It’s 6:15 am and I’m awake. These baby girls’ kicking awoke me this morning. They’re active in the morning (unlike their mom, generally speaking). I am glad that they’re getting some exercise … but wow, has their movement kicked up a notch over the last week (pun intended)! Seth was finally able to feel their movement last Thursday, which is fun to have him join in the excitement of the ever-dawning reality of two lives being knit together inside me.
The next two topics I want to address in my “trusting God when you’re expecting” series are fears/anxieties and body image. And which one do I begin with? I think I’ll go with the fear/anxiety topic first because I feel as if that’s such a huge place to learn to trust God while pregnant. Soon after finding out we were pregnant, I wrote this: “I think this pregnancy journey will certainly reveal the fear factory my heart often can be: there are truly an almost infinite number of things to worry about, over which I have virtually no control.” If the last post focused on how my heart is a desire factory, this one is about how my heart is also quite expert at producing fear, too. Pregnancy only magnifies this!
I have noticed that I have moved through different stages of fear along the journey of this pregnancy so far. Initially, there was the fear of losing the baby through miscarriage. I have had several friends who have walked through this grief, and I would imagine there are many more who have experienced this yet have not shared the grief with me or others. It’s such a private pain, really. I experienced some unsettling symptoms early on in our pregnancy that led us to think that I might be miscarrying. It was terrifying and dreadful as we waited for our first doctor’s appointment. The wait seemed to be forever – and then to finally be there and anticipate bad news … there just is no way to prepare yourself for that.
Here’s an entry from my journal early during those weeks of waiting:
“Lord, I do not want to be consumed by worry over what I cannot control anyway! So I’m officially crying out to you for help in a big way today. Make this refrain of Psalm 136 mine as well: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
“…to him who led his people through the wilderness for his steadfast love endures forever;
It is he who remembered us in our low estate, For his steadfast love endures forever;
And rescued us from our foes [fear], For his steadfast love endures forever.”
Help me in my unbelief – in my insatiable desire to control the uncontrollable [having a miscarriage] and to know the unknowable [whether this baby is healthy].”
That’s the thing with anxiety: it is my attempt to control what I cannot control – and in fact, what is not mine to control. My role was to actively trust God, come what may. Easy to say when looking in the “rear-view mirror” of life but it feels impossible when you’re in the midst of the dark valley of death’s shadow. I remember repeating over and over again the words of Psalm 23 and Psalm 139, seeking to meditate on these truths of my Shepherd and entrust these little lives into His care. Practically, I also restricted myself from searching on the internet for more information, as this only served to increase my fear and anxiety at all of the “what ifs” out there.
As the fear of miscarriage faded a bit with each week, it was replaced with the fear of “how in the world will I take care of TWO babies?” This is an anxiety that I am still working through. It certainly comes in waves. For example, I remember the day I went grocery shopping and noticed how cute a mom and her baby were. Immediately following this was the realization that grocery carts don’t have space for TWO infants! And my “natural” fear/thought progression led me to the conclusion that I would never be able to even venture out to buy groceries by myself after the twins’ birth. (twin friends, please leave me in blissful ignorance if that is, in fact, true) I fear the loss of my independence.
Other fears that I experienced especially during the first trimester included fears of whether I was eating enough and the right kinds of food to nourish the babies, whether I was unknowingly exposing them to harmful toxins (did using my aerosol hairspray once or twice damage them? What about the day they were refinishing the floors at my workplace and I smelled the fumes for a few hours?), even how my fears and anxiety might have a negative impact on their growth and development.
More than any pregnancy book I turned to for answers (and there were a lot – a book review post will be coming at some point in time), reading this book on anxiety, Calm My Anxious Heart (by Linda Dillow), and hearing sermons on the book of Hebrews about the faithfulness of God reminded me of God’s care and provision. The God who created the universe is intricately involved in my life, speaking to my fears and reassuring me with His presence – in fact, inviting me into His presence. And I have many friends who helped to demonstrate this truth to me through their prayers and encouraging words and presence with me.
Where does fear show up currently? As I approach the end of my second trimester (23 weeks along … just a couple more weeks until trimester #3), I have (naturally) begun worrying about whether I’ll go into premature labor. This fear is certainly grounded in the risks associated with twin pregnancy, as they are much more likely to arrive earlier than their due date, but I find myself again in the realm of needing to actively trust in a God who knows when these babies will be born. This doesn’t mean that I throw caution to the wind. In fact, I have stopped exercising vigorously and I am more tuned in to resting when I’m tired (novel concept for me) and seeking to continue to eat well. Yet beyond that, the details of when these babies will arrive is really out of my hands.
A few years ago at a baby shower, a woman in my church who was pregnant with her fourth child at the time told me that pregnancy was the best opportunity she had been given to learn how to surrender completely to God because every aspect of pregnancy, labor, and delivery is really out of your control. That has stuck with me, and I pray that I will continue to grow in trust – rather than fear – throughout the remaining weeks of this pregnancy.
Are there more fears? Of course … this post just began to scratch the surface. So you’ll have to buy my book one day to read more!