Wednesday, 8 August 2012

New life

Complicating, circulating
New life, new life
Operating, generating
New life, new life

I'm not sure that those Depeche Mode lyrics refer to pregnancy at all, but they are bouncing around my head this morning. I just read a post by Brianna Heldt about the struggles and joys involved in being open to life (well, that's how I saw it!) and things have triggered in my brain.

Obviously, we can't be expected to be as holy as Mary and say "yes God, I will bear this baby and accept the inconvenience to my life without complaint", can we? (Can we?!!!) Is it sacrilegious to ponder whether she moaned and griped just a little bit? Other saints have certainly gone through life struggling with their sufferings, not always relying on God's support. What is acceptable for the rest of us?

I personally tend to find that pregnancy exposes my humanness, and can interfere with my spiritual radar. I don't like who I become, and at a time when it challenges me to rely on God the most, and be thankful for the newness of life, it tempts me to hide under the duvet and not listen to anybody!

There are certain things associated with motherhood that I'm fine with - changing nappies, cleaning up vomit, researching better ways to parent, even getting messier than I'd like with glitter and paint! But first trimester pregnancy is so utterly transformative - hormones affect mood, create nausea, induce complete fatigue and in general make me feel less like God's vessel than a slightly unhinged selfish person. Why do they get to enjoy food and enjoy staying up reading/watching television in the evening? Why can't anyone grasp merely by osmosis that I am feeling rough, don't want to chat and need a lie down? Why can't I carry this life within me without feeling resentful and cross, even though it is much-longed for?

I know hormonal changes have a lot to answer for here - and I have to admit I go through something similar with my time of the month. I remember answering someone's question about what I would like to ask God about after my time on this earth, by saying I wanted to know why women's reproductive systems were so difficult to live with! But I already have my own answer to this, don't I - they are complicated, because they are what brings new life into the world. Why should they be easy? the more I try and understand DNA and the whole process, it astounds me.

This doesn't necessarily help with the suffering and complaining though, does it? It's one thing to be able to contemplate and appreciate the mystery of God's wonders in the abstract, and another to deal with them head on with your head in a bucket, trying to parent 3Sisters when you want to be prone on the sofa. Brianna put it into context for me by focusing on the existence of the new baby's SOUL  - I really don't want to be Grumpy Mama for my family, OR the tiny one growing within. But it's still troublesome to overcome my attitude when I feel physically dreadful, emotionally fraught and mentally drained.

It hardly compares to time hanging on a cross, I know, but I'm the kind to take my suffering seriously. So much so, it took my 7 year old to point out that my selfishness was on show. How can I expect little girls to empathise with what's going on inside of me, when they literally have no clue? It's an opportunity to show them that childrearing is wonderful, joyful and doesn't stop you from loving all the others like there's no tomorrow, so that they can take this memory into their futures. This isn't necessarily easy, but it's something to aim for. I don't want to pretend that pregnancy is a picnic, but I can shape the way I react to it - with God's grace (bring on the grace, God!)

I've also been thinking this week not just about Jesus on the cross, or Mary's sacrifices for God, but of God giving His son, Jesus, to us for the sake of humanity, and seeing him suffer and die. What we go through is little compared to that. I suppose it must just be holiness versus humanity. Pregnancy and labour reveal us in our humanness - this can be ugly, shameful and desperate. But it is us, and it is how we feel. I don't want to repress my feelings on the subject, but a blog is perhaps a better place for it than the dinner table (or whingeing from the sofa that I don't want to come to the dinner table.)

New life (and obviously my children in particular) brings an unspeakable joy to me. I find it unfathomable at times that I grew (well, God grew) my girls from a bunch of cells into what they are now. It's a mind-blowing process whose effects I think we are right to question - for instance, newly pregnant couples can struggle to find togetherness at the very time they need it most. Yes, it can bring out the best in us. But it can also bring out the very worst. It asks us to remember that God is in control, and simply trust. We have to remember to petition him frequently for assistance, and to help the others in our families who are also dealing with first trimester fallout. We have to take the bad with the good, and focus on the visceral reality of our lives.

I feel taken away from the things I love spending time with the most - my husband, my children, reading, singing, cooking. But they will still be there when the energy has been put into growing the baby. The physical, warts-and-all realness of pregnancy. The thing that has always been there, before the development of culture and aesthetics and 'me'-time. It's OK to feel like this, and talk about this, the difficulty of this. We aren't expected to do it alone, nor do we have to shut up and get on with it. It's just getting used to a new normal, as they say. It won't last for ever - it's a phase, this too shall pass, and although the clich├ęs won't help me, something will (like Brianna did) because that's also the way life happens, thank God!

Apologies for the disjointed, unfocused nature of this random post. I blame my hormones ;-)

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