When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I fell into a state of panic. I wouldn't have admitted this to myself at the time, let alone anyone else. How did this happen? I was always in control of my life - I called the shots, I took responsibility for my decisions, so who was this baby coming into our lives, when we had plans for other things?
This was the beginning of a 3-month long depression, from about March - May 2011. I knew I was depressed (the hormones weren't helping), but, as is often the case with depression, I couldn't shake it. I had every reason to be happy - pregnant, great husband, beautiful daughter, loved my house, job, family and friends. Had my health. My meditation cushion waited for me to return but I only gave it sideways glances - too hard basket. I also made excuses that I was too nauseous and tired to practice yoga. Yet at the same time, I searched for answers. I searched the many dozens of self enrichment books perched on my bookshelf for signs of help, but I was convinced these didn't apply to my situation. I scoured the internet, listened to dharma, spoke to friends, cried. Still nothing.
So how did I get out of it? I turned within. I had been trying to ignore the incessant stories going on in my head, but I'd had enough of the complaining. So, I listened instead. I gave my soul the time. And what came forth was a deeper understanding of what was going on. How could I possibly love this child as much as Olive? Did I have enough love? Surely I couldn't consider anyone else to be as special as Olive? Did I really deserve to have another child and the happiness it brings? What was this fear of being happy?
The realisation that I feared having enough love for my baby was a powerful lesson in the Buddhist teaching of maitri. Maitri is self love, or an unconditional friendliness and compassion for oneself, and I realised this was what was missing and that I had to bring back. Most of us don't have enough of it. Cultivating maitri is the foundation of bringing forth love into the world, and when one practices maitri, one realises their love is infinite. Of course I had enough love for this child! I had huge reservoirs of the stuff! When I practiced maitri, it became clear just how much love I had yet to give to my unborn child, my family and the world. So I gave myself a break, and gave my soul the hug she so needed.
This new insight was perfectly timed with the beginning of the second trimester. Boy was I happy, and yes, we ultimately had a beautiful boy, Archer Colin Smyth.
When you love your whole self, you can love the whole world.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Monday, September 3, 2012
What have you learned about returning to work after parental leave? Can you add any of your own tips?