Exactly one month after Emily Hull McGee was elected as the twelfth pastor of First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I stood alone in my bathroom, staring down at a positive pregnancy test.

From there I proceeded to do everything opposite of how I’d always imagined. Instead of sweet nothings, I whispered R-rated language in shock. Instead of planning a clever way to inform my husband, I sent him a text without thinking twice. I cried for an hour out of excitement, but mostly out of fear. Then I told my sister-in-law and she gave me the wise advice to calm down and “proceed as normal, minus the margaritas.”

While I was surprised by my reaction, the coming weeks affirmed that I simply wasn’t prepared. One simply can’t prepare for something so miraculous and mysterious as pregnancy. I wasn’t prepared for the many physical symptoms or for how hard it would be to keep our exciting news quiet. I wasn’t prepared for the torrent of emotions or for how much surrender would be required of me. I definitely wasn’t prepared for how it would affect me as a pastor.

On one hand, I was excited that my future child would know by my very example that they could do anything or be anyone with no limitations. On the other hand, I fought the urge to cancel all my preaching dates immediately. I mean, come on. A pregnant preacher? How odd is that? I pictured myself waddling up to the pulpit with a big belly and an aching back, and I thought “no one wants to see that.” I convinced myself that being pregnant would somehow lessen me as a preacher.

It was Emily Hull McGee who stopped me in my tracks; Emily who had preached in view of a call at a historic Baptist church where only men had previously served as senior pastors. Emily preached that sermon nine months pregnant, and that blessed congregation embraced her, calling her to be their new pastor.

Emily and her congregation blazed a trail that day, making me realize it was time for me to step up and blaze the trail as well, despite how vulnerable it felt doing so. A woman preacher only seems strange until you’ve experienced one. Why should a pregnant woman preaching be any different?

So here is my confession: when I’m alone I say things like this for self-empowerment: You are literally growing a human! Your organs are shifting, making room for a miracle. You bear the weight of another being; there are two heartbeats within you! This doesn’t make you weak. This makes you incredibly powerful!

I tell myself these things, and lately I am finding it easier to believe them. But I couldn’t have done it without Emily or without her congregation, who unabashedly accepted her. And perhaps another woman couldn’t do it without me. So here I am–big belly, achy back, swollen feet and all, powerfully blazing this trail, one waddle at a time.

Aurelia Pratt is the pastor of spiritual formation at Grace Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas. She is a founding member, who also regularly participates in the preaching rotation. Aurelia has a Master of Divinity degree from Truett Seminary and a Master of Social Work from Baylor.