April 6, 2012 / My Pregnant Pilgrimage #2
In mid-May, I’ll be heading to northern Spain to embark on the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route that has been travelled for thousands of years by the lost, the hopeful, the miracle-seekers, the penitent. A dear friend Aimee will be walking the 500 mile route with me. We’ve planned our Camino travel to last 35 days. She summed our expectations up well when she commented on a recent phone call, “So when we get back we’ll just be in a continuous state of nirvana, right?” Right, Aimee, right!
In early September, I’m expecting my first child, which means I’ll be about 6 months pregnant when Aimee and I set off together. While Aimee and I will walk the Camino together, my hubby Colin is walking this 9+ month journey with me. We’ve planned for very little after September 3rd when our little one’s arrival is anticipated. When asked by my boss what I was thinking about for my timeline for returning to work, I gave a very honest answer. “Um, well, right now I’m still thinking: What? I have to take time off work to have a baby? How inconvenient!”
Adventure, nirvana, birth, fear, identity crisis, uncertainty. I sense these words moving through me daily. What am I moving towards, I wonder? What am leaving behind? What happens if I let go?
Have you experienced this push-pull before? You are comfortably sitting in the present moment when BAM! something pulls you into what lies ahead. What do you notice about how transition makes you feel?
Sitting in the quiet space of transition is a beautiful thing. Particularly when I can quiet myself, when I can really embody silence not just verbally, but entirely. I’ve started walking to and from my office to prepare for the physical journey that lies ahead. As I travel the 7-9 miles through the District each morning, I’m noticing new things.
Like in early March when I could see one morning the unfolding of the seasons. It was about 6am and DC sat cloaked in the final cover of dark; quiet everywhere. Bare branches dotted with clenched buds began to open. Brown became overwhelmed with patches of green and spots of pink. The earth was trembling as stems, long hidden during the winter months, peeked their heads out from the soil.
Or earlier this week when I took the long way home through Rock Creek Park. It wasn’t my first time traveling along this path, but Colin had showed me how I could stay off the city streets even longer and spend more time on the trail. I spent maybe 5 miles or so of my route home on this trail. I was by myself, pack strapped to my back, walking sticks helping feel my way forward. I left my phone – the music, the email, the connection – safely tucked away and out of reach. Despite the high pollen counts and my itchy eyes, I was joyful to be right where I was, one foot in front of the other. Just being in the bright moments of late afternoon. At least that’s how I felt at first. As I moved from the familiar part of the trail to the extended and unfamiliar route, I started to wonder, how much further do I have to go? There was a bend in the road and I was uncertain of what would come next. Shouldn’t I be closer to my exit? I resisted the impulse to pull my phone from my bag. Still, I found myself longing for a sense of direction, for rest. I looked up to see several deer grazing on grass across the park. I stopped walking. I took a deep breath. I stared. It was in this moment that I let go of the physical preparation. As I stepped forward the emotional readying began.
This is just a beginning.
PRESENT DAY REFLECTIONS
Oh the anticipation I felt in those months leading up to the Camino. Yet as excited as I was for the “actual Camino” I was clear at the time that my pilgrimage path had begun. The walking I did each morning and early evening was preparing me for what was to come – both on the Camino and as a parent-to-be.
I am struck returning to this journal reflection at how focused I am on the present moment, which is admittedly unusual for me. I tend to like to lean forward to what may come, to sit in the space of possibility. But this season of my life gave me a deep appreciation for sticking with the here and now. And just being.
About the Series
My Pregnant Pilgrimage is a blog series that I’m sharing in the Spring of 2017 during my present-day maternity leave. The arrival of my third little seemed a fitting time to return to these journal reflections from those last months of my life pre-parenthood. Learn more about this series here.