It seems to bring out the worst in me.
To be fair, I’ve never been an especially patient person. And this waiting is particularly difficult. I’m jealous and angry and frustrated and even more impatient than usual.
BUT. The waiting has been teaching me a few things too.
The first week of waiting for our daughter’s birth as the due date approached was fun and filled with “treats.” My husband and I spent more time together during that week than possibly in the entire month beforehand (what a luxury!), taking our toddler son to the zoo, exploring new neighborhoods, eating (a lot), buying nice things at our favorite “special” grocery stores, spending hours at playgrounds and on long walks, watching movies, hearing great music, and generally treating ourselves. We worked, some, but mostly it was the best “staycation” we’d never had, and beautiful time as a family of three.
By the beginning of the second week, it was starting to grow stale; too much of a good thing. It was the eighth day of a really great trip, when home starts to call, the To Do list beckons, and you miss your own bed and coffee maker and daily routine.
And now it’s the end of the second week…and I basically feel like we have had enough of each other. Our son has loved all the attention and family time, but my husband and I are starting to feel listless, unmotivated, and bored. We are bickering over stupid things. And I am just plain uncomfortable.
We both have work to do, projects that were put on hold, to be returned to After Baby. And without said Baby, it is starting to feel negligent to continue this path of play. At the same time, we haven’t yet experienced the actual cause for the time off – the birth of our second child – so getting back to work feels somehow premature.
In fact, Baby Girl is starting to feel like a strange myth.
My hospital bag has been packed for just over a month; the crib built six weeks prior (why was I so convinced that she was going to be born early??!). Our home is filled with all the anticipatory things – the newborn-sized diapers, the bouncy chair and bassinet and infant carseat. Yet it is starting to feel surreal. Like she is never going to come, and I’ll be pregnant forever.
I feel like my body is somehow failing me, after working so hard these past ten months to produce, nourish, and grow a new life – now it can’t seem to bring that life out into the world. I am annoyed with it for being so big and uncomfortable and annoyed at the fact that I’m still hungry every four hours. Annoyed with the heft and the effort it takes to do little things, frustrated by my lack of ability and energy to play with my son in the rough-and-tumble ways that he loves these days.
But the other thing about this waiting – it’s a good opportunity to practice trust. To trust my body, that it’s going to do the right thing. To push aside the anxiety and irrational fears I constantly battle.
To trust history, to know that women have given birth for thousands of years, just living the days until the baby comes, without even knowing their due dates (or when or whether they were past said “due date”). Day in, day out, they kept going and one day, a baby was born.
Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to trust God. To practice with my heart what I believe in my head – that He is in control. That He will work out all things for the good of those who love Him. That there’s a bigger picture than what I can see or understand with my small brain.
But it’s still hard. I’m angry at and frustrated with God. I’m angry at the waiting, angry at Him for granting early or at least on-time births to all my friends (okay, “all” might be an exaggeration). Frustrated because I don’t understand, because I had things planned out perfectly and now He is messing with my plans.
A friend wrote me some beautiful words recently. She wrote, Ask God: “What are you teaching me right now? What gift are you giving to me this week in the waiting?” Listen and see what He says.
I am realizing that I have made this upcoming birth about ME, not about God and His glory. I have forgotten that His perfect plan isn’t about orchestrating what I want, making my perfect plan come to fruition. His perfect plan is about bringing me closer to Him; it’s about reminding me to rely on Him and not on my own strength – whatever it takes.
In this case, it takes bringing me to a place of frustration and weakness and anger. Every hour that passes without a contraction and every week that goes by with another pound gained is a reminder that I cannot simply will this baby out of me.
My best-laid plans are nothing compared to the glory of God and what He will do. But He wants me to let go of my plans, let go of my desire for control, and to rest in Him. To surrender. To trust.
I’m still waiting. I’m no longer holding my breath for the contractions, hopeful with any tinge that it might be the start of labor. I‘m not one who slows down much, or often. But this is my time to slow down. To watch a TV episode every night (every night! This is unprecedented!), to eat nice things every day. And to ask God every morning and also in every frustrated, uncomfortable, hot, bloated moment:
What are you teaching me? What gift are you giving me, in the waiting?