Getting to the end of my third pregnancy now, and just reflecting on things that I've done differently this time around.... Some things I've learned (although it sure took me awhile!).
So, if there's one thing I've learned it's that there are things you can control while you're pregnant, and things you simply can't.
Things you can control: Your attitude. (Miserable vs. Joyful). What you eat. (Giving in to every craving vs. trying to eat healthy) Complaining (Simple: do you or don't you). What you focus on. (The sometimes painful process vs. the end result: a beautiful new life).
Things you can't control: The length of your pregnancy. The gender of your baby. Where you gain your weight/how you carry. The size of your baby at birth. What people say to you during your pregnancy. You can't control the length of your labor, or whether or not breastfeeding will be easy for you and your baby... And much more...
So I can't say I haven't complained to Shaun or my mom about different things that have been painful this pregnancy. I can say I have tried not to make it the norm, and I have tried not to be a complainer to just any random listener. I can't say I didn't ever feel miserable, especially in the beginning when I was so very, very sick. But as my pregnancy progressed I feel like the Lord has taught me more and more about choosing joy. (My mom's caught me quite stressed a few times, ahem, but I'm hoping she's seen me try to be joyful even when it's hard too... thanks for letting me be completely real with you mama!) More so this time than ever before I have been very conscious of what I eat. I have not eliminated the occasional treat altogether, but I usually make a conscious decision ahead of time, like ok, I know I will have dessert at Drew's birthday, so I am not going to have anything else this week, etc. I have tried to make choices like salads, apples, celery & peanut butter etc. My breakfast every morning is a hard boiled egg and a smoothie made from organic yogurt, raw milk and a banana. I have noticed a difference this time, I have less swelling and I am currently about 8 lbs. less than what I was with Drew and Isaiah at this point. (My ending weight was only one pound different with the two of them so I feel like 8 lbs is pretty significant for me this time.) For the first time I made a worship playlist to have on repeat in my labor and delivery room to try to focus on that rather than the pain. (I'm hoping to go natural with no epidural again this time around.)
As for things you can't control.... My due date was a bit debatable this pregnancy for a few reasons all of which I won't go into on here... But it could've been either the 15th, the 21st (when I think I'm due.... TODAY!), or the 28th of October (the date my dr's have written down as the "official" date). With Drew and Isaiah "all dates lined up" so to speak so there wasn't really confusion for me on that point. I had Drew two days early and Isaiah a full week early. This time around I really don't know when to expect to go into labor. I know my body is showing me all kinds of signs that "the time is near" but just how near I can't be sure... It just so happens that Shaun was 10 lbs 1 oz at birth, and I was 9 lbs 15 oz at birth, and we have big babies. (Drew- 9 lbs 8 oz. Isaiah- 9 lbs 14 oz.) So I really hope I don't go too much longer before delivering this third boy of ours... I also can't control that the way I carry my babies all three times seems to be practically outside my body, way out in front, and fairly low. I don't gain a whole lot anywhere else (although I do gain some), but man does it amaze me how your body can stretch to accommodate for another human being growing inside of you and then somehow go back to almost "normal" afterwards (takes me a little while afterwards, but it has eventually happened!). None of those factors that I can't control have ever bothered me too much.
The one thing that for whatever reason gets to me (especially at the end when I am extra hormonal and ready to have the baby) has been the comments of others. There are lots of people who go out of their way to be super nice when they see you pregnant and attempting normal activity like running errands with other children in tow... opening doors, smiling kindly, asking nice questions... (LOVE those people!!) Then there are the people who might make not so encouraging comments on blogs or facebook. But you know, if I'm posting something and it's out there for all to see, I kind of expect the good with the bad, a mixture of responses... and it's ok. If I didn't understand the fact that you don't control much about the way your body changes during pregnancy, it might be hurtful being labeled as huge... but instead it is just funny. (This time around I did something I've always wanted to do and took weekly pictures of my growing belly. I've posted them all on facebook and I hope if anything they will be encouraging to other moms who carry like I do, that no one will ever be ashamed of the way they look at the end of pregnancy. That they will know they are making a very selfless and worth it sacrifice that will forever change and enrich their lives.) And then there are people who say things that just should not be said. Disbelieving looks are one thing, but then there are comments that are just downright rude. The grocery store especially seems to be a very challenging place for me to visit these days... People asking me the gender of my baby when they see me with two boys already and then giving me a look like I'm polluting the earth when I answer that I'm expecting a third boy. Or someone telling me I look miserable when I walk into their store with a smile on my face... thanks, thanks a lot, I'll try to keep this smile on regardless of the fact that you seem like you'd like it better if I actually DID look miserable.... People asking loudly if there is an ambulance waiting for me in the parking lot of the grocery store... Someone ending up in my check out line and saying she has been trying to avoid me through the store the whole time (not sure I understand what that was supposed to mean exactly) I can't count the times I've been looked at and told I MUST be having twins... How do I handle this, you ask? Probably not very well... I try to keep my smile in place and politely nod and move on, but my mom, sister, husband, etc. have all dealt with my venting once I'm home.
But FINALLY. Today, on possibly one of the last days of my pregnancy I think I get it. I think I'm actually called to something more than a fake smile and nod toward those strangers that don't realize what they're saying or how it feels to an emotional, ready to have their baby, girl that they don't really know at all. I think I'm actually called to choose joy in those situations too. And to maybe not complain about it either. ;) I'm sorry for my complaints, and for the times I allowed my joy to be stolen by situations I didn't control.
And to all of you mothers out there, pregnant, just had your baby, or with toddlers or older... You are gorgeous, radiant, beautiful and strong- every change that you went through to bring those babies into the world was worth it and only makes you even more of a hero. Don't let any bit of it take away from your joy in this day or any other.