There are two lines. Two pink lines. I stand in the tiny bathroom in stunned silence. Two lines—there have never been two lines. How many times have I rehearsed this moment in my mind during the last two years? I’ve lost count. I’ve pictured my reaction over and over. Will I scream? Jump up and down? Laugh? Cry? Instead, I stand in silence, studying the little strip again and again to make sure my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me. After all the tears, all the disappointments, all the prayers, is the moment really here? I walk out of the bathroom in a daze where Shawn is anxiously waiting in the living room.
“There are two lines.”
“What does that mean?”
“There have never been two lines.”
The beautiful reality begins to sink in, and he pulls me into a delighted embrace. The reality suddenly hits me like a wave as well, and the tears pour down. Deep, happy sobs erupt from the core of my being. We’re going to have a baby!
I try to collect myself and call my mom, the only other person who knew I would be taking the test. She answers the phone to hear my sobs, and at first her heart sinks. Then through my tears I manage to blurt out. “Mom, we’re going to have a baby! (sob) I’m really happy!”
It all began two years prior near the end of our first year of marriage. We were not trying to conceive—were even taking preventative measures—but my cycle was so late in coming. We finally decided to purchase a home pregnancy test. We tried to be discreet in the store. We didn’t want stories cycling before anything was confirmed. Yet the more we thought about the possibility, the more excited we became. We held hands in the living room and prayed before I made my way back to the bathroom. My stomach was tied in knots of anticipation. I opened the test, read and re-read the instructions just to make sure. I never used it. My cycle had just started. I cried all evening.
After that experience the birth control went out the window, and we were confident it wouldn’t be long until I really did conceive. Yet the weeks turned into months, and the months began slipping into years and still no baby. Meanwhile, other young couples were getting pregnant, the wives aglow with bright smiles and beautiful rounded bellies. I wanted to be happy for them. I wanted to celebrate with them. I hated what I was feeling inside-jealousy, resentment, fear. God, when will it be my turn?
There were more false alarms. There were more tests actually taken only to show one line; one lousy, pink line. I’d finally written off pregnancy tests. I wanted to throw them against the wall whenever I took one, only to be disappointed again. I promised myself I wouldn’t consider another test until I was really, really sure.
It’s October 31, 2008. I sit with Shawn in the living room, sipping coffee before work. I log onto the laptop, open the internet and Google early pregnancy symptoms. As I read I realize I can check off almost every one.
“My cycle still hasn’t started…I think it might be time to take a test again.”
“Do you really think you might be pregnant this time?”
“I’m not sure what to think. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I have most of the early symptoms listed here. I’m so tired. I don’t feel good. I have to pee constantly. My stomach’s been cramping. And, my breasts are tender. They’ve never been tender before.”
“Ok, we’ll pick one up tomorrow.”
I have tried so hard to find excuses for what I’ve been experiencing. I’ve been under stress. We’ve been busy at work. My immune system is just down right now. The tiredness is affecting my emotions. I’ve always had a fairly weak bladder. The cramps must mean my cycle will start any day now. I can’t explain the tender breasts, though. This is a new experience.
The Salvation Army is hosting a Fall Festival tonight to provide a safe and fun environment for families in the community. Shawn and I have also arranged to have a prayer room open for 12 hours from noon to midnight, believing that prayer is definitely needed on a night that holds so much darkness. No one has signed up to pray and we are needed to work at the Festival as it is a large undertaking. I’m tired, emotional, and I don’t feel well. To make matters worse, I seem to encounter babies and pregnant women all evening. I’m still so afraid to hope that I might really be pregnant this time. I don’t feel like my heart can handle more disappointment. One woman sitting next to new born even hollers out to me, “When are you having one, Dana? We’re all waiting for you!” Outwardly I smile and say, “Whenever God decides to bless me.” Inwardly I want to throw something at her (not my usual personality!) My nerves are raw. I just want to run away and have a good, long cry.
The hotdogs I ate feel like rocks in my stomach. I don’t ever want to see or smell a hotdog again. I’m so tired. Clean-up has finally begun. I pass Shawn in the gym. He’s directing the workers and volunteers. I want to pour out my heart to him. I want him to hold me and tell me he loves me and that it’s all going to be ok. Instead he distractedly hands me a push broom and asks me to sweep the gym floor. I should know better than to try to talk to him when he’s focused on work. As I begin to clean I turn my heart to the Lord.
“God, my heart is hurting so much right now. I’m so afraid of being disappointed again.”
