|Don't you forget it|
I found out I was pregnant in early July, and immediately flew home to Dallas the next day where I spent 10 days with my mom and dad. I told my parents our news (story here if you need a refresher), but nurtured this little secret growing in me and kept my mouth shut even with some of my closest friends. (This is not easy to do. Especially when you are the only one drinking sparkling water when everyone else is having margs. In Texas. Do you know how hard it is to not have a marg in Texas? It's hard.)
On the plane ride back to DC after that week spent mostly sleeping and having my mom make me soup, bagels with cream cheese, and French toast, I wrote down a lot of my thoughts that I didn't want to forget or to be overshadowed by the new joy and wonder and surprise of being pregnant. Because it wasn't joy and wonder for a long time for me. It was waiting and longing and crying and frustration and thinking that something was majorly wrong with my body.
I know the sorrow of wanting a child. Of longing to see the double pink lines on yet another pregnancy test. Of crying when a friend announces that she is expecting with an adorable picture of mom shoes, dad shoes, and new baby shoes (Damn you, social media.) In fact, I have no idea when we actually conceived this child because I was having tests done that month to check over my weirdly behaving body, and didn't keep track of when this little life could have been formed. And now that I know a bit more about the ins and outs of conception and fertility, I am truly amazed that babies are born at all. It's a complete miracle.
During this past mother's day in May, I sat in the church pew simply bewildered that I was feeling as weepy as I was. I was focusing with all my might on not crying from the stronger than normal feeling of sorrow, fear, and longing for a baby that I felt that day. Our church in DC is made up of mostly young people - 40 and under - so it's a rarity to see someone with gray hair. But one of my favorite people at church is Bob, an elder and someone who has been a part of Grace DC since its beginning. I love it when Bob prays, not only because he has gray hair and that means he's lived long enough to earn it, but because his prayers are chalk full of truth that I always need to hear.
That mother's day, Bob prayed for all the mothers in the room, those longing to be mothers, and those who serve in mother-like roles to the children in our city. And then he said these words that I'll never forget: "Lord, while children are indeed a blessing from the Lord, they are not the ultimate blessing. For your word says that 'greater love has none than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.'" This was 100% what I needed to be reminded of. Children are a blessing from the Lord, but not the ultimate blessing. To love the people in our lives and to really (I mean really) be devoted to them, that is what we are called to do. Those words were balm to my soul. They reminded me so strongly that whether conceiving a baby was in my future or not, I still had purpose and worth and a role to fill. I needed that reminder so badly.
But there was and is still so much waiting in the process. Waiting to count days, waiting for your body to kick into gear, waiting for your husband to get home so you can get to it, waiting to take a pregnancy test. Then, waiting and waiting and doing the whole cycle again.
I've learned in the waiting that the Lord shows up. Well, actually, he is there all along, but I finally noticed him while I was in the waiting. During that time, I read a devotional that a man from Dallas had written after three years of cancer treatment. He wrote about reflecting on the character of God from Psalm 86. In those verses, it says that God is merciful, gracious, full of steadfast love, and hears our prayers. He wrote about how we should pray boldly knowing these characteristics. Because God is merciful and gracious, he will do what is best for me. Because he is full of steadfast love, he will give what is best for me. And because he hears my prayers, I know that he knows my heart and my desires and longings.
Reflecting on God's characteristics wasn't something only reserved for me while waiting to conceive. In fact, one of the sweetest times I've had with the Lord recently came after I found out I was pregnant. I had a minor scare and wasn't sure if the baby was ok or not. There was nothing I could do but wait (always waiting!) and again reflect on what I knew to be true of the Lord and his goodness. Yes, even his goodness if the baby didn't survive. I came out of a time of prayer and felt like Hannah from 1 Samuel 1. Hannah longed for a child for years and years, and the story says that she prayed fervently before the Lord. Although the Lord had yet to answer her prayer, and Hannah had no idea if he would giver her a child or not, verse 18 says that she "went her way, and her face was no longer sad."
Somehow, and certainly not always, but at least for good bits of the time, that's how I have felt during each step of this long process. While waiting for a baby, I would spend time reflecting on the Lord's goodness and no longer be sad. After finding out we were pregnant and immediately thinking of everything that could go wrong, I would spend time reflecting on the Lord's goodness and no longer be sad. And now, almost halfway through this pregnancy and still walking that fine line between worrying and trusting the Lord, I spend time reflecting on the Lord's goodness and no longer feel sad.
I also am realizing how God's timing is perfect. If you are longing for a baby, I am not wanting my experience to make light of yours. You may or may not have a biological child one day. I may or may not have a biological child one day. But either way, God's timing is perfect. Had Michael and I gotten pregnant on my timeline, we would have had a baby now. And right now would have been a very hard time to have a newborn. We haven't been in our home in DC for over a month, and won't be back until the end of this month. Michael then travels for residency interviews until mid-January, and I'll go with him on some of them. I can't imagine having a baby right now, although that is what I had wanted so badly. But God knew better than me.
I don't want to forget what I felt for months of trying ('trying' feels like a bad word) and thinking my body is weird and having fertility work-ups. It's frightening and confusing and sorrowful and I wish it wasn't what so many women go through. But the Lord is there in the waiting. I mean, hands down, there is no doubt about that. And he is here in the waiting with me now as my belly starts to pop out little by little. And he will be there forever.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.