February 4, 2014

When I Struggled to be "Pro-Life"

I saw baby bump pictures on Facebook. I saw countdowns to due dates and statuses telling me how this or that "mother-to-be" could hardly wait. I listened to those not even pregnant daydream about months of pregnancy, baby outfits, and motherhood.

But me? I felt…differently.

I was not excited about being pregnant, about motherhood. I was even less excited about my new hips and back end. I felt anxiety about labor pains. I felt worried about how we would afford diapers and baby clothes and diaper rash cream. I felt sadness that “marriage” was turning into “marriage + parenting.”

I prayed for the months to crawl. I wished to not be “there” yet.

I felt so much fear. I felt so much guilt.

I knew how selfish I was being. I knew that all my worries were focused on me, not on the miraculous life growing inside of me. I knew that there were so many women who would give anything to be in my position: healthy and expecting. I knew there were so many women mourning their losses, not understanding why they were chosen to “lose.” 

And my guilt made me feel even worse.

But I also knew there were women who had given in to the same feelings I was experiencing, and were now spending a lifetime regretting their decision. 

Yet those were the women who I related to, who I felt connected with. The ones who weren't excited, who didn't think they were “ready.” I was never going to walk into a clinic, but I started to understand some of the emotions behind why some women feel pushed to that point. Again, my mind wasn't thinking about the miracle growing inside of me, my mind was only thinking about myself, what I was losing in all of this.

I had no reason to fear, no "life circumstances” that should make me desire such a choice. I had a loving husband, an excited and supportive family (including a sister who is a sidewalk counselor at an abortion clinic), and most importantly, a God who has never failed to provide for me in the past. But my swelling belly, the kicks, they were a reminder that whatever was inside of me was knocking, telling me they were about to come out and take over.

I  knew what I was getting into. I saw my mom and sisters sacrificing themselves every day to be “Mommy.” And I wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t ready to be that selfless. I knew being a mother would be the hardest road I would ever journey down.

Those nine months had me in a dark place. I faked smiles. I tried to pretend I was excited. I would tell people I was "nervous," but never explain where I was really at. And I cried a lot. I laid in bed, starring at the wall, engulfed with fear and anxiety. Collin kept a positive attitude, although he was a little nervous too.

Yes, many hormones were involved. But also there were so many things I knew, things I already understood about becoming a mom.

And I was right.

The things I feared about being “Mommy” were real. The up-all-nights; the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days; the sacrificing myself, it's all there.

But the beauty is, there were so many things I didn't already know.

One Week

I didn’t know the tears of joy I would cry when the doctor would lay our baby in my arms for the first time. I didn’t know how much excitement I would feel when the doctor would say “it’s a girl,” or the happiness I would feel when I would spell “Jocelyn Ruth” to the nurse for her birth certificate. I didn’t know how proud I would be when she would smile, laugh, hold her neck, and sit up on her own, all for the first time.

I didn't know my heart would feel so full that I thought it might burst when Jocelyn would see me and reach out her arms for me to hold her. I didn’t know how awestruck I would be when I would see our little girl grow more each month, a little bit of Collin, a little bit of me. (Okay, a lot of Collin, a little of me.)

I didn't know that the thoughts I had during pregnancy would now make me shudder, cringe, nauseated. I didn't know I would have more joy, more life than I would ever imagine with the gift of a child. I didn't know that once we had one child in our lives, the thought of more pregnancies and more children would seem like the most exciting and fulfilling thing that could ever happen to us. I didn't know all of those things, and more. 

I don't share this to excuse the choices others have made. I hope and pray with all my heart that “life” is chosen at every opportunity, that every clinic is shut down forever.

I share this because I bet there are others out there who have the same feelings I did, who are filled with fear, filled with anxiety for what's to come, for what the future holds.

And I share this to say “I understand how you feel. At least, I understand it as much as I can in our different circumstances.

You’re right, it’s going to be hard, the hardest, most frustrating thing you have ever done. And you’re right, there are certain aspects of your life that are going to ‘end.’ But where certain aspects of your life will end, so much more ‘life’ will begin. There will be so many new ways you will see, feel, experience ‘life,’ that no matter how hard it is, you won’t be able to imagine your life being any other way, you won't be able to imagine life before, your life without. Just wait.”

So, no matter how dark the days are, there is probably somebody out there who, in her own way, knows how you feel. And no matter how dark the days are, without a doubt there is Someone out there who is going to carry you through.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Grace and Peace,