I haven’t forgotten you.
The phrase runs so clearly through my mind, and I am comforted. He sees me. He knows. He counts every tear. He is charting my journey, even when I feel unsure of the way.
Finally, it is time to go home. We will have about an hour to rest before returning to finish out the last two hours of the 12 hours of prayer—quite probably the only two hour slot that was filled. I share some of my thoughts and feelings with Shawn in the car.
“Honey, if you’re too tired you can stay home. Get some rest. I’ll go and pray.”
I consider this before answering, “No, I want to come with you. I need to pray.”
An hour later we step into the church sanctuary, which several hours before I had lovingly set up with specific pray stations to encourage devotion and to give direction. Bibles and journals are laid out. Huge sheets of paper hang on the walls with markers close by with which prayers can be written. Candles are waiting to be lit as a representation of each life prayed over. Water colors sit next to clear glasses of water, brushes ready to create colorful strokes and transform stark white paper into worshipful works of art. Silk flowers and greenery are delicately arranged; satin cloths cover the tables. Everything is so still; everything looks completely untouched. Feeling a new wave of discouragement hit me, I make my way to my personal favorite station—the quiet corner. An attractive whicker divider, silk trees and plants enclose a far corner of the chapel. On the floor is a welcoming blanket. A lamp shines softly on a white pillar. I want to be alone with God right now, secluded from everything else, including my husband.
I sink to my knees and the tears begin to fall. Tonight was almost more than I could take. I’m anxious for tomorrow’s pregnancy test, wondering if I can take another disappointment if it turns out negative.
“Father, I need to hear from You. Please speak to my heart.” I begin to write my thoughts and prayers in my journal.
Read Psalm 68
I flip open my Bible and turn the thin pages to the Psalms. The 68th Psalm is rather long; 35 verses to be exact. The heading reads, “The Glory of God and His Goodness to Israel.” I begin reading, wondering if I was hearing Him right. I resolve in my heart to read through the entire Psalm, though I’m beginning to doubt I was really hearing from God. I reach verse 27, and the words leap off the page “There is little Benjamin, their leader…” I re-read it again, amazed. Shawn and I have known all along that we would name our first born son Benjamin. We’ve also had a sense all along that our first child would be a boy. This verse seems so specific, yet I’m still afraid to hope too much. I write in my journal:
Thank You for reminding me tonight that You haven’t forgotten me. Thank You that You understand all the emotions I’m experiencing even when it feels like nobody else does. Father, I ask that if I’m not pregnant that You would touch my body and cause my period to start tonight or in the morning. If I am pregnant, please let it be confirmed by the pregnancy test. Please cover my heart and Shawn’s heart and prepare us for whatever the answer is right now. Thank You that Your timing is perfect and that You carefully direct our steps. I give this back to You, Abba, and I thank You that You always know best.
Now, I’m sitting next to my husband on the couch, snuggled close as we make calls to family and a few close friends. The happy tears have given way to a peaceful calm, though it all still feels surreal in a joyful way. After calling my mom, the next call is made to Shawn’s dad and older brother, Corey. Then we call his mom and step-dad. She lets out a delighted scream at the news. The first grandbaby is coming. She’s been saving a crib and changing station for 10 years since her youngest son, Shawn’s half-brother Chase, outgrew them. I smile thinking of my mother-in-law as a grandma. In her youthful appearance she’s been mistaken as a girlfriend to her grown sons a time or two; a fact that appalls them both. Now it’s time to call our grandparents. To our slight irritation, one set of grandparents has already received the news of my pregnancy. Corey texted them right away upon hearing the word himself. We make a mental note that in the future we will tell Corey last when we have exciting news to share! : ) However, nothing can truly dampen our spirits at this point. A few more calls are made, and we decide to share in person with the rest of our local friends.
To celebrate we go back to the store and purchase the cute baby outfit I had my eye on earlier. It’s a white and blue striped onesie with matching blue pants and a picture of a tan lion on the front. The lettering reads “L is for Lion who is loveable in every way.” I’ve been planning for a long time to decorate Benjamin’s nursery in lions. We also purchase two large pieces of fleece so I can make a baby blanket. The pattern I select has pictures of jungle animal babies, including lions. I pick a solid light green for the backing, and we happily head for check-out. As we make our purchase we see our friend Katie. I can’t help myself; I have to tell her. She is thrilled and gives me a huge hug. I want to announce the good news to the entire store. I want to shout it from the rooftops. We’re going to have a baby!