Here we are at week 28 of pregnancy. As I've mentioned before, I have been super, super blessed in the first two trimesters to experience very few of the traditional symptoms of growing a human — morning sickness, food aversions, swellings, skin tags, weird skin discoloration, and some of the more, ahem, indelicate ones. True, I've had some, but I'm honestly kind of shocked that here I am already in the third trimester, and Baby Girl is only 12ish weeks (okay, maybe 13 or 14 weeks) from making her way into the world. It's gone by pretty fast so far (although I hear that time slows wayyyy down towards the end of pregnancy).
I haven't even really been showing all that much, in that I didn't really have a distinguishable bump until mayyyybe week 20 or 21. Perhaps it's because Seattle is a reserved kind of place, but I've had less than 5 strangers comment on my belly. It just hasn't been that obvious until the last three weeks or so. And (thankfully) no randos have come up to put their hands on my belly. If and when that happens, I have a plan of attack. Wink.
But despite my lack of symptoms or visible bump, when I look back at photos of myself from the last few months, I can tell that something is different. I just felt swollen everywhere, like I was bursting quietly out of my clothes, like I was waking up to a different body every morning.
I had an interesting conversation about this at Crossfit the other day. So often in exercise, you're working towards a measurable goal. You hope to achieve something, and you have some degree of control over that achievement — speed, strength, distance, weight loss, endurance, looking good in a bikini, whatever. All of that goes out the window in pregnancy. The goal is to just keep moving, knowing that increased heart rates and oxygen and strength and flexibility are all good for the baby.
Isn't that true about so many other things, too? Most of the time, I think we feel like we're in control of our own lives, and that our actions shape our futures, our fortunes, our relationships.
And then there are seasons when you realize you're very much NOT in control. I think people often feel this in times of crisis — a family member dies, a spouse gets a job transfer to a new city, a child develops crazy food allergies, etc.
But I'm feeling most keenly out of control right now in pregnancy. Let me just be real here for a second...
I'll admit, I'm judgy. I don't like this about myself, but I have an internal monologue (about a lot of things) happening far too often, and before I was pregnant and just observed other pregnant women from afar, I decided I wanted and didn't want certain things:
I won't get fat.
I'll just have a baby bump.
No fat arms and cankles here.
My clothes will fit in all places except my belly — that's the only reason I'll need maternity clothes.
How can women possibly get so huge when all they're doing is housing a human in their torso?
Seriously. Real thoughts. FOR SHAME. And at the same time:
I sure hope I don't get fat.
I hope all I have is a little basketball — the ol' "olive on a toothpick" look.
I hope the only weight I gain is in my belly, and it all comes off four weeks after Baby is born.
Dear God, please don't let me get too fat.
Comparison. Fear. Selfishness. Vanity. Anxiety about the change to come.
+ + +
Since moving into our "new" apartment back in March, I started a couple of garden boxes, and have been experimenting with propagating succulents in little pots on the patio table. We also got a puppy in early June. And I've been pregnant through both of those things.
The refrain that keeps ringing in my heart and my head is this:
God is faithful to make all things grow.
Watching my tomatoes and carrots and succulents and hydrangeas, really all I do is provide a little water from time to time, and trim off the dead leaves and branches. There have even been times (with my hydrangeas) where the little bush looked totally dead, so I lopped off all the remaining branches, and wonder of wonders, new leaves started growing within a few weeks. I even have a new little purply-blue blossom that's started up in the last ten days. There was still life in those roots, and a new plant started all on its own, without really any of my help.
It's been the same with Butter. We feed her and give her water and take her on walks and play with her, but her growth happens kind of on its own. Her little body has been made to grow on a certain schedule, and there's nothing I can do to make that happen faster or slower. Watching her personality develop and her feelings emerge (yes, she totally has feelings, and she totally gets her feelings hurt, and it's at once heart-breaking and hilarious) has been kind of amazing, and we think it's been a small window into what parenthood will be like.
And my body is home to a tiny, growing little girl. I'm a decent pregnant lady — I take my prenatals (and what feels like a million other vitamins), I read my books, I keep my appointments and exercise regularly. But beyond these things, I am in no way involved in the development of this little girl. She's being woven together in a hidden place without much oversight from me or anyone else. I've only seen shadows of her face and hands and feet, and won't truly know what she looks like until she comes into the air and starts breathing with the rest of us. Even if I wasn't doing the best job I could to help her grow healthy and full-term, I think she would still come out pretty well-developed — these things happen all over the world all the time, and it's a miracle.
I'm not in control. I can't control how my body is changing, even though at times I don't like it and feel like I'm living inside a stranger. I can't control how this little life is growing and changing, I can't control what she'll look like or her personality, or who she will grow up to be.
All I can do is submit to what's happening around and within me. I can be grateful for the work that God, through my body, is doing. I can be grateful for Baby Girl's growth and health (evidenced by her regular kicks and squirms, and strong heartbeat). And I can keep submitting to the lesson that I am often not in control, and give thanks for that.
Because God is faithful to make all things grow, and it's an honor to be a part of this.