Currently I am 8 months pregnant with our third child and my distended belly looks like a full, rising moon. This home stretch of pregnancy – also known as the “pee-when-you-sneeze” stage – often takes me by surprise, even though I have been here before. I knocked over a Pepsi with this belly at a party the other night while reaching for a napkin and the days of feeling rested after a full night’s sleep are now just memories. This is the last trimester. It is awesome. And in some ways it is awful.
Let’s get real about something for a minute, pregnant mamas. You are, in my opinion, doing the most amazing thing that a human can do. You are building a new life, or rather, God is building a new life through you. The tiny being developing inside you is a person every bit as unique as you are with limitless potential and endless possibilities. Could there be a more significant undertaking in this world than the creation of a life? Every mother has felt the sacredness of her responsibility in this. Each has felt the weightiness of the opportunity to bring forth life. It is sobering and glorious at once, and the “pregnancy glow” halos expectant mothers for good reason.
Yes, we know pregnancy is sacred. A calling. A privilege. A joy. But pregnancy is also hard. So very hard. There may be some superwomen out there reading this who are thinking – “Hard? Really? Pregnancy was a piece of cake for me.” And for you, I have no wisdom. Only applause. Because for me pregnancy is not easy. Yes, it is joyful. Yes, it is special. But no, it is not easy.
For the first part of my current pregnancy I was incredibly morning sick. All day and night sick, to be exact. Many of you know the kind I am talking about. I called myself “couch mom” for a while because I truly could not spend much time in a vertical position without losing it. I could smell the refrigerator from our living room and had to avoid walking through the kitchen at all costs. My two small children were such good sports during those weeks. They read piles of books with me on our comfy couch and my 4-year-old son learned to grab a plastic mixing bowl and run it over to me whenever he heard me start to heave. My husband positioned accessible food and snacks low enough in the fridge and on the pantry shelves that they could help themselves as much as possible and he would put together dinners for the three of them. I was on modified bed rest for a couple of complications and my already limited abilities seemed even more restricted. I felt pathetic and discouraged – sure that I was failing at my life. Perhaps I was failing to recognize all what I was doing successfully – growing a baby. And managing to keep two other little humans alive in the process.
During that time, I remember expressing my discouragement to my husband. We had been getting ready for bed, when I slumped into a chair in defeat and moaned “Why does pregnancy have to be so hard?” Even as I voiced those words, I felt the answer come. It came from somewhere inside and seemed to echo through my whole body. “Because life is so sacred.”
I paused and let the words sink in to my mind and heart. “Because life is so sacred.” I have pondered about that answer in the days, weeks and months since. Sacred endeavors require sacrifice and such experiences are never earned cheaply. Spiritual masters throughout the ages have sacrificed and suffered much in pursuit of the divine. So why would the creation of life not require some degree of sacrifice, some portion of suffering?After all, bringing forth a child into this world carries a woman to the very threshold of the Divine, as God passes a precious life to her care. What could be more sacred than that?
Since that night I have striven to maintain the perspective I gained on the discomforts and inconveniences of pregnancy. If I truly believe that child-bearing and rearing is sacred and ordained of God, which I do, then I must accept that it requires work, sacrifice, and a degree of suffering. This process is one that has the power to transform us forever, if we will submit ourselves to it. And as every mother knows, the minute you hold your child in your arms, the suffering will be supplanted by joy, awe and immense gratitude.
This is pregnancy. So hang in there. It is way more than “worth it.”