Pregnancy. Is. So. Bizarre. (…and beautiful)
Looking down feeling this thing in my tummy that I am not in control of move and kick, my tummy jiggling side to side (without my permission), is quite awkward in the midst of company. The cravings even more bizarre, and unless you become a pregnant lady yourself or live with one, you won’t ever quite understand the ups and downs of pregnancy, including the possible horrors (no sarcasm intended). “Coping with pregnancy” sounds insulting to women desiring to be pregnant or to the life growing inside me, but the beginning of pregnancy for me was just that—at first.
Commercials always show moms bouncing their little ones on their knee looking down and smiling while their baby grins, energetic dads throwing their toddler up into the air beaming with pride, and expectant moms smiling in the doctor’s office as the doctor comes in with the news, “It’s a GIRL!” But, what about the times in-between?
Until I had a child I never realized how much my life was dependent on myself, on stability, and on consistency – something pregnancy allowed no room for. As a single woman, I had a routine, had ambitious goals, and made a plan to achieve them. I worked full-time on salary, had a small apartment, was saving money, planned to get a masters within the next few years, and hopefully be married as a graduate masters student with money saved and little debt or stress. I also rigorously trained in CrossFit. In fact, a few months before I found out about baby, I hit a PR (personal record) for the Deadlift at 205 lbs, about 2.2 times my bodyweight, and a month before accomplished 7 strict pull-ups, and a few weeks before achieved my first muscle-up, an advanced movement taking tremendous strength and technique.
Because my pregnancy was unexpected, there was not time to prepare emotionally, physically, financially, or mentally. The changes were rapid and constantly altering—demanding flexibility, patience, and trust. Morning of sickness, days of looking in the mirror at my bloated swollen tummy (the abs I worked so hard for hidden underneath), moments of seeing my once smooth facial skin scattered with red-raised bumps, and weeks where my eyes displayed deep dark circles—revealing nights of tears, sickness, and worry. Although I never thought I worried about my appearance, I did for the first time. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore.
The realization that I could never be alone terrified me. There was a being inside me that I couldn’t simply ask to leave and come back tomorrow. I felt her presence and her demands on my body every moment. This commanded immediate attention and knowledge. For the first time in my life, I was not prepared, I had no plan, and I had no idea where to start, but the clock was already ticking. The physical changes though were nothing compared to the emotional turmoil: shame (read my first entry), guilt, fear, excitement, awe, and wonder all mixed together brewing and not knowing what the outcome of the recipe would bring in the end. Time both slowed and raced by as, within a few months, I found out I was pregnant, got engaged, planned a wedding in a month, got married, Tucker moved in, we searched for a new home, we both moved out, we made a new budget, planned for a baby, signed up for parenting classes, and encountered countless other adjustments (all of which I plan to talk about in a future blog in detail).
However, something changed in both of us, something beautiful and profound. The changes in our life didn’t matter anymore. My bulging body, my acne, my old life goals, the sleepless nights, the drained savings account meant nothing to me once I saw her little body on the ultrasound machine and felt those little wiggles for the first time. The realization of the beauty and mystery of life was astonishing. At our first apartment Tucker first felt her move: we sat together with his hand on my tummy and his eyes widened, “Was that her!?” “Yes,” I beamed.
Throughout the whole experience, Tucker and I became strong, united, and crazy about our little one, not being able to imagine (or want) our life any different. The stretch marks, sleepless nights with dark circles under my eyes, the cramping legs, the new diet meant THIS body can bring about LIFE! The little dark lines on my skin were evidence of a healthy, growing, beautiful baby. Why would I see them as anything less? I stopped caring that my house wasn’t perfect, that my bank account wasn’t overflowing, that I didn’t have my once sporty-body, that I couldn’t keep up in CrossFit, and that I wouldn’t have “PhD” tacked onto the end of my name within a few years. Our life now was about this new little life and waiting to look into her eyes for the first time.
It’s funny how in life we often make our own plans and set goals believing that “If I only had ______ or achieved ______ ,” I would be happy and feel complete. And yet, when it was all taken away and I didn’t have a choice, my life became most complete, filled with awe, adventure, wonder, spontaneity, faith, and love. I no longer fought the changes but instead welcomed them, searched their boundaries, stood in awe of their mystery, explored the unknown, and trusted in my Heavenly Father who promises provision for His children. Often my hands go to my tummy (have you ever noticed this with pregnant ladies?) rubbing the sides just a little as if cradling and cuddling my baby, and my eyes fill with tears—no longer tears of fear, but tears of complete joy and love. My little family is what matters now and creating a life of beauty for my little girl.
Tucker has been incredible in this journey, right from the start. He’s been loving, thoughtful, helpful, and faithful along the way—without him I wouldn’t have made it this far. Our family and friends, we couldn’t thank enough. And to our pastor, parents, and mentors, your encouragement, example, strength, and support led us to fight through, keep our heads high, and connect with the Lord in a way we’ve never experienced.
And to our little baby daughter, you are our sunshine. You changed our lives in the most beautiful and unexpected ways. Mommy and Daddy can’t wait to hear your laughter, pick you up, cuddle you, and see you smile. We can’t wait to feel your little fingers wrap around one of ours in a warm embrace. We know there are difficult days ahead of long sleepiness nights and frustrations, but know that we love you more, and have already fought hard for you, through our fears and stretched beyond what we thought we could bear, and we aren’t giving up now or ever. And, as much as we don’t wish to see you in pain or disappointed in this life, we know that in those moments we find our true strength, are able to push out our idols, and press on to faith, hope, and love. Tali, we love you and will see you soon.