My wife is pregnant.
Notice how I didn’t say, “We’re pregnant.”
Because regardless of how much I contributed to the making of this baby (yes I typed that while grinning)-in no way, shape, or form am I carrying the baby.
I am reminded of this reality every day.
Like when she gets up every 30 minutes throughout the night to pee and Im comfortably cocooned in my blanket in bed fast asleep.
Or when she has a skull splitting headache however she can’t take any medicine to relieve the pain so she is sprawled out on the bathroom floor (so she can throw up) with tears streaming down her face whimpering, and there is nothing that I can do to help. I can’t be helpful to her and she is completely helpless.
Although I try, most of my attempts at caretaking are ineffective in treating her headache. There really isn’t anything I can do but be present in solidarity and watch her bare the symptoms of this process.
Or how about when she throws up so often and so violently that the trauma done to her esophagus causes bleeding. So not only is she barfing up EVERY. SINGLE. THING she eats, but she is also spitting up blood as well.
She created a name for when she is having an overactive vomiting day.
She calls it “barfy.” I’ll use it in a sentence. “Today I feel barfy”- My Wife.
This means without warning and without rhyme or reason she will projectile vomit everything she ate or (thought she ate) like her body is exorcizing demons.
The longest she has gone without feeling “barfy” was 24 hours.
She is 28 weeks pregnant.
So for the past 200 days she has had a couple 24 hour windows of serenity where everything she consumed decided to be fully digested. Im not kidding when I say if I throw up once I’m out for at least a couple of days, bed ridden. If I throw up twice within 24 hours I start reviewing my beneficiaries on my life insurance policies as well as finalizing my final wishes in my will. I basically prepare for death like any responsible man.
But not my wife, she worked this entire time and continues to. Feeling “barfy” isn’t going to hold her back.
Everyday my wife goes through child-bearing olympics. The stress and emotions that surge through her body on a daily basis have the capacity to immobilize even the strongest woman, yet she keeps trucking. Her physiology is changing as well. Her skin is growing and along with that comes stretch marks and even worse the gnawing insecurities. As the baby grows her back pain increases. Her hormone levels are skyrocketing through the roof, yet her heart is steadfast.
Lets not forget the things she has to live without in consideration of growing a healthy baby: first, no caffeine. That means no delicious coffee every morning to start her day. No sushi. Sushi, which is one of her 5 main food groups is completely out of the picture. No alcohol. She isn’t much of a drinker but a good ol’fashion keg stand every now and then never hurt anybody (joking). Mayonaisse is out of the question too (because of the raw eggs). How do you eat sandwiches then??!!! That’s like a transgression of the highest degree for sandwhich aficionados. Oh and she cant eat sandwich meat either….
This process of growing and sustaining a healthy baby is all consuming. Everything my wife does is oriented around the health and well being of our baby. Its not about her wants, desires and needs anymore, its about the baby’s.
The craziest thing is- after all this my wife said she would do it all over again if it meant having a healthy baby. I kind of think that’s extremely altruistic and to be honest, pretty crazy, but I recently discovered that the Bible has another word for it.
The Bible calls it LOVE.
However the word for this kind of love in Hebrew is “WOMB.”
The English language doesn’t have an appropriate equivalent to this kind of love which is one of the problems with the English language.
I can say I love my wife and in the same breath I can say I love Tacos….
However in Hebrew when the writers of scripture wanted to express the love that God has for his people they used the word for the most intimate and caring affection humans can experience. The love a mother has for her baby in the womb.
This tells us something about God. One, God is absolutely enamored with the motherly instincts of women so much so that He would prefer to be likened and perfectly illustrated by how they love their babies. Two, God doesn’t play favorites with which gender is “better” at reflecting His character and heart within creation. Both genders equally reflect and display His image within in our world.
This may sound a little weird at first but God “wombs” us.
(If you want to be cool and hebrew just go ahead and replace the word “love” with “womb” in your everyday interactions. No one will think you’re weird.)
A favorite biblical scholar of mine, Phyllis Trible, when talking about this word actually says it illustrates more of a phrase close to “womb-like-mother-love”.
God has a “womb-like-mother-love” for us.
In other words, God’s compassionate concern for us is a lot like my wife’s compassionate concern for our little baby girl in her belly.
Imagine being tethered to something that is solely dependent on you for its life and sustenance. And that “thing” is fully at your mercy- vulnerable and helpless. However, being loving and self-giving; you share every bit of your resources, time, and energy so that this “thing” will not only survive but thrive and flourish. The main motivation for everything you do is centered around the protection and provision of this. one. thing.
That is the position that a pregnant woman is in and that is the posture she takes towards her unborn child from day one.
And if you think that this type of other-oriented self-sacrificial love that a mom has for her baby is overwhelmingly beautiful (which I do!), how much more so is God’s love for us?
In fact see for yourself how the prophet Isaiah describes God’s love in chapter 46:3-4
“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
And in chapter 49 Isaiah continues
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name
But God’s people said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
Then God replies;
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”
That last phrase absolutely wrecks me.
“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”
Of course if you are familiar with the Biblical narrative you will know that God eventually has His hands engraved with roman nails. Every inch of iron driven through His flesh and sinew was in some way revealing our names. So that He would never forget them.
That’s the type of breathtaking love God has for us.
Thanks to my wife, Elina, I get a front row seat to experience this kind of love everyday.
I love you babe.
( better yet I ‘womb’ you… )