I was staring up at the crucifix during Mass. I was too sick to kneel, so I was just sitting in the pew while everyone knelt around me. I was desperately trying not to throw up, the pregnancy nausea coming in waves, impossible to ignore.
It was my first Mass in a month. I had been too sick with hyperemesis gravidarum to leave the house for weeks. The previous week I had tried to get out of bed and get dressed. But I stood next to my dresser while my husband found shoes and Mass clothes for our three children and I began to sob. He came into the bedroom to check on me and sent me back to bed where I curled up in fetal position and took my next dose of Zofran while my family buckled up in the car without me.
But this week I made it. Just being out of bed and before the Blessed Sacrament was comforting. But I felt so broken. On some level I knew the misery was only going to last a few months. It would end. But in the midst of it, it was hard to keep the despair from creeping in. And the feelings of failure plagued me. “I’m too sick to take care of my kids. I’m too sick to maintain my home. I’m too sick to drive.” I felt worthless.
But I looked up at the crucifix as the priest said, “This is my Body which will be given up for you.” And I felt the love and grace of Jesus wash over me.
The still, small voice spoke to my heart and said, “You are not worthless. You are becoming a reflection of Me. Do you see how I give up my body for you, my child? You are giving up your body for the child in your womb. You are broken because you are pouring out your love. This is holy. This is good. Do not despair.”
The sacredness and beauty of bringing new life into the world broke through the discomfort and pain. And during the darkest days of pregnancy nausea, I have tried to remember, “This is my body which will be given up for you.” You don’t have to be a pregnant woman to experience a reflection of the Cross, of course, but I think it happens in a very poignant way when you’re carrying a child.
As you start having trouble recognizing yourself in the mirror as your body changes and the pregnancy weight gain takes its toll: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
As your back aches and your energy wanes: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
As your feet swell and your shoes don’t fit: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
As you wake in the night with a baby kicking your bladder: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
As the stretch marks spread across your belly and breasts: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
As the acid reflux keeps you awake: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
As the hormones surge and the tears come unexpectedly:“This is my body which will be given up for you.”
And then as you suffer the pains of labor: “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
With every discomfort, large or small, we can join our sufferings to Christ’s as we offer them up for the new life inside of us. Because the crucifixion is never the last word. There is an Easter on the other side that will be celebrated with the cry of a new soul meeting the world, comforted in the arms of its mother.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.-Psalm 30:5