This probably won't be a very good post. I write down ideas for blog posts all the time, in a notebook I have just for 'writing,' on post-it notes, in my prayer journal. Most of those post ideas are interesting. Some are about school, some about apartments, some about novel ideas that come to me in the middle of church. But let's be honest: most of my brain is taken up by Baby Thoughts right now, so most of the blog ideas are about baby stuff.
In any case, interesting post ideas aside, something I've been thinking about a lot this weekend is fear. I've had a very healthy pregnancy so far. Every doctor appointment has been uneventful in the extreme because all my doctor can say to me is, "Good growth, good heartbeat, and you're healthy!" He even went so far as to say, the last time I was in for an appointment and everything looked great, "A talent you didn't even know you had!" Of course, the health of my baby isn't really a 'talent.' Sure, I can eat well (or try, in between nibbling on chocolate chips while pretending not to notice), and I can exercise, as long as my 'posterior pelvic pain' isn't acting up, but the health of my baby is largely out of my control. Absolutely alarming to this control freak.
On Friday night I was getting ready for bed and thinking about who-knows-what when something made me put my hand to my abdomen. I wasn't in pain, I wasn't worried at the moment, but my absent-minded musings turned quickly to sharp focus when I realized that my whole uterus was rock-hard. Mark was in the bathroom or I would have yelled for him to come feel this bizarre soccer ball-sized mass. Within seconds the muscles relaxed and my uterus went back to feeling squishy-firm. I still wasn't worried. I was pretty sure I had just noticed a Braxton Hicks contraction for the first time.
I pulled out my baby book, read up on Braxton Hicks, and felt smug in my ability to diagnose the feeling before even consulting the pregnancy experts in my book. I kept reading, though, because the section on Braxton Hicks was followed by a section on discerning these practice contractions from preterm labor. I read carefully, felt confident that I was not in preterm labor, felt reassured that I could detect preterm labor if I ever needed to, and crawled into bed.
The Braxton Hicks door was opened. Even though I had probably been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks without noticing, I now knew exactly what I was looking for. I woke up at 12:30, sure I was feeling a contraction, then at 3:30, then at 4:30. By 6:00 Saturday morning I was a nervous wreck. Even though none of my 'contractions' had been in the least painful, nor had they lasted for more than 10 seconds, I was convinced I was in preterm labor. After getting up and showering, I read again, this time from an online source, about Braxton Hicks and telling these contractions from preterm labor. Again, I was reassured, although slightly less reassured than the night before, and tried to put the thoughts out of my mind.
I went to my niece's birthday party, I worked on grad school homework, and by mid-afternoon I had experienced one, maybe two, more contractions. Again, not strong or painful, but I could notice them now. Mark will tell you I worry too much. He's right. I called my doctor's after-hours number. My doctor, very kindly, confirmed that I did not need to worry and that what I was describing were harmless practice contractions for the real deal in a few months.
But even with my doctor's reassurance, I was not reassured. I became increasingly uptight as the evening progressed. To Mark's credit, he didn't roll his eyes and say, Here we go again. Can't you just relax and trust the doctor?" But I'm sure that's what he was thinking. I passed another restless night, half worried that I was going to deliver my baby prematurely (probably tomorrow and she'd be in the NICU for months and she would have severe developmental problems as a result and our finances would never recover from the enormous hospital bills). As with the previous day, my panic subsided with the sunrise and left me feeling only vaguely worried.
When we were at church this morning, my worry dogged my step. As I was sitting in the theater-style chair in the black-walled auditorium where our church meets, I was suddenly reminded that God loves this little baby more than I do. God loves me more than I do. And God is in control. I can't control when I go into labor, but I can trust God to guide the situation and I can trust God to be good, whether in preterm labor or full term labor. As I was thinking these things and reveling in the idea that God could love this baby more than me (I'm her mom, for crying out loud), a Bible verse that I've meditated on many times came into my mind. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
When I am afraid in the middle of the night, I am showing God that I don't love him with a perfect love and I don't trust his perfect love for me. I am afraid of punishment. In short, I am not made perfect in love. I won't be made perfect in love in this life, but that doesn't mean I should ignore opportunities to try to grow in my ability to trust God's love. God loves me. God loves the baby. I can rest in that, even in the midst of the weird new sensations pregnancy brings, even in the midst of a Braxton Hicks.