What I Didn’t Expect When I Was Expecting

“It is hard for you, little one,” said Aslan. “But things never happen the same way twice.”
—Aslan, the Lion, to Lucy, the child, Prince Caspian, C. S. Lewis

 

Things never happen the same way twice, dear one.

I am a thirty-one year-old woman (Jessie), I have been married to my husband (Mikey) for almost nine years, and I birthed my first child (Glory) just three months ago.

“How do you know if…you’re ready…to become a parent?” I had asked one who has been a mother to me. It was such a fragile question. Handled carelessly, my question would have been buried for a long time to come.

“So, you want to make a baby with Mikey??!” Her coy response came quickly, kindly, both disrupting and affirming to me. She blessed me to live, and to create in love. I was ready.

I who never imagined getting married. I who, once married, never imagined having children. I who, as a young girl, could not imagine marriage as anything but a war zone, family as anything but tragedy.

We started trying to get pregnant. I had never felt more vulnerable.

During those months, I journeyed with a small group of women who helped me name more truthfully the violence I had absorbed throughout my childhood. I knew more deeply that I was worth love without abuse. And I would wait, protected, for the day when that love was offered. Until then, my husband (and my God) would shield me from anything less.

A week after my decision, I conceived. I had made more space in my world—and in my body—for my baby. We chose a midwife and decided on a homebirth in order to honor my story and my need for safe, feminine care. Full of grief and joy, I was ready.

It happened at night. It always happened at night.

Things never happen the same way twice, My love.

Near the end of my first trimester, I woke up in the night in a panic. As a child, my abuse happened in the dark. Throughout my life, my fear expressed itself in my nighttime dreaming, where the darkness was always impenetrable, suffocating. In pregnancy, for the first time, my subconscious memories held in my body broke into my waking life. I was physiologically terrified, and I could not stop it.

By embracing motherhood, I had made space for both of the little girls in my body: the one in my womb and the one in my cellular of old.

That night I had the first of many hours-long panic attacks that would continue throughout my pregnancy. My body was so frightened and my mind was inconsolable. I felt more vulnerable than ever before, more scared and unsure than I had ever been permitted to feel.

Apparently, I was ready to mother two children. The most obvious was the new life inside of me, but the one suddenly demanding my attention was the little one who had been trapped in harm and left alone so many years before.

It was time to tend to things, even more. And it wasn’t the same as before. Things were not happening the same way twice.

My husband, who is a good man, stayed up with me all night, every time. Day after day, he reminded me that I was safe and free. That I could be undone, and that I could mother well. My counselor helped me honor my little girl with attention, soothing, and blessing. My friends reminded me who I was and how far I had come.

Over the course of my pregnancy, I also received care from multiple midwifes, doulas across three states, a massage therapist, a chiropractor, a clinical nurse educator, and a homeopath. Postpartum, I have also received healing through cranial sacral and pelvic physical therapy from gentle women. All gifts.

Jesus said, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.” And, “Beware that you don’t look down on—despise—any of these little ones.”

She needed a lot, and I did not despise her. It was finally safe for her to come out.

And my own daughter quickly followed.

She also needs a lot, and much is required of me as her mother in this first season. But I am a good mother, and He who has promised is faithful and makes everything new.

The conversation between Aslan and Lucy concludes like this:

“Lucy buried her head in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her. Quite suddenly she sat up.

“I’m sorry, Aslan. I’m ready now.”

“Now you are a lioness,” said Aslan. “And now all Narnia will be renewed.”

 


Jessie is a thirty-something woman who continues to embrace her wildness and beauty with Jesus. She is married to a man who freely delights in her, and they recently helped create a human, Glorya Joy, who is full of strength and glee. Jessie is an Ann Arborite-turned-Torontonian, and she works as a missionary and professional counselor.