Two lines!

Two lines. No. This can’t be. Two lines. How? Immediately I think of the thousands of women who die inside monthly when there is only one line. Shame, guilt, fear and even anger fill me. Why? I don’t want two lines. They do. They deserve two lines. I don’t need any more lines! Shaking, I leave the bathroom and stand beside my husband. He’s talking on the phone. I stand and wait, wondering, What will he do? Will he simply melt to the floor, like that first time there were two lines? Will he be the rock of a man he’s become since then and hold me and tell me it will be okay, even when he doesn’t know how it will be? He notices my hovering and finishes his phone call. I hand him the stick and look into his eyes. He’s done this before. One look, and his eyes are back to mine, wide. “What? How is that even possible?” I shrug. It’s all I can do. Our oldest is silently watching this whole conversation, eyes like ping-pong balls, struggling to know all the information, like she has ever since she was small.

My first response is to call my midwife. “Um, I was just wondering what are the chances to a false positive on a pregnancy test.” I know the answer, but yet, I leave messages, and I search the internet, not finding the small ray of hope I had hoped to find.

A few hours ago, I told my husband that I should run to the store and buy a pregnancy test, it had been over a month, nearly two. I was still recovering from nursing, and of course it wasn’t possible; he had his vasectomy tested two months ago, and they said he was “all clear.” If I saw that doctor right now, I could punch him in the gut... or lower.

Over the next week, it’s phone calls and blood tests. The numbers aren’t right, you might be losing the baby. Sadness, but also relief. Oh, yes, God remembers that I can’t handle this. Not again. Not so soon. I ask God to show me some small sign, just to remind me that He loves me and He is in control. I ask for flowers. Just flowers. Could be from anybody, just send me flowers, Lord. Today. I know how people convince themselves astrology and other scams are true. They use vague language and when something vaguely corresponds - well, that’s it, then! No vague language here. Flowers. Today. For me. No pictures. Actual flowers. They never come. I silently give up.

At the ultrasound, in the very first instant I see the little body, a voice in my head surprises me by crying out, “Oh, let there be a heartbeat!” And there is.

I’m accepting for a day or two. Then, I remember the flowers. At first, I give up all faith. God is a joke. If He were real, if He really doesn’t give us more than we could handle, I wouldn’t be here, in this position. This loss of faith does not free me from long-held beliefs about the beginning of life and abortion, however. Even if it did, my husband is a pastor. To keep his innocence, I would have had to lie huge lies to him, something I could not have done.

Slowly, pieces of faith come back to me. Another long-held belief - about the complexity of things as simple as grass growing, photosynthesis, a body digesting food for energy - pulls me back to the belief that there is a God. The only plausible response, then, is that He doesn’t care. But if I believe in Him, I believe in the Bible. And if I believe in the Bible, I must believe that He has plans for us, “plans to prosper and not to harm.” That verse, Jeremiah 29:11, floats around in my head all day, like a bubble that won’t burst. I can’t combine it with the feeling that is in my heart. Fine, then. He has overall plans, He just must not care about daily troubles - such as flowers.

I operate in this manner for weeks. Slowly sinking into a depression that I know I must escape, for the sake of this baby, for my family. But I don’t know how. The “witty” remarks of other people don’t help.

We have had 4 children in a span of 6.5 years. Only one of them was even remotely planned. The others were all shocks, but none, not even the first, compares to this. He had a vasectomy for crying out loud! My mind is constantly in a battle with itself. Children are blessings. Yes, but I’m blessed enough, I truly wish someone else had been blessed instead of me. The Duggars make the argument that is someone offered you a million dollars, you would take it, no matter how much money you had, and children are worth far more than a million dollars. Honestly, if I had enough money to keep me and my kids taken care of for the rest of my life and someone offered me another million, I really believe I would say, “I’m good. Can you please give it to so-and-so? They really need it, and I’m doing fine.” Or, I would take it and give it away to whomever I wanted. Have you ever tried to plan a vacation for a family with 5 children? A trip to Disneyland would easily cost $3000. Have you ever thought of putting 5 kids into sports programs? Even if each played one, with 2 practices and 1 game a week, and say my 2 boys closest in age did the same one, that would be 12 outings a week, just for sports. Forget school, church, fun. And then consider the cost of those sports $100-150/season. Per kid. How about simpler things? Grocery shopping for 5 kids. Grocery shopping with 5 kids! This would be a good time to remember that all 5 will be born in a time-span of 8 years. Have you ever thought of what it would cost to clothe 5 kids? Even with hand-me-downs and bargain shopping, it isn’t a pretty bill. Then there’s the house. We have 2-to-a-room right now. The kids’ bedrooms won’t fit another person, another bed. The baby will be in our room for awhile, but how long until we have to move? Is there any chance that our kids will ever have their own rooms? When dad’s a pastor and mom’s a teacher? To go even simpler, how does one even spend private time with individual kids? We work hard to make that a priority right now, but add another one to the picture...

