At the time that I’m writing this, I’m 39 weeks pregnant.
Somehow, I’m still alive. To all you momma’s out there: I have so much respect that you made it as far as I have, let alone through birthing a child and keeping them alive!
When Daniel and I first started talking about having children, both of us anticipated all the hard parts of it. For me, I was freaked out about what pregnancy would do to me physically and hormonally.
Before we even started trying to get pregnant, I went to the library determined to find a book that would help me manage my expectations of pregnancy. The shelves were stocked with books that told me how wonderful pregnancy is. I avoided those books. I was not ready for someone to tell me how beautiful pregnancy is. I wanted to know the real story of how hard it would be.
I saw a book titled Pregnancy Sucks and was sold. I checked it out and didn’t take long to finish it. It walked through each phase of pregnancy and went over all the symptoms women can experience from morning sickness to preeclampsia.
I have a hardwired weekly ritual—nay—a spiritual discipline of going to the beach. I consider it a crucial part of my life. It’s a meditative practice for me to allow my senses to be fully immersed in the present moment. It helps me think clearly and creatively, drawing me closer to God. It allows me to be a better friend, wife, and therapist.
Image courtesy of Marie Fang
In addition to moments of quiet contemplation, I make a day out of going to the beach and usually bring something productive with me as well. I brought Pregnancy Sucks with me to read while lying on the beach.
One thing I felt the most while reading that book was a sense of grief that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beach anymore at some, or all, points of pregnancy. I thought I’d be too sick in the first trimester and too everything in the third trimester to be able to even physically get my body to the beach, let alone enjoy it.
My concerns extended beyond missing out on the beach—I was worried about how I might have to slow down, reduce my workload, and generally feel some version of icky all the time. I was worried about the things I’d have to give up.
To my surprise, the journey through pregnancy has been joyful for me. Don’t get me wrong: though I’ve been fortunate to have an uncomplicated pregnancy thus far, I’ve also experienced an array of complaints throughout the entire journey. Just ask Daniel—I’m telling him about new ailments every day!
My fears about pregnancy did come true. My life was ‘disrupted’ in some major ways, like significantly slowing down my therapy practice and, at some points, not having the capacity to get anything productive done.
As changes hit my body, I would feel myself initially protest, try to power through, and pass judgment on my body for not doing what I needed it to do for me. But after having a little tantrum, I’d accept the reality: my body is doing what it needs to take care of this child. I need to accept whatever that looks like.
Acceptance has been such a gift during pregnancy. It’s offered a twofold experience of allowing me to enjoy the process as it unfolds, while also freeing me to see how incredible the human body is. The hormone relaxin is making me clumsy (last week I dropped two dishes in the span of 5 minutes), but it’s also creating physical space for the baby to come out very soon. My mind can’t keep track of my commitments, but it’s because my brain is actively getting rewired in order to better attune to this child’s needs once she arrives. Everything that goes ‘wrong’ has some magical beneficial purpose.
Accepting that these changes happen outside of my own power seems to have been the ticket to experiencing joy during pregnancy.
And guess what? I‘ve managed to come to the beach nearly every week throughout this pregnancy journey. Sometimes I only come for 20 minutes. Sometimes it’s taken me 40 minutes to walk from the beach back to my car, instead of 10 minutes. But I’ve still come!
Last week I came to the beach and found a spot in the sand near where I had read my book about pregnancy. I stared up at the sky and started crying (probably fueled by the oxytocin that helps me bond with baby). I thought, “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I have everything I need.” Rather than feeling afraid of the continued changes still to come, I felt grateful knowing that my body is designed to know what to do, and that I’m surrounded by help to support me when I need it. A case in point: while writing this post, I received a text from Michelle Manley asking if we’d like to have their old high chair. Thanks, Michelle!
This week I’m at the beach again typing away on this post. I’d planned to write this weeks ago in case baby came early, but such is life. My back hurts and I’m sitting on pillows, but it’s a beautiful sunny day and I’m so happy to be here.
I can’t help but think this process of going through the hardships of pregnancy is God’s way of preparing me to accept that I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to being a mom. And that’s okay, nobody does! He just needs me to let things unfold in their own time, in their own way, even when they don’t align with the way I might have planned things.
Marie Fang has attended The River since 2012. Before moving to the Bay Area, Marie was involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and at Coast Vineyard Church in San Diego. She runs her own private practice in San Jose as a Christian psychologist.
Marie and her husband, Daniel, have been married since 2009. Marie is passionate about learning to love those who are frequently unloved, meeting with those on the margins of church, and guiding others in their journey of developing a healthy sense of identity.