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This is Part 1 of Grow, Little Baby! :
This past December, I made a birthday wish I’ve never made before — to start a family with my husband, to be a mother, to birth a healthy baby.
As of today, I’m pregnant, just over 4 months along and completely elated.
Of course, every new mother wants a wonderful life for her child. I have so many fond hopes and dreams for mine, so I thought I’d chronicle them here on BahaiTeachings while I take a look, mostly to remind myself, at the Baha’i philosophy of child-rearing. This set of essays will follow my pregnancy and culminate when our little person decides to make the transition from the womb-world to this one.
I feel a huge responsibility to provide a strong start to the being growing inside me, both physically and metaphysically. In fact, I feel that my entire days could easily be filled with preparing myself healthy foods, walking my midwife-recommended five miles per day (5!), finding time to meditate, pray, read, write, reflect, stretch and go to bed.
But in all honesty, I am having one heck of a time juggling all these new requirements for my health and growing-baby’s health between work, unpacking (we just moved), organizing, sewing special projects (I have a vision of a colorful cushion on top of a bookshelf we flipped on its side to act as a bench), all while keeping some perspective (and humor – let’s not forget humor) on my surging emotions, hormones and hunger levels. Oh, and I have to remember to keep communicating with friends and family!
In the early weeks, I began talking to my body, visualizing the tiny zygote embedding in my uterus, seeing my body building its child-bearing membranes including a strong placental barrier. I try to picture all the nutrients I’m eating — beans, quinoa, fruit, yogurt, chicken, fish, kale, beets, sunflower seeds, almonds, plus supplements and tons of water — being carried in the bloodstream through my body and nourishing both myself and the growing light inside me.
Can I just tell you — it blows my mind that my body is MAKING an umbilical cord!!! That’s a huge new set of veins that I’m building! And believe me, I don’t just credit my body with building it; I credit the wisdom of my body through generations and generations of development.
I am totally in awe of the miraculousness of the human body: that this little being started as TWO CELLS and now can move four limbs around, and start to use kidneys and develop sweat glands and a nervous system and a heart!
Because so many of the changes going on in my body are not apparent from the outside at this early stage, I have to make an effort to connect to this little being inside of me. When I turn to a conversation with God, I use prayer to ask for guidance. I’ve been asking that the Divine will have a loving hand in the development of the physical body and the soul of this little light:
O my Lord, I dedicate that which is in my womb unto Thee. Then cause it to be a praiseworthy child in Thy Kingdom and a fortunate one by Thy favor and Thy generosity; to develop and to grow up under the charge of Thine education. – Abdu’l-Baha, Prayer for Expectant Mothers, Baha’i Prayers, p. 65.
When I reflect on this Baha’i prayer, I am reminded that I am a vessel for the growth of this child’s body and soul, both in utero and in parenting after birth. I am reminded, too, that while this spirit physically comes from my husband and myself; all our spirits come from God, and we each have our own path and experiences in life.
My heart fills with joy when I pray, asking for divine guidance for the child’s fortune and spiritual education. I think of all the wonderful lessons and people that this tiny babe will encounter in the life ahead; and all the opportunities my child will have to practice the attributes of thoughtfulness, kindness, love, initiative and creativity.
So for today, I feel assured that I am part of a partnership: a partnership between my husband and myself to make and birth and raise this beautiful and completely unique individual we’ve started to grow. The three of us also dance in a partnership with God, the source of all life, who grants us this miracle. When I think of it that way, I feel a little less pressure to be in charge of everything. Instead, I want to just do my best, one moment, one meal, one walk, one prayer at a time.