Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
–Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
I sat up in the hospital bed nursing Seamus, the pediatrician on-call entered, rubbing her hands enthusiastically with the foaming soap as she asked how I was doing, and introduced herself. I asked my midwife to note on my chart that no I did not have cancer and yes I was ok, even though pregnancy had left me nearly bald, with only a few strands of dark hair on the top of my head, the strands of hope that one day my locks would return. Bob, my teacher of SourcePoint Therapy and Healer and friend, suggested I shave my head when it was happening, but I couldn't bring myself to do it I was so attached to having hair. In hindsight, I think it would have helped me get over it quicker. But here and now that no longer matters. What it shows me is how much I struggled to accept my reality that I was losing hair. That pregnancy and hormones and sleepless nights and many moves was taking a toll on my physical body that I thought I could continue to ignore.
The pediatrician began looking over Seamus from head to toe, checking his reflexes and listening to his sweet heartbeat that earlier I had heard through the intermittent monitoring the midwife was required to do. What was once audible in the hospital room was now only heard through her stethoscope, and what was once felt on the inside of me was now felt against my chest as I nursed him on the outside. She turned to look at me, my head wrapped in a turban, and asked, "Are you ok?" Her eyes scrutinizing my body from head to toe. The unasked question lurking beneath the ok.
"Yes," I replied with shaky confidence.
She said, "Is your cancer prognosis good?"
Had she not read my chart? Keenly aware of the power of a doctor's words on a person's psyche and reality when it came to healing, I wondered. The one scenario I hoped would not bring itself into reality was being played out, like through my fear I had called it forth. I curled myself around my now nursing newborn son, to shield my heart from her, and try to shield her medical stare as she assessed what was happening in this baby's postpartum mother. I faltered and glanced up as I wiggled his body flush with my stomach for a better latch. "No, I am good. No cancer," wincing as he clamped down setting off the post birth contractions again deep in my uterus. "It's alopecia." At least that was the western term they named unexplained hair loss. I was yet to unearth my low ferratin levels, extremely low, those iron stores hidden beneath my ok hemoglobin. I was yet to realize my Vitamin D deemed ok by western standards of medicine was borderline low and that these two culprits can play key role in fatigue, hair loss etc. I was also yet to admit that I was hard on myself, harder than I would wish on any one else. And I was yet to realize how much stress I carried within my thoughts and body and daily reality.
Doctors I would seek counsel from would offer generously are you stressed and I would reply no, not me. I was so stressed I hadn't realized what not being stressed felt like. On some levels, I had grown up in an environment of stress and anger. It felt like a natural backdrop to being. To existing. I asked if she had read my chart as the information was in there. The doctor apologized, blushed and excused herself. I was relieved she was not someone I would need to see again as she was only a ped on-call and returned my focus to Seamus long sweet sweeping sucks from chin to jawline letting me know he was properly attached. Wishing I could make my hair grow like his sucks made my milk let down. I thought of Medusa's snakes emerging wildly and quickly out of her head. Not knowing how much compassion I would need to nurture for this to happen to my scalp. Wondering how much worse it could possibly become at the four month marker when I typically had a shedding and knowing there was nothing left to shed. Also wondering what I could do to shift this reality and feeling lost in the pool of my emotions that flooded me post birth.
I remember walking the morning Seamus was born, 9 months and 13 days into being pregnant with him, a light mist fell and I wore Peter's chartreuse colored Patagonia rain jacket the only thing that would fit around my expanse, and a white hat. I walked the streets of my neighborhood up and down and felt myself filtering between the sublime world of here and the majestical world of how things become; transform into life. I imagined how God may have felt as he built the world each day out of something into form, how the blueprint for human health was informing my child's being and becoming and how connected I felt to it within me and around me pregnant. I felt the crescent moon waxing beneath my belly and the pull of its tide for him to be born growing stronger as I walked and the contractions, the surges picked up pace, until I returned home, knowing deeply within that this would be the last morning I would know my baby as I knew him, cloaked in darkness absorbing the world through sound and taste and emotions moving through me to him, and the sound of my heartbeat and its rhythms against his feet that now pressed up under my rib cage and the breath patterns I was consciously and unconsciously passing his way.
The midst and the colors of the world seen through the light April rain bridged the world of form emerging and I felt calm and blessed to know intimately the power of motherhood, the power of the great mother that informs our world if we only pay attention, take heed. Know that each moment there is a present playing out and storyline of past and future unfurling with thought and action and breath. From my studies of SourcePoint Therapy I have heard this definition of karma form Padmasambhava, " If you want to know your past life, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future life, look into your present actions." Someone said to me that an embryo needs karma to come into form. It has me thinking about all that comes into place to make us come into being. It deepens my desire to learn more about the mystery that unfolds through conception and pregnancy and birth. To bring health to the now, and to how we live is a calling I feel deeply. I only fully grasped this call in me from my own health journey to live better to fully embody this body, this soul, this calling into the deeper call to be joyous and loving--moving away from the small scared sense of self into the larger S of Self.
What do our injuries, our dis-eases wake us up to? What do they stand to call our attention toward? Is it for more suffering--I think we can fall into that thought and nurse it, but I think it is to awaken that deep sense of wonder of reverence. Do we need disease and suffering and injury for this to happen? I would like to think no. We are living in a time where we can get weighed down by the fear, suffering and anger present in the world. I by no means am suggesting to ignore that, but to be aware of it and to call ourselves toward love, toward healing and wholeness is a practice and one that takes dedication and energy and perseverance. Considering what the great mother energy of the world is asking of us is no small feat, but something we can heed and nurture.