In a few weeks my daughter will emerge from the cozy depths of her bubbling cocoon. Each day brings more defined movements and pangs from my abdomen, all reminders that soon she’ll embark on the perils and pleasures of earthly life. It’s been a good run, this pregnancy. People–strangers, friends and family–have been kind in acknowledging my physical state, and the pictures they paint of a two-child household are far better than what I heard while pregnant with my son. I’ve also been praying more this time, taking my burdens to the foot of the cross.
I’m grateful for the grace God has been pouring down on me, for the privilege of bringing my daughter into the world. But physical and mental torpor have settled in, toting a relentless monotony that I call the dog days of pregnancy. My lungs, stomach and bladder are surely the size of grapes; breathing and digesting food have become chores. Sharing a bed with my husband, my belly and the pillow I’m supposed to hug is about as comfortable as lemon juice splashed on a paper cut. On any given day, I feel as if my orange juice has been seriously doused with hard liquor–the handiwork of pregnancy hormones.
When my son scampers away during our frequent walks, he shrieks with joy as I narrowly manage to seize him. If you gently push me from behind, I’ll topple. A woman at a retail store recently offered me a backhanded compliment, which nicely summarizes my belly-heavy existence: “You look like a toothpick and an olive!”
TV advertisements for power-scooters are increasingly appealing. After all, I do meet some of the qualifications–frequent bathroom trips and feeling physically challenged on most days.
But the fun doesn’t stop there, not with my swinging hormones on high alert. In one moment, stray comments from my husband are akin to fiery spears thrust directly at my heart, wounding and discouraging me. In the next, I weep on seeing pictures of my teenage niece attending her first formal dance. Later, I’m easily miffed because I’ve fallen asleep during my son’s nap, squandering precious time to either write or exercise.
I’m not a very gracious example of a pregnant woman, with these banal, navel-gazing gripes. An e-mail from my friend Krista, who recently had her second child, helped shake me from my stupor. She reminded me to redirect my focus from an old story–the discomforts of pregnancy–onto a new one: a human being is coming to life within me, a unique little girl the world has never met. She’s a direct descendant of the women I have loved most, my late mother and grandmother, and her existence means I get to do the mother-daughter dance again, after 22 years of silence.
Krista also said that having baby number two was much easier than her first, from the birth and recovery to transitioning to life with a new baby at home:
The Lord was faithful to calm my fears, and our transition to two was such an answer to prayer, as it went so smoothly for all of us–even Grace [our daughter].
When I focus on these thoughts–all part of the bigger, more important picture–I can cope more effectively with the temporary physical distortion, with the back aches and the irritability. This is the last time I plan on being pregnant, and it’s drawing to a close. So I pray. For wisdom, and as Philip Yancey writes in the devotional Our Daily Bread, for patience:
God, who is timeless, requires of us a mature faith that may involve delays that seem like trials. Patience is one sign of that maturity, a quality that can develop only through the passing of time. … I pray for the patience to endure times of trial, to keep anticipating, keep hoping, keep believing. I pray for patience to be patient.
- A Mother Lost, A Mother Born (Mama Writes, May 9, 2011)
- The Privilege of Pregnancy (Mama Writes, May 2, 2011)