Falling in Love With H.B.
Posted on Nov. 6, 2007 at 11:32 a.m.
For a Hopeful Season
Rachel sat with her arms folded resolutely across her chest...."NO, having a baby is NOT like having dogs!! I am so tired of people assuming that because I love having my dogs, I will automatically be a good mom!" Her clear blue eyes stared back at me, challenging me to refute her opinion. Mildly, I returned her gaze saying, "It sounds pretty clear that you really do not want to have children. It really is the best decision for many couples, even if it is not the most popular choice in our culture." This seemed to bring little comfort to Rachel, and was the first of many of our therapy sessions around this topic.
Over the next several years post that original conversation around babies, Rachel continued to struggle. She seemed mostly in conflict with herself, wrestling with fears, questions and doubts, yet unwilling to rest with her decision to not have children. She and her husband have a delightful and intimate friendship, partnership and lovership. In lieu of children, Rachel created a vast network of beloved friends, and has been the link connecting many people to one another all over the country. She and her husband have traveled the world extensively and Rachel abounds with love, generosity and a true sense of zest and a joy for living. Ironically, she describes herself as a pessimist. I have never been able to agree with that premise of hers, as what I experience underneath Rachel's razor-sharp, dry and self-deprecating humor is a vulnerability to life and loss. She has had to fight hard to emerge as a woman able to first be able to hear and then have confidence in her own true voice and in her ability to validate her worth in the world. Knowing that her husband wanted children weighed heavily on her heart, yet she remained unwilling to make such a crucial decision based on that reason alone.
No matter how many times it seemed that Rachel had resolutely determined to not have children, the discussion continued to appear in our conversations. There was some spark of doubt in her that she kept her engaged with the question. Friend upon friend had babies, and then even a second round of babies. Rachel's inner clock was ticking away as she approached her late thirties, still undecided. What it all finally came down to was fear.....fear of losing herself, fear of what seemed the overwhelming task of parenting a child successfully, fear of changing her precious relationship with her husband. And yet, she persevered in pushing herself to know, really know, deep inside of herself that she could say no to his experience and not have regrets. Try as she would, Rachel could not reach that clear conclusion. She had her husband join her for therapy sessions, and together we crafted what would become a "pre-baby agreement", outlining agreements on both parts as to their role of parenting and partnering, soothing some of her fears. Ultimately, on her on accord, Rachel bought a basal body thermometer, an ovulation kit and prayer beads! And, wouldn't you know it, she got pregnant on the first go-round?!
Rachel continued to be as detached as possible. She made every effort to remain objective and aware of every possible risk in early pregnancy, and yet I could see the tender hope emanating from her as she told me the news. She very factually reported her progress, and feverishly read every day about the stage of development that was occurring. While her friends had named their unknown embryos and fetus' with clever and endearing in-utero names, Rachel decided on the most basic H.B. to stand for heart beat, all that she could identify with at that point. She would dutifully report in a very unemotional fashion the latest news about her pregnancy with H.B. And then, one day, Rachel came in noticeably shaken. I looked at her with concern and she quickly reassured me that the pregnancy was fine. I felt calmer and yet confused as I saw tears forming in Rachel's eyes and spilling out onto her cheeks in a steady little stream. I sat quietly as she reflected on some inner scene and waited until she felt ready to share her story. Here is what she said: " You know, I walk in the park almost every day, and think about what is happening to me. So far, it has almost felt as if it has been a dream, or happening to someone else. I haven't felt much except worry that everything was really going ok, how much my life was going to change...all of that." (I watched Rachel as she talked, at the softness of her voice and the tears that continued to drip from her face onto her t-shirt. She was not even in the room at that point, but rather in her own private experience.) "And then, as I was walking, I realized that I already love H.B. - that I can do everything I can in my effort to remain rational, and yet, somehow, in the midst of all of that, I have fallen in love with H.B."
I can feel my own heart melt as I think of Rachel and her long path to overcoming deep fear to open her heart to a new life. In this season of hope, miracles and the honoring of birth, I wanted to share this story in iTHRiVE's desire to bring hope to your own lives. We wish each and every one of you a season of health, joy, connection, love, light and ZEST!!
Randi, Daniela, Anne and Paula