I’ll never forget the time on Christmas Eve, right in the middle of singing “Silent Night,” that my youngest brother felt his nephew’s fluttering kicks for the first time. It was pure magic. Who could forget, after that, how tiny Jesus himself once was? Christmas is a pretty exciting time to be pregnant.
Actually, Christmas is such an exciting time to be pregnant that it’s easy to feel like you have to be right in the middle of everything, living the season to its fullest. And even if you don’t feel this way, there’s a good chance other people expect you to.
But of course, pregnancy is like an iceberg. There’s the part you see, and the much much much bigger part that tends to get overlooked. There’s the adorable little baby bump that looks so cozy in that chunky red maternity sweater … and there’s the fatigue, the pinched nerves, and the swollen ankles that never make it into the spotlight.
The world pays attention to the magic of pregnancy, but sometimes they overlook the rest part. And that puts a tired pregnant mom in a tough position. It’s the Christmas season; the last thing you want to do is let anyone down. You have traditions to uphold and places to be. Maybe your family is expecting you to be up for making that elaborate gingerbread house as you always do. Maybe your friends are counting on you to be at the cookie exchange they’ve been preparing for. You usually travel to the in-laws’, but that means hours in the car.
Or you’re putting expectations on yourself — it’s your first Christmas as a family, and you want it to be everything you ever imagined. It’s just that “everything you ever imagined” may take more energy and effort than you bargained for.
Around the holidays, people’s expectations take on a tinge of desperation. We’re so afraid to let any of our traditions go, to lower our standards and take a step back, because the thought of a boring, mundane Christmas would be such a world-shaking disappointment, after weeks spent in anticipation. That makes saying no to expectations, obligations, and even traditions, a bit scary. I mean, do you really want to risk ruining Christmas for everyone?
Christmas is a big deal, but do yourself a favor, and remember that your pregnancy is an even bigger deal. As for Christmas, there’s always next year. You’re not single-handedly responsible for the magic of the season. And honestly? It’s not possible to manufacture the magic of the season by doing all the right things. That’s not how it works.
Just because it’s Christmas (pregnant women everywhere know that it’s especially around now that strangers in the supermarket are awestruck by the baby bump) and you’re walking around apparently looking like some kind of personification of maternal bliss … doesn’t mean that you should feel like you have to wear yourself out at Christmas. Do what makes you happy, but for the extra burdens and unnecessary obligations? Practice saying “Nah, not this year.” Store-bought cookies, skipping the parties, keeping the menu simple this year, sleeping in on Christmas morning — whatever you need. Now matter how un-Christmassy it seems. Because taking care of mother and baby is actually a fitting way to celebrate this amazing season.
Did strangers touch Mary’s belly when she was pregnant with Jesus, too?