Six years ago I was very pregnant with our son, and I remember being very surprised by this photo. I remember working all day, and occasionally looking in the mirror. I was proud that I had curled my mistake of a short haircut, proud that I had attempted an accessory or two, and overall relieved that I had very little time left carrying our firstborn. I remember seeing this photo, and becoming overwhelmed by the fact that I still looked like me.
I felt similarly when I saw this image two days ago...
I sat with some women this weekend- a new crowd for me- and we talked about children and pregnancy. One woman, having carried two babies, spoke with stars in her eyes about her maternity. "I was as big as a house- I felt the most beautiful I ever have in my life." Another girl piped in, saying that she wouldn't have had 4 children if she didn't enjoy pregnancy so much. I sat across the table, as thoughts of their perspective washed over me. It took us 5 years to convince ourselves we could do this baby-thing again. Why do I feel so different?
When I write this blog, I try not to use it as a platform for my beliefs (a stage for my rants). In this case, I feel that I have to say something- if for no one but for my friends, the people at the gas station, the well-meaning teenaged baggers at Publix, and just about everyone with whom I come into contact these days.
I believe pregnancy is hard. And I don't like to talk about it very much unless I love you. My least favorite question is "How are you feeling," and I don't like to hear your perspective on how large you think my tummy is. I don't need to hear that I am "all baby," or that I am "lucky" that I "carry so well."
I am glad that I find my identity in Christ, because I see very well the struggle pregnancy can bring to a woman's selfhood. We go from skirting around the edges of life, having normal conversations about the weather, family, and work- and then suddenly our discussions are centered around our physical appearance. It is frustrating. It tempts me with anxiety.
I struggle with anxiety.
All of that aside, I am happy to be pregnant. I am elated to hold a daughter in a few short weeks. If you would like, we can talk about her. We can talk about the girl she will become. We can talk about her, because- well, you see- I feel that outside of genes and good nutrition- I have very little to do with the process.
Anxious to fill up the extra bedroom in our new home, Patrick and I got pregnant with Langston. Despite a lifetime of serving God, I wasn't at that point. I quickly grabbed up every book on pregnancy, journaled every morsel of food that went into my mouth, and prepared for the most natural childbirth I could imagine. I hoped for the best, because I had done the best that I could. On that day, after a labor and delivery that we couldn't have planned better, our son was born. He was perfectly formed, and yet I was surprised.
-He was beautiful.
Yes, I am about as creative as they come; I delight in adding beauty to any project I begin. But in the case of making a baby, well- that's way beyond my level of expertise. Seeing our perfect son drew me back to the Cross, as I viewed him as I now do any gift in my life- an extension of God's grace.
So in sharing these images, I am hoping to remind you of who I am. I am a vessel for an extraordinary work. A new person is to be born into the world, and we get to carry her. Somehow she has ears, toes, and probably some incredible lips. Heck- she just sprouted a hair, and I'm just sitting around. And how am I feeling during all of this?
I am feeling like Rachel.