Yesterday, December 30th, I turned 30 years old.
Throughout this pregnancy I have often thought about how awesome it would be if this Baby Boy were to be born on my birthday! Not only because that would be the best birthday gift ever, but because it was on that very day a year ago when we were not able to hear our second baby’s heartbeat.
That was an awful day.
I remember going out to dinner with my husband that night, both of us somber and unsure of what to say to each other. I glanced at the menu and thought to myself “I could probably order wine if I wanted to, because our baby probably isn’t alive” and in that moment, it felt so bitter. Jordan kept trying to reassure me, “They said that it’s not unusual not to hear the heartbeat. Everything is probably fine!” But deep down I just had this boulder of dread. It was hard to have hope. Sadly, it was not a story that ended with hope.
And that was how I spent my birthday last year.
So for the past few weeks, I have kind of been thinking that this Baby Boy will come on my birthday. How redemptive and beautiful would that be? On a day when I had experienced fear of death and sorrow last year, I would welcome life and experience joy – marking my birthday with a great memory instead of a painful one!
At 4:30am, I was woken up by a contraction. I dozed on and off for the next couple of hours, being woken up a few more times by contractions. Later in the morning, they started getting stronger, longer, and were about 8-9 minutes apart. “This is the day!” I told myself and my husband. I just knew it!
All day long the contractions continued and were getting very intense, to the point where I could not talk through them. Jordan and I dreamed excitedly about how perfect the timing would be. It would redeem my birthday! It would redeem the end of a really hard year! We would bring in the new year with our son in our arms! Our out of town family will be able to come visit, since they have the rest of the week off from work! Riley is already with my parents! And, of course – the tax deduction that we would get for having a December baby instead of January 😉 (not to mention, we reached our premium on our insurance this year so a December baby would save us a ton of money)!
I was excited and Jordan got everything ready. He cleaned and disinfected our whole place, we were all packed, he ran to the store to get a few last minute things, and I took a shower and got ready.
Then later that evening, probably around 7pm, the contractions started slowing down and getting less intense, until they just stopped all together. I was disappointed, but still held on to the hope that things could pick back up and we could still have a baby by midnight.
When I woke up today, I just cried. I was so disappointed. I had not had any more contractions (still haven’t now, in the afternoon), and we made plans to meet my parents to bring Riley back home.
I am now 5 days overdue, and the waiting is HARD. Riley was evicted from the womb (or induced, you might say) so I guess I just have late babies. But knowing that doesn’t make it easier.
Before we left, Jordan and I spent some time reading Hebrews 11 together, and I was really struck by this fact: waiting is a HUGE theme in scripture.
Moses had to wait on Pharaoh to let God’s people go (which was quite the drawn out process) and then had to wait 40 years for the Promised Land – which he didn’t even get to see. Abraham had to wait (until a very old age) for a son. Noah had to wait for the flood as he built the ark (being constantly ridiculed) and then he had to wait 40 days for it to clear. Jacob had to wait 7 years to marry Rachel. Israel had to wait 400+ years for her promised Messiah. Think of all of the people who were born during that time who faithfully followed God, while God remained silent. Can you imagine faithfully following a God whose movement you had never seen or experienced in your own life, based only on history and the Promise of His Word? Many Israelites during that time spent their whole lives waiting, yet never seeing. The apostles were constantly and eagerly waiting for the second coming of Christ.
And that is only to mention a few.
I’m sure waiting has never been easy on humanity, but it is certainly no help to us that we live in a time and culture where we have constant opportunities for instant gratification. We aren’t very practiced in waiting for things. Fast food. Microwaves. High speed wireless. Google. Smart phones. So much of what we want and need is right at our fingertips. So when life draws us into a season of waiting, it’s no surprise that it is such a struggle for us.
But here’s the thing – the waiting is not meaningless. There is worth in the waiting. There would not be so many examples of waiting in scripture, were this not so. I believe that it is actually in the waiting where we see God work the most. It is in waiting that we see ourselves being shaped, our character tested and refined. It is in the waiting that we are forced to face what we really believe about God and must ask ourselves if we trust Him. It is in the waiting that we often learn some of our life’s greatest lessons. And perhaps most significantly – it is in the waiting that we cry out to God with the most surrender. We realize how little control we have, and how much we need him. In the waiting we recognize our humanity and His divinity, and we long for His glory. We long for His healing, His redemption, His restoration. We long for Him.
It always baffles me when people say, “Just enjoy these last days of pregnancy!” Oh, really? Which parts of it should I be enjoying, exactly? The heartburn? The insomnia? The back and nerve pain? The contractions? The pelvic pain? The nausea? I get what they’re saying – these are my last days before having to navigate the chaos of life with more kids, and I am trying my best to soak up some of the things that I will no longer be able to do once I have a newborn around. But it is difficult to enjoy much when I am (literally) groaning with longing for my son to come. It is not in the ability to find some enjoyment at the end of this pregnancy that I find my hope – my hope is in the fact that my son IS indeed coming (no matter how much I feel like this is not true at times). It is his arrival that will take away the pregnancy pains, and will restore me with joy! Any of the few things I might “enjoy” now are going to be overshadowed when I hold our little man in my arms.
In the same way, our world is not enjoying the wait. Our world is a mess. There is so much pain and suffering and evil. It is groaning in longing for our Savior’s return. Sure there may be things that, by the grace of God, we are able to enjoy in the world right now. But they all pale in comparison to the enjoyment that will be found in the presence of Christ when He returns! Only His coming can replace the pain with joy and satisfy our longing. And just as sure as I will not be pregnant forever (I will not be pregnant forever, I will not be pregnant forever, I will not be pregnant forever… must keep telling myself), Christ IS indeed coming. He will return. Our hope is not to find enjoyment in the world, but is in the Promise of His return.
In the meantime, as we wait – there is something for us. There are riches to be found. I believe we may not always see them. We can’t always know exactly what God is doing in us, but we can trust that He is always at work and the waiting always has worth.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
And this my friends, is what I am trying to remind myself of today as I wait. As I wait, I have the opportunity to experience only the slightest glimpse into what it means that Christ gave his body over to suffering for our sake. As my body hurts, I have the opportunity to think of Him. And this physical pain – it is in order to bring about life! Just as Christ’s body was crushed to bring us life. As I worry about the extra cost it will be to our wallet for Baby Boy to be born in January instead of December, I think about the extravagant cost that God the Father paid to make me His daughter.
Whatever waiting periods we find ourselves in now or in the new year or sometime in the future – I pray that we remember that He is there with us. And He is enlarging us in some way.
Happy New Year!