I am sure we have all heard this phrase now and then. I first heard it when I was in college while training to spend some time at an orphanage overseas for an “alternative” spring break trip with my church. And through the years, I’ve learned this is one of those life lessons, a mantra if you will, and not just something to keep in mind in preparation for a big event.
Things rarely go as planned.
We often use the term “expecting” when we are with child. And we make plans. We make plans to make plans. We plan to “try” so we can become expectant parents. Some even make birth plans. And sometimes the plan works out beautifully. And then there are times when it doesn’t. Like for the couple who has been trying to get pregnant for three years before medical professionals suggest they seek “other options.” Or for the couple whose adoption takes months longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances, and are forced to jump through one hoop after another before they can be united with their child. Or the couple who cannot carry their baby to full-term, and for the mama who delivers her baby, only to spend a few hours with her child before she leaves this world. Nobody plans for this.
I had plans. I had plans to try to get pregnant, have a smooth pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I planned to take my baby home, be exhausted (but not out of my mind), breastfeed my baby until she was one, or at the very least until I went back to work after a 5.5 month maternity leave, and absolutely love being a mom.
My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 6 weeks. I threw up every day during my second pregnancy until I was 4.5 months pregnant (if you’ve ever thrown up in a public restroom, staring at those toilets will make you even sicker); at 5 months pregnant, my amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low and I had doctor’s orders to stay off my feet, and at 6 months I failed my glucose test and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I suffered from postpartum depression, could not nurse beyond 4 weeks (and Sassafras was completely on formula by the time she was 2 months old), and I struggled to find my new identity as a mom. This is not what I expected.
What I am learning on this journey of motherhood is plans go awry. Things do not always go as expected. Babies do not always do what they are “supposed” to – like sleep for 4-5 hour stretches right out of the womb or not have a poop explosion just after you’ve changed them (or for us lucky ones, in the middle of a diaper change). Some folks do not get pregnant at the drop of a hat (or condom), and our plans go out the window.
And when they do, we learn to let go of control, and even when we feel bruised and battered, we become more real and have a greater ability to really see people, and something beautiful happens.