Some leaps you don't see coming until you've already left the ground.
Without a pre-flight checklist, a jump team, and a plan, what's a Type-A, compulsive list-maker to do?
In less than 8 weeks, I will become a wife to my wonderful partner. About 10 weeks after that, we together will become parents to our first baby.
While these are the grandest leaps that either one of us has ever made, neither of us saw them coming four months ago.
Instead, we looked around us one day in early May and discovered that we had already leapt without recognizing it, and evolution already had us in its arms.
It would be a false revision of history to say that it was an elegant or peaceful realization. To be sure, there was panic, fear, disorientation, denial.
There was resistance because while we wanted to be parents someday, this was not how it was supposed to happen. It didn't look at all like my daydreams of marriage, partnership, and ecstatically welcoming the news of a just-created life.
Instead, this leap into becoming a wife and mother at first felt like falling, without control, without bearing, without a grasp on anything solid or sure.
While I had taken leaps of faith before, I had to learn to leap all over again.
The first step toward transforming a surprise launch into a conscious leap was realizing that any change, no matter the level of transformation involved, is never a slip and fall into a deep abyss.
Instead, it's a hop down at a time, day by day, moment by moment. Planning a wedding, evolving my work life, creating a home for a baby, nurturing my body through pregnancy, bonding with our unborn child, and preparing for the journey of childbirth—they're all one small jump per day, tiny actions that are completely doable.
Then there's rest.
After each tiny hop that composes our grand leap, there is the constant knowledge and faith that we are being held in a divine hammock larger than our lives and our ability to control them.
When we can rest in a hammock of grace, knowing that we're being cared for; that life is evolving in precisely the ways that we need it to - even the furthest leap becomes tangible.
When I stopped trying to convince myself that each next step was safe and began to trust instead that it was, a recognizable way forward appeared.
Finally, just like an overburdened plane casting off heavy cargo to stay airborne, I realized that I'd been holding on to far too much baggage to land well.
I needed to leave behind old stories, old neuroses and habits, incomplete pasts and irrelevant fears, and time was short. It's amazing to see how quickly we can burn through old clutter when there's true necessity.
When leaping entails adopting a new identity—and how many leaps don't?—there's an inevitable process of grieving what's been left behind.
The childless, pre-pregnancy me is gone forever. But with the grace of knowing change is one jump at a time, in the context of implicit safety and amid the continued work of burning off what no longer serves—it appears not as a death to be mourned, but as an expansion, a surprise leap that happened at precisely the right time.
Jess Larsen is a birth doula, Birthing From Within mentor, and virtual assistant. She lives and works in northern New Jersey, adores small succulent plants and has one small tattoo in an undisclosed location.