Mar 31, 2020

Why I'm Grateful to be Pregnant During This Pandemic

By Anna Mussmann 

It’s crazy to see how quickly daily life in America has been upended in the last few weeks. I’ve seen a few articles that say this is a terrible time to have a baby. In some ways, I suppose that’s true. 

I’m nearly full-term with my fourth child. My midwives have already announced a number of changes to their practice that leave me wondering what will happen when I go into labor. In some areas of the country, hospitals have decided not to allow husbands to be present during labor, and official recommendations now include separating babies from their mothers (potentially for a full two weeks) if the mother tests positive for Covid-19 or even if she simply has flu symptoms. Yikes. 

If it wasn’t for this pregnancy, it would be easier to hunker down with the comforting thought that this new illness isn’t statistically much of a threat to our family on the individual level [I know that young people can end up on ventilators, but most don't], and that our isolation is simply an attempt to protect others and to obey the authorities. As it stands, though, I really, really do not want to catch anything between now and Baby Mussmann’s birth that might make me cough--the thought of triggering protocols that would force me to give birth without my husband or my usual provider, and then possibly to see my baby taken away for testing, is pretty stressful. 

Yet I think that in the long haul, even though childbearing is simply another term for “hugely increased vulnerability,” it’s an enormous blessing to be able to view the pandemic and its political and economic repercussions through the lens of having a baby. Perhaps that’s because coming to grips with how vulnerable we humans really are is exactly what a pandemic makes us do. 

There is a magic to a baby. It may be loud and squinty-eyed, it may scream for no reason, and yet it is perfect. So incredibly beautiful, so filled with potential, so capable of filling us adults with a fierce desire to become better human beings. Babies don’t care about most of the stuff that stresses us out, and that makes them restful company. Besides, their heads smell nice. Babies help us narrow our focus--onto them--simply because they exist. At the same time, they pull our attention forward, beyond ourselves, to the future. 

Having babies is a reminder that life is filled with seasons. When my first child didn’t sleep, it felt unbearable--I hadn’t yet realized how quickly babies change. When my first two toddlers both cried at the same time, it was overwhelming--I hadn’t yet witnessed the speed at which children grow past needing constant attention. 

A few years with babies has taught me that the things which feel big and hard look different in retrospect. It’s not just that children change, but that facing new challenges has changed me. I, too, am going through seasons, and coming out different at the other end. I can recognize that many of the things that were uncomfortable were also good. I am better able to accept the words of Ecclesiastes:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Having babies makes it easier, I think, to accept that there is also a time to practice the discipline of hopeful patience as we wait and see what happens next. Just as our lives hold seasons, so too do the experiences of nations. 

Even if our country is entering a period of economic struggle that may last far longer than the sleepless nights of newborn care, that doesn’t mean goodness, truth, and beauty are over. Babies help us look beyond our current experience and to remember that history goes on. We can’t say for sure what will happen to our children, our children’s children, or their children, but we can remember that our God’s promises are just as true for them as for us. 

We need not mourn past seasons of prosperity “as those who have no hope” mourn. We know that sometimes suffering is exactly what we humans need to recognize our sin, repent, and receive forgiveness. Besides, suffering does not last forever. Eternity, the answer and fulfillment of all seasons, is yet to come. 

Babies are cute and adorable and fill us with love, but they also remind us that we are vulnerable. Strangely enough that is actually the most comforting thing about them. Their very perfection forces us to realize we will not be able to save and protect them in the way we wish. We mothers cannot guarantee that our babies will be safe and happy in this world. 

That's how babies drive us to God. Through our babies and the difficult seasons they may bring, we are reminded over and over that our hope is found in the Father who has promised never to leave us, to never forsake us or our children. God’s love is not seasonal. 

That is why even though the world has upended itself and the media is declaring this year a bad one to have a baby, the world and the media do not get the last say. God does. My pregnancy reminds me of that each and every day.



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After graduating from Concordia Wisconsin, Anna taught in Lutheran schools for several years.  She now homeschools her children and writes during naptime. Anna loves Jane Austen, dark chocolate, and the Oxford comma. She likes to review the books she reads on Goodreads, and her work can also be found in The Federalist.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, Anna, this is such a good word for everyone, a demonstration of what must be meant by "She shall be saved in childbearing." Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to articulate what you've learned. Glory to God!

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  2. Beautiful. Thank you. And congratulations!

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  3. What a beautiful piece and a good reminder to turn our attention back to God during this difficult time. Blessings on you and your family during this time.

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