Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Pregnancy Struggle at Mass

I should have known, when I brought down Sadie's Easter dress so that she could wear it to Mass on Sunday, that she would suddenly want to wear a veil along with it.  I've seen the pattern that directly relates the white dress and veil to the vague possibility that today she might be old enough to receive communion and that, along with the gold crucifix that she asked to wear, made her seem a bit older than her barely four years (being the size of a seven year old doesn't hurt either).

It also meant that she was "on her best behavior," repeatedly telling me so before and after Mass, while pointing out wistfully that Mae Bae was not.

In reality, Mae Bae did do pretty well for a two year old.  She sat still for an entire forty five minutes before she began to point at my snood while squealing:  "Ma's Hat!  Ma's Hat! with a giggle followed by "Me, me, me, me!" Moments later she was being held in the back by Daddy.  But forty five minutes of silence wasn't bad and I've noticed that she seems to be quiet for a bit longer on average each month.

Lately I've struggled at Mass in an odd way, that I'm sure is a mixture of pride, in feeling that I ought to be able to do things that I can't do at the moment, along with some sort of worry that people must think I'm just plain lazy, when in reality no one likely notices at all and topped of with pregnancy hormones, because, let's face it, they're surging through my body pretty much all the time.  And then there's frustration, because Sadie is at the point where she really wants to do everything I do during Mass, and she wants to kneel when I kneel and she folds her hands exactly as mine are folded, and here I am swooning every ten seconds, about to hit the floor, and not being the greatest of examples.

I'm not sure exactly what the combination is that has me on the edge of fainting during every single Mass we attend, when I'm pregnant.  I would have said that it was the 90 degree heat in the basement of the cathedral (okay, "crypt"), but even when it's perfectly temperature I struggle.  And it's not just the third trimester giganticness, because it happened throughout the first, second and third trimesters of each of my pregnancies.

You'd think I'd be used to it by now:  Just sit down.  Don't try to kneel.  Even if you feel fine when you get there.  It's not a good idea.  It will go badly.  It always goes badly.  And no one wants to have to call an ambulance, because that would disrupt Mass.  No, don't stand up.  Standing up after trying to kneel like an idiot, which you shouldn't have done anyways, is now on the list of things that will cause the room to tilt wildly and shoot up 20 degrees.  Just sit still and hold Mae's little hand.  

I know these things.  I've been pregnant for roughly 30 months over the past five years.  It happens every time we go to Mass.  It must be the sit, stand, kneel combo (particularly the kneel part).  But it leaves me frustrated because, when I feel fine, I feel like I should be kneeling and apparently forget what I've learned over the course of those thirty months.  And I find myself thinking that if that eighty five year old woman can kneel for half an hour, I should at least be able to kneel for five minutes (see, that's where the pride comes in).

That seems to be the thing I struggle with the most during pregnancy: not doing little things that seem like they should be easy, but which for some reason, are beyond me at the moment.

This week I'll try harder to remember the lessons I've learned over the past few years.  And hopefully my stubborn "I can do this" attitude will be overcome with common sense... at least so that I don't find Paul looking at me nervously, and whispering:  "You can sit down!"


  1. I wonder how many women feel like this? It started for me about week 10 I guess (which was the worst week, and I nearly did faint) and hasn't really let up since, though the Triduum was thankfully not so bad. And it is only during Mass! I feel like such a wimp because I could play soccer and feel fine, but not make it through an hour and a half of much less strenuous activity. :-/

  2. I've caved. I occasionally stand but the pews here are far to narrow for me to kneel. Also, it doesn't seem to matter about the temperature, I get light headed and breathless at Mass. It is worse if it's hotter or Mass is crowded though. To quote my Pastor: "One does what one can." I've had days where I don't even go up for communion because I feel so icky I'm worried it won't stay down.

  3. I was exactly the same way! Couldn't stand or kneel for much of Mass during my last pregnancy (we have an adorable 4 week old baby boy, loving him TONS!). I had to just sit through most of Mass. My husband and I attend the High Extraordinary Mass every Sunday, and we both sing in the scholas and choirs, so there is even more standing and sitting than what y'all would get if you weren't in the choir loft! ;-)

    God doesn't mind if you sit through Mass though - I even had to sit through the consecration...I was too afraid that I'd pass out if I tried to kneel. Just do your best and Our Lady for sure knows how you feel! :)

  4. When I was pregnant with my first child, I literally almost passed out in church.

    I was able to make it to the bathroom (which was luckily located on the same floor, not the basement), and I had to lean my forehead on the cold tiles to really "revive" myself. I didn't even have the strength to splash cold water on my face!

    From that moment on, I swore to myself that I would not get this bad again. When I was pregnant, or just felt really sick, I would take the motions in stages. If we knelt, I knelt, then leaned back (so my backside was supported). If that wasn't enough, I would just "sit" a little on the pew, my knees just barely touched the kneeler. If THAT wasn't enough, up came the knees, and if need be I would put my feet on the kneeler. The only people who knew I was squirming were the people around me and behind me. If none of this worked, I sat back in the pew (sometimes I leaned back on people's praying hands!).

    As for standing, have you tried putting one foot on the kneeler, then the other (switching them)? Sometimes, just being able to bend the knees or flex and move the foot might help.

    And yes, you have every right to be hormonal. You have 2 toddlers and one newborn on the way--God knows this!

  5. Just listen to your body; God knows what's going on and is trying to tell you something!

  6. When I used to sing in choir on stage for a performance we were warned again and again to not lock our knees because it would end with the result of a blackout. It's a very real possibility for everyone. It pinches a nerve and cuts off circulation. This is probably what is happening with you when you kneel. The baby is already pressing on nerves and kneeling probably cuts off circulation. Don't feel bad about not keeping up with 90 year old ladies, they aren't pregnant. Any light headedness should result in you sitting down, it's a sign of you about to faint. I've fainted when not pregnant, it's not fun.


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