When I was 28 weeks pregnant, I “failed” my first test for gestational diabetes, so I had to take the three-hour test in the OB’s office. The test requires fasting after midnight (hungry pregnant lady pro tip: schedule the first appointment of the day) through the three-hour test in the office, where your blood will be drawn once per hour. If you “fail” this one, you have gestational diabetes.
Even when I’m not pregnant, I eat breakfast first thing in the morning because I always wake up hungry. Add pregnancy cravings on top of that, and you’re telling me I’m not allowed to eat? Oh, the humanity.
A friend of mine took the test in her first pregnancy, and on the morning of my test, she texted me the encouraging words “You can do hard things.”
The phrase initially struck me as trite and funny. But then it filled me with a sense of empowerment I wasn’t very familiar with. I had a tendency to lean on others in difficult situations. I didn’t run away, but I also didn’t often persevere alone.
Saying “I can’t even” and crawling back into bed (I might’ve done this a few times as a single, childless person) isn’t really an option when little lives depend on you. Even if you have an amazing village, there are some moments when you’re “it.” When I ask my mom how she endured difficult moments with my siblings and me as kids, she says, “You just do.”
Motherhood has shown me in so many ways that I can, indeed, do hard things.
I was relieved to be home from the hospital after 31 hours of labor, three hours of pushing and little sleep – and we were sent back within 24 hours for jaundice treatment with our newborn in the NICU, making the trek by wheelchair every two hours overnight from our separate room to nurse my newborn.
I said I couldn’t rise out of bed for the sixth time overnight when my toddler was sick – and I found myself kneeling at his bedside to wipe the tears off his face while I ached from the same bug.
I observed in awe (and in fear) how friends avoided their favorite foods when their babies had a food sensitivity – and I recently went dairy, gluten, soy and nut-free to determine what’s troubling my six-month-old, while also futilely scraping plastic-wrap-lined diapers to fill stool sample vials. Yes, you read that right.
Of course, there are many challenges parents face that are unimaginably more difficult than what I’ve experienced. I am humbled by those who endure and persevere through such heartache. I try to keep my trials in perspective. That doesn’t make the everyday hardship any easier when it is my all-consuming reality.
Character is built in the midst of doing the hard things. Each trial forges the endurance and confidence to tackle the next.
When I think I can’t do something, I look to God for strength and then back at my unwritten resume of what I’ve already survived and where I’ve thrived when I least expected to.
This encourages me to face rather than cower from the next hard thing.