. The dishes can wait.
Modifications & Support
When you are pregnant, you have to seek support from others and modify many of your routines. I’ve had to adjust my yoga practice by using the wall, blocks, blankets and a birthing ball. My sitting and walking meditations are shorter. My diet is supplemented with vitamins and extra snacks. And sometimes my husband has to help me tie my shoes.
We all encounter a time in our writing practice where we could use some help. Sometimes writing alone can be tiring, alienating and frustrating. When this happens, seek support or begin to modify your practice.
- Ask someone to write with you. Meet at a bookstore or cafe. Write for ten minutes before engaging in a full conversation. See how it feels to be in the presence of others when writing. If you can’t arrange a writing date, call up a friend and ask them to simply listen to you read aloud some of your writing. Sharing your written thoughts, feelings and memories can be a great source of relief. Suddenly you realize that you’re not crazy after all. Someone understands.
- While routine can set you free, it can also feel tiring. So, why not change things up? If you typically write prose, try writing poetry. How about a three line haiku? Or make lists instead of sentences? Go out with a camera and take photos of things that inspire you: the blooming azaleas, teething Bald Cypresses, a bumper sticker. Use the photos as writing prompts. Maybe practice detailing and describing the photo with words. Maybe download a transcribing software and try speaking your words instead of writing them. Adding a new dimension to your practice can spark curiousity and revive your sense of creativity.
Patience & Pushing
Writer, Nora Ephron, once said that, “if pregnancy were a book they would cut the last two chapters.” Most women patiently progress through the first two trimesters of their pregnancy. But by the time a woman reaches full-term, she’s ready to hear the magic word: push. The same is true of writing. There’s a time to push yourself and a time for patience. Remember that it takes time to manifest something sacred, true and lasting. Also remember that no effort is ever lost in this practice.
Walk & Notice
“Go for a slow mindful walk. Show them every little thing that catches your eye. Notice every little thing that catches theirs. Don’t look for lessons or seek to teach great things. Just notice. The lesson will teach itself.” ~ The Parent’s Tao Te Ching
Walking is an essential exercise in pregnancy, parenting and writing practice. The Buddha taught, “The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.” You come to know where you stand during walking practice. So pay attention and don’t wobble. Walking slowly and mindfully stimulates your entire body: eyes, nose, ears, hips, legs and feet. It’s a way to ground yourself, to connect to your inner and outer surroundings. A breeze fingers the oak trees and a deep knowing blows through you. Let nature stimulate your being and your writing.