October brings out Autumn’s finest… Apples, pumpkins, family photos, scarecrows, costumes and candy, set to a backdrop of falling leaves and trees of every color. In New Hampshire it is prime time for leaf peeping. Fall foliage is said to be most beautiful when its leaves are allowing themselves to be changed, letting go of their branches, and falling to the ground creating a quilt over the ground, as if to comfort the chilled soil. I’m sure you have seen the quote on a meme somewhere out there that says the leaves fall to remind us to let things go… Most often shared with a Marie Kondo style comment about letting go of anything that does not serve us or bring us joy. I would like to dive deeper. Watching the falling leaves over a cup of tea or coffee can inspire us to surrender to the changes happening around us and in us. We can use this time to let go of our need to control every detail towards our ideal of perfection, trusting God and nature through our cycles of change and surrender. A beautiful surrender of gently letting go and letting God, just like the like the leaves.
Pregnancy is an awesome example of this. During pregnancy, our bodies change significantly and there is much to surrender. You might be feeling too exhausted to do all the fall things this month, or too hungry to care about that second helping of apple pie. There are also things we must simply give up in order to have a healthy and happy pregnancy, with a happy and healthy baby. For instance, you may have to significantly limit, or give up coffee altogether, or even smoking. On the other side of this coin, there may be changes in your appetite, there might be a certain food on the top of your favorites list, that you just cannot even smell without getting nauseous now. You may have to let go of the infamous FOMO (fear of missing out) and lay low this season, so you can rest or focus on preparing for baby.
Surrendering to a changing body image is another huge task for some of us in pregnancy. I think our society is in a place where we are typically happy with our baby bumps, even showing them off. This baby bump and your pregnant mama glow may even enhance self-image as people recognize your enterance into motherhood. So, even while you might feel like a fat penguin, (because don’t we at times!?) you remember your body is an offering of space and material to build God’s new masterpiece, your precious baby, and feel beautiful in that.
Clearly, I believe pregnancy becomes you, but there are some women who struggle with body image immensly during this time. You may have gained more weight than you wanted, and you may be planning your postpartum weight loss plan already! What if, just this month, you practice surrendering to the beauty and sacredness of pregnancy. I’m not telling you to eat poorly or to quit exercising altogether (unless prompted by your doctor or midwife). I’m just asking you to look at yourself in the mirror, take a deep cleansing breath, breathing out all your ideals of perfection, and just be okay with the changes you see. See how the leaves change and create such beauty. You are doing the same. I challenge you to do this again, postpartum.. when your hair is falling out. LOL
The skill of surrender is an amazing tool for childbirth. So, practicing it throughout pregnancy will serve you well in the clutch. Childbirth itself comes about through stages and changes within each phase, as well as the dance of rest and contraction, rest and contraction. Surrendering to the process of childbirth will help it to go more smoothly and perhaps even more quickly. There’s that whole fear pain cycle that you can temper very quickly by an attitude of surrender, and trust. You may even have to surrender part of your birth plan in order to have a healthy birth. A change of plans can be disappointing, disheartening, and bring on feelings of guilt, but an attitude of holy surrender will help you to see where God turned all of that around for your good.
Immediately postpartum you will be hit with a whole new set of family dynamics, whether it is your first or fifth, as each child brings a whole new person into the mix. Postpartum also comes with regular lifestyle changes where mama’s find themselves consumed by routines of caring for a new baby, postpartum healing, and trying not to lose herself or neglect her family in the process. There is so much change and much to surrender in this precious time. It is helpful to have some support on hand so that you can have time to connect all the dots, process all the changes, and forge a family dynamic that works for you and yours. You may have to surrender the idea of doing this without outside help. You may have to surrender some of the items on your To Do list in order to get through the day with peace.
While we sip our hot apple cider, or pumpkin spice (anything!) and gander at the beautiful October scenery around us, let us make ourselves like the leaves who just let it go. Whatever has been bothering you today, let it go. Whatever you are worried about, let it go. Let nature teach you to trust in the process; and to trust in God.
To continue this meditation:
Grab your favorite hot drink and sit outside. Breath in the fresh air and watch how the leaves surrender to this season of letting go.
Journal: List the changes you’re going through, and describe how you might surrender more throughout pregnancy, birth, or postpartum (wherever you are at).
Pray: “Lord, I believe, Help my unbelief.” Father, I receive the grace to trust in your providence over my life and to recognize you and your grand design in this process. Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind and strengthen my soul with the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.“ Mary, beautiful example of how to trust in God’s divine plan, how to joyfully accept pregnancy, and motherhood, pray for me.