Walking down an icy hill to give a piano lesson, I keep getting distracted by what feels like air bubbles of pressure popping around in my stomach. But all I have to do is glance down and see my stomach rippling. The baby boy in my womb, who we affectionately call 'Birdie' is stretching.
Today was not one of the days I basked in my pregnancy. I still believe carrying life in my body is a privilege and honor, but as I ran an errand by myself I felt miserable, large and slow.
As I walked across the parking lot to give piano lessons I had to stop twice. Perhaps I was just exhausted from a full morning of dusting the house, cleaning the bathroom, writing blog comments, and writing 20 emails. Perhaps I felt blue because the skies were gray and sad. Perhaps I was just disgusted with my cumbersomeness, the heaviness I feel in my legs. Today was a day I would have loved to stroll briskly, but I physically cannot do anything briskly.
As I rested from the hill, walking carefully to avoid the icy patches I had slipped on the week before, I wondered about the way God designed things. I felt utterly amazed that a woman went through something like this for every single person who is alive.
You don't get human life without this experience.
It is a privilege, but it's also a task, a heavy one at that. My stomach has been unhappy all day long. I've felt both full and weak.
I've lumbered up and down the grocery store aisles and leaned heavily on the cart for balance. I spoke with the owner at Vino, a wine and cheese store, requesting some brie. I told him I was pregnant and so didn't want to buy a whole wheel of it, given that my doctor has encouraged me to limit my intake to one portion a week.
"Are you sure you're pregnant?" he somewhat pointedly asked.
I smiled wryly at him. He has little idea what it's like to go from having to tell everyone that you really are pregnant to watching others stare at your abdomen and ignore your face--all in a matter of a few weeks.
The prospect of traveling to speak in San Diego Tuesday, Vail on Friday and then to Diego again the following Tuesday feels enormous. I'll have Dale with me on the first two trips, but will probably travel alone next week.
I've never felt my vulnerability as much as I do now. The world is not designed to be navigated and successfully engaged for seven month pregnant women, sidewalks are too slippery, parking spaces too far, terminal corridors too long, grocery stores too big, luggage too heavy and snow too thick.
Pregnancy makes me think of the interdependence of men and women, as Paul says,
"For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God." 1 Cor 11:8-12
This mutual interdepence is something I feel every day now. Of course, this is one of my hard days where I feel my dependency on all those stronger than me. But my weakness is due to the work my body does in making a home for a boy, who will one day be a man, who will one day (I hope) help others who are weaker than him.
At home, after getting the mail, a process more involved out in the country than just opening a mailbox, and then putting the groceries away I did manage to ask for help from the man in my life.
I asked Dale to help me finish my laundry which involved a lot more instructions due to silk long-johns and wool scarves and other unmentionables that required special care and attention. He did it all beautifully. Meanwhile I finished putting my clothes away.
I watched the Incredibles and sat glowing in expectation for my dinner meal, which is the payment I receive for the piano lesson I gave earlier today.
Another glimmer was a package in our mailbox I just opened, a beautifully hand-crocheted baby blanket from my dear friend Jodi Holman, a woman I've been friends with since we were in diapers. Along with her exquisite labor of love came a baby size pair of blue jeans, a red flannel collared shirt, a matching faux fur trimmed aviator style hat lined in the same red flannel.
Little moments like these make the days more than just tolerable.
A few weeks later . . . (after learning that some of my fatigue was due to a sinus infection and completing the crazy week of travel to San Diego 2 times and once to Vail in which I rediscovered my love for speaking, ministering and then resting at home again) . . .
Little did I know that these last few days I've been actually training myself for a late night evidence that my body is actually stronger than I thought. Coming home from San Diego the 2nd time I decided that I had the strength to work out in some manner every day, even if this "working out" means a short walk.
So this last Friday I went on a snow shoe with the dogs and yesterday I actually swam 12 laps at the local pool, even while popping out of my pre-pregnancy tankini. Feeling very proud of myself yesterday I did another snow show before the snow fell by multiple inches.
There was over a feet covering our road by the time we made it home from our house church celebration late last night. Dale had just commented on how he worries on nights like this about getting stuck on the final steep "S" turn before we turn right into our driveway and having to walk up the rest of the way.
"I don't think you can walk up that far," he explained as he navigated the slippery road.
Indignant I disagreed.
Less than five minutes later we slid off the road into the ditch. We tried several times to power out and get back on the road, but the snow was like whipped meringue, it pulled us farther backwards, farther to the side until I felt more horizontal than vertical in my passenger's seat. I wound my scarf around my neck, jammed my gloves and hat on and clambered out of the car on the driver's side. My side would have left me waist deep in a snow bank.
You know, given that I had to walk over a 2/10 of a mile in knee deep snow, up a steep road, at 10 pm at night, in a tight pencil skirt and platform boots (waterproof, incredibly stable and comfortable, mind you!), in 25 degree weather (which, crazy as it sounds, really felt mostly warm except for the occasional wind), I did very well.
I'm very proud of my pregnant little body today, amazed at the strength I still had in me, amazed that my legs carried me and Birdie steady and true up, up, up the road, up, up, up the driveway, through the path into our warm house.
I'm determined to keep enjoying the tremendous compact feeling of having a child in my womb without having to worry about keeping him warm, fed, clothed, changed or burped... how marvelously compact he is. I'm delighted that pregnancy is so self-sustained that Birdie could stay warm and safe while I did the work of hiking.
I can get up for a 6am flight and not worry about waking him, I can swim laps at the local pool and not worry about watching over him, I can take all the leisure I need to get myself ready and not worry about bathing him. Of course when I get to worry about all these things, I plan to embrace them, but for now, I'm enjoying the portability of my son.