Pretty quiet on the blogging front as we’re on vacation for a few weeks.
Last week I had my routine OB check-up a couple days before our departure. It was my 32-week appointment and I expected the normal quick in, quick out: weight, blood pressure, heartbeat, mini-chat with my midwife. My mind was on packing and final preparations for the trip. It caught me off guard, therefore, when the midwife detected that the baby’s heartbeat was irregular.
Without panic or fanfare, the midwife arranged an appointment for me with the perinatologist in a nearby town for the following morning. Irregular heartbeats at this stage were not at all uncommon, she explained to me, but were cause for information-gathering and possible monitoring. As I emerged from the elevator and walked to my van in the parking lot, I began mentally scanning options for childcare for our two kids for my appointment the next day — while also fighting back tears.
As I sat in the perinatologist’s office the next morning for an hour, waiting for my ultrasound, I looked around me at the other expectant moms. What challenges were these moms – and these babies – facing? How dire were their circumstances? How dire, for that matter, would my own baby’s prove to be? I’d never seen a specialist before in any of my pregnancies, so facing possible problems in an unborn child was entirely new. And disconcerting. I sat there praying continuously for our baby. What would the ultrasound show about her heart? What if there were deformities? How would I handle it? “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to the Lord.” I prayed it repeatedly.
Mainly I kept thinking, over and over: my babies – this one, and all of them – are not my own. They are God’s. His to form in my womb, his to bring forth from my body, his to watch over from the moment of conception on. Of course I have known this before, but have I really known it? No. Until my experience in the waiting room last week, I did not. And have I truly believed that God loves these children intimately and deeply – far beyond my own love for them? That the depth of my love for them – however deep it is – does not remotely compare to for his passionate, penetrating love for them? I don’t think I did. And if the ultrasound should reveal that my unborn child had a flawed or damaged heart – would I still believe it then? Just as much?
I eventually learned that morning, in the follow-up appointment the next day with the pediatric cardiologist, that the baby’s heart is completely fine. While I’m to have her heartbeat monitored weekly while on vacation, her arrythmia is expected to clear and to pose no ongoing problems. Of course I thank God.
The waiting room questions, however, stick with me. To be “fearfully and wonderfully made” is the description of the child formed by God’s hands – every child. Ultrasound may reveal evident physical flaws in a child, but life and judgment day will one day reveal flaws of various types and forms in all of us. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world, stained by sin. Yet no flaw that exists in us – body or heart – makes the reality of God’s hand and mark on our lives any less present or real. Or changes the reality of his overwhelming love that sent Christ to die on our behalf.
Giving our children back to God, day in and day out. Realizing that they belong to him, not us. Their bodies, their days, everything that will befall them in their earthly lives. He is sovereign over it all. How would a more present and active awareness of this change my perspective, I wonder? My parenting? My peace level?