Life among the pagodas
31 July 2015
Dear little baby,
You’ve been in utero over 37 weeks now. Two nights ago, I started to experience some unusual muscle twinges, as if my body was going through a quick dress rehearsal—or perhaps a cold reading is more accurate, as it was so mild—for the upcoming task of ushering you into the world. I woke every hour for a few hours, feeling a bit unnerved and thinking, “I could wait a few more days; could we just wait at least till Saturday, maybe? I am not quite mentally prepared for an outside baby. I need to write some more for him/her before the veil is pulled away and I see that face.” Much to my relief, the twinges faded away, and I managed to get some snatches of precious sleep for the rest of the night.
Now I am trying to scribble at least a bit more to you, because I just so badly want to put more words to paper before I see you (You’re probably wondering, “why, Mom? You’ve written many pages to me already!”). I am eager to begin this life-long process of getting to know you, but there seems so much meaning in this waiting time, and I am awfully glad it’s not up to me to press the “start” button on labor and delivery, because I’m not sure I could do it yet. I look to a future with you and feel a little sober and trembly about it all: what have I got myself into? Your life inside of me is so delicate—I can feel it in the softness of your little arm pressed against my belly wall, I hear it in the watery swish of your heart beat and the way you’ve taken to pressing your little hands down against my pelvis. Many times you feel like a piece of rock in my abdomen, a steady little soul who has yet to make any frantic movements. But at the same time, you also seem so breakable: from the start of it, your life has felt like a blossom in my open hand, protected from devastating wind or disease, not because of my vigilance or knowledge, but ultimately because of God’s mercy. (Hardly a week of your life has passed where I haven’t thought of so many empty wombs and lost lives, all these also under the umbrella of God’s mercy, yet it is a more difficult one.) You are held together by the Word.
I think of my own imperfect nature, and I want to weep at the thought of you, so fresh to this world, so vulnerable, so at the mercy of a pair of newbies. You didn’t choose us, yet you are being entrusted to us for a little while, for better or for worse. (I will be the first to admit that it seems an unfair deal for you.) I shuddered about this when I started to love your father, too. How heartbreaking it is to me that those closest to me, those who I love most dearly, will have to suffer through my imperfections. How I wish I could guarantee you a mother who would never hurt you with her own brokenness.
It looks like the big change is coming: that soon day when you take your first breath. And yet it isn’t as if your life hasn’t already started. It isn’t as if you haven’t begun to change me, from that December day when we noticed my hands were strangely warmer than your dad’s, when I started exceeding my usual seven-hours-a-night sleep needs by about four or five more hours and could no longer stomach a warm boiled egg. In the same way I resisted the idea of getting together with your dad, I had to lay my independence and autonomy on the altar all over again and say, “yes, God, I’ll trust you” before your life was even conceived. And I’ve had to keep laying it down, because if there is one thing that has been stripped from me during the course of this pregnancy, it has been my autonomy. God has used you to change me, and I am thankful.
One wise author said, “Desiring children can be a noble pursuit. If it’s not God’s will then it is simply a more sanctified form of covetousness.” Being a mother, while never a vocation I disdained, was also not a bucket list item for me. Motherhood has come to me in nearly the same way as becoming a wife, as something filtered through my poorly lit and angst-filled side of the glass, imploring God to direct my steps aright. Being your mother has thus far been the most physically taxing endeavor of my life, and it’s with no small degree of fear and trembling that I look ahead to what is promised to be exponentially more weariness and sleepless nights. If this motherhood gig were just my idea, I would likely be regretting it right about now, or at least filled with panic, because change is scary and so uncontrollable, and being a mother makes me feel like I’m about fourteen years old. I am weary, but I am also utterly assured that your entry into this world is exactly what God has intended, for this time in history, for you, and for your dad and me.
I am glad for the perfect timing of Him who loved you first, who will always love you best. And until you and the forces of nature decide it is time for you to make your appearance on this world’s stage, I am glad for these last days
… where I have the chance of knowing physically the raw weight of expectation and hope for all that God is bringing to fruition in his kingdom
… for the anticipation of the first sunrise of your life as I anticipate the Eternal Day that is ahead
… and for the privilege of loving you now in darkness, as I love Him, waiting eagerly to drink in my first glimpse of that sweet, sweet face.