Monday, November 24, 2014

A Dependent Woman in an Independent World

The twins and I just got back from a two week trip to Florida to visit my parents, which means I flew by myself with two 21 month old boys. It was fun. It was intense. It was filled with memories. It was exhausting. This is a snapshot of how it went.

Between staring out the window at all of the airplanes, watching Bubble Guppies, and eating an abundance of snacks, we all had a pretty good time flying together. Daniel and I have flown with them together before, so I knew what to expect a little bit. But this was my first solo venture, so I was a little (a lot!) nervous about how it would all go. In God's kindness, these sweet boys exceeded all expectations and made it a fun ride. 

What I didn't expect was how my ugly battle with pride would come full force as I boarded the plane with two littles. I prepared for little help from fellow passengers, but I was blown away by how kind people are to a pregnant lady with two toddlers. I never actually had to get the boys on the plane alone. Someone always stopped to help me, which was a great blessing. But with every offer for help from kind bystanders I felt my own self-sufficiency rise up in me. Of course, I brushed it off as not wanting to be an inconvenience. But I know what I really meant in my heart. I may have said "thank you" out loud, but I was thinking:

No, I don't want your help. I want everyone to marvel at how I mastered flying alone with twins.

It's awful, really. Only a crazy woman refuses help when she's trying to wrangle two busy toddlers. But I am that sinful, crazy woman. The very essence of pride is a desire to make much of yourself, to puff yourself up in front of others. It can even come across as noble and good, like taking care of twin boys on a flight to Florida, but it's still pride. I've written before about my struggle with accepting help from others, and while my circumstances are different this time around, it still lurks in my heart. 

It doesn't help that I live in a culture that prides itself on self-sufficiency. America is about the self-made man or woman. America celebrates independence, not dependence. We marvel at the woman who does it all. We praise the man who came from nothing and made himself into a successful businessman. We love a story of survival and grit. But that is not the way of Christ. As a Christian, everything I have is owing to the merits of another. My motto should be "nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling." So even in my best moments as a mom, wife, friend, or writer, I'm still coming up short on the sufficiency front. It's pride that feeds me lies, making me believe I'm doing better than I truly am. 

Now that I'm home, I'm glad all those people offered to help me. It made the trip much more enjoyable. It protected my boys from running off when I couldn't move fast enough to catch both of them. It even allowed me to make some friends on the flights. So the next time someone offers to help me, I want to accept with a willing and grateful heart, rather than as a woman who thinks she's got this whole mothering twins thing together. Because, let's face it. I need the help.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Some Trust in Ultrasounds, But We Trust in the Lord

On September 29 the baby we lost earlier this year was due. Due dates are always hard when there is no baby coming. They are a reminder of what could have been. They are a reminder of a pregnancy that didn't make it to term. They are a reminder of empty arms. I've faced three due dates now with no baby inside of me. One was because the twins were born eight weeks before my due date. The other two were because I lost the baby in the first trimester. So I'm quite familiar with due dates.

But this due date was different. This due date was filled with anticipation. Not with anticipation over the grief I would feel that day, but because I knew what was coming the next day. I would get to see our newest baby for the first time. That's right, I am pregnant again.

I am also very familiar with ultrasounds. I have had a lot of them in my day. With the twins I had more than is possible to remember. But I've always walked into that first ultrasound with the same fear and trembling. Daniel and I barely talk in the waiting room. We know what could happen. We could either walk out of that room with pictures of our new baby or walk out of that room broken over the loss of another. On September 30 we were walking into that room for the fourth time, and at that point we had experienced more bad first ultrasounds than good ones. Because the last time I had an ultrasound was when I was still pregnant with the last baby we lost, the ultrasound log picked me up as being 40 weeks pregnant. So we had to explain to the ultrasound tech that we were in fact there for a our new baby and not the one from February.

We were scared to death.

But in God's kindness he turned our mourning into dancing by letting us see the beating heart of our newest little baby, due May 14, 2015. So far, all is well.

The first trimester is not nice to me, and this pregnancy has been no different. In fact, it's been a whole lot worse. As I'm slowly coming out of the non-stop sickness, thanks to medicine, I have found myself facing the same old fear that always plague me in pregnancy.

Will I lose this baby, too? 

Pregnancy lost its innocence with me a long time ago and I feel like it's God's way of pruning me and causing me to trust him with everything.

I find myself trusting in hearing a heartbeat more than I trust the God who made this baby's heart and keeps it beating this very moment. I find myself trusting in hugging the toilet bowl more than I trust the God who knit this little, nausea inducing baby together in my womb (Ps. 139:13). I find myself trusting in the passing of another week more than I trust the God who sustains the universe and numbers every hair on this little one's head (Luke 12:7, Matt. 10:30).

You see, it's easy to brush my fears off as normative. I've lost babies. I've had a high-risk pregnancy. I've had premature babies who had to spend five weeks in the NICU. Every part of my pregnancy history causes my anxiety to rise and makes me want to think I'm justified in my response to my circumstances.

But I'm not.

My fears are no different than anyone else's fears. We all have life experiences that inform our fears, but we are still called to trust in the God who is sovereign over our very lives.

The verse I keep coming back to is Psalm 20:7:

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.""

Maybe I don't have to deal with enemies seeking to destroy me every single day. But I do have the enemy of my mind that lies to me about God's goodness and care for me and my baby. We can insert any earthly means of assurance into this psalm and the outcome is still the same. God is on the throne and he is the only one worthy of our trust. No ultrasound, fetal doppler, baby kicks, or pregnancy symptom will be the assurance I need to sustain my faith. God alone is my help and my trust.

So it's in him I trust as I walk nervously through another pregnancy. Hopeful and excited for the life he has given us again.