Saturday, September 2, 2017

On First Reactions

You can't take back first reactions. Especially if you're like me and have a face as honest as a mirror.

I already knew I was pregnant, and so did Wes (the hormones do not lie, people!). But there was a strong resistance to seeing it on paper (read: on a stick). We had just made seven months of marriage, still trying to figure out how to merge our daily lives, still trying to understand a life of love and sacrifice, and the lines between introvert alone time, and being together forever. By no means is it a perfect marriage, but it's our marriage, and it's our story. And I didn't want to let go of the time when "our family" meant just the two of us: killing time wandering every aisle of the grocery store but walking out with just coffee creamer, being lazy on Saturday morning making omelettes and watering the plants and watching animal documentaries, having people over on a weeknight whim to play Settlers of Catan, drinking wine and eating stovetop popcorn. I fell in love with our small but meaningful life. Like a dream, it was a little weird, often nonsensical, at times frightening, but coated in bliss. I didn't want to wake up. I didn't want to open my eyes. I didn't want to look at that stick.

Wes wanted to. He wanted to get the inevitable out of the way. "When you gonna find out, when your water breaks? When you think you're 'peeing yourself' and a baby falls out?" But he'd also ask me to take the test at incredibly inopportune times—before a family gathering, before church, before meeting up with friends. "I can't pee on a stick and look my family in the face 15 minutes later!" I know me. I can't take back first reactions. I can't fake the feelings.

A Monday holiday came, and I had no excuse. No one to see for another week, besides work. And I already had a pregnancy test on hand (thanks to bridal shower gag gifts). "Just get it done, babe," he'd urge. I whined with resistance as Wes drug me to the bathroom. His nonchalance to the matter might as well have been a heavy pat on the back, "Get on the field, slugger!"

Unnecessary descriptive paragraph: the test wasn't one of those pee on a stick deals. Nope, you pee in a cup and use a fancy dropper to dispense your goods into a little tester. But with no disposable receptacle in our home, the cleanest vessel was an empty jar of Better Than Bouillon, lined with a ziploc bag (classy way to pee, I know). I didn't want to see the results alone. We set up the test so the lid of the bouillon jar covered the results. I waited for him to finish showering--the longest 8 minutes of my life.

"This is it," we thought out loud, looking at the bouillon lid that separated us and our future, thinking of all the meals we made with that bouillon. Thinking of when "our family" was just the two of us. "This changes everything." This changes the way we make decisions. The way we operate in community. The amount of sleep we get, the places we choose to live, the way our resources are used. We're don't have control of the parts of ourselves that replicate into the next generation. We don't get to choose what this person will be like. We only get to choose a name. Oh the pressure.

Like ripping a bandaid, we interrupted our thoughts and lifted the lid—

You can't take back first reactions. I melted in Wes' arms, trembling, facing away from the results--which also meant that the results were all HE had to stare at. "You're going to be a dad," I whispered. "You're going to be a mom," he said back softly. And with that, I buried my face into his chest and wept. "I'm so.... scared,” I sobbed.

I’ve heard people say that in a near-death experience, their whole lives flashed before their eyes. And in this new life experience, our whole future flashed before my eyes—and it was blurry. I could see shapes and colors and movement, and I couldn’t grasp it because I couldn’t tell how far away or how close I was. I could see small vignettes of fears and anxieties and questions, and they blended together into more sobs and cries, “I’m so, so scared.” But in my mind, as distorted as my vision was, the sound of a newborn baby’s cry was sharp and endearing.. and I suddenly wanted to comfort it. “You’re going to be a mom,” Wes whispered.

A few Sundays before that moment, our pastor preached about the fear of the Lord. Inasmuch as God can be terrifying, the fear is a reference to awe and wonder, the kind of awe and wonder that makes one aware of His glory and simultaneously indebted to His greatness. With breath returning to my lungs after minutes of crying, this is the fear I had. Wonder of the unknown, concurrent with the awe and yearning to meet this unknown. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then the fear I feel about this pregnancy is the beginning of an uncharted journey towards finding and knowing and loving God in an absolutely brand new way.

Maybe my first reaction was to be scared, and I can’t take that back. But I’m making my second reaction courage, and my future reactions joy. Wes is going to be a dad. I’m going to be a mom. We’re having a little one. And we’re waking up from our dreams to find out that life is still a little weird (and gets even weirder), often nonsensical (and full of laughter), at times frightening (and never hopeless), but coated in bliss (and undoubtedly, baby poop).

There is new life within me, two fold; God had a dream, and placed it in a second beating heart inside of me.

Our first ultrasound


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