For months and months while trying to get pregnant, experiencing two miscarriages and then finally during the healthy pregnancy of my son, I would see butterflies. White butterflies to be exact. They were there all the time, all around me. Sometimes it would just be one, fluttering and bouncing about, as if it were teasing me or trying to get close enough to tell me a secret. Other times, it would be two white butterflies turning over and over one another. They acted as though they were children romping around in the coolest, most magical playground ever; or maybe they were two lovers dancing happily to their favorite song. Either way, I always noticed.
I constantly wondered what seeing these butterflies meant. So as most of us human beings do, I placed a meaning upon them. To me, they became like a whisper of encouragement; every time I saw them, they made me smile. Their presence comforted me and made me feel protected – as if I was receiving confirmation that I was on the right path.
In the many months following the birth of Henri (almost a exactly a year ago), I stopped seeing those butterflies. Or perhaps more specifically, wasn’t looking for them and didn’t notice if they were still there or not. Lately, however, I am starting to see them again! Mostly solid white ones, but delightfully sometimes even orange, one of my favorite colors.
So, what do these butterfly sightings really mean?
Who really knows.
Today, I was reminded of this phenomenon — of the Universe giving us certain ‘signs’ — by a woman I have recently discovered. Her name is Danielle LaPorte. Her messages are resonating deeply for me and if nothing else, she seems cool as shit and is wildly creative and successful – all of which I am drawn to because they are INSPIRING. In her latest blog, to my utter surprise, she brought up the phenomenon of my totem animals! There I am thinking I am the only one experiencing such weirdness when I read her post: “Totem Animals and hearing the messages the Universe sends you.” Immediately, I looked up the significance of butterflies.
One resource stated, “butterfly represents a need for change and greater freedom, and at the same time it represents courage: one requires courage to carry out the changes necessary in the process of growth.”
This source went on to tell a short story about a man who found a cocoon of what would become a butterfly. He took this cocoon home so he could witness the transformation. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched. It took hours as the butterfly struggled to force its body out of the very small opening in the cocoon. To the man, the butterfly seemed to have stopped in its progress. He imagined that it had gotten as far as it could on its own and that now it was stuck. In his kindness, he wanted to help the butterfly. He took scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged very easily. However, its body was swollen and wings shriveled. And it was never able to fly.
What the man didn’t know as he acted so quickly to ‘help,’ is that the restriction of the cocoon and struggle of the butterfly was a way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings. This process elicits strength for the butterfly to be ready for flight once it achieves freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only occur after the struggle. In fact, “by depriving the butterfly of a struggle, he deprived the butterfly of health.”
This story was summed up with, “sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been…”
I of course think about the struggle of those of us who have experienced and/or are experiencing fertility challenges and pregnancy loss. How could we ever look at those heartbreaking experiences as something we need? Becoming a parent is our birth right! And yet, becoming a parent will be one of the hardest, most challenging endeavors one will ever experience – whether it comes ‘easily’ or not. Because of that struggle, it will also be one of the most rewarding, freeing experiences in our life. Just like the butterfly.
Sometimes life can feel so heavy. So much is coming into our thoughts, bodies and spirits, and so much is coming out of our bank accounts! Our bodies’ normal functions can feel like they are failing us when it comes to conceiving and holding a pregnancy. The empty void that is left can feel never ending – holding no clarity for something that feels like it needs hard, fast answers.
So, what do we do?
We pause. We take in a sweet breath. We nurture ourselves and trust that Life is supporting us. We try to shift the thoughts that don’t serve us. We do our best to survive the struggle long enough to find that powerful transformation that is surely around the corner.
We remember the Butterfly, who has known many forms before it takes flight. In fact, “scientific research has shown that the butterfly is the only living being capable of entirely changing its genetic structure during the process of transformation: the caterpillar’s DNA is totally different from the butterfly’s. Thus, it is the symbol of total transformation.”
If you want to be a parent, you will be. No matter the ‘how,’ becoming a parent will require your total transformation. Stepping into the struggle with eyes wide open and trusting. Remember that although it may be the hardest experience along the way it could also be the most needed. In the end, your struggle is sure to make you not only a better parent, but also a better human being.