By Sara F.
The doctor came into the room after my last ultrasound and said at 34 weeks gestation my baby is growing well. So well, in fact, that even though I’ve had Covid in pregnancy I don’t need to be followed with any more ultrasounds and I can pursue whatever birth plan I want.
When she left the room, tears began to release the weight I’d been carrying during the entirety of this seventh pregnancy. Will this baby’s growth be restricted? Will I deliver a small baby prematurely? What will the long term effects be on this child? Did I make the right decisions to protect my child?
The fear I held for my child was replaced with an abiding peace and hope that everything is going to be okay.
On Feb 20, about a week after that ultrasound I turned 39. That’s one month exactly until my baby’s March 20th due date. While that peace and hope remained, the burdens and hurt from these nine months had not all instantaneously disappeared. I don’t ever remember sobbing on my birthday, as much as I did on this one. I felt this past year I had made as much of a self-gift as I was capable of at this point in my life and I was running on empty with a flat tire.
Bringing a new life into the world is always a great responsibility, but I believe there has been an extra heaviness for us mothers who have been on the pregnancy pilgrimage during the pandemic. We are all in much need of healing.
Whether or not to get vaccinated is a private medical decision. And one I have decided, so far, not to publicly disclose. In fact, I’ve been so silent on the matter that sometimes I feel like I don’t exist. I’ve put relationships on pause in the hopes that giving space will preserve these relationships for the future, when the divisiveness and fear-mongering driven by government and mainstream media will subside.
The fear of losing friends, losing respect plagues me. I desperately want to be understood. I want to be liked and accepted. I’m sensitive and tend to retreat from conflict and allow space and silence and time to hopefully heal. Some people say too much, I often say too little. (These are things I’m not necessarily proud of) I pray in time, history will set things straight and the truth will reveal itself and set us all free.
But in the meantime, this has felt like a terribly lonely pregnancy. The moms’ groups I’ve relied on in the past have all folded and it’s been challenging navigating everyone’s personal comfort level with playdates and social contact on top of the government mandated restrictions. It’s the absence or omission of memories, experiences and connections that pierces like a sword to my heart. Time I will never get back.
One gift of this pandemic pregnancy has been time to reflect on how I am profoundly in need of a Saviour. I am weak and flawed and wounded and sinful. I am a mess. And I’m so tired of not having it together in the way I woefully fantasize others do. I want to become a saint. That’s the overarching goal of my life. And yet, I’m no doubt still working my stuff out.
God has blessed my husband and I with seven babies (our fifth child died of a miscarriage). I want to pursue the spiritual discipline of being open to life with my husband, while being organized, emotionally stable and happy. But the reality is I don’t often execute an attractive image of ‘living in the truth’ well. My hair is usually as messy as my life. And so as my life has gotten increasingly complicated, as I attempt to relinquish my wants and my vision of what a homemaker saint looks like, the question remains: what is it that God wants of me? Because I’ll tell you what I want for myself!
I want to have all the proper boundaries, to forgive and reconcile with those who’ve hurt me with ease, to operate in an assertive communication style, and feel comfortable and confident in my skin.
I want to always have a clean, welcoming house, regular date nights with my husband, polite well-behaved disciplined children, close sisterly friendships, and a mother I can call up at all hours with just the right advice.
I want to dedicate just the right amount of time to self-care, the discipline to wake up as soon as my alarm rings even after a terrible night’s sleep, the energy to get out for daily walks, and consistently whip up hair and make-up and delicious home-made meals.
I want to embrace each challenge with a smile and faith-filled abandon. All the while meeting these high standards I want to have lower expectations, let things roll off my back and to always remain joyful and positive. And I want to erase all the hurt and pain and division in my life that’s come as a result of Covid-19. And the list goes on…
This pursuit of holiness-thing is hard – at least for me. The pilgrimage of each pregnancy has stretched me in ways that have profoundly hurt both physically and psychologically in which I could never have anticipated. And for that reason alone I would never trade all my unmet expectations for a tidy life with fewer children. I think it has ultimately made me a better human being – messy hair and all.
I know deep down that my path is as unique as the child I carry within my womb and it can’t be compared. That’s the hard part. While I want a secure, reliable roadmap that gets me safely to my destination following Jesus is a walk in faith.
So then, Lord, where are You in this messy life of mine? Help! I don’t have it all together and I need You to show me the way.
And I guess this is all to say that fittingly I’m sharing more a stream of consciousness than a polished, well thought out, planned and researched article. I have more questions than answers. I have more struggles than advice. But one thing I know for sure is that God is real and He loves you and me. Even in my darkest hour, He’s remained faithful and has brought good out of challenges. I know I’ve been transformed for the holier as much as the process of change humbles and hurts. And like Mary, I’m going to ponder these things in my heart while I continue to remain faithful to my call as wife and mother.
“We are not called to be successful, but faithful,” is a quote attributed to St. Mother Teresa.
These words bring me comfort and remind me that perhaps this is what God wants of me – to remain faithful as I work out my selfishness and defects in real time.
“For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36
I thank the Holy Spirit for giving me the gift of courage to be honest with you. I pray that this reflection might prompt you to ponder your own life.
We’ve each got our cross to carry so why not turn back to God and cry out with the simple prayer “Lord, I need a Saviour. Help!” Let Him walk with you so you can persevere and experience the abiding peace and hope that comes from a life of faith.
We cannot save ourselves. Only God saves. And the best news of all is that He is always waiting with arms wide open to embrace you no matter how far you’ve strayed from the path or how far you’ve come along the journey. Just like my story here began with good news, we know The Story ends with the ultimate Good News. Let’s persevere together!