I was sure Joseph was going to be born early. He was so active inside me- punching all the time like he clearly wanted out. And besides, I was early and so was my husband. And with both of us being restless types and me being somewhat impatient, it just made sense to us that Joseph would want to come out soon.
And yet, I’m approaching his due date in just a few days and it doesn’t seem like he wants to go anywhere. After our full term mark two weeks ago, I’ve slowly but surely stopped wondering if each strange movement or feeling means something. I’ve begun to accept that he could be a late baby and that the uncomfortable state of pregnancy’s tenth month may continue onward even though it doesn’t technically “need to.” But moreover, I’ve learned that Joseph’s possible “lateness” isn’t something I should be “accepting.” It is something I should be embracing.
After all, Joseph has been so very quiet on matters of opinion and the world in his short little life. He hasn’t gotten to express himself very much yet. He hasn’t gotten to do things his own way. There’s been so little of his path that we’ve gotten to fully witness and experience. And it begins now. Well, it continues onward now—with his birth timing being an essential turning point in that path. If I don’t embrace that turning point in whatever fashion it comes, then I am not embracing the path he has been put on. I am not embracing his uniqueness and his particular needs and therefore I am not fully embracing him.
A little over a year ago I got married. The week of the wedding I was so excited to relax and wind down as almost everything on the to-do list had been done, I was off of work, and everything was going to be perfect. Then, my parents’ basement flooded with sewage. It was a mess. We couldn’t sleep in the house, couldn’t even go in it for days. I worried about my dress, among countless other items, worried they could possibly get ruined. I couldn’t pack anything for the honeymoon and wondered if we’d even be able to get any of our stuff out before the wedding. Two days before the wedding, my parents got in a (thankfully minor) car accident, and then a few hours before our rehearsal dinner, my precious dog went missing. Being a skittish, three-legged creature, I was certain something terrible had happened to him. He was found and the house survived and the wedding went on beautifully. But I remember having a moment when I had to decide to let it go on beautifully. I had been so frustrated that circumstances had interfered with my seemingly perfect plans– I was mad at fate for messing with the most important week of my life. But I quickly realized that such frustration would blind me and keep me from seeing all the beauty that remained despite any petty circumstance. I had to accept the inconveniences– moreover, I had to go one step further and embrace them. I had to remember that nothing could touch the love I shared with my husband and that any inconvenience must be viewed through a different lens. After all, looking back, we laugh and think of that week’s chaos with fondness. It didn’t mess up anything that mattered. I have never felt more calm and serene than I did on my wedding day and I would not question the way the previous days had transpired.
And so how dare I assume that I know best the favorable time and circumstance for Joseph’s birth? How dare I meddle with the happenings of his first expressions? How dare I fail to embrace them in their entirety? Of course, it is not wrong for me to want to be more comfortable. It is not even wrong for me to hope that he comes out soon as it correlates directly with my comfort. But I do him and myself a disservice when I let my desires get in the way of my clear sight and my appreciation for whatever does happen. I do him and myself a disservice when I’m frustrated because he’s not here yet. I cannot imagine if I had gone into my wedding day frustrated that I hadn’t slept well or been comfortable for days. I cannot imagine how I would have regretted such an attitude. And so I can’t let such an attitude happen with Joseph. I don’t want to form a habit now of hoping he’ll do things differently for my sake. For that’s not really for my sake anyway—him being anything other than him. For all of our sakes, he needs to be Joseph, whatever Joseph needs to be. And if that means he needs to be born late, then so be it. If it means he comes quickly or slowly, by surprise or with warning signs—if it means he comes when the house is a mess or the power is out, or if it means that he comes in the middle of some important event—then so be it. I don’t want Joseph to look back and think he inconvenienced us. There’s such a tendency to lord over children how “difficult” they were whether in labor and delivery or as toddlers or as teenagers. I don’t want Joseph to think about that. After all, we’re all inconveniences on each other. If we don’t learn to embrace that fact and to rejoice in it, then we will be very unhappy human beings. Life, really, is a tumbling avalanche of inconveniences. They’re inescapable—especially, it seems, during the most important moments of our lives. But as G.K. Chesterton puts it so well, “an inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” So, Joseph, bring on the inconvenience– and on your own time. We can’t wait for all the adventures.