Today, as I write this, I feel a little tired. Once again, I woke up around 4 a.m. and didn’t fall asleep again for awhile. I’ve read that insomnia is common late in pregnancy. I’ve read a lot of things about pregnancy lately. I am almost eight months pregnant with my first child, a daughter.
A year ago, I didn’t imagine myself here.
A year ago, I wrote an article about my fears concerning motherhood. I wasn’t pregnant then, had never been pregnant and didn’t know if I ever would be. What I did know was the idea of motherhood dredged up some of my darkest anxieties and insecurities.
Then, about six months after writing that article, I found out I was pregnant. When I took a pregnancy test and saw “Pregnant” on the digital screen (no trying to decipher one or two lines for me), I didn’t feel anxious or scared or fearful. I felt elation. I went to work and couldn’t focus, thinking about how I would share the news with my husband that evening. He would be happy, and though before the moment came I had wondered how I would feel, I was happy, too.
It wasn’t as though all my fears dissipated, though God graciously provided answers to a few. I worried my way through the first trimester, praying every night as I fell asleep that God would sustain the new life in me. On the way to the first prenatal appointment, my hands wouldn’t stop trembling. I gripped the car handle and reminded myself to breathe. The Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” came on the stereo, and I tried to think of it as a sign. In the darkened ultrasound room, my husband and I studied the screen as the sonographer found the baby, a gray jellybean shape. I cried as we heard the WHOOSHwhooshWHOOSH noise of the heartbeat. Later, I cried thinking about the women and men who came to that same point and heard nothing.
I read an article about how pregnancy may make you more empathetic. While I don’t know if pregnancy is why I seem to feel the grief of others more acutely or if I’m just more aware of it, it did lead me to think about transformation in general. The Bible has countless stories of transformation, some sudden and radical, some gradual and over a long period of time—Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), the woman at the well (John 4), Zacchaeus (Luke 19), Jonah and Moses. I think of Sarah in Genesis 18, laughing at the idea of bearing a child at her age. While my circumstances aren’t as dramatic as any of these people, I marvel at God’s ability to change me as He changed them, as He changes people every day. The power of God to transform is something I believe in, of course, something I get to hear and and see weekly through my job. But sometimes I don’t have the faith to believe God will continue to change me. A year ago, I feared I was incapable of change in my heart and mind when it came to motherhood—and that was my problem. I put it on myself to be capable and not God. I looked only to me and my own personal track record for growth instead of God’s.
It’s not that I no longer have worries about being a mom. I still have that list of fears from a year ago—What if there’s an emergency during labor? What if I can’t handle the sleep deprivation? What if she is sick? What if all the parenting decisions we make are the wrong ones?—but its once-persistent whisperings have faded to the background of my mind, choosing to focus on what can be added rather than taken away. I’ve replaced it with a new list, one of all the messages I want my daughter to hear, experience and know from her father and me. Here are a few:
You are loved beyond measure by us, but even more so by your Father.
You are made in the image of God. You have dignity and you matter.
Your body is sacred, and no one should harm it. If someone does, you will always be believed by us.
Your needs are not a burden.
You are safe with us. And we are your safe place to fail.
Your worth is in Christ, not in what you do or what others expect of you.
You are seen and known fully by God.
It is a joy and a privilege to be your mother.
It is a greater list to bear than that of my anxieties, one I can only hope to be faithful to with the mercy and guidance of the triune God. It’s funny; I find myself in both the same place and a wholly different place from the article I wrote a year ago. Circumstances have changed; I know now I am a mother. But I still don’t know what’s next, still can’t predict tomorrow or what life will look like 15 years from now. I still must put my trust and expectations solely in God’s good hands. Some things stay exactly the same, while others change, but some stay exactly the same. I am both of them.