Lessons of Expecting


By now, you may have seen through some subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints, that Taylor and I are expecting. It has been a wild and wonderful few months of riding the roller coaster of morning sickness, excitement, transformation, trepidation, and most of all expansion.

I am not having the pregnancy experience of feeling my most beautiful, radiant, and strong. In fact it’s been quite the opposite. I am also not yet a master in the adventures of the uncomfortable. But as I grasp for the words to describe it all, I am finding a few crystallized lessons come to mind that may be helpful to share no matter what mountain you are currently summiting in life. I offer them below:

Keep Staying Strong

I have a vivid memory, about 2 months or so into pregnancy, of being curled up on the bed, feeling nauseous, deeply sorry for myself, and with tears in my eyes lamenting to my hubby - “what am I going to dooooo” (in one of my more dramatic voices). And Taylor, in his best, I’m a rock but not being pedantic kind of way said this: “what you’re going to do is keep staying strong.”

It was a very sobering moment. It shook something at my core. I realized then and there I wasn’t helping anyone through my complaint, my sadness, and my frustration - least of all this innocent little being growing inside. I realized I did indeed have the strength to continue forging ahead. To put one foot in front of the other and keep going. No matter if those steps led to the toilet, the stage, the office or the yoga mat. Those words have come to mind frequently in this process.

Soft is Often the Way to Be Strong

Yesterday I saw this quote from Lao Tzu: “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.”

The more I push against what is actually happening in the moment - the discomfort, the fear, the doubt, the anger - the more it builds and festers. But when I soften against these emotions and against my to-do-list, things become easier. Take this post for example - I’ve been meaning to write something for a week or two now, just never quite finding the inspiration. This morning, after listening to a few old school Whitney Houston songs and resting on the couch with Theo for about 30 minutes, I got up, went straight to the computer, and here we are.

There is a newfound fluidity in this experience of letting my body’s needs and my emotional needs find the space and the openness to move. Creating a wider mouth of a river. Or allowing some of the big ocean waves to crash so they may reel back into the greater expanse of a calmer, more steady place. Ultimately, this softer flow has been a key to a deeper strength.

Find The Meaning:

Over these past few months I’ve consulted with friends, new and old moms, yogis, intuitive healers, acupuncturists, Daoist energy practitioners, and more about finding a more comfortable place in this experience. While many have helped, I’ve come to recognize the highest order of meaning has had to come from within. What is my belief about this situation? Do I believe this baby and me are somehow misaligned and that’s leading to feeling sick all the time? No. I don’t. Do I believe this high soul is helping me on a deep level - spiritually and physically and mentally purifying me to become an even better version of myself? Yes. I like that idea much better.

Sure this could all just be raging hormones that happen for some with pregnancy, but that fails to give me a beacon of inspiration when my head is down the toilet yet again. So purification is the meaning-making I’ve taken from this experience. And in that way, I am deeply grateful for every moment of discomfort as it’s leading me to a more crystalline version of myself.

Ask for Help:

I used to be called a lone wolf in my corporate career and I’ve also felt quite comfortable with that label in my wellness leadership. That said, lone wolf’s need help too. From friends, to family, to mother-in-laws, I’ve found a community rally around me. At times it’s been a bit embarrassing - here I’m asking for all this help and I don’t even have the baby out yet! What the heck is going to happen then?! But, the truth is this pre-birth time has been a process. And if I can let someone bring me soup, or help organize my kitchen, or walk Theo, I’m learning the value of community and appreciation in a whole new way. Asking for help has been a game changer for softening my ego and opening my heart.

Seek Refuge in Your Practice:

It’s no surprise yoga and meditation have become an enormous part of my life. While that’s had to shift considerably during these past months, I have taken a daily refuge in this world. Sometimes my daily practice makes me feel 100X better. Sometimes I actually think it triggers more discomfort. But either way I’ve used it as a constant way to find a deeper soulful and spiritual connection for me and baby in the mix of this incredible process. Finding the constant refuge of mantra, meditation, and dharmic work has allowed me to feel accomplished even when I’ve spent most of the day horizontal.

Expect the Unexpected:

So many well-meaning friends have shared their stories of pregnancy with a hopeful - “you’ll be fine by 3 months,” or, “no worries, after 16 weeks it’s smooth sailing”. All I can say (at times) is thank goodness for Amy Schumer’s comic relief. This experience has taught me to expect the unexpected. To actually enjoy the unexpected. To not take anything - a good walk, a big meal, a restful nap - for granted. The state of deep presence and gratitude it’s forced me to cultivate is up-leveled. The empathy of this tiny window of my own experience for those with a more chronic illness is also - in a way - a real gift.

I’m discovering there are no rules or guidelines I can follow in this journey. It is a total miracle, and also complete mind-F all the time. It is a cultivation of that soft and strong within. That release of expectations and that alignment with the present. This second. This breath. This moment.

What a gift this all has been to embody the lessons I teach and to continue to grow, expand, and purify on the journey. How grateful I am for this little being helping to accelerate this process of awakening.

Joanna Andreae