There is something odd about the final weeks of pregnancy. Every evening you go to bed, kissing your older children goodnight not knowing if everything will be different by the time they wake up and a new sibling has been born. Every morning your husband leaves for work and you go about the daily routine, school runs, tots groups, groceries and wonder when things will kick off and what the logistics are, who do you call and what needs done.
And, for me at least, sleep just doesn't come easily. On Saturday night past I finally fell asleep at 4.30am. Others I spend the hours from 1-4am wide awake. The lonely hours spent waiting. Wondering. Hoping.
If I could just know what day, that would help. I don’t mind waiting another two weeks (well, not too much…!) if only I knew when to expect it to happen.
Or if only I could be definite when the doctors ask about movement, "is the baby moving ok?" and you start second guessing how much you’ve actually felt the baby. Especially with each subsequent pregnancy and you don't have the time to sit or lie down and concentrate on the baby’s movements.
Yet we can't know these things. The if onlys can’t be answered. We wait and hope. These weeks of feeling like normal life is suspended. I want to help friends, say yes to plans, but I know that life is less stressful when these weeks are as empty as possible, less plans to rearrange when things do kick off. So I go about everyday life and try not to make too many arrangements. (although the NHS has a tracking device on my pregnancies, with both this one and with Rory’s the appointment schedule has been crazy for Daniel in the last few weeks. And big hospital all-morning clinics, not just simple review appointments)
Anyway, it’s got me thinking. I don’t think the fact we date human pregnancies to 40 weeks is a coincidence. The number 40 is so significant in the Bible – God uses it as a figure for waiting time and again.
We aren’t sure how literal or symbolic all these references to 40 are, but the rains over Noah’s Ark lasted 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelities wandered in the desert for 40 years. Jesus was tempted for 40 days and nights.
In many ways it feels like 40 <enter your time period of choice> is just a way to say “a really long time”. Human gestations are nowhere near as long as, say, elephants, but they can feel like a very long time when you’re pregnant. Nine months of our body changing, the baby growing but no actually baby in our arms. We wait expectantly. We trust God who already knows our little ones – when they’ll be born, their gender, their name, their personality, their future. And in the meantime hope that baby doesn’t arrive in a snow storm (as I was hoping some nights this week!!)….