“Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip…’What is your name?’ the man asked. ‘Jacob,’ he replied. ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ He said. ‘It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.’” – Genesis 32:24-25, 27-28
Neither God nor childbirth are fairy tales, so why am I blogging about them?
Similar to how I blogged about weddings in 2016, I now feel compelled to blog about what I’ve learned over these nine months of waiting for my little girl. The truth is, just like with weddings, there are hundreds of thousands of “stories” we women tell when it comes to childbirth. Most of them are rather horrifying, especially to women (and obviously men) who haven’t gone through labor and delivery. And those stories need to be combated with the love of Christ.
That’s not to say the stories aren’t true, and that certain traumatic things can’t happen; they can, and do. However, the “stories” we Christians tell about birth should be markedly different, regardless of our birth experiences.
Why? Because we have a God who loves us.
However, I didn’t believe that fact. In fact, I still have trouble with it. You see, the anticipation of childbirth caused deep lies to surface, accompanied by many tears. Ok, I admit it: I ranted and wailed. You could say, I wrestled with God. But it took me awhile to realize it was a wrestling match…
It Began as a Rant…
Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant! It was planned and anticipated; however, the excitement didn’t last long before the worries came. There were a myriad of things I fretted over, from miscarrying to preeclampsia…and, of course, the whole labor and postpartum process in general.
And so I began to rant, to both God and my husband. But the rant was strange, and distracted me for quite awhile from the real heart-issues I had to confront.
Why did women still have to endure the agonies of childbirth when men in our society have all but escaped their “curse” (Gen. 3:16-19)? Most men are able to have fulfilling jobs where they provide for their families adequately. They may work hard, but most of that “hard work” is sitting at a desk. If it isn’t, it’s because they’ve chosen a more manual job, and they like it.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m man-bashing, and I understand that men can feel they’re wasting their lives at an unfulfilling job. But in our culture now, there are ways for them to rise above it. Many – if not most – can get a new job, or go into business for themselves.
Not so much with childbirth. Man’s labor has changed; women’s labor is far more primal. Yes, women can “escape” some of the pain through modern medicine. But there is still quite a bit of prenatal discomfort, and quite a lot of postpartum pain. Modern medicine can only do so much. (Plus, obtaining that pain killing medication is no walk in the park, either…).
I know all of that sounds petty, and honestly I didn’t think of it too often. I had a wonderful first and second trimester, and childbirth seemed far enough away that I could easily distract myself with these ranting thoughts rather than focus on the heart issues. And then in my third trimester, God took out my hip, so to speak…
In the first two months of my third trimester, I had 4-5 major eczema flare ups, a cold, and a root canal. All around the same time.
These issues are only indirectly related to pregnancy (for those who don’t know, your immunity goes down), and I was more upset because I had to take a ton of medicine. I was worried about how that would affect my unborn baby, and angry God had allowed so much all at one time. Couldn’t I get a break? Why was He allowing my child to be possibly harmed because I was sick?
I had positive distractions, too, such as moving, having baby showers, and having family come into town. These were great, but actually occurred simultaneously with my health issues. Thus, I was emotionally overwhelmed and over-wrought.
But afterwards, I was finally able to confront the wrestling match I’d been evading…
The Wrestling Match Begins
The “wrestling match” popped up periodically throughout my pregnancy. I cried many tears whenever I thought about these deeper issues, and still struggle with them. They also began with ranting language, but they are much closer to what I was really struggling with.
There is so much that can go wrong in pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. Why would God allow this sort of pain as a way of life? I understand sin and evil abound in the world, but this is just a standard occurrence (a la, the rant about men “escaping” their “curse”).
And why the exposing, humiliation of it? Why couldn’t I simply unhinge my jaw and regurgitate my baby out of my mouth? (Although if I had stretch marks on my neck, I might decide that’s not what I wanted.)
The crux of these “rants” are different. These rantings and tears came from a sense of…betrayal. To be honest, I felt betrayed and abandoned by God. Unloved and unsafe. Unprotected and vulnerably alone.
However…I’ve always struggled with those emotions about God. Pregnancy has just brought them bubbling to the surface. I’ve always felt I had to earn His favor, and that He wanted bad things to happen to me so as to test me.
I “know” the truth. But there’s a difference between knowing it and then believing it when faced with a trial.
So this blog will explore those themes, and how I combated them with knowledge and truth. It’s not a very long series, especially considering how long I had to think on them. But I couldn’t stay silent any more, and hopefully this will help other women (and their partners!) work through some of these issues.
What’s more, at the end, I will also receive a new, treasured name. For I, too, wrestled with God, have had (and will have) significant bodily changes, and will have “struggled” with mankind…or at least a very little girl. That new name will be Mommy, and it will change who I am forever.