At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
I have been feeling so much affection for my baby in recent days. It seems like all of the warm, glowy feelings people kept asking me about are finally here. I'm sure a lot of it is feeling the baby move so much. I feel it move enough now that I do not feel anxious about whether it is still alive. When I first started to feel it move, it was infrequent enough that I had a hard time not having anxiety when days passed without feeling it. Now I feel it just about every day. It's like a little goldfish swimming around in there. Sometimes it makes my heart want to burst. I've never been a big baby person generally speaking, but when I think about my own baby, and about kissing its little cheeks, my heart swarms with a million happy thoughts.
Anxiety is a funny thing. Throughout so much of this pregnancy, and really throughout so much of my life, I recognize in myself the thought that I should feel anxious. Sometimes it feels like all of modern life is conspiring to make sure you are informed about the thousand reasons why you should be anxious. Have I eaten the right things? Did I eat something that might hurt the baby? If this happens what does it mean? If they do all these tests, doesn't it mean this many things can go wrong? There are literally thousands of things to worry about in pregnancy if one chose to do so. And it's not even pregnancy itself as a medical condition. Parenthood is an even bigger landmine. Do we live in the right place? Do we make enough money? How can we guarantee our income? How can I work and still be the mother I want to be? Again, there are thousands of things to worry about it if one chooses to do so.
Oddly enough, I have felt less anxious, or at least less tempted to be anxious, during this pregnancy than maybe ever before in my life. I'm sure that will come and go – I'll have peaks and valleys as always – but being pregnant has made me have to just accept the flow of life and go with it. Sometimes it feels like I've stepped into a river and I have to put my feet up in order to let it move me forward. There's less anxiety in that than in trying to keep my feet stubbornly rooted. I don't know that we've made the best choices, I don't know that we will in the future. I don't know how to do everything I want to do. I don't know how to make it all work out. But I also can't pretend like God hasn't faithfully guided us already and will do so in the future. Our decisions very well could hurt us at some point in life, but God never will.
The best antidote I've found in recent weeks to the temptation to worry is that of thankfulness. I'm sure to a million people wiser than me that seems like an obvious statement. But it's something I am only really experiencing now. I am so deeply thankful to God for the life I have. I am thankful for his material provision in our lives. I'm thankful for how easy it was to get pregnant after all of my fretting. I'm thankful for my work and the jobs he's given me. I'm thankful for the brain he has given me and the education I've received. I'm thankful for my friends and for my family. I'm thankful for Trey. These are all things I worry about so much, but when I stop and reflect with a thankful heart, I truly feel differently. At times I'm overwhelmed with the goodness God has given us. He has even given me a washer and dryer in the new apartment – something so small and trifling and yet so big in my mind as a blessing. There are times in my life when I can't help but consider the ways in which God not only blesses, but blesses abundantly through the little trifles which can seem so important.
Tomorrow we find out the baby's gender. I can't wait. It feels like our first introduction to a new friend. I am so thankful for this little life and I pray that God will protect and bless it, just as he has done for me.
(Erik Cleves Kristensen, "Painting of a Madonna.")
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.