7.25.2016

tidal waves

When we were little and would wake in the night afraid, my mom always had us recount our nightmares to her. She used to say that once you spoke your fear, you could get rid of it. I don't know the medical truth to this, but it did always make us feel better. Here, many years later, I need to speak some fears so that I can try once again to banish them. Bear with me, please.

For most of my life, I dreamed of the day I would become a mother. This isn't so for every little girl and that's totally okay, but it has always been that way for me. I've loved babies and children and been fascinated by pregnancy and birth for a long time. As an adult, I've now put that love into practice as a doula. However, no amount of daydreaming could have prepared me for how things really feel now. Not the borderline moodiness on certain days or the occasional bout of feeling really yucky -- those I expected, what I was totally unprepared for was the fear. Not being fearful of the birth or of being a parent or the many changes this new life will bring to our routines...in complete honesty, I've seen too many births to think it is anything other than incredible and the rest we will just figure out along the way. For weeks, what I have been battling the ever crashing tidal wave of fear that this little life could disappear and there is nothing I can do to control that.

Already many people have commented that my experience as a doula should mean I feel very prepared for what's to come. But the truth is that it also means I know the exact statistics on loss at every stage and all the many minute things that can go wrong. And as someone connected to the birth community, it also means I know a great deal of moms who have struggled with infertility and loss at every stage. Almost weekly, I see friends on Facebook who are grieving unexpected losses or celebrating the lives of babies who have spent far longer in heaven than they did on this earth. It is devastating. They are incredibly brave women and I fully support their choice to share their experience for a number of reasons. But at the end of the day, I am a new mom who is also terrified for this tiny life.

Before we became pregnant, I wrestled a lot with God and the idea that I had to trust Him to let us have a family if and when it was part of His plan. This took months of very harsh reflection and truthful prayers. After finally feeling like I had come to some kind of peace with whatever was to come, we were surprised and overwhelmingly blessed with "little b." I immediately vowed to be grateful for every step of this journey and to not rush things or complain or take it for granted -- it was far far to precious a gift for any of that. Yet at the same time, almost from day one, fear of loss has been a constantly ebb and flow through my mind. Not nightmares easy from which to wake, but sometimes graphic images, sometimes the words that would have to be spoken, and sometimes the reactions of friends, all hovering on the periphery of my joy.

I have been meditating on scriptures that speak out against fear and been praying a lot for God to help me to continue to trust Him, no matter what comes. Even though this may help for a time, I feel like I am standing in the face of constant waves of fear, crashing upon me and around me. Once one recedes, it is only a matter of time before another surges up behind it. Gratefully, I know the truth -- that our God is big enough to figuratively and literally part the seas for a clear path through, to calm the storm threatening our hope, and to even make safe passage upon the waters when our eyes are fixed on Him. Even now, the song Good Good Father has just come on in the background as I write this, reminding me that He is "a good good Father, it's who [He] is" and that He is "perfect in all of His ways" and that ultimately who I am, who Charlie is, and who our little bean is...all are rooted in being loved by Him. This isn't a guarantee of any outcome but that reassurance sure does hold back the tidal wave longer than anything I can come up with on my own.

For years, my mom has had a painting of Jesus calming the storm hanging in her living room. It was pretty but I never paid too much particular attention to it. However, last night after reading of another friend grieving the loss of her first pregnancy, I was fitfully trying to sleep and begging God to protect our little one as well as to give me the strength to trust Him. Through the fear, statistics, and mental images...that painting came into my mind and it was all I could do to just focus on it's stillness and peacefulness while repeating 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

I know this is a lot to share today but my prayer is that truthfulness about this very unexpected (and often unspoken-about) part of pregnancy will encourage another as well as myself. Speaking my fears so that they may be gone. And to the many many unbelievable women for whom pregnancy or birth ended in grief, please know that you and your beautiful babies are not forgotten.

I am overwhelmed by love these days -- love for this peach-sized person, love for and from my incredible husband who is already an amazing dad, love from the multitudes of family and friends who are sharing in our joy, but more than anything else, love for and from a God who is and has always been a good father to me, who can stand between me and my fear. And love for you, if you've read all the way through this and if you'll take a moment to pray for me, for other pregnant woman you know, any mom you know, and any mom whose baby is made whole in the glorious presence of Christ. Brief encouragement for any of them never goes amiss.

Thank you

ps - this song was sung at our church on Sunday and it was such a perfect and beautiful message:
"I need to know that you're still holding / the whole world in your hands / and that is a reason to sing"