Friday, September 7, 2012

An uncommon pregnancy

This is a raw and honest mix of thoughts right now. It's long, it rambles and jumps around, but I hope in the end you will be encouraged in some way. I don't want to to paint a 'proper' and rosy picture of my emotions and experiences, but I do hope you see God's hand through it all.

If you were to take a peek in my world at 23 weeks pregnant with my firstborn two years ago (almost to the day, actually), things at first glance would look awfully familiar to what you would see right now. Hello bedrest, hello weekly progesterone shots.
However, the Lord has been faithful to our prayers for a distinct change in my second pregnancy. Though things on the outside look pretty much the same - plus the addition of a little guy running around the house, and a tornado of toys in the living room - there is one very important detail that is different. No longer are we fearing from day-to-day if our little one will stay put inside the womb. At this point in my first pregnancy, I had no cerclage (cervical stitch), no experience or education, and was dilated at 1cm with no idea when things would change. Thank the LORD that I had my weekly check up on the morning I started going into labor (which I was completely oblivious to, mind you). 25 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy, and all of a sudden I was 3cm dilated with mild contractions. After a whirlwind of helicopter rides, monitors, fearful discussions and decisions, and some hurried desperate prayers, my tiny son was born via c-section that evening.

Being only two weeks from that mark again, you would think I would be fearful again. But miracles happen daily in my life these days it seems. Our check-ups have all been 'uneventful', with no surprises or concerns. And much to our awe, my cervix has fully lengthened to 37mm (the lowest it got was 25mm about a month ago)! The trends have certainly changed, and I can't help but laugh that God, perhaps, is showing off - you might even hear Him saying, "see, I am ALWAYS in control. I was with your son, and I am with your daughter!" God is predictably unpredictable in the way He shows Himself. He showed Himself in many ways through our son's preemie journey, and now He is showing Himself through this pregnancy.
He is so faithful, through difficult trials, sorrows, frustrations, and also through miracles both big and small, surprising joys, and when things are going well. We are trusting this baby and pregnancy in His hands, regardless of what happens. But we have faith that our little girl will be healthy and full term this time!

I joke with my doctors and friends that two weeks from now I will be in uncharted territory again. It will be a first-time pregnancy experience once I hit 26 weeks. People have warned me of the miseries of going full-term, and how uncomfortable and anxious you get at the end... but I usually respond, "If I get to 40 weeks, I will be happily miserable!" I would take that kind of misery over an early birth full of unknowns and endless hospital visits ANY DAY.

Even though this is my second pregnancy, I have no idea what contractions, or even Braxton Hicks contractions, feel like. I have never taken a birthing class, gone through labor, or enjoyed those first bonding moments with my newborn fresh out of the womb.
I don't even know what it's like to truly 'enjoy' being pregnant, and am admitting I sometimes get jealous of that woman who walks (or waddles) around with a glow on her face and a beautiful round belly, as she carries on her daily life with her biggest concerns being what color to paint the nursery, and if she can tie her own shoes.
I've concluded that I don't handle pregnancy well. I'm miserably sick the first 3 months, then tolerably uncomfortable for a short window of time where I feel like leaving the house and smiling again, and then comes the drama of bedrest and doctors appointments, not knowing from week-to-week what we will find.
I find myself saying things like, "why did I want to go through this again? How did I forget so quickly how awful morning sickness feels I'm so tired of feeling this way." and just wanting to be done, but reminding myself to try and enjoy it. I've held on to the thought that, "this, too, shall pass", and my hope lies in the fact that pregnancy doesn't last forever. Whew! I've gained sympathy for those who are terminally or acutely sick, those who lay in hospitals and nursing homes for weeks and months unending. I have to remind myself that it could ALWAYS be worse.
I don't want pity, for this is where God has me, and I have learned countless lessons through these moments. Really.
I find it funny when people ask how I'm feeling on bedrest. The answer is, "I feel fine!" and that's what's so frustrating. I KNOW I need to be here to care for the baby, but I "feel" normal, so it's hard to remember that I'm sitting here for a reason. I'm not sick, I'm not hurt, I'm just... waiting. I've learned to be patient, with myself. I've learned to accept help, which is hard for the control-freak in me. I've learned to humble myself and admit that I can't do this alone. I've learned a lot about myself, and where I find my worth. Not making my family meals and caring for the house makes me feel useless. Can I just BE a wife and a mom without DOING wife and mom things? How can I show my love and appreciation? 'Thank you' seems so inadequate. How can I contribute? With my attitudes and words alone... and boy, that takes work (especially when you're already pregnant and hormonal). I've learned self-control, to NOT get up and do a load of laundry when I know I am technically capable of doing so. I've learned that I am NOT in control, and that is a good thing, because it allows me to rest with the peace that comes from God, who IS in control. But it's not always easy.
...Just for the record, bed rest is not all its cracked up to be. It is not restful, nor is it all that productive. No, I don't have all the time in the world to read books because books make me sleepy when on bedrest. If I read, I fall asleep, and if I fall asleep, I won't sleep at night. Being up at all hours of the night (and not being able to walk around and do things) is NOT fun. At least this time I have my son to keep me entertained (and ocassionally annoyed) ;)

Ok, ranting of self-pity aside, I do know it's hard to see the forest through the trees. The end result will be a beautiful one. We're having a baby! And in the grand scheme of things, a not-so-fun pregnancy, a few months of bedrest... it's such a short time in our lives. We can learn to see the beauty in small things. Like the generosity and servant-heartedness of my family and friends. Having time to reflect on the Lord. Getting ultrasounds and pictures of our healthy little girl frequently. Watching my son grow into the little man he is becoming, with his silly antics and contemplative personality. Being grateful for a supportive husband, who selflessly picks up the slack without so much as a complaint or grumble. He is truly a blessing to me. I am blessed.

And one look into that precious little girl's face on her birth day, and I'm sure I will say, "that was SO worth it."

And you know what's ironic about all this? You know what I call God's sense of humor? The miracle of pregnancy amnesia. Give it a few weeks, months, perhaps a few years... and I will have forgotten all the silly little annoying things I had to go through. I will consider it pure joy, I will look back and remember only the best memories, and then I will say, "let's have another one!"
So THAT'S how God ensured we would be fruitful and multiply... sneaky ;)

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