There are a lot of numbers involved in pregnancy. Blood pressure numbers. Weight numbers. Belly size numbers. Blood test and urine test numbers. Due date and weeks pregnant numbers. We check if the baby is moving by kick counts. We assess the progression of labor by numbers for dilation, effacement and station. Now there are even apps that allow women to track lots of the numbers of pregnancy for themselves. My pregnancy has been filled with a lot more numbers than my mother’s was, or than her mother’s was.
Pregnancy has pushed me to think about my relationship to numbers. On the one hand, I am grateful I live in a time and place where I had access to the instruments and the professionals who could measure important numbers that helped us know how things were going with the baby and with me. But every week, there was on the one hand the crisp world of the pregnancy numbers and then there was the experience of pregnancy- one of fluidity, mystery, and things there are no numerical ways to measure.
Moving between both was at times challenging.
There was the book that said do a certain number of the “prep for labor” squats and the yoga teacher that said do the squats till you feel done and want to stop doing them. There was the idea that the dilation number is very important to measure and the idea that since the progression of dilation is so nonlinear, the dilation number really doesn’t tell you much of import, except in a few circumstances. There is a due date number even though most babies are born sometime in a five week range, a weight gain range number even though what women naturally gain varies widely, and so on.
Then there is the other problem with numbers – our minds grasp onto them,and find security or dissatisfaction in them. During my pregnancy there were times when I said to the doctor, “tell me if there is a problem or something you think I need to know about, but otherwise, don’t tell me the number.” I didn’t want my mind to have the opportunity to make up an unhelpful story about it, as our minds so easily do once they’ve got a specific figure to grasp onto.
And yet, there is also something wonderfully crisp and sobering and helpful about numbers. It was comforting when I could be told this or that number related to the pregnancy was right on track. There are things it is good and important to measure. This is nuanced territory. There are ways the numbers with which we measure our lives can be helpful and there are ways in which they can be very unhelpful.
I love checking the numbers in my business, because they do tell a real story that I want to know about – a story of how many people were moved enough by a blog post to comment on it, a story of how many people resonated enough with what I said to sign up for something I’m offering, a story of how the business did financially.
This tells me something about the effectiveness and potency of the work I’m doing, and I care about that very much.
But it doesn’t tell me everything.There are the things the numbers can’t tell – that a blog post affected only a few people but in a very profound way, or that something that didn’t generate much revenue brought real emotional or spiritual sustenance to me or to those reached by it.
What are the numbers that loom large in your life: Weight? Age? Salary? Years or months that have passed since a particular event happened?
What numbers really do tell a story you want and need to know? What seem to tell a story but are really misleading?
Which just give your old fears or insecurities ammunition?
What numbers get you caught up in a mental game you really don’t need to be playing?
What other way of measuring could take their place?
And tell me in the comments: is there a number related to your life that you track and love tracking? And is there a number related to your life you choose to ignore or not know about?
p.s. Please don’t forget – for aspiring or current entrepreneurs, this year I’m helping to spread the word about Marie Forleo’s fabulous course for entrepreneurs. Get to know Marie through the latest video in her free training series HERE.