It’s a strange experience going through Advent as a pregnant woman, her baby boy due two days after the Baby Boy’s birthday.
I’ve never felt an emotional connection to Advent before. Where there was any sort of emotion in the lead up to Christmas, it was impatience and excitement about receiving presents, or frustration and fatigue about giving presents. There was nothing spiritual about that.
But carrying a child to term during Advent — that has been a spiritual experience.
The groaning, the grief, the long dark nights waiting, the wanting to give up hope but knowing the end is too close to really give up — that’s a spiritual feeling. And none of that is metaphorical, not for a pregnant woman at the end of the third trimester. I sit up most nights, at odd hours, sometimes crying, but mostly punching pillows into place and groaning, mentally screaming into them so I don’t wake my husband.
Ugh, and the hope — sometimes it’s what carries me through the day, but lately, it feels like I carry it, lugging it around like a ball and chain, because it’s what defines and constrains me. People ask me about the hope all the time. “Eight more days,” I say, wearily, more wearily than when I said “eighteen” or “eighty” just a few short weeks and months ago. What makes it bleak, like all hope, is that there can never be an actual countdown. We can only say, “Someday!” and “Soon!” and “Maybe today!”, and then wake up the next day and the next to say the same thing again. We get more discouraged the closer we are.
That’s a spiritual thing.
Another spiritual thing — all our doing and preparing makes a way, but it doesn’t make it happen. My husband is always asking, “Did you do your exercises, did you drink your raspberry leaf tea, did you look up yet another thing on the internet to try and get this baby out?” And I always tell him, “None of those things will make the baby come. They just get my body ready for when the baby decides to come. And nobody knows what makes the baby decide to come.”
That’s a very spiritual thing, a very Advent thing — there’s so much work to be done in the world, in us, but it’s only a preparation for when our Hope and Change and God decides to come. We have to do the work, but the work doesn’t do what we want it to do — it doesn’t make the waiting shorter or the coming quicker.
That’s the flip I’ve had to make in my mind: right now, it’s not about doing, it’s about going on. The nursery is ready. My body is ready. My mind is ready. My heart is ready. And I spent a lot of time and energy readying those things. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night, when I’m sitting around on the couch, when somebody asks me about the due date for the millionth time, I can’t do anything. I must just go on. I just get through another night, let another day pass, take another breath — because he is coming. My baby is coming. He will come.
And I won’t remember any of the waiting and groaning, because the grieving hope will be turned to certain joy.
That’s Advent, isn’t it? That’s pregnancy. That’s life.
Whatever we’re waiting for, may it come quickly.