What I did when “living in the moment” seemed impossible


May 15, 2019

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“Live in the moment,” they tell young moms. “Enjoy this time! Babies grow up so fast!” This advice — repeated by older ladies with kind eyes in grocery stores, mindfulness yogis, wise relatives, and yes — even awe-inspiring mom saints  — isn’t wrong. Not at all.

In so many words, it’s so, so right. “Just live in the moment.” Sounds kind of blissful. Like all we need to do is just kick back and have a mimosa on a sunny porch as we cuddle a cooing baby.

And while I know that these experienced people know what they’re talking about, let’s clarify one thing. The act of living in the moment isn’t exactly all that easy, depending on the particular moment. I’m only halfway through pregnancy, and I’m just starting to understand the gravity of this commonly given phrase.

As a woman who would describe herself as Type A, one of my weaknesses is impatience. This imperfection of mine is quite an obstacle for me in my efforts to live in the present moment. And it was particularly pronounced when I wanted to get pregnant.

I always wanted our family to grow

My husband and I planned to start trying to conceive after about one year of marriage. We were both so excited to start growing our family — so as we neared one year, I found myself thinking about how I couldn’t wait to watch my pregnancy test stop blinking and read the words which would tell me I was pregnant. And then, how I would share the joyful news with my husband.

These are not bad things to look forward to. However, my anticipation of the future and desire to have a child were taking me out of the moment where my husband and I were. Where we were was joyfully and newly married, continually getting to know one another better and learning to love one another better. Things that would come in handy once we did have a baby on the way.

I learned that my husband loves to unwind by playing golf and catching a sports game on t.v. I also learned that he is great at creating to-do lists for us to accomplish during the weekend which honor both of our goals, whether that be putting up shelves in our living room, washing our windows or freshening up our landscaping.

On his end, he has learned how much I value quality time, whether that be sharing a home-cooked meal together, going out to enjoy a glass of wine or watching one of our favorite T.V. shows together.

So as that first year came to a close — we were hopeful and confident that we would get pregnant right away.

When we didn’t get pregnant the first month, I was crushed, and the thoughts that were tempting to pull me out of the moment came back. When we didn’t get pregnant in the second or third months, a bit of panic started to set in. I couldn’t wait to be pregnant and it was really hard to be present in the struggle.

After all, why would you want to be present in the very opposite place where you hoped to be?

Again, I had to remind myself that the time my husband and I had with just the two of us was an immense gift, and one on which those with children look back fondly.

We didn’t have to coordinate scheduling a babysitter when we wanted to plan a night out and I didn’t have a feeding to get back for. After an evening event we could spontaneously stop for a cocktail at one of our favorite bars and the next morning we could both sleep in after such a late night out.

After all, why would you want to be present in the very opposite place where you hoped to be?

A friend of mine who recently had her first baby said to me that in this time of not having children I should be intentional about going on dates with my husband, enjoying wine and going out for happy hours with friends … doing the things that would be harder to come by post-baby.

Like taking advantage of our flexibility which allows us the opportunity to travel for a week at a time, spend a night away in a neighboring city. Or even those small things which make a big difference, like heading to the gym together after a day at work.

Making efforts to keep my head held high, I poured myself into being the best wife I could be. I was learning how my husband felt loved. I learned that one way I could make him feel loved was by being being excited for him to every once in a while unwind after work while hitting a bucket of golf balls.

In the meantime, I could pursue my own hobby of cooking and get creative in the kitchen while listening to a podcast and providing a healthy, home-cooked meal for us to share together when he got home.

While I focused on how I could be the best wife possible, I also did my best to prepare to someday be the best mother I could be, all while following my friend’s advice to enjoy the moment.

Some days this was harder than others, especially the weeks when I would read a negative pregnancy test, or hear of a loved one who was expecting (again).

Yet, knowing that I was intentionally using this time of my life to focus wholeheartedly on my vocation to love and honor my husband, I was able to walk with more of a spring in my step and my head held a little higher.

I was aware of the deeper purpose I was called to in that moment, and when I embraced it, I found joy in specifically focusing on ways my husband and I could grow in our marriage. This helped me not to take that time for granted.

In a state of waiting

Finally, while it took a few months longer than we had expected, the day came. I was pregnant! In a state of both shock and indescribable gratitude, I showed my husband our positive pregnancy test. With teary eyes we basked together, in the warm comfort of each other’s arms, knowing that we were now a family of three.

Shortly after this, my type-A personality hit me hard. Thoughts trying to pull me out of the moment came creeping back and I started thinking, “I can’t wait to see our baby in their first ultrasound”, “I can’t wait till I have a baby bump!”, “I can’t wait to feel our baby kick!”

Or less optimistically…when the morning sickness and nausea hit I couldn’t help but keep thinking, “I can’t wait till the first trimester is over so I feel well again!” and “I can’t wait to hear our baby’s heartbeat at our twelve-week appointment so that we know our baby is safe and sound.”

Accepting our timeline

As thankful as I was to be pregnant, I was also worried about the safety and wellbeing of our baby. I would freak out when I accidentally ate a few bites of lunch meat and felt guilty for drinking so much sugar infused ginger-ale.

When I expressed this to my husband he helped my fears to settle down as he said in reply, “This is going to be the rest of our lives. Even when our baby is grown, we are still going to be worried about them.”

Those words are the words which help bring me back to earth when I start daydreaming about what is to come, and they remind me to put my trust in God.

There was so much “can’t waiting”, and I was feeling guilty for it. Our prayers had been answered and I had a sweet little baby growing inside of me. Why was I spending all this time looking to tomorrow when I could place my hand over my belly and talk to my baby today?

Facing fear with baby steps

So I started small; I slowed down. Once a week I read about how our baby is developing, and that is what I try to focus my thoughts on for the next seven days. I thank God that he or she has grown as big as as a pomegranate and that they have strong bones and muscles to work on their acrobatics in utero.

God has allowed me to provide safety and provision for our baby for the next several months as their little body prepares to enter into the world, and that is an indescribable gift.

When I take a step back and remember that there will always be things to spend time worrying about and that there will always be unknowns, I have realized I have a choice: I can use those opportunities to fear, or I can use them to trust in God’s goodness and rejoice in the miracle that life is.

When our baby finally arrives in October, I know we will look back at the precious moments we had with our baby in the womb like whispering to my belly and and feeling our baby kick. So for now, I’m not going to take this time for granted, because these nine months are the only opportunity to love my baby while he or she is nestled safely in my womb.

I have a choice: I can use those opportunities to fear, or I can use them to trust in God’s goodness and rejoice in the miracle that life is.

My husband and I have been entrusted with a new soul, and from here on out, I intend to look for new blessings, each and every day of our child’s life, rather than look ahead too far in the future, because as Emily Dickinson says, “Forever is composed of nows,” and the here and now is what we’ve been given.

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