(I started this post right after I hit the 9-month mark on May 24, but it took a while to get it ready to release into the world…)
I just hit the 9-month mark the other day and I couldn’t help but think about the comparisons to pregnancy. God designed 9 months as the amount of time the human life takes to become ready for life outside the womb. And I think there are some poignant parallels between this and my experience over the last 9 months.
In the first trimester of a baby’s development (the first 3 months), he develops the fundamental and critical body systems including the heart and brain. In my first 3 months post-injury, I regained the ability to walk and deal with normal life needs. Things were hard and shaky, and definitely needed a lot more refining and development. I went from being paralyzed in a wheelchair, to wobbly with a walker, to gradually being able to walk unassisted. There was so much unknown, but also so much quick change.
In the second trimester of a baby’s development, he grows dramatically in size and all of those systems that began forming in the first trimester grow in complexity and capability. In my next 3 months, I got into a rhythm of physical therapy and hard work. I regained the ability to drive, and with it, more independence. I began feeling more like the person I was afraid I’d lost.
In the third trimester of a baby’s development, he continues to grow in stature and fine-tune all those body systems so as to be able to live outside the womb safely. Over the past 3 months, I have been fine-tuning my body a lot. Figuring out what is still not functioning properly and how to laser-target those things. While I’m still doing total-body exercises, I’m working with specific muscles that are lagging behind to wake them up, and trying to get the right meds to help the systems that won’t seem to work on their own.
In infant development, there is also this idea of a “fourth trimester.” This is the first 3 months outside the womb, when an infant is adjusting to life on this side. It is best for them, physiologically and psychologically, to be held or worn the majority of the time, to be nursed and cuddled regularly, and generally to be kept close as they adjust and grow. I’m now in my fourth trimester. I’m working on adjusting my mind and heart to accept that the condition of my body, ravaged by the attack on my spinal cord, might be permanent.
I’m not going to lie and say it’s been smooth and peaceful. But my Father in heaven has walked with me as I’ve grieved the life I lost. He’s helped me navigate through the pain and difficulty I face with my everyday life, and I know He will continue to do so. He’s given me hope for my future and a determination that this pain and difficulty will not define my life.
But I will still pray and trust God for continued healing. I know that my body is fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who loves me and is my true Doctor and Healer. And I am held up by the love and support of so many family and friends who I know continue to keep me before our Father. I appreciate all of you so much.