My sister-in-law took a close-up picture of me and my youngest child on my birthday. I am rarely in pictures these days, so I appreciated her offer to capture a sweet moment for me. As promised, she e-mailed it to me the same night. She wrote some very kind words in the e-mail as well. But…I barely noticed them.
Only one thing was jumping out at me…how OLD I looked. Ironically, it was taken on my birthday, so technically I was a year older! But, I could clearly see the wrinkle lines around my eyes and mouth and how dark my hair is (can’t afford the blond highlights that I’ve had forever anymore!). I look in the mirror several times a day, so how could it be that I’ve never noticed this aging before!? It was shocking…and I quickly closed the e-mail (and haven’t opened it since!).
This is not to say that I’m not at peace with myself. On the contrary, this was one of my happiest birthdays ever! I am blessed beyond words with good health, a solid marriage, beautiful children, a great support system of friends and family, a lovely home, etc., etc. So what if I look older!? After all, I am! And, I am surrounded by many female friends and family members who have turned 40 (I am only 38…ha!), and they are gorgeous! No big deal.
But, it still got me thinking about the past (almost 8) years and how my body has changed. I am currently 8 months pregnant with my 6th child…and my oldest child is not yet 7. After a few years of infertility, I had my first baby at age 31, and my body bounced back remarkably well. By seven months postpartum, I had lost all my baby weight and was looking and feeling great! It was the same after the second baby. By six months postpartum, I was the slimmest that I have ever been (breastfeeding, I thought!), and again, I was looking and feeling great.
Nothing lasts forever! I cannot say the same after babies 3, 4, and 5. Although I was eating healthy and exercising the same as always, my body would not drop the last 10-15 pounds. I had a new theory…that my body was now holding onto the fat to produce nutritious breast milk for my baby (I breastfeed for at least a year). Not sure if it is true or not, but it made me feel better (kind of!). I’ve never gotten to test the theory because I’ve been pregnant again while weaning each child!
This pregnancy is really taking a toll on me. I’ve “kind of” given up worrying my weight. Although I have gained the “right” amount of weight according to the doctor, my legs are unrecognizable to even me. They are lumpy and bumpy with varicose veins everywhere…even my feet (no flip-flops this summer!). I had a few spider veins show up during my 4th pregnancy, but they are way out of control now!
I also have a severe case of pregnancy rhinitis (nasal congestion). I finally learned the official name at 3 a.m. one morning when I could barely breathe (it’s brutal at night). Add to these the usual pregnancy hardships such as near-constant heartburn, shooting ligament pains when I change position, lower back pain, etc.
So, my secret is out…I do not like pregnancy! People often assume that I like being pregnant (after all, I’ve been pregnant a lot since I’ve known a lot of these people!). But, I do love babies. And, it is ALL a blessing. I am reminded of this especially every Sunday during the Eucharistic Consecration.
When I hear the words, “This is My Body, which will be given up for you,” I find myself saying the words in silence to my unborn baby. Although my complaints and pains are SO minor compared to what Christ did for me, it really gives me peace to unite my sufferings with His. And, I know that Jesus will keep giving me the graces for my earthly journey…even as my body changes before my eyes (or at least in pictures!).
I did not delete the e-mail with my birthday picture. Although I have no desire to look at it again right now, perhaps in 10 years I will want to see how young I really looked (one can hope!).
St. Gerard, please pray for all of us expecting mothers. And, in a special way, please pray for all those experiencing infertility or loss of a child. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Trish Bolster