“I have so much control right now, but this reality is not realistic. My life is only kept in check by my fears of everything falling apart.
“I am not healthy enough to find peace in chaos. And in motherhood, chaos is part of the routine.”
The tears flowed freely as I read her article, one of the finest pieces on postpartum anxiety I’ve ever found. She knows me, I thought. I’m not alone.
But the revelation failed to bring the comfort of solidarity, for in this arena, I don’t want to be known. I never asked for membership to this club, much less a spot on the board of directors.
I’m tired of anxiety. Tired of stumbling out of bed each morning more exhausted than when I crawled in, tired of imagining all the ways my two beautiful daughters could die, tired of wondering if today’s trip to the grocery store will be the trigger that finally pushes me past my limits.
I’m tired of being so astonishingly weak.
Surely I’m the last person on earth who should ever have more children.
I squint in the dim light of the bathroom, the weighty dust of slumber still clinging to my lids. There’s a faint pink line staring back at me… or is there? I sigh and leave the test on the counter, then crawl back into bed to pretend to sleep another hour.
When I check again, the line is still faint but distinct. My husband sees it. My best friend sees it in the picture I text her. “You’re pregnant!!!” she responds. “I’m so happy I’m crying!”
But I refuse to rejoice, for something inside won’t let me. “It’s too faint,” I type. “I’m testing again tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s line is event fainter. The day after it’s nearly invisible. The next two tests are negative, and then… I bleed.
“They say there’s no such thing as a false positive…” my friend murmurs.
I nod slowly, shrug sadly. But inside I’m screaming.
Why are You doing this??
And I cry.
“What do you think of the name – – – – – -?”
I glanced at my husband in surprise. We’d been reading through a four-book series together, and I secretly adored the male protagonist’s name. Apparently my husband liked it too.
“I love it,” I responded. “Do you?”
“Yeah,” he said with a slight smile. “I really like it.”
And suddenly I was hit with an awareness so intense I actually gasped.
“What is it?” he asked. “Are you okay?”
I nodded slowly and stared at my husband in astonishment. “We’re going to have a son,” I whispered. “And his name is – – – – – -.”
Five months later, I still can’t explain my reaction in that moment. I can’t begin to fathom how one name ignited such a supernatural assurance in my spirit, but I know God spoke to me in that conversation.
He told me I’m going to have a son.
Because something happened to me as I began reading those books. I don’t understand the timing or the correlation, but I know that my spirit started stirring as I was introduced to three young siblings who would change the world.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken… Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him… Like arrows in the hands of a warrior… From the lips of children and infants You, Lord, have called forth Your praise…
I couldn’t get away from the promises. Every page I turned, every quiet time in the Word, every article, every song, every conversation… my senses were pummeled with the knowledge that God was telling me something.
God… are You asking me to do this again? Please don’t ask me to do this again…
My two pregnancies and postpartum recoveries were grueling, the long, heavy days marked by illness, pain, and a genuine concern that I would never be “okay” again. After my second traumatic delivery, when our youngest daughter emerged blue and limp, my husband whispered, “I’m not sure I can watch you do this again.”
I know how blessed we are. I know how many would give anything to feel the flutter of a babe in their belly, how many are dying for their empty arms to be filled… I know them personally, their names and faces filling my tearful prayers as I beg God to open their wombs.
I also know the pain of dreams deferred. My heart longs for a house bursting at the seams, overflowing with laughter and tears and chaos and life. But my body and my brain have been pushed to their limits by the two arrows in my quiver, and I legitimately fear that just one more would send me reeling over the edge.
“We’re done,” my husband and I agreed. “For the sake of my health, we have to be done.”
Those promises, those words, that knowledge wouldn’t leave me alone. “I think we’re supposed to have another baby,” I whispered one evening, too scared to give those syllables full voice. “Just pray about it. Pray about it and let me know what He’s telling you.”
Two weeks later I saw both peace and terror converge in my husband’s eyes. “You’re right,” he said. “There’s one more for us.”
Shortly after we made that trembling declaration, my soul was flooded with that supernatural assurance. A son… a name… a promise.
A month went by. Then two. Then three, four, five, and suddenly I found myself bleeding out, faint pink line in the trash, wondering why in the world a good God would ask for my obedience in this area just to send my heart shattering in disappointment.
“I want to believe,” I whisper. “Help my unbelief.”
I thought about not burdening you with this…
My dear friend texted me this morning to announce her third pregnancy.
There were three of us this summer, three young mothers battered and exhausted by life’s daily demands, yet fully aware of the burden God had placed on each of our hearts for just one more. So we interceded for each other, petitioning Heaven for full bellies and full arms.
And I’m the last empty vessel.
I’m genuinely happy for them, I text my husband. But I feel so alone.
That space between promise and fulfillment stretches before me, a vast, empty chasm waiting to be filled.
Will I fill it with faithfulness? Or despair?
The choice is mine, and though my human frailty stumbles to the precipice and mutters, “You’ve been abandoned,” my spirit stares longingly into the darkness and whispers, “El Roi is here… He sees you.”
Just as Abraham received the promise and waited fifteen long years for its fulfillment… Just as the Israelites acted in obedience and found themselves staring into the depths of the sea… just as David received the calling he never sought and wound up hunted and hiding… and just as all creation groaned for centuries in anxious expectation of the Promise that would make all things new… so I too can rest in my waiting, confident in the knowledge that obedience never guarantees happiness.
But it always guarantees the nearness of my Father.
“It’s tricky when the one thing making life more beautiful is also something that makes life more painful and uncertain.”
I read her words again, their truth ringing steadily in my ears. I’m still terrified. I’m still shaken by the heartbreak that followed my obedience. And I still feel that surely I’m the last person on earth who should ever have more children.
The God Who brings life from the barren, the God Who parts seas, appoints lowly shepherds, and loves more fiercely than I could begin to comprehend… this is the God Who authored my promise.
So I believe.
And I wait.
And He sees me.
And I know that even if my obedience earns me nothing more than the nearness of my Father…
It’s worth it.