I have been pregnant four times. Each of those times I received prenatal care for as long as I was pregnant. When I had complications I had not one, but two doctors who provided me with the necessary care for my pregnancies. When I have had a hard time with nursing, I have lactation consultants I can visit. My children see the doctor when they are sick and for well-child visits. I'm privileged. Unfortunately this is not the case for many women all over the world.
Premature babies don’t cry. At least mine didn’t. They make a labored grunting sound that seems sweet at first, but then you learn that it’s because they are gasping for air to fill their under-developed lungs. And that is anything but sweet. I’ve never forgotten that silent operating room where I welcomed my twin boys into the world eight weeks early. In the fast-moving moments of their early and unexpected arrival, I held my breath in fear over the unknown path that lay before me. Premature babies don’t cry, but their mothers make up for it.
I’ve never had to wonder where my next feed would come from. For as long as I can remember the low growls of hunger have been quickly satiated by a stocked refrigerator and pantry brimming with snacks. Hunger is not a pain I have felt acutely, except for when I wait too long to eat or am too busy (or lazy) to walk the five feet to the endless supply of food to meet my needs.
My sister-in-law and her kids just spent ten days with us. While it was quite the circus around here, I got pretty used to our evening dinners together and growing addiction to Call the Midwife. Parenting alongside another mom for ten days gave me a helpful perspective I've been working through since I became a mom two and a half years ago.
It’s been eight weeks since we welcomed Seth into this world. Like his brothers, his birth was not without fanfare and a little bit of crazy. Unlike his brothers, he was five days late and I was in labor with him for over 24 hours. At 3:49 AM he was born via c-section after the doctor determined his heart rate drops were enough to warrant getting him out quickly (rather than drag it out for a few more hours).
I don't know when you will arrive, sweet son. But I do know that I can't wait to meet you. You have been constantly on my mind and heart these last nine months. We've gone everywhere together, you and me. I've felt you kick. I've felt you squirm. I've felt you hiccup. I've seen your sweet face on ultrasound more times than I expected, which was a treat.
I'm now a little over two weeks away from my due date, which is really hard to believe. I've never been this far along in a pregnancy before, so in a lot of ways it's all very new to me. We've never gotten a nursery ready before. The twins came so unexpectedly that my mom and sister-in-law set everything up for us while we were in the hospital. I've never bought diapers before delivery before. I've never had to count contractions or pay attention to my body because I was already in the hospital when I went into labor with the twins (and I didn't even know I was in labor anyway!).
I’ve always been pretty sentimental about things. My earliest memory of my sentimentality is crying outside my elementary school on the last day of fifth grade. I hate goodbyes. I hate when good things end. I don’t even really like change. So much so that I’m content to eat the same thing for lunch every day for weeks on end. I like the way things are to stay that way, for a very long time.
Our library has a reading program that encourages parents to read 1,000 books to their children before they enter pre-school. It seems like an overwhelming number, doesn’t it? When you break it down, it actually doesn’t require a lot of the parent. Especially when reading the same book over and over counts as reading multiple books. (A must when you have toddlers who thrive on repetition).
In a recent article at The Gospel Coalition, I wrote about Mary’s coming pain in the wake of Christ’s birth. Motherhood is filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and she was not exempt from such emotions. With the joy of her newborn baby’s birth came the dark shadow of his foretold death. She felt the sting of motherhood acutely throughout his adult life, and as she stood at his cross and watched him gasp for breath.