ON BEING EXCITED
On the eve of the birth of my son my father did something amazing. He quite literally changed my life with 3 little words.
He knows me; he raised me and he knows what I am like. Possibly nobody knows me quite as well as my parents. He knew exactly what to say, when to say it and it worked beautifully, like a dream.
This was my first time giving birth. Having been induced, there was a lot of waiting around. I walked and walked endlessly through hospital corridors and slowly up and down stairs, night merging into day. I’d already had time to meditate; now I had time to think. I likened it to the feeling you get when you’re sitting on a plane waiting to take off, when your plane is itself in a queue of planes and you can see the runway in the distance with other planes taking off majestically into the sky. It’s a feeling of something about to happen – neither positive nor negative but something big. (Taking off and then being suspended in technological flight within a big metal bird is a big thing!)
As children we’d travelled lots with our parents when we lived in the Far East. We always looked forward to taking off in planes as we’d get that funny-giddy-happy feeling in our bellies as we escaped gravity and soared higher and higher into the sky. As children it was something we loved; as an adult, aware of the complexities of the flight process and the potential for danger, I still look forward to air travel, but I am simultaneously apprehensive. Not scared, just apprehensive. I know what can go wrong but at the same time I appreciate its rarity… and it occurred to me that this feeling can be exactly parallelled to giving birth. Happiness, eagerness to arrive at the destination, mixed with an instinctive apprehension, heightened awareness and primal maternal instinct.
The runway was still in the distance for me and I was pacing, pacing. Now it was just a waiting game.
And then dad called. I answered. He paused – and I imagine he smiled – and then said these three little words:
“Are you excited?”
…… And then the whole course of my life changed. During birth that’s what happens to your life. YESSSSS! Yes I am! Yes I unbelievably am! It had never occurred to me to think of it like this! Of COURSE! I’m SO excited! I’m so excited because I finally get to meet our baby, whom I already feel like I know but have not yet met face to face! At last, the culmination of nine months’ slow work! I felt the rush of excitement kick-start me into action. Distant fear, dread, heightened maternal awareness, razor-sharp instinct, a growling readiness and the feeling of an unearthly uncontrollable power coursing through me all melted into the back of my mind as genuine happiness and pure EXCITEMENT and even euphoria burst into the front.
With those 3 words, he taught me this: transitions are difficult and challenging, but change can also be exciting. He managed to gently snap me into a new emotion like a train seamlessly changes tracks and continues on with its journey. I went into active labour effused with a loud beating heart and this new excited energy and, while the old heightened primal instinct slowly muscled its way back into the front of my mind, the excitement was now lodged there, underlying it all, sustaining me all the way through to my destination.
The excitement remains, a permanent guest, an invited, warmly welcomed and gladly received guest, sustaining me throughout all the works of my 1,001 Nights.
Thank you, dad.