34 weeks pregnant. if i am to be induced by 39 weeks, i have four weeks and six days left before major life transition hits.
david and i have now lived in michigan for two and a half years. we've attended our church for almost the same amount of time. in our 10 years of marriage, the longest we have stayed in one place is for 3.5 years. and we started planning the transition just before the three year mark that time. we live off of stressful transitions, basically. like: moving across the country, buying and selling houses, starting a new job, starting a new degree program, bringing home a new dog, having a baby, getting approved for domestic infant adoption. two and a half years is the longest i've been in one job since i graduated from college. and there is no leaving this job. hooray for stay-at-home motherhood!
maybe it was being out of routine for a month over the holidays as activities suspended and we had a flurry of family get togethers and unusual days. maybe it's the fact that i'm 34 weeks pregnant. whatever the reason(s), i've been feeling restless lately. i felt it acutely yesterday, our first day back in routine.
the day started with me having several adult temper tantrums (exasperated, impatient, irritable). bina wanted her fancy dress. it was in the laundry room and i didn't feel like getting it. unhappiness ensued. jake, one of our dogs, has been incredibly clingy the last several days. always at my feet, stepping in front of me, getting between my legs. several times almost causing me to trip and fall over him. i was super aggravated with him and continually pushed him away with my leg while telling him in a not-so-nice-tone to GET. AWAY. i don't have patience for my one kid and two dogs. how am i going to manage with two and two?
i had a play date in the morning with the women from my mothers of preschoolers (MOPS) table. we met at ward presbyterian church, where the group is held. they have a big, free indoor play place open to the public. the littles played while the mamas talked. it's always refreshing to get out of the house and talk with other adults. the play date lifted my sullen mood. bina and i arrived at about 9:30 and left just before noon to head home for lunch before heading to the gym for my weekly personal training session.
my prenatal yoga class just started a new session on saturday and a friend had commented, tagging me on a photo posted on instagram of the 14 mamas participating. i was crouched in front, facing forward, one hand on baby and the other on my leg. when i saw the photo i immediately didn't like how i looked. shoulders broad, belly and chest big and broad. arms that didn't look toned. sigh. and then i remembered -- first of all, i believe i'm the furthest along in the class now at 34 weeks (33 when the picture was taken). it was not the most flattering angle and i had my shoulders a bit slumped. but gosh darn it, i am 34 weeks STRONG! those frumpy boobs are going to provide nourishment to this little being growing inside that big belly of mine. those soft looking arms ARE toned, just not from that angle. and for crying out loud, i'm pregnant! there SHOULD be softness! how quickly i fall into the trap of wanting to align to our culture's standard of beauty. how quickly i forget how strong my body is and how much it has accomplished. how quickly i turn to criticism instead of appreciation, respect, grace. and yet i carried this image of myself with me to the gym yesterday. and i just felt big and tired.
after dropping bina at the gym childcare, i climbed up the steps to the workout area. by the time i reached the top, my heart was pounding. how is it that i feel so out of shape when i'm so IN shape?! i hopped on the treadmill for a warmup walk before my personal training session. my shins and calves started burning by the five minute mark so i decreased my speed and incline. still uncomfortable. i made it to eight minutes and then decided to do some low back extensions. i walked over to a little tower of weights to fetch a five and ten pound weight. as i was grabbing them, a woman asked, "how far along are you?" i looked at her and pointed to myself, "me?" silly question. yes, of course. i answered "34 weeks" and she mentioned that a friend of hers is 38 weeks and just ready to be done. earlier in her pregnancy she was running with the woman who was talking to me, but just wasn't up for movement anymore. which i totally understand! the woman told me i looked great and to keep up the good work. and. i really needed to hear that. i immediately acknowledged the kindness of god to throw me a bone, even at the gym from a total stranger.
my five and ten pound weights in hand, i walked back over to the low back extension area. i positioned myself holding the five pound weight and started completing four sets of 12. the personal trainer desk is across from the low back extension area and i noticed a woman talking to one of the trainers and then looking at me. she came over and asked, as the other woman did, "how far along are you?" i've been asked this at the gym before, but not so many times in one visit. i was asked a third time during my weigh-in by another one of the personal trainers. ha. i answered, and she shared that she was 12 weeks and wanting to be active this pregnancy. she asked how it was going with me and i shared my experience. she was concerned about what exercises are safe or not safe for pregnancy. i told her she'd be fine if she's working with a trainer, which she is. they'll monitor to make sure we're doing exercises and lifting correctly and not doing things that could hurt our bodies or our babies. i recommended prenatal yoga in addition to working out. i've appreciated the toning and strength building of weight training and also the community of other pregnant mamas and stretching and breathing exercises at prenatal yoga. i shared the information for sweet momma yoga with her and she said she would check it out. it was sweet to receive encouragement from the first woman, and then to be able to share my experience and encourage another mama at the beginning of her pregnancy fitness journey. the kindness of god again!
