Shouldn't life being created within our bodies, in theory, be the most empowering, confident time in our lives? Like... theoretically... if God is creating a living human being within my body should I not be completely amazed by my body and what's going on inside of it? Shouldn't I think that my body is incredible and so strong and be completely amazed with the power of God in creating this new life as well as his power and wisdom when he created my body?
And yet, instead of making me feel empowered, life-creating seems to bring me so much insecurity. I am not constantly impressed by my body and by God, I am constantly insecure about my increasing size, about the acne, about being more tired and sick, about being able to do less 'things' than I could before. I am easily down on myself that I'm no longer running 2-3 miles 5 days a week... despite the fact that my doctor told me to stop running so much (why does part of me feel like it's a badge of honor to try to push past the doctor's advice? This + other factors landed me in the hospital multiple times my last pregnancy... this tendency of mine is actually quite dangerous). I get upset with myself or feel guilty that I can't physically seem to spend time with as many people, work as much, or stay up as late with a still-functioning brain and body.
I so easily lose perspective. I wish I could say that this was unique to pregnancy and blame it all on hormones or fatigue, but losing perspective and giving in to insecurity, fear, and anxiety is all too easy for me. It is easy for me to focus on the little pinpoint of my life right now in this exact moment instead of having an eternal perspective. I get caught up in my current situation instead of remembering that more importantly than anything else, Heaven awaits the end of this life. I can easily forget that pregnancy is not forever, but is a phase that happens a limited number of times (and I'm lucky I can experience this phase). I forget that the sleepless newborn nights are numbered and one day he won't want to sleep in my arms anymore (but I will be better-rested). When I'm pregnant I can even lose perspective of the full picture of the little pinpoint of my current life situation. I get down on myself for being tired, forgetting that God is currently using my body to form a human being. In pregnancy and young mommyhood, I can easily forget that my child[ren] aren't just a 'thing' I'm doing; they are little people and God has entrusted my husband and me with them. I *should* be spending a bit less time with other people or on other things because my current God-given role is to train and form these little characters for an eternity with God. (No pressure or anything!) It is a huge, intimidating, sometimes-terrifying job, but one that I need to always remember the importance of so that I don't get deceived into the thinking that there are many other more important things that I should be doing rather than raising, training, loving, and learning about my kids.
For clarification purposes, I'm not saying that there is NOTHING more important than being a mother - my relationship with my Creator and with my husband are more important to take care of (and I can't be a good mother without taking care of those other relationships). But being with my kids instead of cleaning my house, doing laundry, or being with other people is not something I should be consistently letting myself feel guilty about. Also, for the record, I do not (cannot) just attempt to figure out the balance of these things on my own... I constantly need advice, help, perspective, and gentle correction. We are eternally grateful for trustworthy people on both sides of the Atlantic who have admirable walks with God, marriages, and parenting and are willing to pass their wisdom on to us!
Anyways, these are just some thoughts and little journal entries I've been reflecting on lately. I have compiled a bunch of scriptures and thoughts to mostly help myself keep perspective in the midst of pregnancy and mommyhood. Things to try to grasp onto when I'm throwing up frequently, or when I am really not liking my body. Some of them might be cheesy, or strange, or theologically-questionable... Sorry (sort of)!! Moments of desperation sometimes call for cheese, or over-simplification of spiritual concepts. (PS feel free to contact me if you have major concerns about some of my thoughts... just also know that they are for desperate moments, not the complete set of convictions I base my life around).
(Just some pictures to remind myself of the bigger picture)
So, here are some morning sickness and pregnancy scriptures and pep talks:
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me?””
Psalm 119:81-82 NIV
“Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.”
Psalm 143:1 NIV
“The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.”
We are the works of his hands, and I needed to pray that he wouldn't abandon me in my morning sickness. I can't tell you how many times I yelled at Eve between lurches into the toilet:
"Why in the world would you listen to a snake??? And because of you here I am!!!! You foolish woman!!!"
I know it's silly and only mildly logical, but it helped me to have someone to blame... Besides God, Jon, or myself. Or the country of Italy.
Maybe David had a more righteous approach than me:
“So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
Psalm 143:4-8 NIV
As his spirit grew faint and his heart was dismayed he remembered all the things God had done for him...
