From the moment I saw the two pink lines, I began to doubt. I wish it were not so, but it's true: nearly 19 weeks into this pregnancy, and I'm still not convinced that I will hold a baby in my arms come September.
I was very candid earlier with my real, honest reason for submitting to the hCG blood tests after I first learned that I was pregnant; I was terrified of enduring yet another miscarriage knowing that this time, I'd most likely be alone. Mr. Blandings was en route to Nepal. Benny was awaiting the birth of her newest little one. And really, there are very few other people who I'd want to invite into the sanctity of my home when I'm mourning and feeling rotten and calling into question God's plan.
I pictured myself curled into a ball on the couch, crying, verbally coaching Atticus through the process of loading dvd after dvd into the player for the rambunctious littles who had no clue why Mommy was serving cold jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I imagined needing pain meds, but being unable to take them for fear of parenting even more poorly than I already was. I saw myself scraping bare minimum, and having nothing at all left to give.
It was not a pretty picture. In fact, it scared me more than I could even admit at the time.
So I violated what has become my hard and fast rule: no blood tests, no medical confirmation. I called my ob, scheduled a draw, and went in. Then I waited. The first set of results was not promising. Mr. Blandings offered to reschedule the trip to Nepal. "Wait for the second set of numbers," I said, knowing in my heart of hearts that I'd start bleeding before then. And yet ...
The numbers came back promising.
A follow-up ultrasound introduced us to a wriggling baby with a heartbeat.
A subsequent ultrasound showed us a kicking, waving Seven bopping along to the whoosh-whoosh of the watery home God created.
I started to feel wiggles.
And yet ...
And yet, in moments I find that I have precious little faith.
Do I doubt that God's will for me is good? No. Do I doubt that He can open and close the womb at His command? No. Do I doubt that He showers blessings on His people? No again.
But somehow, somewhere, deep inside ... I cannot trust. I simply cannot fully embrace that this one ... this little person ... this baby ... this one will be mine here on earth.
And yes, I'm questioning. Why this one, Lord? Why now? What is different today, of all days?
Please don't think I'm being ungrateful. I'm not. I am over-the-moon thrilled with each wriggle and tap, with every shirt I outgrow, and every chance I have to say "this newest one." I endure my weekly shots with pure joy, knowing that every week, every day, is a gift. I look forward to an aching back. I can't wait to waddle.
But what my heart feels just stops slightly south of my head. Logic pushes its way into the picture and reminds me that nothing in life is guaranteed. God does not promise us days without pain. We are not above loving and losing. Pregnancy does not equal a new family member. At least, not in the economy my household has endured.
Yesterday afternoon I left church feeling somewhat ill. I was sweating, my heart racing, my body fatigued. I was certain that something was wrong, that this was some horrible crash leading to somehow losing Seven. Reading my fears, Mr. Blandings suggested I take a break. Once we got home, I fell into my bed, popped in my earplugs, and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. I was undisturbed for nearly two whole hours. Finally, I found myself drifting back to consciousness and began taking stock of my physical self. No longer overheated. Heart and mind at rest. Body rejuvenated and ready to rise.
With slightly tremulous hands, I prodded my growing belly, waiting for the dread silence that would spiral me back into more hours of doubt and wonder. As if on cue, Seven lurched. The sudden movement took me totally by surprise. Until now, our little Seven has been a quiet little tap dancer, gently prodding and fluttering here and there, and only with maddening rarity. I took a deep breath and waited. Seven responded again. A giant lunge this time from one side of the swimming pool to the other, with a rapid kick thrown in for good measure.
I realized then that I was crying, even through my laughter.
Seven is o.k. Seven is fine. Just stop it. Stop it and have faith.
I stayed in my bed a few moments longer, pondering the very fragility of it all. True, true--not one of us is promised another day. Not one of us marries with the absolute knowledge that our spouse will remain by our side until we are old enough to dangle our grandchildren on our knees. Not one of us can say with certainty that our children will outlive us, our brothers and sisters will be companions well into our old age, or that we will not be on the other end of a sobering diagnosis that counts our remaining time in weeks rather than years.
Not one of us can dream of holding our newest blessing and know, know with all that we are, that this child will be born complete and healthy and whole, and will prosper like a flower in God's garden.
We try to live as if we can have faith in these things, but we cannot.
Instead, what we have is a heritage far more rich, one that demands that we walk without sight and hold fast to every day as if it were more precious than gold. Right now, what I have is a house brimming with love, a husband who blesses me, five children who bring me daily joy, a daughter in Kathmandu who I long to hold, and Seven. Wiggling, kicking, unseen but still known Seven.
I can live in fear that any of those things will be called away from me. I can be paralyzed by the hurts of the past. I can be robbed by the whispers of satan. Or I can live in faith that God has given me this day, this moment, and this joy. No matter what the future holds, I have this. Today, it is enough.