C L A R A
Each pregnancy starts out the same way for me: me crying and my husband smiling huge. The half-laughing and the “Are you serious?!” And then the holy crap sets in.
I’m 24 and just had my third baby in November. There are always mixed feelings when I find out that we’re expecting. I’m amazed and thankful for the strength of my body to carry, birth and then feed three humans all in the short span of three years. Life and birth are truly a miracle and I am incredibly blessed. But I’m also honestly terrified for any and every reason under the sun, and overwhelmed. We have always taken measures to plan our pregnancies that haven’t worked and I always own an unjust sense of failure in that. In my selfishness I complain about sharing my body again with another person; I feel my sovereignty invaded. With pride I dread the off handed comments the strangers will say to me at the grocery store about “having my hands full” or the alienation I fear from friends who have no idea what it’s like to be a mom at such a young age. I tend to isolate and despair and dread more than I do rejoice in the life God has given me.
I know what it’s like to experience pregnancy anxiety and depression. It’s real and it makes you feel like a terrible person. It’s a hard-fought battle. And, I know that I’m not alone.
The biggest thing I am thankful for this year have been my people. My midwife, who saw me choking up at 12 weeks talking about how overwhelmed I was to be pregnant again and then sobbing 2 days later when I checked into triage leaking amniotic fluid thinking I was going to lose the baby, feeling so guilty and so at fault. My girlfriends around me that night babysitting my toddlers, ordering me dinner in and crying and praying with me on the couch while my husband was away on a work trip. And I’m thankful for the astonished OB we saw the next day, telling me somehow by the miraculous hand of God that my baby was alive and well despite the trauma. That very personal and emotional experience of nearly losing the baby I believe was a gift of perspective from the Lord. His hand alone sustains life and he is always a good, loving and grace-full God and He can be trusted because He is the author of life.
I’m thankful for the women I’ve surrounded myself with for the past several years preparing me for a time such as this. Who have showered me with gifts, encouragement, and meals since. I truly believe that birth and motherhood brings us together as women in ways that no other experience can. It’s brought me closer to other moms of other generations. The “tribe” mentality is real and its powerful and its essential. I believe this is how God designed us, and it’s part of his plan of making all things new. When a woman brings a new life into this world she also brings new life to herself, and a new God given purpose. But she’s not meant to do it alone.
A week past my due date my water broke after midnight, but I wasn’t in active labor until after 6 pm that evening. We drove into the birthing center and got the music playlist and essential oils going, creating the worshipful and relaxing atmosphere we wanted. My sister who is also my doula arrived after about an hour, coffee and pizza in hand and all smiles. We hung the affirmation cards my tribe mamas made for me at my shower on a hemp string with clothespins pins and laid out the receiving blankets and baby clothes across the changing table for visualization. A tiny pink sheep outfit and extra soft plush blanket my mom and I had shopped for together just weeks before. I moved pretty constantly between positions until I settled into the bed in a side lying position. My midwife and home girl who saw me through the entire pregnancy was getting the bath ready as transition set in and I focused on my breathing and conserving energy as much as possible. Having had 2 natural births previously, I knew that transition would be the hardest part and the place where I would feel most stuck, scared and alone, so I prepared myself. This time, I embraced my husbands supporting hands and counter pressure instead of pacing. I closed my eyes and accepted the cold towel my sister pressed against my neck and another on my forehead. This time I was I little more needy and held my people a little tighter and they were there for me like they always are. I gave the side lying position, peanut ball and birthing stool each a good try before moving onto what was familiar. I found that switching positions and holding them for some good productive pushes seemed effective even though all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep. My sister and husband kept me moving around and I’m thankful. Once the bathtub was ready I climbed in for delivery and brought forth our third daughter, Clara Lucille, which means “light”. She is my light in a dark place. My husband’s smile overwhelmed the room again as well as joy and relief as I pulled her up onto my chest and thanked the Lord it was finished. It was finished at the cross, now and forever. All pain and fear have no place anymore. Only Jesus. And only this beautiful baby girl in my arms.
I’m learning that it’s one thing to be pro-life, but another to live it out. To be thankful always. To cherish every life including your own. To be intentional with relationships. I’m in a season of my life that is growth-focused and hard-pressed, and all-over beautiful. One day we will yield the fruit of these hard times, and I’m thankful that I’ve surrounded myself with people that will still be around to see it and a God who is faithful to bring it forth.