I've learned a few things recently:
1. I'm pregnant! Yay!
2. There's a lot of less-than-magical specialness that they don't tell you about pregnancy.
3. It's unwise to put too much hope into feeling better by a certain day or week.
4. When you can function, function.
5. When you can't, don't.
6. When you can function, be wise and don't overdo it so that you don't crash.
7. It's still worth it. I have barely been able to function for two months, and I still love this baby more than I have words for and am thrilled that he or she is growing inside of me.
8. I am a huge worrier (not a new lesson).
Lessons 1-6 may seem simple and obvious, but in order to learn them I have required 2 months of tears and prayers, as well as an unfortunate number of conversations with the toilet. Lesson number 7 I think I've always suspected to be true, but I've been surprised by how easily worry comes with the love that I feel.
Ironically, no one else in my life is surprised by how easily I worry about this baby. I am, as my mom would term it, a "worry wart." Not the cutest name in the world, but it certainly applies to me. Usually, as I am mid-worrying, I have a thought in my mind that I just need to reach a certain point, or achieve a certain goal, or surpass a certain mile-marker, or be reassured of a certain fact - I tell myself (and God and others) that I won't worry anymore after XYZ has happened.
I hit 14 weeks of my pregnancy on Tuesday, and throughout the past 9 weeks I have re-learned that my worrying is not nearly as dependent as I think on my circumstances. I HAVE to choose to trust God every minute of every day because if I don't actively choose to trust him, my mind consumes itself with worry. There will ALWAYS be another reason to worry, especially as a mom. In this pregnancy, at first I was worried because it was too soon to see the heartbeat when we first went to the doctor. That worry was compounded by how sick I was getting, and then seeing the heartbeat at 8 weeks alleviated my worry - for approximately one day. Then I started fretting over every pound I lost, every meal I wasn't able to eat, every time the meals I WAS able to eat made a reappearance, every day that I couldn't take my prenatal vitamin because of the nausea, I worried that I was starving my baby as I myself wasted away. Then at 13 weeks we saw the baby with approximately 50 times more energy than I have had in weeks - kicking, punching, turning, growing at the proper rates, heart beating normally (and adorably - why is a baby's heartbeat just so much cuter than a grown person??) - and yet there are still opportunities to worry.
At one point in one of my prayers I was bargaining with God (the fact that I am not struck by lightening every day really is a testimony to God's love and grace), explaining that I would just really let go and trust him once I knew FOR SURE WITHOUT A DOUBT that the baby was ok. And then I realized (or God gently helped me realize) that that point will never realistically come. There are milestones all throughout pregnancy (and life) that are supposed to tell us whether or not the baby is 'ok.' Every month the doctor will be checking for both progress and warning signs. Then there's labor and delivery - not even going there right now. Then when the baby is born... Are they sleeping properly? Are they eating properly? Am I a bad mother because I'm exhausted all the time? Should they be responding differently to my voice by now? Are they too big? Too small? How do I know they can hear and see properly? Did that person just SNEEZE and then touch my baby's hand?!? Should they be crawling by now? Should they be walking by now? Should they be talking by now? Will they make friends at school? Will they learn to resolve conflicts with their friends? Will their crush like them back? Will they love God with their entire being? Will they choose to date the wrong person and get heartbroken or break a heart? Will their marriage go well? Will my daughter suffer like I did during her pregnancy? There are endless possibilities of worries to consume my mind.
Psalm 139 has been both a comfort and a source of heart-check for me these past couple of months.
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My 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. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you." (Psalm 139:13-18 NIV)
I have always loved this Psalm (the whole thing, not just those verses) because I have loved the assertion that God knows me completely. I love the reminder that God created me, I did not create myself. God very carefully and deliberately knit me together to be the way I am, and that has brought me tremendous peace and security for many years. This scripture helped teach me that instead of searching for self-confidence (which is very fleeting for me), I could seek God-confidence (something much more stable and eternal).
Recently this Psalm has taken on a whole new meaning because, though my body is the home in which my child is being grown, I myself am not knitting together my child. I can attempt to take care of myself and I can follow my doctor's instructions, but I cannot design my child's personality, or choose their hair color, or sex, or eye color. All of those are the decision of the great Creator and Designer and Author of Life. And I am grateful that those choices do not fall to me. I'm grateful that my worry is illogical and nonsensical when I think about the one who holds my child's life (and my own life) in his hands
I'm also convicted to be reminded that this child is not primarily my child, but God's child. God loves this child more than I will ever be capable of loving, and God has already had a larger influence on this child's existence than will ever be within my power. I love my child deeply, but I don't even know their sex - God already knows all the days of their life! I will die for my child if I ever need to, but God already has died for my child's salvation. I will spend my lifetime trying to know and understand this wonderful human who is already changing my life, but God already knows my baby completely. Ultimately, my goal is not to be a perfect mother, but to guide my child into the arms of his or her perfect father. The biggest prayer I have for my child is that they be with God for eternity, and I am acutely aware that I am incapable of getting them there relying on myself. I will certainly not be a perfect mom, and I will probably cry every time I am reminded of that. But I don't have to be perfect because my maker is also the maker of my child and he is perfect. The same way he continues to guide me through life and marriage with his Spirit, his Word, and his family he will guide me through the process of parenting. I assume this parenting thing will absolutely break my heart some days and other days will make me feel more whole than I knew was possible. I have no idea what lessons are in store for me, and I don't know what my child will be like, but I am determined to choose every day to rely on God rather than letting worry consume my mind. And when I fail at that (as I already do every day) I will allow my failures to remind me of God's incredible grace and hopefully my gratitude for him will increase every day.
Jon and I are embarking on the incredible journey of parenthood together. I am ecstatic and also a little bit terrified, and think I should buy a lifetime supply of tissues and chocolate.