Hello, my name is Jenny and I'm pregnant. I think.
If I were to walk into group therapy today, that's how I would introduce myself. I'm pregnant, I think.
Last week I heard the heart beat and the whole pee-in-the-cup business continues to confirm that I am indeed pregnant. But while my stomach is slightly larger than usual (even that seems to fluctuate with the time of day and size of meal) and I get the occasional leg cramp in my sleep, these are the only vague indicators that something is growing inside of me. No morning sickness. No intense cravings for exotic or bizarre foods. Not particularly weepy or sleepy. And so far, no discernible movement from the baby.
I am on the cusp of being 18-weeks-pregnant and don't feel much of anything.
My friends have told me about a place where I can go get a sonogram for only $100 and my sister has offered to mail me her at-home fetal heart rate monitor. The nurse said I could come in if I needed to hear the heart beat for reassurance and peace of mind. And I'm tempted to say yes to all of these things. YES, I WANT PROOF.
YES, I want peace of mind. YES, I want reassurance.
But there's something I want more.
I want to learn how to trust. I want to be a woman rooted deep in faith.
While the incredibly kind and well-intentioned offers of my friends and family to 'put me out of my misery' are beautiful examples of their love for me, I feel as though God keeps whispering that this is not a season for short-cuts. This is a season to re-engage the hard work of faith. So while I sorely want to hear a heart beat and be instantly reassured that all is well with the tiny baby growing inside of me, I am choosing instead to repeat a simple prayer of faith when I feel frantic for proof of life:
I trust that you are alive.
I trust that you were made well.
These utterances are my simple acts of faith. Faith is a spiritual gift. But it is not my spiritual gift. I am a skeptic, doubter, thinker, mystic, over-analyzer and general 'I want proof' kind of gal. Faith doesn't always come naturally for me; it's a muscle I must routinely exercise, and even then it seems to be hidden away in that clandestine place where my ab muscles are mysteriously holed up. So I have a choice. I can constantly seek to relieve the tension of not-knowing or I can learn to rest in a faith that reminds me it is already known.
For only $100! I can have a sonogram done at the drop of a hat and feel immediate relief from my discomfort. But this reinforces my reliance on hard evidence and proof. You don't need faith or trust (or pixie dust!) if you can get all the answers on demand. As long as my body is healthy and my doctor finds no need to do extra-testing, it's probably safe to say the baby is fine and I will hear the pitter-patter of her heart again in six weeks time. The question is more-than-likely less about whether the baby is growing as she should be, but whether I am growing into a life of faith, as I could be. In my own book I write, "As a person of faith I am invited to live in the tension of believing that God is present and at work, whether I see immediate evidence of it or not. I am invited to abide in the truth that the sun is still rising. Always rising. Whether I see it yet or not, there's a little bit of morning outside."
I will always be chasing these words, re-learning to live by them in each new season.
In fourteen days we will get the regularly scheduled sonogram to find out whether we are having a boy or girl. To find out if the heart and brain and lungs are all accounted for and developing as they should be.
Until then, when it suddenly hits me that I have not "felt" pregnant at all on a given day, I will take a deep breath, repeat my simple prayer, and allow the discomfort of not-knowing to propel me towards a trust and faith that is not built on immediate answers but on the knowledge that there is more at work in this world than my eye can see. There is a way of living that does not require proof.
Evidence will manifest itself in due time. Until then, I am learning all over again what it means to be a woman of faith.
Further thoughts on Waiting and Lostness from my book
The Road to Becoming:
"The possibility of giving birth to a new person is both terrifying and exhilarating. And you realize waiting is not just an exercise for the sake of learning patience; waiting is for the sake of letting something grow. Learning patience along the way is simply a bonus. We wait because new life requires time to grow. We wait because there is a bigger issue at hand than just What will I do next? but rather, Who will I be when I finally get there?"
"A person who is willing to inhabit their lostness has the faith of a great army. People who don't have faith don't allow themselves to get lost. They do not trust God to show up in the darkness and shine a light on the path that leads to being found."
"Jesus has become the guide, and the the Guide is teaching me how to move forward in the dark."
"When I confidently trust that God is near and in the business of finishing what He started, I can wait with hope."
"Sometimes life is all fat feet and waiting games."
"Our aversion to patience, our propensity to hurry along the person who is waiting and preparing, speaks deeply to the state of our hasty, risk-averse souls. We would rather put someone out of their supposed misery than sit through the misery with them while they wait. We would rather cut short their time of growth in order to wrap up their tense moments of indefinite waiting with a pretty bow."
"Incubating, growing, becoming. It is not a curse. It is a blessing."
"That anything can be planted and then sprout, grow and bloom is holy."