Last week I visited the daughter of a friend of mine who had just given birth to her second child; a little girl named Stella, …what a beautiful and strong name. The mother of Stella, Jessica, was having trouble regulating her blood pressure after giving birth. This was a major concern and she was trying to find the right medication to calm it down. Her mother, my friend, had suddenly been called out of town to attend the memorial of her niece who had just been killed in a car accident only two days after little Stella was born. I had volunteered to help Jessica in whatever way I could while her mom was out of town attending the memorial. One of the ways I could help was to take dinner to Jessica and her family; which I quickly agreed to do.
During my visit with Jessica, as I sat watching her nurse her newborn, and telling me how raw and vulnerable she was feeling about all the events that were taking place in her life, it took me back to all those years ago when I had given birth to my first child and how raw and open I had felt then. Giving birth and all the new possibilities that birth brings into a woman’s life is a very vulnerable act. To do this, women have to accept the unknown and live in a state of what’s possible instead of what had felt safe in their life before this big event. It requires a lot of courage to allow our lives to be turned upside down and inside out as we take on the enormous responsibility of being the constant support and guide for another human life.
Sitting in bed, feeling the impact of change in her life, not able to resume normal activities while she was healing from childbirth, desperately trying to regulate her blood pressure, and dealing with the death of her cousin, left Jessica raw, open, and beautifully vulnerable. She asked me if everything was going to be ok and I told her that it absolutely would be just fine. She said she really knew that and that under normal circumstances she wouldn’t even ask, but she couldn’t seem to get a grip and feel the certainty of her life at that moment. She knew she had an amazing family and felt so blessed with her life. That wasn’t her issue. She just felt raw, vulnerable, new, open. I told her I completely understood. That it was normal. That most new mothers feel this way. I also told her to stay with those new vulnerable open feelings, to not try to overcome them or shut them down. To let them be her guide into this new way of living her life.
Jessica has a three year old son. This is not the first time she has given birth, but this time she said she felt more vulnerable, more uncertain. We both knew these uncertain feelings would be temporary. Jessica is a strong woman and comes from a long line of very strong women. And, what I admired the most about her was her willingness to show me her vulnerable, uncertain self as she sat with tears in her eyes as she nursed little Stella and talked about her unpredictable fears. I saw an enormous amount of strength in her ripped open heart, which had just expanded ten fold as she gave birth to her daughter and said goodbye to another family member.
Vulnerability makes us all a little uneasy because we can’t really get a handle on it. It’s something we can’t conquer or instantly alter. We have to ride the wave of it until we slowly feel the rhythmic motion of our routine return and life begins to feel stable again.
As I sat and looked into Jessica’s eyes that day, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was seeing all the answers to all the questions ever asked. I kept hearing, “Allow”. Allow this state of openness to be the connection to your soul. This is the connection that will always guide your life.
My biggest life changes have happened when I have been my most vulnerable. When my heart and life had been split open by events that left me not knowing where to turn next or how to cope. It was during those times of loss of direction that I would ask the deepest questions of my Self and then would receive my life altering answers. The answers came gently and methodically over time. They did not show up at once. I had to listen and then I had to put one foot in front of the other each day as I responded to what felt right for me. Sometimes it was by shear will that I took each painful step and other times I glided through the day, but gradually I could see the shift that was happening in my world.
It is a gentle slow unfoldment of deliberately guided steps that lead us to our answers. And, it takes being raw, open, and willing to take those sometimes painful steps. Each uncertain small step leads us to a place of expanded living. Every time. Without fail. I promise. So, embrace those vulnerable, trembling, soul searching times and know that this is how we give birth to our new and more expanded lives.
I could clearly see that Stella represents an expanded state of Jessica, and Jessica knew this and was simply trying to take in the enormity of it all……. and, from where I was sitting, she was doing it with the grace and beauty of a heart that had just been pulled wide open. Her vulnerable tear stained face showed the grace and elegance of a new life being tenderly embraced.