The whole earth groans
This morning in church was so uncomfortable. I could not stand up to sing about how I wished I was in more pain so I could be closer to God (who the hell writes this stuff?!). My back hurt and my chest hurt. I could not breathe to sing the canticle or say the psalms that everyone else was repeating at quiet speed. I wanted to sleep during the long prayers about saving the queen and blessing the bishops. I wanted to vomit.
My cat knows something is up. It has been seven months since I last ran around the house dragging a piece of string for him to chase, and he no longer fits on my lap. As a consequence of this he has become irritable and attention seeking, poking me under the covers in the middle of the night for food and occasionally wandering up and biting my leg when I'm cooking.
This is something no-one warned me about. Oh, I've had plenty of advice since becoming pregnant; Watch your weight/ don't worry about your weight; Take regular exercise/ rest as much as you can; Leave work as early as you can/ don't leave work too early- you'll get bored; Eat liver for iron and nuts for protein/ For The Love of God, Don't Eat Liver or Nuts; When in labour take the drugs/ don't take the drugs/ the drugs are good/ the drugs are evil/ it is your first child YOU WILL NEED THE DRUGS JUST TAKE THEM !!!/the drugs are bad for your baby DO YOU REALLY WANT YOUR CHILD TO BEGIN LIFE WITH A DRUG ADDLED MOTHER?!!!!/get real and use disposable nappies/ hell is built on disposable nappies, do you really want to begin... etc. etc.
Like I said, plenty of advice, but none about leg-sampling cats.
So where does a dazed and confused mother-to-be turn when the only thing people seem to agree on is that sleep deprivation and heartburn aren't a whole lot of fun ?
I had always imagined that whatever difficulty I could experience I had an advocate in Jesus- the 'man of sorrows'.
But things have changed. When I was younger a boy asked me what it was like to be a female trying to relate to a male God. I never found it difficult. God was ever my father, husband, lover. I did not need a womangod. But I do now. What now, Man of Sorrows ?Man.
Jesus never had ovaries. He didn't experience what it's like to have your insides harden like a golf ball in your abdomen and slowly stretch into a watermelon. He didn't know what it is to have a little alien inside you stealing your desire for chocolate and replacing it with an insatiable hunger for Petit Filous. Did Jesus ever get to the second step only to forget why he'd begun to climb the stairs?
I spent some time wishing I was Catholic. I wanted Mary for my doula. To speak to her and ask her if she was always so quiet and serene. What secret madnesses did only she and Joseph know about ? And how about that donkey ride ? Painful I'll bet..
But I'm not a Catholic.
And then, after church this morning, I had a thought and this was it:
Jesus too gave birth.
He too anticipated pain to come.
Perhaps he too was comforted only by the knowledge that it would end.
Perhaps he too had moments when he forgot to think about what the pain would be like and wondered about doing something new and good in the world.
For a moment Jesus became a woman, because being a woman suddenly meant more than having ovaries or a womb. Or a petulant cat. And although I'm not Jewish and I may never (here's hoping) cultivate a crop of facial hair, I think we can still be friends, and at the minute that's good enough for me. At least I know he won't be advising me on breastmilk in the near future.