These thoughts are constantly conflicting with the shame and guilt of thinking them. Pictures of women who would gladly have a baby right now pop into my mind. I shove them out by thinking, “Fine. They can have him!” I know that once I see him, I’ll love him and could never hand him away, but that doesn’t stop my mind from running over all the thoughts mentioned and many more. Other thoughts are constantly in my mind - “Look how he clothes the lilies of the field...” He won’t give more than we can bear, Jeremiah, 29:11.

All the while, people are telling me, “God must have big plans for this one!” “Well, it was meant to be!” “Maybe this one will be president or another Albert Einstein!” Yeah, thanks. Oh, well, that never occurred to me. That makes everything better. Yes, you detect sarcasm here. I would smile and nod, even laugh. I do this well. I’m grateful for the friends who said, “Wow. That’s hard.” “I know you didn’t really want this right now. I’m sorry.” Christians don’t ever want to say things like that. It’s like it’s too close to pro-choice. I wanted to scream at times, “I don’t care what he’ll grow up to be! I don’t want to be pregnant! He could just as well have been president if he were someone else’s kid!”

I feel inclined to point out that there was a genuine concern for my health as well. I’m overweight. This is the 6th time I’ve been pregnant in 8 years. Each pregnancy has taken its toll on my body, and made the next one more difficult. I have extreme back pain. My ankles are the size of softballs at the end of the day. With the last time, it seemed as though my kidneys were not functioning at a good level. I try to avoid any and all medication during pregnancy and nursing, so this means another year and a half of pain without medicine, of migraines and wicked sinus headaches, of weekly chiropractor visits so that I can move, but not sweep, mop, vacuum, or pick up anything over 10 lbs from the floor. This is in addition to the normal pregnancy problems - morning sickness, heartburn, etc. I have never enjoyed pregnancy, because it is difficult on me.

A friend’s Facebook status quotes Jeremiah 29:11-12: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ —[this is] the LORD's declaration— ‘plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. [12] You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.’” Verse 11 is so often quoted without verse 12! The realization is sudden. I have to seek His face. I haven’t been. I’ve been focusing on me.

Saturday morning, I’m driving to school. A combination of songs on the radio and the knowledge that I need to seek His face slaps a realization into me. It’s not about me. It’s about God. This whole thing - this pregnancy, this day-to-day, this life, this existence - it’s not about making me happy, me getting what I want. It’s about God. He gave his life for me. I can deal with another 9 months of hard pregnancy. I can raise another child. I was created for His glory, not my own. I feel like slapping myself on the forehead! What was I thinking?

It’s amazing how that short sentence - it’s not about me. - lifts a burden from my shoulders. I have only focused on how it affects me. The memory that I am part of a bigger purpose, that I am just a small part of a large universe, that I am just a piece of God’s great puzzle, frees me from my selfishness. It frees me from focusing on how this baby will change our lives, my life. I feel as though I have suddenly discovered a ladder out of the well I’ve been living in since that day weeks ago when I saw two lines.

About Me

I titled this blog "My Cup Runs Over" because that's the picture I get in my head when I think about my life. It's based on Psalm 23:5, although, I confess, the phrase earned a spot in my heart in the movie Hope Floats. In the movie, the grandma says it as her heart is filled with love for her grandchildren. I have said it to my children in this context as well.

Recently, I've begun to see it in slightly a different light. In anger, I've thought about what happens when a cup overflows at my house. It makes a mess, possibly even a stain. The overflow is not useful. It seems wasted.

I alternate between these views of my cup - my life. Some days I can't believe all the blessings I've been given, and it seems unfair to others. Some days I can't control it; it's messy and I feel ill-prepared to handle it all.

I don't know all, or many, of the answers. This is my struggle to figure out what I can. I'm sharing it mainly for my own therapy, but also in case it might help another. I make no apologies for my emotions, because I'm human. They may be wrong, in fact, I know some of them are wrong. I will deal with them with God, because He is the only One who truly knows my heart, and the One to judge it.

As for the basics, I am a mom to 5, a Southern Baptist pastor's wife, and an English teacher. I live in Las Vegas and have for most of my life. I grew up in a Southern Baptist home; my father is also a pastor.