Sitting here typing, the weight of my belly now rests on my thighs even without leaning forward. My two and four-year-old get wedged between my girth and the wooden arms of the glider chair and so they now prefer to stand, or have us sit on the bed to read books before naps. My son, waist-high, often gets belly-bumped in his forehead as I can no longer see his curly head when he’s right below me. When he hugs me, his spine curls backward to accommodate the contour of my convex body.
Simple tasks have become comical as I can no longer bend over to pick up toys or tie shoe laces. Hands immersed in sudsy water, I jump backward as I realize my belly has crept up against the wet sink, absorbing the water run-off. I usually have a stain of some sort on the belly shelf and catch a draft in shirts that no longer stretch over the entirety of my new mass. I have to do acrobatics just to get out of public bathroom stalls.
To some women, I am a good luck charm, a picture of miraculous life. To others, I am a curse; a physical reminder of their loss or disappointment. And to others I am a sign of their fear and dread, as they long for children, but fear having their bodies transform and never return to the thin, fit bodies they fight so hard to maintain. Wherever I go, I am noticed.
And so I am trying to see and be grateful for the beauty and mystery of this experience. It could be my last chance for my body to provide shelter, food and home to a new life; this soul that is being knit together.
The heel of my son pushes against my insides and I reach out to feel the curve of it. It’s his way of communicating with me here on the outside. He wakes me in the night with his turning, shifting and stretching. Sometimes my insides pulse with the rhythm of his hiccups.
We are attached to one another. Soon we will become two, divided and growing farther and farther apart as he learns to be a man.
I wonder what he will look like; what his personality will be.
Will he have curly hair and green eyes like his brother or straight hair and blue eyes like his sister? How will he fit into our family and which parent will he be more like?
As I wait for labor, it is like waiting in the basement for the immanent tornado of intense pain, loss of control, joy, hope and love all swirling together in a powerful tunnel. I both fear it and long for it at once.
I am acting strangely these days. One moment I am laughing with my children, the next I am crying on the bathroom floor, explaining to my son, “Mommy is praying.” I am exhausted, but wake up five times a night and often can’t go back to sleep. I go from wanting to lie on the couch for hours to painting the coffee table, sorting all the teeny clothes again and cleaning out every junk area in the house.
It is these mood swings that remind me that I am in good company even with wild animals who search for a safe place to have their young. I am both special and ordinary at the same time.
I’m not sure what the next few days or weeks will look like, but I am trying to maintain a stance of surrender, attempting to trust that the One who is forming this little one’s bones, muscles, heart and soul within me knows what He is doing. It is a minute-by-minute struggle to remember that peace is mine for the taking in these strange days of waiting.
I cling to this promise of Jesus even as I know He is holding me now, giving me life and knitting me together day by day in an on-going act of creativity: