I sit down at my computer and open the web browser. With expert efficiency I open multiple pages: email, Facebook, university student page, weather report, internet banking. I’m talking on the phone too and in the back of my mind planning the day ahead. The to do list is growing: work and study to complete, housework to plow through, groceries to be bought, errands to be run. Suddenly my eyes are heavy and I have an overwhelming urge to rest my forehead on the desk. I am trying to do too much.
Can I possibly attend to all of these websites at once? Is every one of those items on my to do list really that urgent? No. And being pregnant is helping me to see that.
As a yoga teacher I repeatedly urge my students to focus on the now – the breath, the sensation of the feet pressing into the mat, the feeling of the muscles lengthening. I encourage them to tune into their body and to honour what they find. So, if they are tired, they should rest; if they are injured, they should avoid anything that will cause additional strain; if they are full of energy, they might like to approach their practice and their life with gusto.
I also practice what I preach – at least some of the time. I’ll often remind myself to give my full attention to the task at hand – whether it be talking to my husband, checking my emails, or eating my lunch. I’ll check in with how I’m feeling and notice when the tension starts to build, or the fatigue sets in. Inevitably though, there are moments and days when I’m overpowered and try to do everything and be everywhere at once.
My pregnant body and my pregnant mind don’t like this multitasking or this gung-ho approach to my to do lists one bit. Some experts say there’s no proof of ‘baby brain’. I respectfully disagree. Sometimes I feel like the baby has appropriated my brain and it’s hard enough to keep track of a single thought, a single task; forget about five, ten, twenty things. It simply isn’t going to happen. Just today I walked into a shop and stood for a minute, perplexed. I thought to myself ‘Why, exactly, am I here?’
Pregnancy is proving to be an amazing lesson in learning to slow down, of focusing on the present moment, and leaving ‘multitasking mayhem’ and my to do list at the door. Often, I’m simply too tired to attempt doing more than one thing at a time. Or I might cross off the first item on my list and find that I’m too exhausted to tackle any more. This is a fatigue I’ve never experienced before (and from what I hear, it’s likely to be trumped by the sleepless nights of baby’s first few weeks) and it is commanding. I have little choice but to give in to its will. I wonder why, when I was not pregnant, I was often willing to ignore my body’s signals for rest, respect and recovery?
If it’s not the fatigue slowing me down, then there’s the fact that ‘things’ just don’t seem so important anymore. This baby has consumed me – in a good way, of course. Tasks that once seemed urgent have lost their immediacy; things that don’t support the wellbeing of me and my child aren’t on the list. I find the greatest joy in simply sitting quietly, baby kicking in my belly, and doing nothing at all. Of course, I still get things done. But now I’m not quite so compulsive in my drive to do them immediately or to do them all at once. I have slowed down and I am appreciating myself and my body more than ever.