My third pregnancy felt different.
This time I didn’t read the ‘all there is to know’ books. I didn’t have a pregnancy app on my phone. I didn’t obsess over every twinge or niggle. I bought the essentials I knew we would need for the early days, but the rest I got down from our roof space or borrowed from my sister-in-law. I tried not to obsess over labour and hurriedly went along to all my antenatal appointments.
Even announcing my third pregnancy was quite a different experience. Often, there would be a quick offer of congratulations followed by-
‘Was it planned?!’
‘My goodness dear, you’re a glutton for punishment.’
‘Oh Tory, you’ll certainly have your hands full.’
‘How on earth will you cope?’
‘Good luck, you will need it.’
This seemed to suggest it was socially acceptable to be a family of four, but five? I must be crazy! But I gradually got used to sympathetic gestures, comments and family planning advice. (Just kidding with that last one!)
The truth is, although I didn’t fear my pregnancy and I had given birth twice before, I was so concerned about the changes that lay ahead once baby number three was actually here. I worried about the change to our family dynamics and how well Autumn and Noah would react to a new baby. I worried about never leaving the house. My husband is a fireman and so I dreaded the nights I would be on my own with three small children. How would I cope? I was scared of what lay ahead, scared of the sleep deprivation and really, just unsure of my ability to mother three children under five. And stay sane.
But when little Poppy arrived her perfect newborn face blew me away. The worry subsided when her proud siblings came to the hospital and were so eager to begin life as a family of five….
Yet as I hobbled across the hospital car park to start this ‘adventure’, in my heart I prayed God, help me. ‘Those of you who have made the same ‘uncomfortable’ journey from hospital ward to the car will know the weight of those mixed feelings – pride, relief, pain, exhaustion, anticipation, worry, joy.
When you embark on a new adventure and you’re already spent, all you can do is pray for supernatural strength from the Father.
And so in the days that followed, my prayers for help became like breathing….
-Give me more patience for my husband and my other children.
-Help me just accept the current messy state of our home.
-May I go slower and notice the special moments.
-Help me make this transition easy and fun, to relax and allow my children to get to know this incredible little bundle.
-Help me to stop shushing them! May they feel welcome and not a nuisance.
-Help me accept the tears that inevitably flow on day three and four.
-May I let go of my pride and accept those offers of help.
It’s five months later and I won’t lie, there are plenty of hideous moments! Our house can feel more like a zoo and I am never ever on top of things. We are always outnumbered and my husband often shoots me a glance that says ‘what’s the plan here?’ The fact that we both enjoy a sense of control is, well, problematic.
But with three kids also comes a lot less pressure to appear like we’ve got it together. People’s expectations are considerably lower! And for me, there is such freedom in not having a pregnant body anymore – no ligament pain, no sore back or headaches, no more heartburn or dizziness. I can run up the stairs without collapsing at the top. The other night I sat crossed legged in their little bedroom and we played duck duck goose! I realised how good and caring they had been when I was pregnant, how often they had let me nap on the sofa. I particularly remember my daughter getting off the trampoline and coming in from the garden to put a little blanket on me, then creeping outside again- melt!
Growth in the Spirit takes place when more of your old nature dies and Christ gains more ground to live out His life in you. Jesus Manifesto
On reflection, I see how much I worried about my ability to cope and manage and ‘be all things to all people’ and that I would fall short. I feared that I wouldn’t be enough. And guess what, I am never enough. But, God is enough. And I forgot that for a while. I forgot that those three words blow my inabilities and flaws and failures out of the water. It’s not about me and my strength anymore, it’s about God and His. Doing more means depending more . This is a hard lesson to learn for one who likes control.
Slowly, He is showing me that self-sufficiency can become surrender, self-will can become servant hood and the daily mundane can become sacred.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength, I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)
And so now, I guess I’m asking myself some questions?
What stops me increasing my faith in God?
What if I begin to allow what I believe to change how I live?
What if I actually let myself be loved by God?
What if I lived with more expectancy?