It is sad, really, to think how much money I’ve spent on pregnancy tests. More than sad – it is downright appalling. Expensive ones from the drugstore that *supposedly* predict hormone levels sooner and cheap ones from the dollar store that kind of make you wonder if they even work. I’ve taken them all, at all times of the day, in all different bathrooms (even one in a local restaurant…!). But there is one thing that they have all had in common: every single one has only had one line. Every test, whether cheap or expensive, has been negative and ended up in the trash.
Until December 18th, 2017.
On that day, just one short week before Christmas, I saw my very first two lines, and they literally brought me to my knees. ♥♥
I journaled a little that afternoon, trying to get my feelings together after finding out I was pregnant for the first time:
“To be honest, it doesn’t feel real. It really doesn’t. I’m sitting here writing this and it feels like a joke. I have been waiting for this day for what feels like an eternity, and now that this little plastic stick with two lines on it is staring me in the face, I still can’t make myself believe it. I’m afraid to get excited. Am I really brave enough to dust off the dreams that I’ve spent the last few years folding up and putting in the bottom of the drawer? Because this can’t possibly be happening to me right now.
When you spend a lot of time hoping for something and praying for something, Satan knows. And he will do whatever he can, at any given moment, to pull the rug out from under you and steal your joy. I am trying SO HARD not to let him steal this joy right now, because I have never seen two lines before, and every time I think about that moment on the bathroom floor, it takes my breath away.
As I was driving back to work today after taking the test at lunch, I just decided to surrender my fear to the Lord. It won’t be a one-time thing; I’m going to have to put this in His hands again and again and again, especially for the next three weeks while I wait for my first appointment. It’s terrifying that I can’t know if this is really happening until then, and the miscarriage fear is already intense. But at the end of the day, I don’t have control over much, and I already know that God has used literally every bad experience in my life to help me minister to others and glorify Him in the process.
I’m just in awe. I keep thinking that I’m going to wake up from this dream, but until I do – Lord, help me remember this kind of joy forever. ♥”
God is faithful, friends. That baby isn’t in my arms today, but praise God, I DO still remember that joy, and He DID use that experience to glorify Himself and help me minister to others in a way I never could before.
Learning how to move on from that loss led into one of the strangest seasons of my life. I’ve never felt lower, but I’ve also never felt more fiercely loved. God called me deeper into the water, asking me to trust Him with the things I couldn’t control, and asking me to love Him more than anything else. When we were sitting in church one morning, listening to Brandon preach over Hannah’s story in the Bible, I was pricked by the hardest question I think the Lord has ever asked me:
“Will you still love Me, even if I never give you a baby of your own?”
I knew what the right answer was. I knew the answer was “Yes, of COURSE I will.” But I wasn’t there yet. I begged God to make things right, to make my heart believe Him when He said His plans for me were good. And although it didn’t happen right away, over the years, God has been faithful to fulfill that request.
Fast forward to April 28th, 2020.
I had scheduled a Walmart pickup on my lunch break and was about to drive home after my groceries were loaded into the car. My thoughts danced nervously to the box of pregnancy tests I knew was nestled in the trunk. I was barely a week late, but I hadn’t gotten my hopes up. After years of trying, I had earned a master’s degree in incorrectly diagnosing potential pregnancy symptoms.
I turned some music on and starting driving home. My throat tightened as I prayed to God, not asking Him to give me a baby, but asking that He would help me accept His will, whatever it was. In that beat-up old Acura, I gave Him my whole heart, as I’ve done over and over throughout my life, and told Him that I would still love Him, no matter what.
Even if I never got pregnant again.
Even if I miscarried again.
Even if I never got to give birth.
Even if I lost everything: my husband, my home, my job, my family, my friends.
“Take it all away, Lord – your salvation is still enough for me.”
And for the second time, God gifted me with a tangible miracle and gave me two little lines again. (And I say that with so much humility and point to God’s sovereignty over all. I didn’t get pregnant because of a magical emotional car prayer. I got pregnant because what God shuts, no one can open, and what He opens, no one can shut.)
But that baby isn’t in my arms either, as you already know. At my first-ever sonogram appointment, my worst fear was confirmed: I had lost my second baby. My hormone levels were off the charts, but there was no gestational sac on the ultrasound, and my hopes for a normal pregnancy were over. To add insult to injury, two weeks later, I started having intense abdominal pain and ended up in the emergency room, where I was told I needed to have surgery immediately. My surgeon originally believed something was wrong with my ovary, but it turned out to be a large ectopic pregnancy, and I lost my right Fallopian tube in the process. If I hadn’t gone to the emergency room, I could have died.
