It's pretty clear...I'm pregnant. Take one look at me and there's no questioning. I've carried both of my babies high and protrude like a very large globe or basketball is duck taped on to my stomach. I'm mostly okay with this but just laugh at my body when I see myself in a mirror these days. (Does this baby make me look pregnant?)
Overall, for me, pregnancy and labor and delivery and all of it, is just so...humbling. While I've always believed in a higher power and at times in my life know that I was moved by God and something greater than myself, at no time in my life have I truly felt like I was watching a miracle unravel--a miracle that I had very little part in, yet still intimately involved me. Until I became pregnant.
Both pregnancies, I have felt something wonderful and miraculous taking place inside me. And this miraculous thing was hardly my doing or anything I could control. Losing control of the process, of my body, of my rituals, frankly, has been a very good practice for someone like me who is mostly in control. Control is such a funny thing as it seems the more you seek it, the less you find. (Topic for another blog post perhaps?) Parenthood is a very large exercise in losing control and finding ways to manage what otherwise seems uncontrollable.
My pregnancies have been vastly different. With my first son, I ran forever. I felt amazing pretty much the whole time. I never craved any weird foods; I just was hungry and tired mostly. And at the end, when I got really tired, I slowed down and that time coicided with Christmas so it worked out perfectly. The primary side effect of that pregnancy was snoring and insomnia the last couple months--neither of which bothered me too much (can't speak for my husband...). This baby boy, however, has caused a plethora of the problems so many women experience. I've been nauceous and even thrown up in the middle of a trip to the grocery store. [For the record, yes, I rallied to finish my shopping.] I've experienced significant aches and pains. The timing of my pregnancy (during the heat of a very hot summer) forced me to quit running much much earlier than I would have liked. I have headaches, backaches, foot cramps, stomach pains and anemia. I have gone completely stir crazy at times and I miss running with my friends so much it hurts. But oddly, none of it makes me feel resentful at what I'm missing. Because every time I start to throw a pity party, I am smacked in the face with the miracle I am participating in.
For a very short time in my life, I am able to harbour new life. I am the sole provider and caretaker for God's newest addition to earth. I am sustaining and tending a little man. We have decided that our family will stop at 2 kids. As I am on this home stretch, I find myself reflecting on the fact that out of how many weeks of my life, I'll only get to be pregnant for 80 of them. I'm already nostalgic and know how bittersweet it all is.
In the time I have left to participate in this baby making process, I will try to do the right things. Eat well, drink tons of water, take my vitamins, avoid all the "no no" foods. I will exercise when I can muster the strength. I will make sure I get enough sleep.These are the things I can control. I want to do everything I can that will help give baby boy every advantage he can get.
This morning, my baby boy lay inside me kicking and squirming like crazy. I hit snooze three times until I just turned the alarm off. I didn't want to get up and put him to sleep with my movement. I wanted him to keep up his morning exercise ritual because I know this feeling won't last much longer and I just wanted to soak it up. I had the ability to watch an amazing Kansas sunrise from my bed and laid there, hand on belly, listening to my husband's and son's deep sleeping breaths while baby and I greeted the sunshine.
I was overcome yet again by how humbling of an experience this is. How am I living this life? I am healthy. My baby is healthy. I became pregnant without the struggle and pain imparted on so many of my peers. I am living in a society with abundant access to clean water and adequate food. I have a wonderful career that provides my family with (mostly) affordable healthcare. I have a caring and compassionate doctor. I have a partner who more than pulls his share at home. I have family and friends who love and support me through this journey. Frankly, I think I have it as good as I can possibly get. So as I lay in bed I just tried to express gratitude to God for my life and my opportunities to be the custodian to this new little human, untainted by the heartbreak of the outside world. This human who does not know hate or prejudice or oppression or anger. This human who will soon be walking among the rest of us, just another guy to the rest of the world but the complete center of mine.
As I reflect in these quiet moments despite the chaos of my otherwise very busy life, I hope I never lose that sense of wonder and gratitude. I hope I am able to see the miracles in every day activities and not just the huge momentous occasions like pregnancy and childbirth. I hope that women everywhere are provided the tools they need to provide for their families the way I am able to provide for mine. I hope that every society provides women the support they need to bring healthy babies into the world without risking their own health. And I hope that every mother, no matter the circumstances in which she finds herself, every so often has a moment like I had in my bed today. Where she is surrounded by peace and love. And where she feels thankful for the opportunity to be a mother and to shape and form another human life.