I’m not sure that I’ve really given myself permission lately to feel whatever it is that I feel about these last weeks of pregnancy.
I have a fair amount of friends (five or more, but I lose track) who have due dates within ten days of mine. For the vast majority of those friends, this is their fourth pregnancy. These last few weeks, though, I’ve noticed that I don’t really feel something unless one of them is feeling it too. Week 34 I was utterly and completely exhausted – more so than I ever was during my first trimester. Though I was exhausted, I didn’t allow myself to feel the weight of that exhaustion until at least two of my pregnant friends felt the same way. Then, like a spell being cast, I felt it, admitted to it, and was okay feeling as tired as I was.
It was (and to a degree is) as though I’m not feeling whatever it I am feeling unless someone is feeling it too. How silly is that? I keep saying that every woman and every pregnancy is different and yet I’m not giving myself permission to be where I am.
At my 34 week appointment my doctor wrote a note for my boss explaining that I shouldn’t be working more than 8 hours a day (Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be 10-14 hour days for me). The truth is that these long days leave me winded and out of breath, and even more exhausted than I can manage. Plus, there’s a 40+ minute drive home after the day, not to mention the 45-90 minute commute to work. As long as it sounds and as I tired as I was getting, I didn’t want to admit it to my doctor. I’d rather just push through – its only a few more weeks and there’s so much work to do. In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have told my doctor if my husband hadn’t piped up about it. He cares, he’s worried and wants to make sure I’m taking care of myself and taking care of the baby.
I actually thought about not taking the note to work. It isn’t as though work is not sympathetic or understanding, nor was I worried about what might happen to my job, I just wanted to keep working like normal. I didn’t want my co-workers to see me as weaker somehow because I got this doctor’s note while other pregnant ladies are still working and carrying on.
As the days and weeks tick down, I still find myself comparing my pregnancy and feelings to other pregnant women with similar due dates. They are more dilated than me? Why? Their doctor says they’ll deliver early, I want to deliver early (no, actually, I don’t). The thoughts, the comparison, and even the envy go on as I struggle to remind myself of the phrase that has gotten me through thus far: every woman and every pregnancy is different. That statement alone should be enough for me to grant myself permission to simply be whatever it is I actually am: tired, in pain, ready to give birth because I’m tired of being pregnant, and yet not ready because there is still work to be done. Whether I’m up or I’m down, these constant comparisons are stealing the joy and the reality of these final weeks and days of pregnancy and it is time to call a spade a spade: I am what I am, whether another pregnant woman feels the same way or not. Each experience is different, but each experience is beautiful and draws us closer to the One who shares in the task of creating with us. There are countless roads to pregnancy, labor and deliver, just as there are countless roads to Heaven. The important part is that we take the time to appreciate the road we are on, the journey we are taking – regardless of how everyone else gets there – lest we lose the forest for the trees, the joy of the destination for the lessons of the journey.