Last week I toured the suburban Chicago hospital where my daughter will be born. It would be a breeze, I thought, approaching the tour as if I were on a fact-finding mission. First, examine the layouts of the labor and delivery and recovery areas, and then ask as many questions as possible. Did they ever discharge moms early? What was the hospital’s rate of C-sections? And how many people were in the room at delivery time?
I didn’t give any thought to the emotions that might surface. Not until I found myself standing in the middle of a birthing room, flashing back to the frigid day in March 2009 when my son was born. I thought about the room where I delivered him at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, with its grand view of a frozen Lake Michigan. My experiences that day mimicked the stark moods of the lake, morphing from placid to violent. I recalled the fright inspired by the massive forceps doctors used to grasp my son’s tiny head, how the hospital had shooed us out a day early. How my body shut down a few hours later, sending me and my infant into the ER, and how I spent the next few weeks trying to repair the tatters of my body and mind.
Back on the hospital tour, we meandered through recovery rooms, into an operating room where C-sections are performed, and finally upon the nursery, to gaze on God’s latest little bundles of life. I swallowed hard against the fears, but dark tentacles of doubt taunted me. I fled to the bathroom at the close of the tour, and a warm sea of salty tears washed over my face. Now the only question I had was directed at God: Was I teetering at the edge of another nightmare? I wanted a guarantee that this time, it would be better.
My thoughts wandered back to last fall, after I lost my second child to a miscarriage. Before we started trying to conceive again, my husband and I entertained the notion of stopping at one child. Maybe that’s what God intended, we mused. Making the case for a one-child family was simple. There would be no physical discomforts or unknown circumstances of pregnancy and childbirth. I could return to my full-time freelance career sooner, and we’d save more money. But we had always wanted two children, so we stayed true to our plan. Yielding to doubts, taking the easier path–that would mean that on some level, the miscarriage had defeated us.
On the ride home from the hospital, I continued reflecting. Earlier that day, Chris Payne, a guest speaker at my church, talked about a time when his life was at a crossroads, and he wasn’t sure which direction to pursue. He sought counsel from Dale Hummel, the senior pastor at my church, who urged Payne to make the choice that would require the most faith. Noble guidance, to be sure. I’d like to say that I opted to have another baby because I knew it would require more faith than the alternative. Alas, that’s not quite true. Strong willed as I am, I wanted to fight back at my circumstances, and getting pregnant again was a good way of doing that.
Fortunately, God’s thoughts and motives are vastly different from mine. He used the hospital tour and Payne’s sermon to nudge me in the right direction, to remind me that I’m on a path that will demand great faith in Him. I’m finding it difficult–to lean entirely on the promise that He loves me more than I love myself, and will preserve me. But then Christ never said it’d be an easy life, chasing after Him. As a recent devotional in Our Daily Bread suggests, solid faith is relentless:
Only one thing will conquer our fears: tenacious faith in God’s presence, protection, power, and promises. If your fear is putting God’s wonderful plans for you at risk, remember that He will never ask you to do anything He can’t bring to completion, even if it requires miraculous intervention on His part.
As I race toward the finish of this pregnancy, I’m bent on building a better faith, one above and beyond even my most persistent fears.
It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.