A month or two ago, I read a short and rather dense book called, The Biology of Belief. It very much appeased my scientific mind, with its discussion of mitochondria, cell communication, and exciting double-blind placebo-controlled research studies! Insert nerd cackle.
But anyway, this book made a connection between two realms that us modern humans rarely see as intersecting: spiritual and physical. The author was trying to get all of us–skeptics, believers, atheists, and religious folk–on the same page that yes, how we live our life, the thoughts that occupy our mind, our outlook, our belief in some sort of overall unknown “meaning” in life, does have a profound impact on our physical health. I won’t bore you with the details around this argument (and also the obvious fact that there’s a lot of other factors that go into health like socioeconomic class, race, nationality, etc.), but this book really touched something within me, something that I have “known” for most of my life but maybe not really known on a deep, heart-and-soul level before now: the mind is one of the most powerful entities in our lives and bodies.
I’ve been nervous in this pregnancy.
Specifically, nervous and wondering if my body can and will support my growing baby and keep this precious life alive until full-term. I’m quite certain most loss moms encounter this thought often in pregnancy after loss, and I’m also certain that there’s a fair number of non-loss moms who also sit with this fear. And honestly, none of us know what is going to happen, how it’s all going to turn out. There are no medical tests, experts, research studies, or panel of discussions that will ever determine the outcome of our pregnancies with total certainty. Like all of life, the future is really quite unpredictable.
For me, that leaves a big hole of shoulder shrugging and potential anxiety that I’d rather fill with affirmations, positive believing, hope, and faith. I am telling myself every day that my body was made to carry this healthy baby to term, to birth this critter safely, and to be fully functional and healthy in the process. I am telling myself that thousands of generations of women before me did this, and I can too. I am telling myself my anatomy is working soundly and efficiently, and all the cells in my body know what to do.
Even if I don’t fully believe these words I am telling myself, singing to myself, visualizing to myself, and painting to myself, I’m doing it anyway.
Fake it until you make it, right? Belief has to start somewhere. And slowly, it’s really starting to work: every day I have just a bit more faith in my body, a bit more trust and love and hope that my body really is trying its darndest to take care of me and my baby.
Because for me, the alternative of constant fear, worry, doubts, anxiety, and hopelessness, is overwhelming and difficult to live with. I’m training that mind of mine–the powerhouse of my body and soul–to think and believe a different path. That means putting away Dr. Google, PubMed, books, and other brain-stimulating activities for now. Instead, I go within to create art, write, sing to the trees, talk to my dead loved ones and ancestors, and be present in the more-than-physical realm of earth.
I’m blown away by the spiritual task that is being asked of me in pregnancy after loss. It is truly a journey like no other. I hope you can spend these long winter nights (getting shorter, now!) dreaming and connecting with the mystical aspects of life, too.