Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Out of The Cave

It's been quiet around here because I've spent the first three months of my pregnancy in hiding. If I could have holed up in a dark, secluded cave for the last twelve weeks, believe me, I would have! But of course, there is still a house to tend and a toddler who needs her Mommy, pregnant or not.

Since this pregnancy was deliberate-- not only planned but longed for-- I thought it would be smoother than my first. After all, I wasn't a surprised rookie. I had been through morning sickness, fatigue, the whole nine yards. No sooner did I put down my positive pregnancy test did I plan my pregnancy strategy in detail-- I would soldier on, making sure to keep the house together, exercise daily, restrict my diet, and spend extra time teaching Ember all the things I wanted her to know before the baby got here. I bought sewing patterns for maternity clothes and infant clothes, determined to make my own pregnancy wardrobe as well as the baby's layette. I would be a Uber-Capable Mom!

A week later, I was on the couch, convinced I would never move again short of flood or fire. I couldn't drink anything but bottles of water tinged with ginger ale and didn't want to eat anything that wasn't a carbohydrate. The exhaustion surprised me with its sheer....exhaustiveness... as I often found myself unable to function longer than thirty minutes without collapsing on the couch for a cat nap. I didn't remember being that tired with the first pregnancy but then again, I didn't have a toddler. (Ember, for the record, was heroic. She tucked her baby doll blankets around me when I was tired and patted my head or my tummy. Once she learned what my anti-nausea drops were, she'd bring me one every time I started to gag. I couldn't believe that my two year old little girl was mothering me.)

As for my sewing plans, I found that I could even look at material or yarn without getting sick. My husband had to pack all my craft supplies away in the garage, where I couldn't go anyway due to the smell of the cat's litter box, which is practically mustard gas to my pregnant-lady nose. Ah, maternal bliss!

But the most unexpected and difficult aspect of the trimester was the emotional upheaval that caught me completely off guard. In my first pregnancy, I was actually less emotional because I was no longer on birth control pills (which made my hormones wonky) and I expected little to no change with the new baby. Wrong. I found myself smack in the middle of a completely irrational depression that stuck to me like a rock in my chest no matter what I did. It didn't make sense, I told the Lord. I wanted the baby. I was amazed and grateful for His timing and for the new life in me. I had family support and a network of fellow moms who all would help me in any way I needed. More than that, I had the Holy Spirit and His daily grace to sustain me. Why couldn't I shake the black dog on my heels? The experience was very similar to my post-partum depression after Ember's birth, which was hormonally influenced and disappeared once my body got back into sync. I hadn't expected to face that battle again until after the baby, and certainly not for an entire three months!

Sometimes we can't lift ourselves out of a valley. We have to walk on through, stubborn in our faith that the path we are on is right even if everything about it is going wrong. One part of me knew that I had to do whatever I could to order my thoughts then just grit my teeth and get through the days until my body worked out the hormones. Another part of my was disgusted at my failure to live up to my self-made idol of Capable Mom that I'd fashioned at the beginning of the pregnancy. Capable Moms do not crouch in the stall of the church bathroom sobbing for no apparent reason! They keep up their exercise programs and count their calories! They spend their first trimesters in a state of calm resolve, dealing with the physical and emotional upheaval with one hand behind their backs!

God let me beat myself up for a while (I insisted) before He put the question in my mind-- whose standard are you using to judge yourself? What you think other moms expect of you? What you think will give you the most control or pride in your ability to keep juggling all the balls? What about what He wants or expects of me? His yoke is easy and his burden is light, a far cry from all the rocks I piled on my back only to be confused when I couldn't carry them. I gladly exchanged my idea of a perfect pregnant mom for a simpler, more God-honoring goal: do what I can with each day and no more.

Now that I'm into my second trimester, the clouds have definitely started to clear. My body is settling into the pregnancy, physically and emotionally, but more importantly, I've gotten rid of the idea that I am the one in control of all of this. Pregnancy and birth, more than anything I've encountered in my life so far, demands surrender. I can cling to my illusion of control but God brought this life into the world and He's the one growing it every day. In His way, not mine. It is the same for the birth-- I can plan and hope and work towards a certain labor but only God knows how He wants this baby to come into the world. And what He choses will be best. Why do I keep having to re-learn that simple truth?
My job is faithfulness in walking the path, not steering the course. Every time I take over the map, I end up lost.

So it's out of the cave, back to the fresh air and sunshine. I don't regret my time there, or what it's taught me. I'm happy that I can now eat oranges without getting sick, go for a walk with Ember without collapsing on the couch, and look at the day with hope in my heart and strength in my bones. Because it's not about my strength anymore. What freedom! Who knows, I may even knit something.

1 comment:

Felicia said...

I hear you sister. :-)