What's that part of your inner thigh called that determines whether your legs rub together or not when you walk? (I know you know which part I'm talking about, unless you happen to have a thigh gap, in which case we can't be friends.) I ask because most mornings, this particular part of my thigh is the first to remind me that I am still pregnant. Not my belly which looks like I've swallowed a watermelon whole. Not my perpetually-full bladder.
My inner thigh.
It feels like ... well, it's kind of hard to describe. Once I actually manage to sit up in bed, I have the strange sensation that a very tight guitar string buried deep in my thigh near the bone is slowly being stretched as far as it can go. At first, the tension is more annoying than painful, but by the time my feet finally hit the floor, my poor thighs are in full-out protest - their throbbing soreness matched only by the numbness of my hips. This is what I have to look forward to every single morning, or any time I get out of bed for any reason at all.
Thanks to Dr. Google, I recently self-diagnosed my achy thigh condition as symphysis pubis dysfunction, which is useless because of course there is no real treatment other than actually having a baby. This means I am stuck with achy thighs for five more weeks.
It is this annoyance along with the general uncomfortability of being in the last trimester of pregnancy that keeps me up into the wee hours of the morning breathing heavy discontented sighs and complaining while my sweet husband tried his best to accommodate me. A few nights ago, our conversation before bed went something like this:
Grumpy Me: [Sigh. Sigh. Louder sigh.]
Patient Husband: "Do you want water?"
Grumpy Me: "No."
Patient Husband: "Do you want your pregnancy pillow?"
Grumpy Me: "No."
Patient Husband: "Can I get you something? Is there anything else you want?"
Grumpy Me: "Yeah, actually. I want not to be pregnant anymore."
To this, he smirks, then tells me reassuringly that I am doing so well and I only have a little bit longer, to which I roll my eyes and heave in defeat because my thighs are winning and there is nothing I can do about it.
If there's one redeeming quality about the ache, it is that it makes me long for birth in a way I haven't throughout this pregnancy. Just a few weeks ago, I proclaimed I was in no hurry to rush this process along, and now I dream of going into premature labor the way some people dream of taking a vacation. The third-trimester is like that. It has a way of increasing your desire for what you perceive to be relief, or pleasure or joy, which turns out to be a lot of hard work, or grace in disguise.
I think God designed families (and life in general) much in the same way. The hard work of marriage is preceded by romance. The woes of pregnancy are preceded by sex. And it just so happens that the joy of birth is preceded by the third-trimester ache. There are a million other analogies and life milestones that fit, but what we really have to decide is whether it's cruel or genius. Is God tricking us or blessing us when He gives us desires for the seemingly glamorous yet very hard things?
I can only conclude that God must know us. He must know we're punks. If we knew how hard it would be, or how inconvenient, we might just chicken out. But then we'd miss out on all the reward too. We'd miss out on learning selflessness and gratitude and perseverance. We would we never experience the joy of sacrificing for others. And He knows we need those things more than comfort or ease. So He lovingly lures us, then He guides us through the aches and pains, and brings us out on the other side better than we were to begin with.
The old cliche is true: hindsight is 20/20. For now, I'm stuck with achy thighs, but when it's all said and done, the joys of bringing another child into this world will make this a minor inconvenience at best. Ask any veteran mother about her pregnancy, delivery or those early newborn months and chances are years later, she doesn't even remember the thick of it. Talk about grace!
I'm holding onto that hope. In just a few short weeks from now, I pray I'll be holding my sweet boy, counting his fingers and toes over and over, and nestling my nose in his neck at regular intervals to take in his new baby smell. None of this will really matter then. Not the weight gain, or the melancholy, or the stretch marks or the second kid syndrome or the 911 scares. The Gestation Diaries will cease to exist, and all my gripes against Eve and Mother Nature will become fodder reserved for baby showers and one-off conversations with soon-to-be moms.
Until then, I work daily at gratitude. I remind myself to be thankful for a so-far healthy baby. For the fact that I have legs, achy and all. For God's creative genius that makes my body capable of carrying another human being. (Bananas, right?) And for a million other blessings I miss daily when I'm preoccupied with myself.
Ask me about my pregnancy and my achy thighs five weeks from now and I'll tell you with a knowing smile: "It actually wasn't that bad." Of course it wasn't. And it isn't. It's all just grace, wearing a very, very good disguise.