Babies & Toddlers Emily Sue Allen Pregnancy & Birth

The Days Before Birth: A Desperate Rhythm of Longing

Mother is tangled, anxious thoughts sucked to the chest, barely able to manage a full breath before running out of space. Baby rolls and nudges the boundary—tucked as close to mama’s heart as possible—shrouded in the mystery of the womb and nearly ready to behold Mother. Not yet. The time is not yet.

She knows her child in an intimate way, and yet knows not his face. Not yet. That delight will be discovered a few days or weeks in the future. It is a light that calls through a long, dark tunnel of waiting, wishing for a fast-forward, a way around the fear, uncertainty, and discomfort squeezing the blessed anticipation. She wants a strong voice to say that everything will be ok, but no one can say it and keep the promise.

She lost sight of her toes a while ago, the love within her stretched beyond normal limits, and her vision also narrowed to this one looming event. Everything is difficult, bringing tears over nothing and everything. She is afraid she may be waiting forever. In pain, forever. Pregnant forever. Surface thin and emotions strong; a fragile, vulnerable, sensitive, desperate rhythm of longing to finally arrive at the place of rest. Not yet. The time is not yet.

Loneliness peaks in these weeks, no one to share the load, not in the bones of it, anyway. No one can take the discomfort, or quell the imagination that swings a pendulum from what will be surely wonderful to the fear of what can go wrong. There is no one to take away the feeling of swimming through corn syrup to do the simplest things like bending to the floor to pick up a mess or waddling through the kitchen to hodgepodge a meal  together. Everything is hard and she cannot find relief. Not yet. The time is not yet.

She floats questions and desperate prayers in the dark, reverberating tunnel. What if I can’t do it? What if my body fails me? What if I can’t endure the pain? What if I am not strong enough?

If it were possible, she would pass the cup, but there is no fast-forward, no way around. Her discomfort becomes serious pain, intensifying as the nebulous date draws nearer—as the light she can’t yet touch comes closer—a tease and a torment for her. She wants a measure of control; to know the time, the hour, the outcome of her journey, but the hinge that swings the door is not control.

The hinge is love that surrenders and accepts the process, patiently persevering through the long dark days before birth; enduring love perfected in the pregnant months.

To prepare for birth is to prepare for breakthrough. On this side, it feels like endless waiting, swirling fears and questions, the constricted lungs and lump in the throat to hold tears of release waiting to fall. Not yet. The time is not yet. Preparing for birth is the lonely, wearisome, comfort-displacing reality of waiting, followed by heaving, panting, and pursed lips through wild contractions; intense pain that screams loud a love that reserves nothing and gives everything. The fruit of her labor: the swell of little lungs filled with air and life, and the deep joy of overcoming every obstacle to behold the promise and wonder of a new soul.

Emily Sue Allen is the founder and visionary behind, an online community and podcast dedicated to helping women find joy and purpose in motherhood. Emily is passionate about living a deeply nourished life and celebrating the beauty of ordinary moments. She is forever marked by the rescue and redemption Jesus Christ has accomplished in her life. Emily is a featured contributor in Strong, Brave & Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, a collaborative volume of essays written to encourage moms in the weeds of parenting kids at home, a member of Hope*writers, and an ongoing devotional writer for Joyful Life Magazine. She lives with her husband and seven kids—three girls and four boys—in the Pacific Northwest. Emily’s website is Subscribe to her newsletter “Flowers, Children & Other Lovely Things” at and find her on Instagram.



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