The increase of my chest was the first indication new life was forming within and the pain felt there was both physiological and emotional. Internally, this same area experienced a decrease in real estate as my heart seemed to shrivel, failing to fill the expanse that multiplying cells had begun to swell.
Though I've touched on it in the past in hints and shadows, I've avoided writing too honestly about the whole of my journey in this pregnancy. At the beginning, I drafted whole posts with titles such as What To Expect When You Weren't Expecting This and shared within those rough sketches real life tales of the irony of utilizing early on the spaces marked for parking pregnant ladies when I was clearly an (un)Expectant Mother Only. I struggled too with sharing what was my bitter truth and utter devastation at bearing another child because I feared I would be misunderstood and judged on partial revelation. I felt my raw reality would be an insensitive betrayal of friends whose chests were full to heaving with desire and expectation but whose bellies ached with the hollowness inside. Even now I carry the knowledge of friends who very recently lost the life they carried inside and do not want to dishonor their experience by sharing mine.
But sharing is what I feel I must. If just for me, it could be hidden in the pages of a private journal - emotions recorded for personal contemplation or used in a later exegesis of the words that might spill out through catharsis. Yet I have shared these words aloud with friends over the last few months and have found that my journey is reflective of others and bears a solemn weight of testimony of what God can do in a heart surrendered. For me and perhaps even for you today, here is a little more of my story...
This past year of 2013 was painful in a myriad of ways. My struggles with my health, by now certifiably chronic, had not alleviated since a difficult pregnancy eight years prior despite efforts made and seemed only to grow uglier leaving me feeling too weak for the challenges of my daily life. In April, our entire family moved to deep Texas for a month to stand vigil over a dying/not dying mother and the weariness only escalated. Summer was too short and too cool to feel as though we had gotten any true respite from our miserable winter and by fall I was schooling the kids with an ounce of my usual passion from my seat on the couch through too many sick days. I was growing bitter with the weight of almost eight years undiagnosed and uncured and my glass was not only continuously half empty - any little thing sucked what little was there into oblivion.
My dreams were growing cloudy because when your life is as predictable as mine had become - ten fair days followed by ten debilitating ones with maybe a week and a half of promising recovery before repeating - your aim is to simply get through instead of loftily pressing on. My predominant prayer as a child had been, "Please, Jesus, please, don't come again until I am a mother" but now even my deepest passion had cooled to, "So many, so soon?" as I staggered under the duties required of me.
When Aunt Flo didn't make her usual appearance after several missed days, I sat bolt upright in bed and rushed to use an expired test hidden away in case of such emergencies. It's old age must have rendered it impotent so I crept downstairs to reveal my concern to my husband while requesting immediate back up from the corner drug store. I cried, so tired from the late hour and so tired of this long cycle, and knew it would add another burden to my man who was already shouldering more than he should. To my surprise, he met me with a certain smile even though he knew the risk and challenge we now faced.
For months after five positive pregnancy tests, I woke with the fear of how this could further debilitate me. Morning sickness colluded with my pre-existing condition and I cried most days either from pain, exhaustion, or the certainty that this would kill me. If not literally, in every metaphoric way possible.
Survival seemed to demand one thing: surrender. I could kick and curse myself for allowing this to happen or I could rest in it's reality and in the truth that I had a God who allowed me to allow this to happen.
In His view, this surprise was no accident. This wrench had not thrown God's purposes for me. This life would not be the death of me.
Unless I chose to die. Unless I chose to wake with each sun willing to die to my demands for a life of comfort and health and dream fulfillment. Unless I threw the covers off with a prayer that would thrust me into acknowledging His sovereignty and with my first footsteps of the day walk dead to my own vision for my life and into His already known, eternal provision for what may come.
I chose death.
It's been 30 weeks of knowing at this 32 weeks gestation. And within this now dead woman grows a life ready soon to burst forth. My health has been the best I can remember in years, thanks no doubt to the happy hormones raging through my body. I've had energy not seen in many save for the Energizer bunny. Preparing for baby, shopping for essentials, and prophesying about what this little one will be like and the joy he will add to our family has become a full time preoccupation. The sacrifices and changes dwelt on have been replaced with excitement and revised plans for a reconstructed family unit. Healing has been requested, even politely demanded, but we have grown in our understanding of how God works even through the pain.
Will it, can it last through sleepless nights and the unrelenting pace of a large family? The renewed health and energy, who knows. But the peace and joy and contentment that I've gained through this journey from bitter disappointment to unbridled expectation is something I won't surrender easily. In surrender I have gained the sweetest victory and the solidified belief that this? We got this. One day, one lifting of my hand into His at a time.
After all, what doesn't kill an already dead woman can only make her stronger, right?! :)