Stretch marks reach across my belly and stagger their way in all directions. My body changes unglamourously before my eyes in a way often difficult to see.
The swelling has taken root again. Cutting off feeling and controlled mobility in my right hand. The tingles left behind are a reminder for me to get creative using my left hand while cooking. Or cleaning. Or brushing my teeth… Brushing my hair…Putting on makeup. ALL the things.
The edema transforms my ankles and feet into sausages. I remind myself this, too, will run it’s course.
Three times, I’ve reached this point of pregnancy where I feel this disgust with the swelling of my face, hands, and feet. Disgusted in the weight gain and changes so boldly staking claim on my body.
In 6 short years my body transformed greatly. I’ve held 4 heart beats inside of this swollen view before me now. I visited the high risk department in every single pregnancy and cried in both excitement and heartbreak.
And here I am, tonight, reflecting on a long day spent in Labor and Delivery. Another 24 hours is ahead of me and I long to be at home with my family. In my own bed, curled up with my children. Preeclampsia is a scary war to battle. And for the life of me- I just ask God for a healthy baby girl delivered earth side. In a perfect world that would be like 37 weeks. But I’m reminded today, a NICU experience is easily on the horizon. And it breaks my heart imagining another helpless babe, fighting for her place in this world.
None of it is EASY.
And this, this is the Grit.
But even more magnificent lies the Grace.
Lance reminds me that these physical changes I despise, are beautiful. That every single stretch mark brings with it an earned stripe of strength… a powerful tatoo given by the motherhood journey…the gift of laughter echoing through our home…The family we treasure and the life we now experience helped weave the graphic maps reaching from hip to hip. That while this body is difficult for me to witness in it’s constant change, it has evolved- just like us- and is significant to him.
Tonight, as I lay in this hospital bed I thank God for the swollen unflattering (STRONG, MIRACULOUS) vessel he gave me to carry, nourish and birth each of my babies into this world. That while it may not be as flattering or as beautiful having scars illustrating the all-out war of pregnancy… or the extra weight which didnt exist on our wedding night, I recognize the journey and these scars prove I’m stronger than I may think. Thank you Jesus for the kindest partner to share in this life and for pain that I endured and the giants I still face. These will forever be the reminder that both beauty and pain share the story.
I know from experience the joy that lies ahead far outweighs this momentary suffering. So I speak this to myself when I’m scared of what may be ahead of me-
Women suffer for awhile, but sister, you will be crowned in a new understanding and depth of love your soul couldn’t possibly fathom before this birth. Within the fears and feats also exists a grace which covers you. An ability to grow and strengthen- An extraordinary inherent characteristic to love and nurture, immediately, someone, so tiny, infitnely more than yourself.
You will absolutely face physical and emotional challenges during this journey, but you’ll walk away from it victorious, simply because you made it through- you fought the giants before you. And you will be more capable of facing the next battle, Any battle because if it.
That’s how I endure these tough pregnancies. How I prepare for the power and expenditure required in labor. Understanding this beautiful journey shares in it both grit and grace. Both pain and love. And fighting through the storm, I know I’m not alone.