I also really like the idea that morning would bring us word of his unfailing love instead of bringing us to our knees for different reasons...
“The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” [over the toilet or otherwise]
Psalm 145:14 NIV
“Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
May the favor [beauty] of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”
“I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.”
Psalm 120:1 NIV
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 121:1-8 NIV
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 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.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:1-24 NIV
I love this one for so many reasons... It reminds me in a beautiful way that God is forming life inside my body, that in his incredible wisdom and grace he is carefully knitting together one of his children inside of me. It also reminds me that he knit me together with detail and care, and that he knows my pain and does not abandon me or forget about me. He carefully creates life inside me, but also cares that this creation process is hard on my body and mind because he dearly loves me.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”
Psalm 130:1-8 NIV
“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.”
Psalm 119:116-117 NIV
“Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.”
Jeremiah 16:19 NIV
“I am weary, God, but I can prevail.”
Proverbs 30:1 NIV
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”
Psalm 62:5-7 NIV
“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.”
Jeremiah 31:25-26 NIV
Pep talk to remember when pregnant: You are absolutely stunning, and your body is doing incredible things right now, which makes you even more incredible!!
In southern Italian culture being 'bigger' tends to be seen more as healthy than as a bad thing (fashion-centric Milan is not so much like that, but any southern Italians who are here are still like that), so just remember that while there may be a bombardment of "smaller is better" messages, it's just simply not true ESPECIALLY in pregnancy. People sometimes value/admire someone who only shows in the stomach during pregnancy and no where else - this is also completely silly. Women's bodies grow humans in different but still amazing ways. The biggest reason you should be concerned is if you have a sort of sudden swelling because that's a sign of pre-eclampsia - I had swelling in my ankles and face a couple days before my sudden onset high blood pressure and accompanying seizures/emergency c-section, but I thought it was just normal pregnancy stuff.
Let's just say that the bigger you get the more your "fertility goddess" level increases. I heard that somewhere and I liked the idea that instead of talking about size like bigger is worse we are talking about fertility and the strength that it takes to grow human beings in our bodies.
God is literally creating life inside of you. The same way he knit together the physical body of his son inside of Mary, he is carefully and deliberately crafting and knitting his child inside of you. You are currently housing the precious creation of your own maker. If that means you need some bigger dresses or leggings to properly house the amazing work that God and your body are currently doing then great!!
(Sidenote regarding pregnancy and nursing attire: I have liked a lot of Motherhood Maternity and Target maternity clothes, and found Cake Maternity useful for undergarment choices for both pregnancy and nursing. Kortnie Jeane has great pregnancy, high-waisted swimming suit bottoms that pair well with their (or other) swimming tops. Both Motherhood Maternity and Cake Maternity you can order online, and get it shipped to Europe, which I have found to be quite helpful! Target's website isn't even accessible from here. Cake maternity is not cheap, but certain items are worth saving for, in my opinion).
I also find worship music to be incredibly helpful for me, regardless of my life situation or circumstances, so here are just a few snippets of lyrics I've found to be helpful in recent, pregnancy and young mommyhood years:
"You are my revival, Jesus on you I wait. And I'll lean on your promise, you will renew my strength."
(My Revival, Lauren Daigle)
"Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There's not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less
When You don't move the mountains I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust in You"
(Trust in You, Lauren Daigle)
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You
Filled with wonder awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery
Oh, You're worthy, mystery
You are worthy
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You"
(Revelation Song, Kari Jobe)
Sometimes (ahem, oftentimes) I just need to take my eyes off of myself and my situation and praise God instead.
"Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea
And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you
Through it all, through it all it is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you
And it is well with me
So let go, my soul
And trust in Him
The waves and wind still know his name
And it is well, with my soul."
(It is Well, Kristene Dimarco.)
The above song is loosely adapted from "It Is Well With My Soul" by Horacio Spafford, which is an amazing song with an incredibly moving backstory:
The background section explains a bit of the backstory. I find this song helpful for maintaining perspective during some of my difficult moments. Though, I should give fair warning that now that I know the backstory I am no longer able to sing this song without crying.