Friday, July 02, 2010

The unexpected journey

"By choice, in our adult years, many of us choose to travel away from our home base, to go on journeys of various lengths, from the small to the epic. We seek adventure, novelty, change. We launch ourselves on ventures near and far, with the comfort of both a phone card and a return ticket in our hip pocket. From a secure base, we revel in being on the move, delight in the foreignness of our encounters and welcome the rejuvenation of self that accompanies these departures from our norm.
"When a journey is not of your choice, if you are ill prepared for the road, if you have little idea where you are going, how long you will stay, where or when you might find a place to rest, how to speak the language, the allure of travel fades." [Quoted from a paper 'The inside journey through care', given by Jennifer McIntosh, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Family Therapist, Researcher, 2001]

The universal expectation of pregnancy is the birth of a baby. The 'knowledge' is not only knowing in our minds; it's also known and prepared for hormonally in every cell of the mother's body. Even the father's body may experience hormonal changes that are likely to prepare him for the anticipated change.

Just as the fact of a baby is hormonally heralded, the normal physiological process of childbirth anticipates a specific journey for the mother and her child. We know there is an intense (internal as well as external) period of nesting; then the onset of spontaneous labour which builds as oxytocin pulses, and uterine muscles contract and retract, and opioid-like substances surge, and the cervix is drawn up and opened to release the child. The peak of adrenaline just prior to the expulsive phase prepares the child for the huge transition he must make in leaving one world and entering another.

The journey that is physiologically anticipated includes the mother's recognition of newborn's cry; a babe in her arms; a babe with all the sounds and smells and movements that stimulate further surges of the love hormone; a babe who soon begins his life-long quest for food and proceeds to draw milk from her breast.

The unexpected journey shocks and confuses the mother in this finely balanced hormonal state.

Hours later she is numbly aware that her arms are empty; that her breasts have not been touched. Her mind searches for explanations; for a map to guide this journey that she did not choose.

1 comment:

Joy Johnston said...

Dear Readers
From time to time I receive comments in Chinese script. I am not able to publish these comments, as I cannot read them. The people who write these comments are probably fluent in English, so I am asking you to please write in English.
Thankyou, Joy