It’s already been three weeks since I announced my pregnancy with our second baby. I’ve been thrilled about the news and the process – pregnancy is such a crazy mystery to me. But this has also been one of the most difficult seasons of my life. I’ve had to fight so many times to believe everything would be okay.
It started with the strange circumstances around the pregnancy. I shouldn’t have been able to get pregnant when I did. I didn’t expect to be pregnant when I took the test. It seemed like a fluke, or just a giant gift from God. And I’ve spent the last two months since I learned the news trying to decide which one it was.
I remember trying to guess how far along I was, and I had no idea. Since I work in a hospital, one of my co-workers offered me an ultrasound. I took her up on it. But as I laid down on the bed, I prepared myself for a blank screen. Sad news.
Instead, this is what I saw.
Relief washed from head to toe. The size of a blueberry, or some tiny fruit, the ultrasound said baby was about seven weeks along. Close to my estimations.
Two weeks later, we visited the doctor for our first official ultrasound. We brought John along to see the baby. Again, fear rushed into my mind. What if the baby’s gone? What if there’s no heartbeat? I wouldn’t even have symptoms.
The wand glided over my belly, and we saw a tiny body, with the teeniest arm and leg buds, swimming, spinning, moving so fast. I couldn’t believe it. Still there.
Then the bleeding came. It wasn’t much according to medical terms, but it felt like my insides were going to fall out. Stunned, I sat in the bathroom and envisioned how I would announce our loss to our excited friends and family, how they would be disappointed, and we would want to be left alone. How I would finally understand grief in a new way.
Isn’t miscarriage a rite of passage, I thought? Don’t I have to go through this somehow? It’s happened to your friends – what makes you think you’re exempt?
I sent a text to a few friends for prayer, but my heart was pounding. It was hard to breathe. I crawled in bed, a less than subtle act of surrender.
And then something happened. I decided to fight. I had to fight the anxiety, but more than that, I had to fight for the baby. I had to change my inner monologue.
NO. I prayed for this baby. I prayed for over a year. I held up my seedling of faith and the answer came at an unlikely time. This is not some fluke. This is my baby. This is a gift. And I’m not just going to let him or her go that easily.
I whispered all the protection prayers I knew, and over the phone, I let my mom and one of my best friends breathe them over me with power. Prayers like life flooded in through text as I tried to ignore the cramps.
But in the back of my head, I always know God’s not obligated to give me what I want, that Yes and Amen to my every wish aren’t always the best way to tell my story.
When it seems like my dreams might delayed or dissolve completely, I’ve learned to tell myself the deepest truths. I remind myself so gently of the three essentials to my existence, and that no matter what I give up or who I lose or the ache in my heart, these three things will always be true. So when the doubt crept in and the prayers lost hold, I said to myself:
1. Sarah, if we lose the baby, you will be okay. You will survive. You will not die.
2. No matter what, you will never be alone. That’s a promise. You can lean on it.
3. God is good, even if the baby dies. Or even if there’s a problem. Or something goes terribly wrong. God is good. He will always be good.
These little phrases floated up from the summer of 2009. That’s when I read The Shack and found myself arguing with God. I can’t trust you unless you protect me from pain. I don’t want life to hurt. Tell me it won’t hurt, and I will let go.
But he reminded me he didn’t even protect his son from pain. He never promised a life free of pain. He just promised he will never leave me.
So these three reminders, that I will survive, that I will never be alone, and that God is good, these come from the reality that life is pain at times, but it is also beautiful.
And it is safe to trust in God and life because of these things. These are what I hold onto, even when everything I know fails to stand.
So here are pictures from this week – the story and the baby are still being told. The amazing thing is, my fear didn’t ruin anything. I had another ultrasound at work this week. And this tiny, lovely body is what I saw, curled up inside me although I rarely feel it.
It matters what we tell ourselves when things are going badly. What do you tell yourself when the world feels like it’s caving in?