and then my weigh-in deflated me. i had gained 2.8 pounds since my weigh-in the week before. lost muscle, gained fat. retaining more water than usual. i went two weeks maintaining my weight through the holidays, so this was quite the blow to me. yet, i completed my workout and was proud of what my body is able to do, even at 34 weeks pregnant. and then decided what would make me feel better was a more supportive bra for the rest of my workouts. i really wanted to go try on a bunch at target, but i refrained because bina was toast and we just needed to get home after a long day out of the house. so i resorted to searching mercari online resale. restless me.
my restless feeling increased after bina and i got home from the gym. i decided to take a minute to loosely prayer journal, remembering the lesson in the book of joshua to consult god first, always. my journal entry reads as follows:
change is coming! but i want more. why?
i am four weeks and six days away from being induced, if i don't go into labor on my own before then. that is a MAJOR life transition coming! why do i want more change? what is going on inside me?
bible study fellowship (bsf) has been on break for a month. we had our first meeting of the new year this morning. and, because i'm very disciplined and responsible, i waited until yesterday evening to complete my lesson. i decided to just skim the bold portion of the notes from the last lesson, which are the start of each new week's lesson. two things really stuck out to me:
1. seeking peace in the wrong place or in the wrong way increases our fears.
2. god is the all sufficient source of hope and strength to persevere.
i replaced "fears" with "restlessness" and totally felt god speaking to me. i realized i'm seeking peace by trying to control my circumstances -- at least the ones i think are within my control. preparing baby's wardrobe. installing the car seat. beginning to pack a hospital bag. cleaning out the basement. organizing the house. trying to keep on top of regular cleaning and laundry and failing. miserably. shopping resale, online and in store, for things for me and baby. thinking about making some other schedule changes. but what i really need to be doing, what is going to bring me peace, is not trying to control my circumstances, but surrendering my inability to control to god.
i began making macaroni and cheese for bina for dinner. as i was cooking the pasta, it occurred to me. the reason i'm feeling restless is because i feel inadequate. i'm not sure i'm cut out for this. i struggle with patience for one toddler and two dogs. i want more kids but i don't even know if i can handle two. i don't know if i can do this again. what if i'm terrible at it? what if all my talk and plans about homeschooling get thrown out the window? what if i don't live up to my own expectations... again? ah, yes. there you are, fear and doubt manifesting as restlessness trying to make changes to have some sense of false control. all my preparation may be for naught. folded baby clothes and baby wraps and clean floors. my carefully arranged routine. it's all going out the window. and the best laid plans don't ensure that i won't face post partum depression again. surrender, brittain.
i was listening to a birth hour podcast recently and the mama sharing her birth stories talked about how after the birth, no matter how many children you have, life changes. so often we want to "get back to life as it was before" or "get our bodies back." but the addition of a little life to a family, it ushers in a new normal. there's no going back to the old normal, the old routine, the old life. we adjust to life with a new babe.
i'm not going to be able to continue my routine as it is with a new babe. for one, we'll have to get creative with the gym as babies under three months of age aren't allowed in childcare and after that point a space has to be reserved for them (one of four slots available) during a certain time frame. of course this time frame is wanted by all the mamas with babies and doesn't include the time i normally go to the gym (1-2pm). instead of going monday and thursday afternoons, i may start going one evening a week and saturday mornings. david can meet me at the gym and drive the babes home and give me an hour to workout. he came up with that idea as he drives home every day on the road that leads to my gym. just as we've come up with a possible plan to handle this adjustment, we will begin trial and error figuring out life with two littles in all the other areas as well. it's just going to take time. and patience. and so much grace.
god is the all sufficient source of hope and strength to persevere. if i'm looking to myself to make it all right, i'm doomed to fail. i don't have the patience. i don't have the grace in and of myself. but god has more than enough. and if i'm plugged into him, consulting him first and seeking him for peace -- i will find it. i can find relief from my restlessness in his arms, in his love. one day at a time. with all his mercy and grace.
philippians 1.6 reads, "he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion." i rest on this truth today. i may feel inadequate. i may feel restless. but god has begun this work in me as a mother. he has brought me through so much from my pregnancy with bina to her as a lively 3.5 year old. he never left me, he never abandoned me. he provided comfort through his word, through other people, through books and podcasts. and he hasn't left me alone. he has given me a community of other mamas and friends who are so loving and supportive.
we all feel inadequate at times. but just because we feel that way doesn't mean we are. i am enough in jesus. he began this little life currently growing inside me. he's going to be with me through the rest of this pregnancy, through the labor and birth, through the post-partum period, and beyond. for the rest of my life. all i need to do is surrender to him. consult him first. he is the answer to my restless heart. restless heart, find peace in him. and enjoy the weeks left with this little darling as my one and only.