The long-awaited day.
It was a relatively uneventful birthday, if I didn’t count the increasing frequency of contractions, the persistent discomfort, and the disheartening feeling that I was coming down with some illness.
Then there was the very noticeable decrease in the baby’s activity level.
Chris and Parker made a drug store run and returned with birthday cards, a cheesy paperback novel, a six-pack of cupcakes, and an adorable little pot of happy-looking yellow chrysanthemums Parker personally selected.
But things just didn’t feel right physically. (I know; “things” hadn’t been right physically for months, but this was different, far removed from what had become my “normal.”)
I had a slightly elevated fever, ached all over, and—even though I rolled back and forth and contorted myself as much as I dared—a comfortable position remained elusive. Chris and Parker helped me celebrate with the cupcakes and then left me alone to devour the book.
Nothing like spending your thirty-seventh birthday in bed, a monitor Velcroed around your midsection and a mindless story to keep you company.
The day didn’t improve. By that evening, it was necessary to strap on the monitor every hour instead of the customary three or four times a day, and consume orange juice to see if that might stimulate baby movements. I drank and moved, and was consumed by a gnawing fear that even after everything we’d been through the past eight months—every precious minute for which we’d fought so hard and been so single-minded about—the baby might die in utero, succumbing to umbilical cord strangulation, infection, or another unforeseen problem. My anxiety level ratcheted up several notches, which wasn’t good for anybody.
Thankfully, the orange juice did the trick. Within thirty minutes, the baby wiggled and twisted—but with significantly less energy than usual.
Monitoring continued throughout the night, which meant that particular night was sleepless for me. To make matters worse, I became frightened and agitated when the baby didn’t awaken at its appointed time.
It was another “I can’t take it any more” episodes. Carefully swinging my legs to the floor, I paced to the bathroom—more for something to do and someplace to go than for real need. On the return trip (of nearly four steps) I stopped at the side of my bed, sank desperately and gingerly to my knees, reached reflexively across the bed and planted my face in the mattress.
First raking the sheets with my fingernails then reactively, unconsciously, clenching the threadbare material tightly in my fists, I cried out for mercy. “Oh, God, I know I’ve asked you many times for a sign, but, please … just one more time … to know the baby I’m carrying is still alive! Right now! I really need that assurance again!
“I know I don’t deserve it. I know my faith continues to waffle and fail, and I am so very sorry for my weakness. But please don’t let anything happen to this baby. Not now, Lord. Not now!”
I sobbed into the sheets and mattress. Every millimeter of my body trembled uncontrollably. “Just one little movement is all I need. All that I’m seeking,” I finished in a gasping whisper.
Gritting my teeth, realizing I had nothing more to say, I slowly gathered my distended frame from my slumped and spent position and crawled into bed. To await that sign. That precious, anxiety-snapping movement. That little jerk of a foot, a slight punch of a fist that would enlighten me to the status of the baby suspended within my womb. Will it ever come? How long will the Lord expect me to wait?
My breath caught.
There they were. I wasn’t imagining them.
Brief, unmistakable twitches.
My hand flew to my abdomen. I reflexively sucked a gulp of air into my stiffened lungs. Tears flowed like an unleashed torrent as I finally allowed the emotional dam to rupture, as I repeatedly thanked God for providing evidence of life.
And there I was. Again. Promising that I’d not put Him to the test … again; that I’d fully trust His assurances and faithfulness.
Joyfully, ecstatically, gratefully patting my stomach, I rolled to one side and gathered my blankets protectively to my chest. With a renewed knowledge of God’s gentle mercy tucked into my heart, I settled into several hours of joyful, uninterrupted, blessed sleep.
He’d given me the sweetest birthday present I’d ever received.
But He wasn’t done demonstrating His power.
On the contrary. He was just getting started.
NEXT WEEK: The hair-raising ride to the end begins…
Until next week,
Thanks for joining me!
Cupcakes: photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/rottnapples/5362318849/">rottnapples</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>