Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pregnancy Confession


Confession: I do not love pregnancy.

I know it must seem like I am crazy about it since this is my third go at it in four years, but the truth is- I do not do pregnancy well. At all.

I do not like having morning sickness for twenty something weeks. I do not like the intense back/hip pain that picks up as soon as the morning sickness finally leaves. I don't like the weird popping thing my ears are doing now and the dizziness. And I didn't like the body rashes during Carter's pregnancy or the threats of early labor with Addison's. I don't like feeling small bursts of energy in order to tackle my To Do list to only immediately feel sick again because I overdid it. I don't like not being control of my own body.

This non-love for pregnancy might partly have something to do with the fact that I don't really feel bonded to my babies until I meet them. Hand me that little bundle that I worked so hard to grow and my love for the experience exponentially grows. But during those very long months of hauling around extra cargo attached to my midsection- you won't find me writing warm and fuzzy posts about the miracle that my body is experiencing right now.

At times this makes me feel guilty. 

I see other people writing long poetical posts to their unborn child and the magic of every single blessed moment, and I wonder what's wrong with me. I see posts of people desperately longing to experience pregnancy- but can't- and I feel like I should appreciate the discomfort and obnoxious things that come with pregnancy more. I know it is a gift and a blessing. 

I love creating a family. And when I look around at the family I already have- I am SO thankful, and I know without a doubt that every moment of sacrificing my body was/is worth it. But when I am in those moments? I was/am counting down the days until I can meet the little person and start the bonding process.

As much as the physical things about pregnancy don't spell love for me, I think the biggest thing about pregnancy that I don't like is the fear. I wonder how much of this has to do with Addison being my first- the long pregnancy knowing that she had an extra chromosome and then finally meeting her and learning that she had soooo many health problems on top of her diagnosis. For a long time I had to struggle with the questions "Was it my fault she was so sick?" "Did I do something to cause this?" "Did I do pregnancy- wrong?" 

Now this is my first thought with every pregnancy. Every activity and chemical in my life gets reexamined a zillion times over.

Until I meet that baby and know that everything is OK- I have a hard time resting easy. This is so much more than "will he have hair?" "will he sleep?" "who will he look like?". This is more like "will he need surgery right away?" "will he have to stay in the NICU?" "will he breathe and eat ok on his own?" “will he have behavioral issues later on?”

I have heard people say that their children's intelligence and health has a lot to do with how healthily the mother ate during pregnancy and how she did everything "right." This makes me take pause and immediately revert back to the fear. Does this same thought go the other direction? Did I create the health and developmental problems in my child? Did the craving for Pop Tarts during Addison's pregnancy cause her to have severe pulmonary hypertension and holes in her heart? Because I had an unhealthy child- does that mean that I did even one moment of pregnancy wrong? 

This fear that I get during pregnancy stems back to the belief that I control the outcome of my child's life. The fear is created from a refusal to trust in an all-powerful Creator who puts as much care into creating my babies as he does everything else. Who not only creates- but protects and nurtures that child while allowing me to put in motions of my own. 

It's like I'm the toddler buckled into the toy car on the front of the grocery cart. I'm turning the wheel and proudly declaring that we are turning right because of ME without recognizing the one standing behind the actual grocery cart quietly pushing me along. In reality- that tiny steering wheel that I'm demanding a new direction with isn't attached to anything. It has no power.

I know that I do my very best with pregnancy- cutting out the wrong foods and drinks, eating as much of the right foods as my sickness will allow, and taking vitamins/exercising/seeing the doctor. I do pregnancy very by the book. In fact- I did Addison's pregnancy WAY more by the book than I did Carter's (mostly in relation to caffeine consumption) and yet she was very sick for a long time while he  is as healthy as a horse.

With pregnancy I have to exercise a lot of trust. My tendency is to blame myself, and this tends to rise up and try to take over at the slightest reminder of my fear. 

How do I combat this fear during pregnancy and the struggle to trust? I go to a power much higher than myself.

I really, truly believe this with all my heart:

Psalm 139
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. 

This verse says nothing about the mother’s part in all of this (other than being the womb where the creating took place.) It doesn’t say, “For you created my inmost being and then my mother ate just the right amount of brain enhancing supplements to finish the job.” Or “All the days were ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be but then my mother messed up the entire plan by eating too many pop tarts.”

In Christian circles it’s easy to say the words that we trust God with our babies, but then in reality to hold fast to the good work that WE have done in carrying them. Or the opposite. Beat ourselves up for a baby that came out of us that needs a lot of extra help.

This is something that I have struggled with- a big reason why I do not love pregnancy.

I'm not saying we shouldn't take care of ourselves- or our babies- or follow certain rules. I am all for being healthy and taking care of our unborn children. I'm just saying that no matter our best efforts, we are not the ultimate deciders of the lives that we are creating (or even if we get chosen to carry the life in the first place.) We can do everything right and get a "wrong" outcome, but then that still is our "right."

I know some people think that God gives special babies to special people- but I don’t. I think that God creates special order babies for every family. The fact that I was given a child with health problems and a developmental disability? Was just the special order that God knew our family needed in order to be complete. We had an Addison-sized hole in our family, so he created her perfectly and allowed me the privilege to carry her and become her mother. There were no mistakes here. 

There is a good chance that this is my last pregnancy. We haven’t really decided for sure yet, but as I rub my belly, feel those kicks, and try to imagine the magic in every moment of possibly my last pregnancy- I still can’t honestly say that I love every moment of this.

I don’t enjoy being stretched in my faith (or other places ahem.) My  body doesn’t do this well. My need to control doesn't trust easily. But I am thankful. And I am excited. So excited- to have another little boy. The process getting there just always isn't "rocked out" by me. It's more of a "grin and bear it" type of situation over here.

So that’s my confession for today. I don’t love pregnancy. And even though the mom blogs would make me believe that everyone else THRIVES on morning sickness and gets a high from labor (don’t even get me started on labor)- I don’t. And I refuse to feel guilty. Because this is my story- and I squeeze the good and amazing out of a lot of moments. I LOVE my babies, and I love getting to raise them. Just sometimes I have to put in my time as an intern before I finally get the job I was going for in the first place. A hazing ritual of sorts. But of course...worth it.

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