This Pregnancy Thing

I have finally hit the sweatpants, yoga pants, and all things jersey knit portion of my pregnancy. Being a stay at home mom, I usually like to dress cute. It makes me feel good, and I'm always more productive when I don't feel like I'm wearing my pj's.

 Pregnancy is a different bird. I have had round ligament pain, back pain, or sciatica during all four of my pregnancies. By the time I'm feeling as big as a house, I have to seek comfort where I can find it--be it in yoga pants or key lime pie.

This pregnancy has been a difficult one for me mentally. After giving birth to our third son, we knew our family wasn't complete, but I had decided to take a year or two off from the baby-making because I was feeling a bit rundown.

Constantly being pregnant or nursing for three and a half years can really take it out of you, and my body was feeling it. But being the Fertile Myrtle that I am, we ended up pregnant again VERY much on accident.

I'm incredibly happy to have this sweet baby girl, but I must admit that the first couple of months I felt trapped. It's not that I didn't want the baby, I just didn't want to be pregnant. My reluctance to suffer through the initial pregnancy nausea and exhaustion only amplified my discomfort.

I was kicking against the goads: fighting the inevitable and losing every step of the way. I didn't have an epiphany or a turning point that changed everything. I've struggled off and on with every change and pain my body has endured. Pregnancy is just not easy.

I enjoyed my first pregnancy immensely--partly because everything was new and exciting. But each subsequent pregnancy has felt harder and harder in part because I've had more little ones to care for and less time to relax.

All that being said, pregnancy is a perfect prelude to holding that bundle of preciousness in your arms. Pain and joy seem to be inseparably intertwined in the mystery that is motherhood.

In my experience, there has been no growth or maturity in my children without discomfort on my part. This is true of both physical growth in pregnancy and their general growth outside of the womb. Sleep training, potty training, the "terrible" 2's or 3's, and training my babies to obey: each stage and milestone is difficult to achieve, but there is so much joy on the other side of the pain.

Once that baby has been conceived, (in most cases) there is no turning back. I remember standing in the bathroom with my husband the night we found out we were pregnant with our oldest son. He was ecstatic, and I was just standing there in shock thinking: "This baby is inside of me right now, and there is only one exit ramp."

The weight of being someone's mother is something that no one can ever fully prepare you for: the worry, the responsibility, all the mixed emotions, the mommy guilt, the mommy comparison trap, the attachment, the love, and the pride.

 I took my two oldest sons to the playground one day when I was pregnant with our third son. Owen, our oldest, ran up to a group of kids who were running around together and tried to strike up a conversation.

The other children tried to ignore him, but when he didn't get the picture they started running away from him. He had no idea what was going on, so he proceeded to chase them. Finally one of the older kids said, "Everyone can play except you." Then he pointed at my son.

I quickly grabbed him and told him that we were leaving the park. I packed my babies into the stroller and headed home. While I was sprinting away, I heard the bully's mom put the smack down on him (thank goodness). She even yelled an apology to us, but I was booking it because I didn't want anyone to see me sobbing.

After everything, it never really registered with my three year old that the kids at the park had rejected him. I couldn't help but think about all the rejection he will inevitably face in his lifetime without me there to shield him from it. I hate that my children are growing up in a world where they will experience hurt at the hands of others.  And where they will inevitably also turn their hands to hurt.

Things that I would simply ignore and gloss over if they happened in my own life take on fresh meaning and significance when they happen to one of my children. 

So when they delight in a new friend, blow bubbles, or wrestle with their daddy, I am as elated in their delight as I would be if it were my own experience. 

Its like my babies are attached to me with an invisible emotional umbilical cord that no one will ever be able to sever.

In the same way that  pregnancy softens my body, every stage of raising my children has softened my heart. Dealing with all of their needs, joys, issues, and hurts has opened my heart to more love than I can contain at times. 

Trying to understand my little people has given me a greater understanding of myself and other people along with a wider capacity for compassion.