Monday, March 14, 2011

On Being Full Term

As of last Thursday, I am full term in this pregnancy, which means that baby girl could make her arrival on any day, at any time.

Strangely enough though, I find it hard to believe that she actually will come. I mean I know this baby has to come out one way or another and that she will do so sometime in the next month, perhaps much sooner. But since I haven't noticed any contractions, Braxton-Hicks or otherwise, and still feel relatively mobile and energetic, it sometimes seems like I'll just be pregnant forever.

And, to be honest, while I am really excited to meet this baby and to be a mom, part of me is okay with the idea of being pregnant a little while longer. For one, I'm enjoying all the things that won't be possible soon - sleeping in, spontaneous date nights with CJ, baskets of toys that stay clean and put away, uninterrupted time to read, write, and just be. And of course, there are always more things we can do to get ready - meals to freeze, books to read, projects to complete.

But more than that, I'm enjoying a stage of life that I feel like I can understand and manage. I've been pregnant for almost nine months now, and while it was terrifying at first to watch my body changing in ways I couldn't control or predict, I now feel comfortable being pregnant. I've experienced the nausea, the fatigue, the weakened immune system, the round ligament pains, the back pain, the heartburn, and the aches of a stretching body, and I know generally what to expect on a day-to-day basis and how to deal with the various symptoms.

But the moment labor starts, a whole series of unknowns will be set in motion, things I've talked to friends about and read about but ultimately have no personal knowledge of and little control over: labor, delivery, breastfeeding, infant sleep patterns, the temperament of our daughter, my own post-pregnancy hormonal state, how CJ and I will respond to our whole lives being turned upside down.

When I try to imagine any of these upcoming realities, I quickly get stuck. There are just so many things I can't predict or know. Will my labor be long or short? Will I be able to have the natural birth we're planning for or will interventions be necessary? Will our daughter be fussy or calm? Will I be one of the lucky few for whom breastfeeding comes naturally or will it be painful, difficult, perhaps even impossible? How will I handle the lack of sleep? Physically? Spiritually? Emotionally? I could go on and on.

I have enough friends with children to know that there are many possible answers to each of these questions and that the way one area goes will affect many of the others, like a choose-your-own-adventure book, except that in many cases, I won't really have a choice.

CJ tells me that it will be an adventure, that we'll be in it together, that God will help us, that it will be good. I tell him that while I like the idea of adventures, I'm not really all that keen on them when it really comes down to it. I prefer predictability, routine, and the illusion of certainty. I don't like learning how to do things because in doing so, there is the strong possibility of failure. I'd rather be skilled and competent at everything I do. Prideful? Yes. Reality of my heart? Yes again.

So here I sit, these next few months feeling like one big, gaping unknown, part of me enjoying the comforts of my current lived-in, well-known reality, part of me recognizing that God is calling me to trust Him and that it is only in facing the risks of the unknown that the many great joys of motherhood and parenting and family will come.

My prayer is that in the remaining days of this pregnancy, God will help me to let go of my desire for control and safety and give me increased faith for this adventure of many unknowns, that I might experience rest, joy, and hope in the "knowns" of His goodness, faithfulness, and sovereignty.

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