“There’s the heartbeat,” the ultrasound technician said, pointing to the pulsating bean on the screen with a grin. My husband and I beamed as tears spilled onto my cheeks. After six miscarriages in six years, our hearts were bruised and battered by infertility, and yet we clung to the possibility of hope for a different outcome.
Then, the technician’s voice changed. “Unfortunately, the baby is measuring a little small. We’ll have to keep an eye on that.”
Our bright balloon deflated a bit, but we squeezed hands tightly, gave each other a look of encouragement and did our best to remain positive in the uncertainty. Honestly, I was so used to disappointment in this area of my life that my faith muscle was pretty weak at this point. Did God not want us to have another child?
When Plans Get Derailed
Although I managed to produce three healthy kids, staying pregnant has been one of the biggest obstacles of my life. This was my 16th pregnancy. In my twenties, childbearing wasn’t exactly easy, but somehow God made a way. Then in my late thirties, I hit a long season of loss. It was like banging my head against a wall over and over and expecting different results. But every time I said “never again,” I saw my husband’s hopeful face and thought about another baby in my arms, then relented to the insanity. Just to clarify, my first two children were with my ex-husband and my last with my current husband, who desperately wanted another child.
Some people are perfectly content with not having kids or stopping at one or two. I am not one of them. I envied big, noisy families and esteemed motherhood as a sacred role and the epitome of success. When my dreams crashed and burned, the chasm of pain turned into a crusty wound that reopened with each loss. By this pregnancy, I wasn’t sure I could take much more sorrow because my heart was dangerously close to bitter.
Giving God Room To Work
Week after week, we returned to the doctor for more poking and prodding. What made this pregnancy extra-hard was that I knew it was my last shot. At 43, I had simply run out of time. Each week, the baby continued to grow, but remained on the small side. Anxiety exacerbated by hormones assaulted me daily. I knew there was nothing I could do but trust and hold onto God in a scenario I had no control over. As I watched my little belly grow, I prayed and prayed for a miracle, but on the day we went in for our gender test, the heartbeat slipped away. A week later, I was wheeled into surgery and our hopes were crushed for the last time.
Surrender As Worship
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” —Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)
I knew this dream was making me sick. It was time to surrender my yearning and expectations. But surrendering was like dropping a bag of bricks I’d carried for 20 years and gotten comfortable with. I don’t know that I ever truly grieved like I did with this baby because I was always placing my hope in a future outcome, never really accepting reality. This time the grief was complete, and it tore me apart from the inside out, but I believe it needed to happen. Until I gave this desire over to God, I couldn’t release the emotional weight I carried of failure and shame. But there is healing in the letting go. Finally, I was able to stop trying and just experience God’s comfort, tenderness and mercy that I had been pushing away.
It’s been a year since our last and final miscarriage and the peace I longed for has finally arrived, not by having another child but in ceasing the striving for one. My faith muscle, torn and rusty, is slowly regaining strength as I wait patiently and with expectation to see where God leads our family. I believe God knows the desire of my heart and will honor that in due time, but I am not trying to wrestle control away from him or make this happen in my own power anymore. It’s helpful to remember that God’s plans look so different from our own, and that I can look forward to a tribe of children awaiting me in heaven. When we wait expectantly and rest in God’s grace, he gives us perspective which is a soothing balm for the soul.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” —Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Although there is still disappointment that things didn’t work out differently, my hope is rekindled because this hope is not in my own efforts but in a faithful and loving God.
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