It took me almost a year to use the word ‘trauma’ to describe what happened to me in May 2020. I didn’t feel like I deserved to use that word, especially in light of the worldwide pandemic. What I went through was nothing compared to the things other people in my life and in the world were going through. But IT WAS trauma. Trauma is described as ‘a deeply distressing or disturbing experience,’ or ‘an emotional shock following a stressful event or physical injury.’ The word originated in the late 17th-century Greek language and literally means ‘wound.’ Check, check, and check.
God is good, friends. Just as I experienced with my first loss, I got to watch God love me and Daniel in the most life-giving ways you can imagine. Our friends and families came around us in a way I’ve never seen, and my faith grew stronger than ever, even in the midst of deep suffering. I can do something I would have believed was impossible until now: I can lift my trembling hands to heaven and say, “God, THANK YOU for the gift of suffering and loss. THANK YOU for never leaving me or forsaking me.”
Fast forward to December 1st, 2020. I started another new, hopeful blog post:
I’m pregnant again.
I took a test before church on Sunday, and for the third time (third time’s the charm, maybe?), I got to see two…little…lines. And you know what’s weird? I feel completely calm. The moment I saw the test result, my eyes filled up and my hands shook, but I put one hand on my stomach and lifted the other toward heaven and prayed, “God…if this is really a baby…it’s yours. No matter what, You’re good. I’m holding this with open hands.” And I am. Our strategy is literally to take things one day at a time. If I get to keep this baby, Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone). And if I don’t, I still believe wholeheartedly that God loves me, that our families and friends will smother us with support when we need it, and that my identity as a woman and as a wife does not hinge on my ability to reproduce, or even be a mom at all. God has showered me with so many gifts (marriage, friends, family, a home, a dog, a job, biblical community, etc.), but His greatest gift to me will always be salvation. Anything else on top of that is just frosting.
It’s been different this time. We’re walking the blurry line of cautious joy with a little more peace. I haven’t jumped into googling everything, and I hesitated before downloading a pregnancy tracker app for the third time, wondering if I would just have to delete it again in a couple weeks. But I decided to download it anyway, because if this is finally the real thing, I don’t want to look back and regret spending the whole pregnancy in a mental state of “Whatever, it might not even happen.”
That time WAS different, and yet the same. I knew the risks. I struggled to feel joy, but chose to trust God anyway. When the bleeding started, I knew God would sustain me because He already had before. My friends called me strong, but I didn’t feel strong – I felt hollow. I went through my daily routines in a fog, knowing the right things to do and continuing to do them, but wondering why, after three times, I still wasn’t 100% confident about what my next steps should be. When I mentioned this half-jokingly to my fertility specialist, the halfhearted laugh in my throat was replaced with a lump when she touched my shoulder and said quietly, “You shouldn’t know what to do in this situation. Nobody should.”
Several months later, I realized that my internal thought process about the future was no longer “When we have a baby.” It had shifted to “If we have a baby.” My mind was begging my heart to catch up to what my body had been trying to tell me for more than seven years, to accept the reality that biological kids might not be part of the plan. I felt confused, angry……….and weirdly, relieved. I had felt so much pressure to have a baby for so long, and the guilt and shame I felt over not being able to have one was unbearable. Some pressure was self-inflicted, some came from well-intentioned friends and loved ones, and some was simply a result of social norms. What was I supposed to do next? Getting married and having babies was Plan A. I had no backup plan. How do you let go of a dream you’ve had since you were five years old?
Could I really accept childlessness as a gift from God, instead of the soft, blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked gift I thought I wanted?
Fast forward to today: December 28, 2022.
The answer, my friends, is YES. I could. And I did.
Two years ago, I *should have* been celebrating Christmas with a giant round belly, wondering if my water would break while playing Connect Four with my nephews. I should have been recovering from a labor and delivery that most assuredly would not have gone according to my birth plan because of who I am as a person, my rainbow babe surrounded by adoring fans, turning in early on New Year’s Eve because I just couldn’t hang, trading a party dress and a glass of champagne for a robe and a rocking chair. Two years ago today, I should have had my second baby.
I not only acknowledge but accept that this is never how things were supposed to go.
Plants can only produce their intended fruit, and I spent waaaaayyyy too much time trying to get strawberries to grow from a blueberry bush. God knew what I needed most, and it was never a baby. It was more of Him. I thought I knew what God wanted to teach me through all of this. But I know now that I have only gotten a tiny glimpse of the garden He has been cultivating behind the scenes.
Guess what? Kids ARE in my future. I’ll spend the rest of my life loving kids: my nieces and nephews, my friends’ kids, the kids in our church ministry, our future foster kids, and any adopted or biological surprises God may send our way. But I’m done with holding God hostage and demanding that they come into my life on my terms. I have so much to share with you all, and I can’t wait to continue bearing witness to the beauty, sovereignty, and wisdom of God’s master plan as it unfolds. For now, all I’ll say is that finally, finally, finally…I’m content.
Soli Deo Gloria. ♥