Isn’t it interesting that part of the effect of the curse of Genesis 3:16 requires women to stretch out after their husband and their babies? We are always stretching out to receive our husband, to respond to him, to encompass him with our love.  And no matter how it hurts us, we keep stretching and stretching, reaching out after him, with a longing and affection that is as ravenous as a beast to devour.  (Refer to the first part of ‘Stretching Out’).

To use the pregnancy metaphor again, that baby stretches your skin to the point that it feels like it will burst with the stretching, leaving as evidence of the strain, those attractive stretch marks. And that’s nothing compared to what’s about to happen!  Without getting too graphic, the cervix stretches to the point of thinning to a diameter of ten centimeters in order to stretch around the crown of the baby’s head. Have you ever wondered how it is even humanly possible for a baby to travel those few inches from inside to outside, without ripping you apart?

Let me use a word picture to describe this ‘stretching out’ that many women through the ages have experienced. Picture an exquisite hand-knitted turtleneck sweater that Great-Aunt Agnes has lovingly made, and shipped from out east. The thick ribbing at the folded over collar, makes the neck of the sweater stand up in the packing box. In preparing the garment for packaging, the neck was folded over, and a thick cord was wrapped around the neck, so that the collar remains tight and rigid during shipping. You pull the sweater out of the box, remove the cord, and see that the neck is just too tight. It looks like it could strangle by way of garrotte.

Seeing your son’s basketball on the floor, you think of a brilliant solution, scoop it up, tuck it up through the waist of the sweater, and begin to push it through the neck opening. It’s slow going, as the double fold unfolds, and the threads begin to stretch against the rounded edge of the ball. Instead of pushing the basketball, you pull the sweater over and around the ball, and the threads begin to relax, as you patiently let the force of the ball pushing against the neckline, enlarge the opening. Without pushing so hard that the threads break, with time and effort, the neckline thins out, and expands enough for the ball’s circumference to ease its way through the neck, and finally with a rush, the ball is through, and the neckline returns to semi-normal.

Know what I just described with the metaphor of the turtleneck sweater? Well, technically, it is called the effacement and dilation of the cervix, a wonderful feature of the tissue at the base of the uterus that holds the baby safely in place until for some reason, it slowly begins to open to allow the baby to be born. But, unlike the gently unfolding petals of a rose into full bloom, the birth of a baby is forceful, laborious, and extreme. It’s not so much of a blooming, as a bursting, more of breaking through, like the caterpillar into a butterfly, with the stretching, breaking, rending of the chrysalis.

When God said that the woman would experience ‘stretching out’, it was not only metaphorical, as in the stretching of our limits, and the need to reach out, grasp and hold onto our husband, but a literal and painful physical stretching out. It takes effort. It can be painful. It requires patience. It’s uncomfortable at times. It’s inevitable. It does no good to fight it. Sometimes you just have to relax and let the threads stretch a little. In time, the hard work will be over, and there will be a time of joyful celebration. The rewards of the stretching are worth it – ask any mother!

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Won Without Words by Shari Popejoy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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