Becoming Mama, Part 1: Pregnancy
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.
Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you,
so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”
I am one of those women who enjoyed being pregnant. I felt like a Goddess creating life: my hair was full, my skin glowed. I was blissfully happy. I had this undeniable sense of confidence that radiantly shined throughout my body. Although I did experience the discomforts of pregnancy such as morning sickness in my first trimester and feeling very tired every so often, by time I became pregnant, I had a yoga practice in place which I leaned on completely.
Because of my yoga practice, I knew how to listen to my body and act accordingly to what my body was saying. I treated my body like it was creating precious life, because, well, it was. I regularly saw a massage therapist, chiropractor, and practiced yoga daily. In fact, I was able to teach dance and practice yoga throughout my entire pregnancy.
My life revolved around me and my baby. When I was tired, I took a nap. I gave myself permission to change my work schedule according to what I needed to feel supported in my pregnancy. I, in essence, made myself a priority and invested in my health and relationships, which is something I didn’t know how to do until I developed a yoga practice, or what I like to call a process for living well.
I also had the unique experience of training to become a certified yoga teacher while I was pregnant. I originally enrolled in the program for professional development in order to add another set of tools to my skill as a dance teacher. Yet, three months after being enrolled in the Body Temple Yoga School teacher training program, I became pregnant. The moment I became pregnant, my reason for being in the program shifted from professional development to personal development. I would later learn that my personal development was the key to leveling up in all areas of my life, especially my professional life.
My life prior to pregnancy was drastically different. First off, I did not practice yoga. I was a raging workaholic who relished in productive anxiety. I often boasted about my busy life as a working stage actress, driving all over the San Francisco bay area to performances and auditions. On top of that, I was teaching for six separate dance studios, even juggling side gigs as a choreographer for special events and live productions. Yet, in the midst of all this work related productivity, I heard the sound of my biological clock ticking--I wanted a baby so I approached that the same way I approached everything in life: with drive and determination.
The initial action step that should have taken place after realizing I had a strong desire to become a mom should have been to set aside more quality time with my husband to enjoy the process of making a baby. I eventually got to this place, however that is not where I started on my motherhood quest. Instead, I decided my motherhood journey would begin by starting a dance company. The dance company I operate now was inspired by my desire to be the mom that I am today.
I had a vision of being this mom who could do it all. I wanted to become the image of the perfect working mom-a woman who could be fully present for my family, and still manage to build a thriving business based on my passion for dance. I figured that if I worked for myself, I could create a schedule that supported the demands of motherhood-not actually know what that I wouldn’t know what those demands were until I had a baby. After two years of starting a new business for the purpose of supporting the kind of mother I envisioned myself to be, I felt defeated, overwhelmed, and burned out. I doubted that I would ever be ready to become the mom I envisioned myself being.
While growing my new business, I noticed that I was struggling to become pregnant. In retrospect, after meeting and learning the various ways that other women have struggled to conceive, I realized that my struggle was self inflicted. It took my husband and I about a year to conceive a baby. I was one of those women who anxiously used ovulation sticks and scheduled sex to ensure that our chances of having a baby was at its highest. I managed to turn conceiving a baby into work, and for eight months, every time I learned I had not become pregnant, I felt like a failure.
The stress from my work, and the expectations I created for becoming a mom was taking its toll. Upon doing research on conception, and speaking to other women, I learned that if I relaxed by body, that pregnancy could finally happen for me. I knew that practicing yoga helped with managing stress levels, so in my determined go-getter fashion, I signed up for a membership at a yoga studio and started taking all the yoga classes I could. I managed to develop a sense of peace when I was in class, but as soon as I left the class, I immediately went back to my natural tendencies of giving into society’s hustle culture.
Then I met Daniella, a yoga teacher who would eventually become my mentor for the next four years. Daniella taught a method of alignment based hatha yoga she refers to as Body Temple Yoga. I found myself captivated with the concept of taking the time to pay attention to how my body is aligned in every pose. Her class gave me permission to be still, breathe, and go slow. She placed a strong emphasis on setting up a strong foundation in the body and staying connected to body alignment in order to create a deeper opening in the body. This style of instruction allowed me to breath and move deeper in my body and because of this, I developed the ability to fully feel and recognize the emotions my body was holding on to. This developed awareness continues to empower me to surrender to things beyond my control and stay connected to the present moment. This practice was so powerful that I was able to apply her teachings to my everyday life, notably to every aspect of my journey of becoming a mom.
Of course, in typical motivated Christine fashion, it wasn’t enough for me to just attend several weekly classes with my teacher; I felt the need to go even deeper with my practice and signed up for a year long teacher training program. I had this thought that if I became “good at yoga” I would become a great teacher, which would help the growth of my business, and I would finally learn how to relax, and my body would finally allow me to have a baby.
I was committed to my growth. The first three months were the most challenging as I had to come face to face with why I felt the need to work so hard all the time. I learned immediately that I used work to numb the painful experiences I had endured in my childhood. I cried a lot. And in those moments of grief, I let myself feel the pain fully and with the help of yoga, I let go and released all that no longer served me.
I started working less. I found myself cutting back on my work until I was only working the minimum amount to live comfortably. I created a new life that revolved around my personal relationships and self care. I spent time with my husband. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones. I developed relationships with family. I incorporated the tools I learned in my yoga program to my everyday life. Breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, movement, being with nature, and eating well all became my new work. And my career became what it was supposed to be, the thing I did to make a living, but it no longer defined who I was.
Because of yoga, I found out who I was without my work-and that person was more than enough to become someone’s mother. Three months after making a drastic shift in my lifestyle, I finally got pregnant.