For a long time, I’ve wanted to get a tattoo with the words, “from the beginning”. My experience as a child and a woman, my education, research and work, have all given rise to that phrase which has settled deep within my heart. “From the beginning” always connects me to the compelling curiosity I’ve held for decades about the mysterious spark–the energy–that ignites a new life. The “beginning” (however it happens), is after all, a point in time universally shared by all of us who are, have ever been, or will ever be human.
The phrase serves as a reminder to consider our earliest experiences “from the beginning”, to gain insight into how the imprints of those experiences have, and may still be shaping our lives today. Being alive now is evidence that enough resources were available (perhaps an abundance or maybe only the bare minimum), to survive our earliest experiences. The environment inside our mothers’ wombs and the environment that surrounded her while we grew, shaped our development and influenced our ways of being in the world after we were born.
The more we learn about our earliest experiences and development, the more we understand the necessity of cultivating a nurturing environment for the growth of another human being. The capacity to do so begins with a woman’s compassionate understanding of her needs while she is attempting to conceive, is pregnant, giving birth and parenting a newborn.
In our society, it seems as if women often have difficulty becoming compassionately aware of and accepting their changing needs as they approach the transition to conception, pregnancy and parenting. Before and during pregnancy, the woman is the center of the nurturing environment that will provide enough resources to support the survival of a new human being. If she has a partner, he or she, her friends, her family and her health care providers may support her in creating a nurturing environment for conception, pregnancy, birth and parenting.
Making a priority of compassionately caring for yourself on the way towards parenting is an essential gift from your heart to the new human-to-be, “from the beginning”, not an expression of selfish, indulgent behavior. Those who support a woman in compassionately caring for herself, and directly provide her with compassionate care at this crucial time are also offering a gift from their heart to the woman and the emerging human being. These gifts, offered “from the beginning” resonate in the life of the new human being, supporting their capacity to engage with and adapt to their environment over their life span.
On the way to conception, pregnancy, birth and parenting, pause to shift your gaze within and pay gentle attention.