If you've been to a doctor or hospital within the last 20 years or so, you've likely been confronted with this cute pain scale indicator. "How badly does it hurt with Zero being not-at-all and 10 being the worst pain you've ever felt?" I never get the answer right because I've been through non-medicated labor 5 times (one of which was back labor with a tailbone fracture). Everything else in life is clearly a 5 or lower when compared with labor so my real but occasional medical issues are dismissed because I'm perceived to be in not enough pain. My frustrated husband lectures me every time: "Why don't you tell them how bad it is? Isn't it bad?" Of course, but that pain scale keeps me totally honest. No injury, illness or surgery I've ever had holds a candle to labor pain.
In spite of that, I still sit here thinking that I'd rather go through labor twice than suffer through these weeks and weeks of 24-hour pregnancy sickness. My average labor is 3 hours long. Fast and furious. Multiply it by two...equals six hours of terrific pain. Contrast that with endless hours, days and weeks of perpetual, debilitating sickness. Tough call.
There's no question that pregnancy and childbirth are a true cross of motherhood. There are some mothers who love pregnancy. I am not one of them and go into survival mode for quite a while with "Help me, Jesus" constantly on my lips. It is a time when I get a glimpse into how I might be different without my Christian faith. I hate this suffering and know that without a firm belief in the sanctity of each and every life at every age, I might give in to the weakness of this Culture of Death.
Motherhood is itself an act of sacrificial love. We embrace a life of service and self-donation or we spend our lives bitterly trying to escape the cross that we barely consented to. We give these painful moments gladly in love to our babies or we spend our lives resenting their intrusion.
What would I give in love to this child? Would I be strong enough to choose this path of suffering if it was optional? What good can I make of it? If I lose this child as I lost my last , would I be grateful for this difficult but short time that I had to spend with this hidden treasure?
My love for my unborn baby is very similar to my love for the Lord. Passionate but imperfect. I desire a union of perfect love but love of my own comfort and preferences seem to constantly present a stumbling block.
Dearest Little One,
I will love you even when I am sick. I will love you even when you are sick. Because love is not an emotion but a choice. Love is not about comfort but about joy in service. And I choose to give my life for you as our Lord gave His for me. Help me, Jesus.