I'm grateful it takes 9 months
By Meredith Overbeek
Blogger with The Sun's Up Somewhere
I was sitting on the couch, bouncing the 15-month-old baby on my lap. We’d just learned he wouldn’t be the baby much longer, and as I sat and absorbed his smiles I felt a twinge of…I’m not sure what. Not regret, exactly. Not sadness.
It was more a realization with sad edges. I wasn’t sure I was ready to be done with this family dynamic, with this one being the baby. The new baby would bump him to the place of Middle Child, a role previously uncast in our family of four.
I just wasn’t ready.
But that’s the thing about pregnancy. So much changes in the course of over nine months that you’re not the same person at the end that you were at the beginning. You’ve had time to calm your uncertainties and manage your fears. The eternality of pregnancy is a blessing in disguise.
These reasons alone are enough to help me remember to be just a little grateful for the long, grueling gestational process:
1. A long pregnancy will give me time to mentally prepare
Right now I can’t see us clearly as a family of five, but mostly because I haven’t given the picture a chance to develop in my mind. The things we do now, the way we do them, they depend on an unruffled status quo.
But a third child will ruffle things. A third child will mean we parents are outnumbered, not by a lot but it only takes one kid. I don’t feel ready for that dynamic. I will need every month, perhaps every day of this pregnancy to wrap my mind around the change that is coming.
2. A long pregnancy will give my body time to adapt
While nine months of heartburn, broken sleep, back pain, and other discomforts aren’t fun, I’m grateful that my body has all that time to adapt and prepare for birth. The changes that occur during pregnancy are necessary to make delivery possible. Aches can mean things are shifting into place; Braxton Hicks contractions mean the uterus is practicing for the hard work of labor. Much of the pain we experience during pregnancy serves a greater purpose.
Imagine if all the pains and shifting took place over something like two weeks. Our bodies would crumple (or possibly explode) with the exertion. So yes, I’m thankful for slow and steady changes.
3. A long pregnancy helps me embrace labor
The thing about subsequent children is, you know what you’re getting into. You no longer rely on the birth stories of other women; you have real life knowledge of what all is involved in getting your baby to the outside.
In the first trimester of this pregnancy, I’m less than excited to experience labor again. It’s painful, gross, unpredictable and something I absolutely can’t get out of. One way or another, this baby’s coming out and I will undoubtedly be the most valuable player in the process.
But by the time my due date rolls around, I bet you anything I’ll be ready to take on labor. The months of living with aches and pains will eventually push me beyond the fear of delivery into a let’s-just-get-this-over-with mentality.
And bonus, I know how great it feels to have just delivered! I can breath again, I feel almost weightless, and I’m finally able to fulfill what’s become a fantasy of getting back into clothes without elastic panels. Yes, seven months from now I’ll be ready to embrace labor!
4. A long pregnancy gives us time to accept
This isn’t something I’ve dealt with, but some women may need their entire pregnancy to accept what’s coming. Maybe they weren’t planning to be pregnant. Maybe their ultrasound revealed health or developmental issues that they and their baby will have to cope with for the rest of their lives.
Babies change things, lifestyles, habits, people. No part of us will be left unaffected by the tiny life we grow and shelter for over nine months and then release to a world that doesn’t stop to notice them. Pregnancy is our chance to think deeply about the the responsibility entrusted to us and to delight in the joy that comes wth it.
Six months from now, when I’m as rotund as the ball atop a 76 Gas Station sign, I hope I remember what a blessing a long pregnancy is. I hope I don’t forget to be thankful for the aches and pains that come gradually; they mean things are preparing for the finale. I hope I use the months ahead of me wisely, taking time to appreciate the way things are now and to look forward to our family’s impending metamorphosis.
It’s a long, hard road, pregnancy. It’s a full-body commitment that comes with repercussions I’ll feel months after baby arrives. But the time is sacred, unlike any other part of my life or yours. Remember that, when the months drag on. Remember to be thankful when it feels like it will never end, because it will.
Meredith is a southern-born mommy, writer and lover of meat-covered pizza. On her blog The Sun's Up Somewhere she offers writing tips for moms who blog, and shares her gentle preschool-at-home methods. She lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her husband Todd, two cute and dirty little boys, and about a billion mosquitoes. Follow her Blog, or on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook