Well here we are. We’ve made it. Today will (hopefully) be my final day without my daughter in my arms. We’re set to check into the hospital tonight to start prep work for my induction tomorrow. And after the longest, most challenging pregnancy I could have imagined, I’m ready.
The problem is that I am so anxious about the unknown(s) that I’m not really sure I’m facing this new experience with the confidence and peace I need to see me through. Let me share a little more about what I mean:
I’ve been seeing a counselor for the last little while to work through some lingering childhood issues and learn some coping mechanisms for, basically, life. I’m a huge proponent of counseling- I think the world could use a little focus on their mental and emotional health. We spend tons of money at the doctor and the gym to get our bodies into shape- why not spend some money getting our internal lives in shape, as well?
Anyway, she’s mentioned on multiple occasions that I have an ‘adjustment disorder’. It’s unsurprisingly common, and a wee bit vague, but it basically means that due to the lack of safety and security, and the overabundance of abuse and uncertainty in my childhood and adolescence, my brain was physiologically re-wired to think of the worst case scenario first. It’s a coping mechanism that has allowed me to survive situations of uncertainty or lack of safety. The problem is that my brain has zero concept of what ‘normal’ or ‘safe’ really look and feel like- even after so many years removed from most of the major causes- and so I continue to see first the worst case scenarios. My counselor mentioned you can definitely, absolutely heal an adjustment disorder, but it takes at least ten years of consistency, love, and trust. Ten years of consistent experiences of safety. Ten. Years.
Well, thank goodness life is the longest thing I’ll ever do. And thank goodness I married a Dutch man- he’s the most consistent, trustworthy person I know. We got time.
The reason I’m bringing all this up is that it makes so much sense why I have such a need for control! Not in a manipulative way, but in a ‘you-provide-no-safety-so-I’ll-create-it-myself’ kind of way.
It’s the most accessible coping mechanism available to those who were never protected or kept safe as children.
And while, as an adult, I have a responsibility to work through this issue to find ways of handling the unexpected or uncertain with more grace, I have to say it feels incredibly validating to know that it’s not a path I have consciously chosen, but it’s the lot that was handed to me by the circumstances in which I was raised. It takes the intense shame out of the fact that I’ve been battling with the Lord over releasing control for years and it has gotten only slightly easier. I’m not a pessimistic person, I’m just hyperaware of my surroundings and the fact that life has dealt me more than my fair share of hard blows.
It’s why I was a false peacemaker as family mediator- anything to keep the surface calm.
It’s why I got stuck in an abusive relationship in college and by the time I’d figured out what was happening I didn’t have the courage or self-esteem to walk away.
It’s why I struggled so hard on the World Race- being thrown into ‘community’ and told to simply trust that everyone was for me and had my best in mind. And then being asked to receive really hard feedback on my character from those same people who really had no idea who I was or how to give constructive feedback well. Or being asked to simply show up without expectation or any understanding of what was expected of me- except to have no expectations. Or to have information on where we’re going or what we’re doing intentionally withheld in order to ‘help you not have expectations’. That year of my life was enormously challenging for me, and I’m only now seeing why. Having come from an amazing community where I did feel loved and valued (shoutout, Vineyard Community Church!) the fact that I struggled so much to become part of a new community, make intimate friendships, or hop on board with leadership was intensely shocking.
Yet it makes so much sense.
It’s the reason I jumped to black and white conclusions when I got a new boss who changed up a lot of things in our department (one of our organization’s core values is innovation, so of course things changed with new management). I didn’t sleep for a week during that transition, wondering if I was going to continue having a job. When I started talking to my boss about maternity leave, it was continuously a question on my mind: will I still have my job when I return? He gave me no indication that those were legitimate concerns, but still they kept me up at night.
New experiences never end well.
I’ve never been one to ace a new experience. Give me a second chance at that same experience and watch me blow it up! But rarely on my first try. Why?
I’m so caught up in the lack of understanding and the lack of expectations and the lack of a sense of safety that I can’t concentrate on producing excellence- which is my own core value.
It’s why working at Adventures In Missions has been a struggle for me- with so much emphasis on innovation, there’s very little consistency and so therefore very little space to create history enough for producing excellence- a byproduct of safety and consistency.
It’s one of the (many) reasons this pregnancy (and the ensuing induction) have been so incredibly challenging to me. I’ve never walked through these symptoms and these trials, and I have zero idea what to expect on any given day.
Many of you have been journeying through this pregnancy with me. From the daily nose bleeds, to the extra-long season of nausea and vomiting, to the hernia and the 7 cm fibroid that sticks out of the top of my belly button like a softball, to the gestational diabetes and unbelievably strict diet (I’ve gained one and a half pounds in the last 3 months, and lost 2 and a half pounds). But the diet didn’t matter so much, because uncontrolled fasting sugars forced me into diabetic medication (which puts me at higher risk of all the scary complications), to…finally… this planned early induction so my placenta doesn’t prematurely die and kill my unborn child (thanks for that risk, diabetic medication).
It has been a real challenge.
Hell, it’s been so much harder than a challenge. And scarier. The “unknown” has never been a source of safety for me. It’s consistently been a source of fear and pain. Change has never really been that kind to me.
I have been such a control freak over the last few months of this pregnancy. Knowing I would have to be induced after having planned and prepared and practiced for an unmedicated birth (that’s right, The Professor and I have been training in the Bradley Method and actually practice coaching through contractions), has been straining, to say the least. We’ve tried everything to prepare for and induce labor on our own: a quart of nasty NORA tea every day since 17 weeks, walking and exercising on a regular basis, sitting on the floor or an exercise ball (rather than chairs of any kind) both at work and at home for the last 3 months, bouncing on an exercise ball, pelvic tilts nightly, yoga, squatting and kegel exercises to build muscle tone, consuming super spicy foods. We’ve even gotten to the (super awkward) place of perineal massage and rubbing evening primrose oil on my cervix. Believe me, for a girl that has some lingering body issues, this was like going to the Gyno every evening- even with a loving and super-chill husband. (The positive outcome, however, is that after experiencing that kind of vulnerability, having a baby in front of anyone should be no big deal). AND YET. Nothing has worked. Nothing has gotten me even a step closer to this baby coming on her own. And so we leave tonight for The Unknown- The Dreaded Induction.
I feel so betrayed by my own body. And science. And life.
But the thing I’m learning most through talking out painful experiences with my counselor is
It’s not my fault.
It’s not my fault.
It’s not my fault.
But it is my responsibility. And now that I have a firmer grasp on the why I can begin to figure out the what.
I don’t want to be that girl who has a trust issue.
I am that girl, but I don’t want to continue being her.
I want to boldly walk into new situations with confidence, grace, and peace. I want to go with the flow. I want to handle things that life throws at me with humor and laughter and an ability to roll with the punches. I don’t want to have to do life a second time just to get it right. I don’t want to have to feel totally safe or totally right to produce excellence. I don’t want to have to research birth before I feel I am able to join the mommy club.
I imagine that’s a lesson I’ll continue learning throughout motherhood.
It’s certainly a lesson worth fighting for.
And so I prepare to leave my house for the unknown (and most likely painful). I go with the freeing knowledge that it’s okay for me to feel frightened or insecure or unsafe, but to act on the truth that God is in control and His character is good. And above all, He is for me.
I’ve known He’s been with me, always- there’s never a time in my life I where I didn’t know He was near. But it’s taken me a lifetime to come to grips with the painful things that have consistently happened even though He was there. I’m still not sure I’m fully there yet.
And yet. While His plans are not always our plans, and sometimes things happen that we cannot fathom or understand, I can still trust in His character, even if I can’t trust in the unknown safety or certainty of my current situation.
That’s ultimately what is going to heal me from this issue. Of course my husband will be involved. We’ve already done a ton of hard work and made huge strides together. My friends will be part of my process, too. But ultimately it falls on the consistency of the Lord to see me through the healing of my childhood, my adolescence, and the re-wiring of my mind.
All so I can live a healthier, more abundant life, and thus my daughter can, too. Come soon, sweet girl. I’m ready for you.