Okay, I said to God. This is me trusting You. And so began my sixth pregnancy. I had been afraid, afraid I couldn’t handle the stress and grueling busyness of life, the pain of complicated relationships, and the inevitable crippling nausea that loomed ominous on my horizon. But in a world that was out of my control, I surrendered and accepted vulnerability as an act of faith for the simple reason that either God is God, or He is not.
And the trust that God gave me at the beginning of my baby’s life became the theme of my entire pregnancy. Three trimesters. Three trials. Plus a bonus for the birth at the end.
First, there was the nausea and exhaustion, hardly a surprise, but still it was entirely un-fun having as my main daily goals “avoid throwing up on family members” and “keep one eye open enough to notice if toddler sets house on fire.” And I had to trust the Lord day by day that He knew I would feel like this and that He would get me through.
Then, at the end of September, just when it looked like I might not die after all, my whole world spun off its axis. There were earthquakes and thunders, then the fresh and terrifying stillness of a world wiped clean: We left our church. The church my husband grew up in, the church we’d been in together through twelve years of marriage, people who loved us, people we loved so much we almost said “no” to God when He told us we had to go because we didn’t want to hurt them. There’s never a good time to leave your church, but it’s especially rough when you are pregnant and vulnerable and leaving means abandoning the spiritual “nest” you thought your baby would be born into.
I went to the midwives and sewed my baby a new car-seat blanket and nursing cover. I took my vitamins and drank my milk and wondered if my little family would welcome this child into a “different place each week” church hunt. I answered the smiling questions at all the churches we visited, “This is number six! I’m due March 10th.” And sometimes I added, “I’m really having to trust the Lord because I don’t know if we’ll have a church by then.” And a couple of times, right there amongst the small talk, I cried.
But there was also peace. Never before had the timing of a pregnancy been so clearly an act of God. And I knew that He knew all along that we’d leave our church, and He already had a plan for everything, including where our baby’s first church experiences would be.
And then, in January, through some unlikely connections and a friend of a friend, we felt God telling us, “This is the place. Pitch your family’s tent here.” And just like that, as I cruised into my third trimester, we were settled in a church. The only trial this time had been the worry. God was only asking me to trust Him. The details were all accounted for. And I could put my uncertainty behind me . . . just in time to lose half my house.
It all started with the carpet. After ten years of pet accidents, spilled drinks with carcinogenic levels of food dye, and scores of muddy boots finding their way off the three-foot-square of entry tile, what was once a nice soft cream color was seventeen shades of nasty. And then my husband found a sale on laminate.
It was supposed to be a frugal, weekend project, a little pre-baby house upgrade, just replacing the flooring in our living room/kitchen/dining area–until my husband and our neighbor pulled out the stove. Behind it was a puddle . . . and rot . . . and mold. Our dishwasher had been leaking for who knows how long. The bottom cabinets were ruined and mold was growing up the drywall behind them. We had been talking about replacing our kitchen for years, but the fantasy always took place in the summertime when we could cook outside or in our RV, not in the dead of winter when the RV’s pipes were full of anti-freeze and the grill was blanketed with snow. There’s never a good time to replace your kitchen, but it’s really rough when you’re seven months pregnant and tired and wondering how you’ll feed your family, wash your dishes, and nest in the bedroom half of your house while your kitchen/living room/eating area has been gutted down to the concrete.
By this point, it was sort of a comedy. Yes, of course, God knew this would happen right now all the way back in June when I surrendered and He placed this little life in my womb. Friends figured I must be going crazy, and I should have been, but it was so clear that God was handling all of this, and He even let us wait to discover the mold (even though it was surely already there) until after we’d found a church.
So, I got up early to get McDonald’s for breakfast before my husband left for work. I made peanut butter sandwiches on my bathroom counter. And my husband came home at night with take-out we ate on tray tables next to the girls’ bunk bed. We put the welcome mat in the hall to scrape the construction dust off our feet on as we pulled back the plastic tarp that was the “front door” of the livable half of the house. We washed our dishes in the bathtub. And I asked my friends on Facebook, “What do you think we’ll have first, a new kitchen, or a new baby?”
My husband worked weekends and evenings with the help of friends, and as my due date neared, our beautiful new great room started to emerge from the rubble, and the Lord gave me another chance to trust Him.
Stay tuned for Part 2, in which, Lord willing, we’ll actually get to the part of the birth story that involves the birth.