15 September 2010

Me talk pretty one day, too

I’m not going to lie to you: this pregnancy has been my hardest yet. There were a couple of weeks in there where I wondered seriously if I might shrivel up and die.

But that’s all behind me now, thank God. New and different hardships lie on the horizon, and you know that I’m bursting with excitement to meet them. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying all the attention my (weirdly huge) bump is attracting.

Though this attention is not quite what you might think. While many people are being very kind to us about the existence of a new small person in our family, many people are also, like, “Five kids are so ‘yawn,’ dude. When you get to 19, give us a ring.” No, the attention I’m appreciating is far more favorable than the belly rubs and horror stories of bygone days, and far less jarring than the gawks and misguided criticisms of the birth control crowd. With this pregnancy, we’ve garnered the consideration of a generation of people for whom birth control consisted of something involving Epsom and somersaults—which is to say, a generation of people who birthed and raised lots of babies, and lived to tell about it.

And tell about it they do. Oh, girls, the stories we’ve started hearing! There’s the dear, sweet shut-in, a mother of eight, who told us a tale of raising her children alone during the work week while her husband traveled with the railroad. She recalls being terribly ill (and before the days of Zofran!), throwing up all day long, throwing up in the sink over her right arm while her left arm stirred the pot that bubbled with that night’s supper. Most amazingly, she recalled this and other stories with a giggle; her memories tickled her in the telling.

And there are the grown children from a family of nine who told us of the many unconventional meals they were served when they were young. Their father was a farmer, and poor; their mother made their home and their clothes. They couldn’t afford beef, so they ate the squirrels, opossums, and coons their father or brothers shot in the woods behind their house. (Coon was the finest, they claimed.) These grown children didn’t feed such critters to their own children, but neither did they snarl at the memory of having eaten such wild fare. Rather, they laughed and smiled warmly at one another and tumbled into their shared childhood all over again.

And my family received a gift in the hearing.

On Sunday mornings, as my belly grows almost before my eyes and I manage the pew-pent energies of my other four children, the older ladies of my husband’s congregation watch with sympathetic smiles. Then, after the Benediction, they quietly approach to offer me their histories, those most beautifully adorned crutches of support. The tales these dear ladies tell differ sharply from the “they grow up so fast” platitudes that I’ve heretofore wondered about. These tales are an unselfish giving of hope, for these elderly mothers of many know very well that I am suffering now only to receive later a joy similar to that which they have received.

I accept their stories gladly, hungrily, not so much for the commiseration, but for the laughter that comes with the telling. That laughter is the final piece of punctuation on lives filled with the giving of life, and it buoys me up. I leave such conversations feeling soothed and better able to stand above the melee that is my sinful flesh to laugh even now at the cross I am, by the grace of God, bearing.

Sisters have walked this path before. I can walk it behind them. Thanks be to Christ for working in us the strength to love our neighbors as ourselves. I hope that one day I may share a scrap of laughter with one of your daughters, dear reader, and that you may do the same for one of mine.

CORRECTION: My husband read through this and informed me that I got a fact wrong. The family that ate varmint contains 15 grown children, not nine. Sorry about that, folks. You'd think I'd be able to remember something as remarkable as 15 kids, but it's easy to get tripped up in my own brain.


HappyFox said...

Awesome. Thanks. :)

Sarah Osbun said...

I love those dear, sweet ladies.

Leah said...

"There were a couple of weeks in there where I wondered seriously if I might shrivel up and die."

I think I'm in those weeks right now, but thank you for the reminder that this too shall pass.

Does Zofran help?

Pr. H. R. said...

The consensus of parishioners around here is that coon must be barbequed as it is very greasy - same with groundhog.


Melrose said...

sigh. God is so good.

Gauntlets said...

Leah: Zofran helps me. I still take half a pill a day, to keep things under control. When I first started taking it, I still felt like dog meat, but it kept me from spending the day heaving bile. I credit it with keeping me out of the hospital, anyway.

However, I know one fellow hyperemetic for whom it did not work at all. I think it's a trial and error thing. :P

My dear fellow blogress Reb. Mary has used a combination of B6 and Unisom, with what I understand to be helpful results. That particular antiemetic combo receives higher reviews from the Internet crowd than does Zofran. Maybe check out both.

Leah said...

It's comforting to know there are people out there who will share pleasant memories of raising children. When I was pregnant, I was rather disheartened to hear everyone make comments like "Are you ready for this [motion to children running rampant around the house]," or "Do you really know what you're getting yourself into?" What a killjoy!

Leah said...

Thank you. I'll look into those.

Rebekah said...

Love, love, love these ladies. And remember, we'll have one here at the CSPP conference on Columbus day, DV.

Katy said...

Outside my mother, mother-in-law, 2 CSPP ladies at my church, and you guys, that generation you're talking about, Gauntlets, (and their predecessors) really help me get through each day. Old ladies are always stopping me at the grocery store to comment on how close in age my kids are and then talk to me about their own kids. One, who had 8 in 10 years, had all kinds of potty training advice (we talked for 20 minutes, but I never got her name). She said she would remember me in her prayers :)

I can look at a family picture taken in 1910 and see an tiny, toothless shriveled French-Canadienne surrounded by her 14 children and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. To the world this matriarch is awful ugly, but to me she is so beautiful. I hope she is in heaven so I can hug her, because she unwittingly gives me so much encouragement.

Praying for everyone's morning sickness...

Gauntlets said...

Watanabe Leah: I got a lot of that with my first baby, too. Only a precious handful of women had anything truly nice to say. Was it coincidence that the kind people I encountered also did not attempt to rub my pregnant belly? Hard to say. :D

Katy: I love those old pictures, too, but have yet to come into possession of any. Perhaps it's time to hunt through the family archives. :)

Reb. Mary said...

I have already found me a couple of these treasures here in our new locale (or rather, they've found me). Now I just have to figure out how to spend more time with them, the better to absorb their cheerful hopefulness, which is so much healthier for me than spending time with normal people :P