Hypnobirthing and novel-writing

Dear readers,

I hope you’re all having an OK start to the year (with the pandemic still going strong, anything more than ‘OK’ feels like too much to ask!). You might be wondering if the baby is here yet. The answer is not yet, but my due date is only a couple days away, so Tom and I are as ready as we can be. I read somewhere that 80% percent of first borns are born after their due date so we’re trying to keep that in mind as we wait for our special arrival.

Talking about due dates, hypnobirthing offers a more positive spin on the term by referring to it as the ‘due from date’. Tom and I completed an online hypnobirthing course a couple months ago and it was the single best decision we made during the pregnancy. For those of you who haven’t heard of the term before, hypnobirthing has nothing to do with hypnosis. It’s all about reframing how we think about the birth experience and seeing it as a positive experience, even when things don’t go to plan. The course started off by delving into the science behind birth which Tom and I both really appreciated—I often feel the more I understand about something the less anxious I am about it. While it’s still hard to imagine what my birth experience will be like, I am genuinely looking forward to it. After all, it means I finally get to meet the tiny human that’s been kicking around my belly for months!

Another important aspect of hypnobirthing which is a direct consequence of a deeper understanding of the birth process is making sure that birth isn’t just something that happens to you. What this means in practice is being inquisitive and trying to find out what the best option in a given situation is for me and my baby. The effects of this from a mental health perspective are profound and aren’t limited to the birthing experience. I think we’re often taught not to question the recommendations of health professionals—after all, they’re the experts—and hypnobirthing doesn’t in any way suggest going against professional medical advice. Instead, it’s about understanding what the pros and cons of a given option are and whether other options exist. Indeed, doctors might favour faster and cheaper options which doesn’t necessarily mean that other options are off the table. Most decisions require the mother’s consent, so it’s about exercising that consent wisely and remembering that we’re allowed to say no. In short, it’s about turning the birth experience into an empowering experience.


In non-baby news, I wrote a novel last month! Some of you might remember that I wrote about taking part in NaNoWriMo about a year ago. Well, I finally did it: I wrote a 50,000-word piece of fiction in 30 days. I started it on January 2nd and finished it on January 31st…and while I’m writing this, I just realised that I forgot to give my novel a title. Chris Baty, the creator of NaNoWriMo and the author of the book How to Write a Novel in 30 Days, suggests waiting a month after you’ve finished your novel before reading it and deciding whether it’s worthy of a rewrite or not, so that’s what I’m going to do. I guess with the baby here, it might be more like a few months…which wouldn’t be a bad thing. The thought of reading my novel right now makes me cringe to say the least. Still, I’m proud to have done it. And while it’s too soon to say whether writing a novel has made me a better writer, it’s definitely changed the way I consume media. Now, when I watch a TV show I’m a lot more aware of the choices that are being made around character development and plot.

Setting myself the challenge of writing a novel was also a nice transition into maternity leave: for a whole month, I felt like I had job. Every day, I would get up knowing that I needed to write at least 1,667 words to stay on track. In the early days, that meant nearly 3 hours of writing a day, but by the end of it I was banging the words out in an hour and a half to two hours. I also found out that even though I’m a morning person, I’m at my most creative in the afternoon. Mornings tend to be when I’m best at dealing with ‘unpleasant’ stuff like admin. So, by the end of the challenge, I would often wake up, have breakfast, deal with whatever admin was on the cards for that day (I’m talking about fun stuff like taxes and the like), go for a walk, have lunch, and then once I started feeling both relaxed and slightly anxious at the thought of not getting my words done for the day, I would sit down to write.

Now that my due date is getting closer and my energy levels are a bit lower, I’m happy that the writing challenge is over. I still try to go for at least one long walk a day and there’s always some admin or chore around the house to do, but apart from that I’m making good use of my Netflix and Stitcher Premium subscriptions (one of my favourite podcasts right now is Celebrity Book Club with Chelsea Devantez).

Less energy has also meant less appetite for challenging or serious books, so while I was reading books like Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild and Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber last month, February has been all about easy reads like Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah and a very charming book called Diary of a Bookseller which is the diary of a real second-hand bookseller who owns a bookshop in a town called Wigtown, Scotland, which I’m reading right now.

Wishing you well,

Alicia

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