Being pregnant is scary. It’s 40 weeks of wondering if everything is going alright. You can’t see the little bean in there except for the precious moments of an ultrasound. You can’t know for sure that all is happening as it should. You do your best to take care of yourself and thus take care of the baby, and you hope that indiscretions like Oreo binges won’t jeopardize the balance for your beautiful little one. That’s not all though, it’s also 40 weeks of wondering if everything will go right after the baby comes out. If the pregnancy was normal, will the baby continue to be healthy? Will he or she be happy? Will you irrevocably screw her up by some choice you make as a mother?
I do a lot of reading when I’m pregnant. I read to inform and empower myself, but reading leads one to find that there are so many things that can go wrong. Once you get through that first trimester of worry there are things like chromosomal abnormalities, birth defects, preterm labor, pre-eclampsia and other such scary words to wonder about.
What it boils down to is that it’s all an act of faith and hope. I’ve talked a great deal about the irritations and discomfort that comes from this little being taking over one’s body, but the reality of it—the reason that you submit to doing it at all— is because of that faith and hope and the chance to participate in the creation of an entirely new little person. That’s nothing short of a miracle. That is one of the highest privileges granted to a woman.
When my Mom got sick I was quite suddenly disabused of the notion that “it (whatever it may be) only happens to other people.” And this knowledge has been a dangerous thing for me since then, and especially during this entire pregnancy. The first few weeks of it I lived in absolute guilt and a bit of terror that I was even able to get pregnant so easily again. I know and love so many others who have struggled and struggled to do so with varying degrees of success. With that bit of good fortune behind us, I couldn’t help but wonder if something terrible would happen…. Since becoming pregnant I’ve heard a good deal about the misfortunes that have befallen other children–through blogs, or acquaintances, or friends living in that sort of difficulty. Add on the fact that our previous years had been so full of difficulty, I couldn’t imagine that we could get by with 9(10) months of relative stability…. especially with something so precious hanging in the balance.
I must admit that for a large portion of this pregnancy I have waited for the other shoe to drop. The shoes seemed to drop heavily when I was pregnant with Little Miss–with Mom’s illness weighed against impending deployment. When it looked as though Husband was going to deploy this time, a large part of me actually felt relief. I thought at first that was because I would have something to worry about again. Maybe instead it was because that was a shoe-drop that I thought I could handle. Like a Birkenstock–well-made and not easily poofed away, but already worn in to the contours of my feet.
Part of me is still waiting for the shoes. I am doing my best to simply be grateful for what is, and to live in the joy of it. I’m not saying that I am wracked with fear or living in terror or anything dramatic like that. I simply keep sweeping my eyes over the horizon looking to see what may come up.
And the truth is, I think all mother’s do. I think it is part of being a mother. It’s the part that stops being able to watch the evening news because of all the terrible stories about things that happen to children–young and old. The realization that *everyone* is someone’s child is one that is not easily shaken when you are entrusted with a fragile human life to care for and it takes a good bit of separation and objectivity to not let every tragedy overwhelm you.
The worries don’t stop when the child is born–they only change. You get through those nine months and realize that you have an entire lifetime of scanning the horizon ahead of you for dragons to slay before they can hurt your child. With each child you add another lifetime.
So far the shoes are staying aloft. I hope this is a trend that will continue. We’re back to being in the midst of the everyday familial challenges right now… but a time will undoubtedly come when those challenges are bigger. Who knows what form they will take.
Until then, I’ll keep holding on to this hope and faith even as it’s balanced with my shaken sense of reality. I’ll scan the horizon and draw my sword if I see any monsters lurking. I’ll trust He who knit my children together inside of me with their little lives and with my own.
It’s what mother’s do and it’s all I can do.