Today's topic is Pregnancy.
I discovered I was expecting Easter of 2006. I was the first of us four.
We were not attempting to get pregnant, and to be honest, I never dreamed of being a mom. I played with dolls growing up but never thought of myself as a capable mother "type." My husband is the one who looked at the test. My husband is the one who told our friends- I just didn't feel comfortable telling people I was going to be a mom. I knew this pregnancy was from God, though, I trusted Him with all my heart and leaned not on my understanding, acknowledged that He was the one leading my path straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) He knew I needed to be my son's mom at this time.
Weeks went on, and I got bigger. Laura gave me a book for my birthday. She said, "Well, we certainly don't have any guidance, so here's a book." I really didn't have any mom friends to go through this with. It was LONELY. I was worried about my work that I loved so much. All of that would change after a baby. I didn't know how I would adjust, from being able to see God work through me every week in my work at a church to caring for my son. It's an endurance sport and I am used to doing the shorter more instant works of God. Most of all I struggled with a label... MOM.
I was terrified I wasn't strong enough to deliver a baby. I knew others did it every day, but I just prayed, "God I trust you, make my way straight." I wanted to think that I could do a natural birth. We attended the birthing classes trying to get any kind of help we could with parenting. My little boy was breech though, and I tried all kinds of "tricks" to get him to turn. We even have a picture of me doing a handstand in Amy's hot tub!
Every week they did an ultrasound, which I loved because seeing him helped me prepare for him emotionally. So on a Thursday visit, the doctor scheduled a c-section for the following Wednesday. I was so nervous. My last day of work was the next day, and my husband and I spent Saturday figuring out what we needed to bring a baby home (diapers, wipes, etc). We walked a lot and I remember thinking I was a bit uncomfortable and my jeans had gotten way too tight. We went home, and I just felt ill. That night my water broke, and I had NO idea that it had. So again I was able to just keep trusting God, not myself, and let Him direct our path. Because anything we try to do on our own is, in my opinion, just not worth it. Also, I could trust that He was with me. And so were these girls, every one of them was there the minute my son was born. Their presence made me feel better about how my life was changing.
Elizabeth holding Tyler in the hospital.
Pregnancy held so many surprises, some full of the most joy I'd ever experienced and some filled with deep disappointment and loss, but all ultimately causing me to trust God more!
My first surprise was how much I wanted to become pregnant once we started trying. I wasn't sure if I really wanted kids, or if I was ready, or if I'd make a good enough mom (although I still wonder that! Ha!). But once we decided to go for it, the longing that consumed my heart overwhelmed me! Because family is such a beautiful, messy picture of God's love and grace, I think He often gives us a deep desire for motherhood (Psalm 37:4). And I was elated to quite quickly discover that I was expecting!
But almost as quickly as I became a mother, I lost the baby. Technically speaking, I'd experience a "chemical pregnancy" or a very early miscarriage. I was devastated. Although I learned that early miscarriages are rather common, I was surprised I had never heard of them and still so sad over my very real loss. I believe God used this to draw me closer to Him and to help me appreciate even more the desire to be a mother and later, the miracle of life I would experience through my sons.
For me, having another human being formed in my womb and then being able to deliver naturally, without medication, was an indescribable experience! The intricate, intelligent, complex, orderly design of God is undeniable! (Psalm113:13-14) But God had more to teach me about His Sovereignty, His love. Although I had done everything "right," my first son was surprisingly diagnosed as strep B positive (sick with a bacteria common to the mother but dangerous and even deadly to the infant, which is transmitted by the mother in the birth canal, for which the mother is tested in advance- my test was negative). My son spent the first 10 days of his life in the NICU on antibiotics.
Keller in the NICU in 2010.
God didn't give my "perfect pregnancy" the chance to disillusion me into thinking I was in control or loved my son more than anyone in the world. No, He quickly showed me that He is in control and loves our children more than we ever could! Our children are gifts from Him, and ultimately they are His! "In love, He predestined us for adoption as sons... to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved (Jesus Christ)."
First, let me just say Jason and I never wanted to have kids. We thought children were irritating, generally messy and loud. Now, there were some kiddos (namely our friends') that we tolerated and even started to enjoy. However, that was not why we decided to take the leap into the overwhelming world of parenthood.
After celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, I came to Jason after much prayer and consideration and mentioned "now" was the time to start our family, IF we desired to have one. You see, I was 32 at the time and would be 33 at delivery. Certainly not a "spring chicken" by any defintion. And that was IF we conceived rather quickly. Jason would be 37 in August and after a whirlwind trip to Europe (gotta get that traveling out of the way...) we decided to take the plunge. And, if we are being totally honest, the decision was made so we would not regret later in life having no children to pass down a legacy. Well, God had his perfect timing and BAM- I conceived the first time around.
The first 12 weeks of my pregnancy were actually fairly enjoyable. I was ravenously hungry, ate anything I could get my hands on and didn't put on much weight at all. I am also one of those hated gals that did not experience morning sickness of any kind. Everything was progressing quite normally. But then it happened. Jason and I attended all the appointments together and never really paid much attention to the blood pressure machine consistently ticking up andup each visit. I always assumed it was because I am an excitable person, talking with my hands, laughing a lot. Well, one particular visit around week 18, Jason was making me laugh (which is not uncommon... he's a regular comedian, that one). My blood pressure was hovering around 130/60, which is still "normal" but approaching concern. Subsequent visits continued the same incline and by the time I reached week 28, my physician had had enough. My blood pressure reached an astonishing 200/100, and she pulled me from work and placed me on full bed rest with no visitors. I could leave my bed to use the restroom and take one shower a day. You would think I would enjoy this time but, trust me, it's anything but relaxing. Bed rest is quite uncomfortable and does a number on your body.
I spent a lot of time reading the Word and praying I would be able to carry our baby girl to her due date, May 5. Anxiety was a constant companion, along with her friends, boredom and excessive swelling. During this time, you could press your fingers on my spine and still be able to see the imprints 10 minutes later. Jason started calling my feet "little rhinoceros feet." To say I didn't feel pretty is an understatement. But, God had His timing, once again. I was in bed for four weeks. Then, during a routine appointment, the lab results came back completely out of whack and my physician wouldn't even let me get off the examination table. She put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me directly to the adjoining hospital to be admitted. Preeclampsia was the diagnosis. The following day, I gave birth via cesarean section to a tiny little blessing. Adelyn Belle was born at 32 weeks and a day. She was merely 3 lbs. 9 oz. But God's hand was present and never wavered. Addie Belle was completely healthy, just tiny. She spent seven weeks in the NICU and was taken care of by a group of God-sent angels.
Amy holding Adelyn the day they left the hospital.
Even though my pregnancy was anything but normal, God always knew this would be my experience. And He knew exactly how to take care of me and my little one. Adelyn is home now. She is almost 6 lbs. and progressing normally, thank the good Lord. He carried us both. Through the stress of pregnancy and the endless nights at the NICU, He never left us.
After I retired from diving, I wanted to start a family, like yesterday. But month after endless month, well, there was no baby on the horizon. The end of every month was so depressing and heart wrenching. I got to a point where I would take a pregnancy test just to see the negative result so I wouldn't get excited and hopeful just to have my heart break again.
Eriek was not ready to adopt yet, and neither one of us wanted to endure infertility treatments. I was angry and confused. I yelled at God, a lot. People said horribly insensitive things, and I was so caught up in my own despair of not getting what I wanted, that I struggled to attend showers and be happy for all of my friends who were popping out babies right and left.
One day it dawned on me that maybe God's plan wasn't for me to have kids.
I was NOT okay with that. Then He gave me this whammy:
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."I realized that I didn't think Jesus was sufficient. He wasn't enough for me. I wanted kids more than I wanted to trust Christ with my life. I didn't trust His plan. I had my own plan that I wanted.
-2 Corinthians 12:8-10
This knocked me to my knees. Over several months I grieved that maybe I'm not meant to have kids, but during that time I began to ask God to help me trust Him more, to know that He is sufficient for my life and that He alone is enough for me.
As I began to come out of my grieving period, Eriek felt the call to adopt. And I was THROUGH THE MOON! We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary by filling out adoption paperwork for Zoe. On our 8th anniversary, we found out we were pregnant with Arella.
I learned Jesus is enough, then He chose to give me the desires of my heart. Through that process He began to show me the desires of His heart which are becoming mine. I've learned that His ways better than mine. He's also shown me, as He's knitting my family together in a unique way- one far more beautiful than I would have dreamed possible.
For more pregnancy fun:
Here's a post where I compare pregnancy and adoption.
Check out my "bumpy road" where I posted weekly bump pictures with the girls.