It’s a difficult thing to write about, bring pregnant and all. Which is possibly why I’ve put it off for a few months. It’s been a lot to wrap my head around. I find pregnancy is one of the most common, yet completely unique experiences a woman can go through. Sure, there’s a general direction every pregnant woman is headed and so many similarities along the way, but exactly how she gets there–and where “there” even ends up being–is a truly one-of-a-kind journey.
We tell stories about our experiences to relate. Women write books about what to expect. The dozens of apps out there chart your progress, tell you what size your baby is by food comparison, and give you a heads up on what new symptoms are headed your way (oh, varicose veins and constipation? Thanks baby center app…I look forward to next week). But no matter what women in the book have experienced, or what your mother went through, or what your friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law struggled with…no one can really predict or fully understand what YOUR pregnancy is like.
As for me, I spent the first three months of my pregnancy absolutely sure I would miscarry. I don’t know if every woman fears or expects a miscarriage as much as I did, but it’s a terrible way to live. In fear…trying not to get too excited…saying things like “maybe” and “we’ll see”. I feel like I missed nearly all of the excitement over the itty bitty miracle beginning inside of me while i gave in to paranoia and worry about things that hadn’t even happened.
And I felt like I was losing myself. Losing my schedule and my plans. Losing my food…literally…every morning while I succumbed to terrible morning sickness. Losing my ability to stay awake past 8:30 pm. Who is this person? This cranky, narcoleptic, antisocial person who just wants to eat pizza and go back to bed?
Then came the second trimester, the one people refer to as the “honeymoon phase”. Uh, I went on a honeymoon and let’s not compare the two. Sure, you get a new rotation of symptoms, most of which aren’t as bad as the first. But it’s also the trimester where you POP. When you see the numbers on the scale you check behind you to make sure someone else didn’t hop on with you. That’s me… and a tiny baby?? Yikes. And the heightened sense of smell! For the love…I can tell when my neighbor has food rotting in their fridge. There’s also still that thread of hormonal unpredictability and some days are harder than others.
Pregnancy is limiting. It’s changes. It’s realizing you can’t do and be everything to everyone, or even carry on with life just as it was before.
“You aren’t equipped for life until you realize you aren’t equipped for life. You aren’t equipped for life until you’re in need of grace.”**
And it’s a time where grace…so much grace…is needed.
And it’s so good.
It’s good to come to the end of myself. The end of my control and my planning. The end of predictability and performance. And I have a feeling once this little nugget arrives, it will be more of the same. And I will continue in the direction I’m heading now…surrender. Because once you surrender, “you’re given the gift you’d receive no other way: the gracious hand of an unlimited God.”**
Some days I have a hard time understanding God’s grace because I have no grace for myself. When I’m dropping balls and letting things slip between my usually organized and on-top-of-it-all fingers. Especially my changing body, growing self. Finding grace for that is tough. You can tell yourself it’s good…so good because it means that the little life inside of you is getting bigger, too. But as your old clothes start to get a little too tight, and you feel more and more uncomfortable in your growing, stretching skin, you have to fight to believe it’s good.
My pregnant best friend text me when she ripped her now-too-small-leggings and I text her when I discovered I now have back fat. It’s good to be reminded that I’m not alone. No pregnant woman is without growing pains of some sort (raise your hand if you’ve ever overused the whale emoticon…).
I’m still figuring it out… slowly…and probably for the rest of my life. Because life is changing and growing, adapting and learning new normal’s. It’s finding something to celebrate in the messy and the challenging, in the wonderful and the new.
Maybe your pregnancy was or is so easy. Maybe you feel great, sleep great, couldn’t be happier. Maybe you’re still running marathons at 37 weeks. I’ll wave to you from the sidelines, clutching my bag of Oreos and my jar of peanut butter (there is no limit to the amount of peanut butter I could consume right now…).
Maybe you would trade everything you own and welcome morning sickness and sleepless nights with open arms if it just meant you could conceive. Maybe hearing women complain about their pregnancy woes makes you want to pull your hair out (or theirs…depending on the day). Just to see those little lines change color on that stick, you would give it all.
Or maybe you’re in the thick of it. Pregnant and figure out a new normal for the time being. A new way of dealing with your over-packed, exhausting schedule while still taking care of your family and yourself. A new way of managing your emotions (don’t ask me. I cry about literally nothing…everything…God bless Adam). A new way of existing, simply trying to do this season well.
Or possibly your days of pregnancy are over and you have children you’re raising or other people’s children you’re loving. Whatever the case may be, you have so much to offer. Don’t let yourself believe anything different.
Let’s heap grace upon grace on each other when we need it most. Let’s do more than just acknowledge the season we’re in, but find a way to relate deeply to one another. Let’s encourage and love and empathize, even if we haven’t been there exactly.
Let’s compliment baby bumps and speak kindly about our growing or post baby bodies, both to each other and to ourselves. You have beauty to offer, and beauty to share.
Before we speak, let’s ask…and listen.
May we remember that everyone’s story is a little bit different, each body and baby their own shape, and each heart carrying its own set of wounds and joys…and that’s what makes it so incredibly beautiful.
May we love our differences and celebrate our stories. May the unique intricacy of a life growing inside be a reflection of the Creator of tiny miracles.
There is joy to be found wherever we’re at.
And be it all, may we be blessed.
**Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift