The human experience is quite a thing. We yearn to feel and yearn to escape feeling. We live from a place of needing to control but often find the best parts of our life were the uncontrollable surprises. We engage with others as separate and distinct entities but are repeatedly reminded of how completely interconnected we are.
In my experience, pregnancy has been a confronting examination of soul. And through the many hours of reflection this pregnancy, I’m starting to realize that this timing during is not a coincidence but a fantastically designed mechanism to share the human experience with a beautiful new soul.
I’d like to share a deeply personal testament to better illustrate this.
Ten months ago, I felt like nothing in my life was going right. Between the beginning of April and the end of May, I had lost a baby in miscarriage, lost my brother to suicide, and my husband had a devastating career change after a year and half of personal and family sacrifice. A month later, we found out we were expecting. I was a grieving, expectant mother in the trenches of the human experience.
At one point, I shared with a dear friend and mentor that I felt unforgivable shame for putting this baby through intense periods of stress. I know that on a chemical level, my stress response is not just my own but shared with this innocent life within me. I felt as though I was hurting this baby in a way that would affect him/her for the rest of his/her life. I felt like a terrible mother. What I didn’t see before that conversation was that the subsequent acts of compassion and forgiveness are gifts in the shared human experience. I could model both the reality of grief and the reality of compassion to this child. Our experience isn’t about only feeling the good emotions but feeling. By the end of the conversation I felt like a real mother, not a terrible one.
A few months later into the pregnancy, I found myself in a soulful inquiry around the integrity of my life (integrity meaning whole and workable, not in the moral sense). I was looking at all the places where I was avoiding responsibility for the sake of being right, winning, or dominating a situation. What I didn’t see before the inquiry was that avoiding responsibility came with the cost of being fully alive. I found myself constantly asking if not being fully alive was a big enough cost? Do I even want to be here? Talk about confrontational.
After a few days of sharing and praying, I so clearly remember choosing full aliveness for the first time since April. And that it wasn’t just my choice but a shared experience with this unborn child—a gift amidst the grief of suicide loss. Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been quietly haunted by the idea that I’m passing on a genetic predisposition to the dark thoughts that argue with being here on planet Earth. But in the light of a shared human experience between mother and child during pregnancy, I believe there was a generational healing that happened in my own choice to be fully alive.
The post-2015 Hemphill family looks quite different from the one Oliver and Vivian were born into. But this is the way of the enigmatic human experience.