Living in the Tension of Waiting: Fear and Hope

It’s hard for me to say these days just what it is I’m waiting for.  There are so many things. If you meet me on the street, the questions seem obvious: “Oh, congratulations!  When are you due?” is second only to “Is it a boy or a girl?”  Which, funnily enough, we are waiting to find out.  

This is what my older children are waiting for–a boy or a girl, a soft baby to cuddle. (They’ve conveniently forgotten to wait for the diapers and spit up.) In the meantime, they’re waiting for birthdays, for Christmas, for visits with friends and family. 

I’m waiting for sorrow and praying my way through the crawling days towards hope.

This particular waiting is teaching me that I don’t know what is in another person’s heart, because those who encounter me don’t realize what is in my heart.  I can answer all the usual questions that come with an obviously gestating belly with only a little hiccup of hesitation.  But the answers to those questions aren’t what I find myself waiting for, expecting, at any given moment.

Often I’m waiting for the next round of bleeding. This is our second pregnancy with a placenta previa. I didn’t think we’d have to do it again-the news that the doctor doesn’t want to say, isn’t sure how to say directly is that the placenta is too low, covering my cervix and ending any hope of a healthy birth without a c-section.  Six years ago, the last time, it didn’t show itself early; the doctors caught it much later.  

I suffered through one month of worry and bed rest, but not a months-long merry-go-round of bleeding, tears and rising panic, calling doctors, ultrasounds to check everything, and temporary relief while waiting to see if there would be more bleeding. I’m grateful that it’s been awhile since the last episode, but I haven’t stopped waiting for it.  It’s on my mind every time I feel a little twinge.

And now I’m waiting for that next ultrasound at twenty weeks. That is, of course, if I don’t have to go in again before then. The ultrasound that will decide our options: keep the c-section date on the calendar, or erase it and let this baby come when he or she is good and ready. Waiting, hoping, and praying that by week twenty the placenta will have moved–that there is hope of avoiding the c-section this time.  Waiting for news of my fate, or news that at least there’s hope, but it hasn’t moved enough yet, so we’ll just have wait some more and check again in a few weeks.

In the midst of all this, I can’t help wonder when my turn will come–so many of my friends have had miscarriages.  I have four healthy children.  Why have I been spared?  It feels like an embarrassment of riches when I meet someone who has suffered miscarriages or fertility problems.

The first round of bleeding was the day after our positive pregnancy test. I thought it was my turn to have my heart broken. The thought has risen with every little trial; in the middle of the night when the fears and dark forebodings creep into my mind; and any time I pick up something that might possibly be heavier than I should lift. But it hasn’t happened yet. 

I’m realizing that mixed-up soup of emotions is part of all waiting–there is always joy and there is always fear.

I’m waiting, praying for the twenty week mark, thirty weeks, thirty-eight!  Just for long enough to give my baby a chance.  Waiting for sorrow, and praying my way through the crawling days towards hope.

There is a pause when someone asks how I am. What should I tell them about this baby that I’m waiting for? And now I wonder, whenever I ask someone how she is,ow much is buried behind the answer?  Why her moment of hesitation?  What is she waiting for?  What has she given up waiting for?

By the time the ritual waiting of Advent ends, I’ll probably know the answers to most of my questions. And the the waiting will be of a different sort–joyful, even if it’s mixed with resignation to a surgical birth I would never choose for myself. 

I’m realizing that mixed-up soup of emotions is part of all waiting. It was the same starting college, getting married, starting a new job–there is always joy and there is always fear.  Maybe what I’m waiting for most, right now, is the chance to wait in relative peace, knowing, at least a little better, what kind of birth-day it is I’m waiting for.  Whatever the answer to that question, I’m looking forward to waiting with high hopes of meeting this new little person, instead of waiting in fear.

I’m counting the days to hope.

Photo by Aaron Wilson on Unsplash

Christina Baker
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