When the Ends Justify the Means {Parenting, three months in}

My little girl is three months old today. Today also happens to be the first day I woke up and felt, with surety, that It Was Worth It. She was worth it.

Instead of basking in this moment, I am tempted to bury it, for fear that I’ll think I should do it all again.

You see, pregnancy was not my friend. Before getting pregnant, I had only ever heard positive things about being pregnant. (Or I had only listened to those parts?) Sure, some people had morning sickness the first trimester, everyone felt like a sumo wrestler by the end, and stretch marks were an impending reality. But there was the pregnancy glow, the joy of preparing for new life, etc etc so how bad could it really be?

Turns out, it was pretty bad. Let’s just say that about 6 months in, when I was throwing up only 4 times a week (down from 4 times a day in the first 5 months), it seemed like a treat. I had to tell people at work that I was pregnant much earlier than I had intended because I had to assure them that no, I didn’t have some contagious plague, despite all appearances, I was just pregnant.

One dear woman, after asking me for the 3rd time if I was okay (so clearly I looked like crap), and I told her I was not sick, just pregnant, took a step back, looked at me again, and said, “Oh, now I see the pregnant glow!” Bless her – it made me feel a little better, even though we both knew I was not glowing.

There were many days when I woke up and thought, “What have we done? We were so happy before this!” Actually, I think that might have been every day.

Then of course, everyone assured me that a horrible pregnancy meant labor would be a breeze. Ha! When all the birth stories I was hearing were from family members who were in labor less than 12 hours, I thought that would be the worst case scenario. While my midwife assures me that my 24 hours of active labor was “average,” it sure didn’t feel average.

Once her head emerged, my midwife had me reach down to pull her out the rest of the way. As I was bringing her to my chest, and the relief washed over me (Pregnancy was over! Labor was over!), I had a moment where I realized (I’m sure those were the endorphins kicking in) that I could forget all the pain of pregnancy and labor. My rational self kicked in, though, and I chose to not forget because, well, I never wanted to be tempted to do it again.

In her first weeks of life, when friends, family, and strangers gushed about the “miracle of life” and how “doesn’t her sweet face make it all worth it,” well, I just still didn’t feel it. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she was precious, I knew that I loved her, and my same rational self that chose not to forget the pain did believe she must be worth it. Of course the sleep-deprivation, the soreness, the near-constant nursing didn’t help.

But I keep shouldering on, taking it one day at a time. (A lesson learned in pregnancy, which seems to have stuck). Really, what choice did I have?

And then today, I woke up, and realized, I feel for the first time with certainty, that She Was Worth It. The math still doesn’t add up in my head. How can the past month of smiles outweigh 8 months throwing up + 24 hours labor + postpartum recovery? This is where the rational self no longer rules, because I know that, in fact, it doesn’t just add up. This is Grace.

Now this doesn’t mean I’m itching to have baby #2. Unless something goes wrong with my charting in FAM (Fertility Awareness Method), we plan to adopt the rest of our kids.

It does mean, however, I can enter more freely into love — to love being a mom, to love this season of life, to love my little girl. And to accept the grace, that sometimes, things just don’t add up.

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