Friday, March 27, 2009


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She was, by all accounts, a granola girl. Her mesh grocery bag sat beside her on the folding chair, jaw quietly moving as she chewed on a dehydrated apple.

The class seemed long, but her nods of approval didn’t fade during the 2.5 hours. Her lips occasionally curved upward, the corners of her eyes squinting in anticipatory approval.

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When we all moved to the floor, the four couples around us chatted quietly & chuckled at the awkwardness that was about to ensue. She sat alone, smiling, in the darkened front corner. The instructor asked me to be her practice partner.

And so I sat, Indian style, next to her on the fuzzy cotton blanket she’d brought. Her back was straight against the two fluffy pillows leaning on the wall—the years of yoga training was obviously benefiting her growing belly.

Her skin was glowing.

I stuck my hand out, I’m Jlyn, I said quietly.

Hey, she responded, I’m April.

So, when are you due? I noticed her simple gold wedding band as she contemplatively scratched her head.

Umm….May. But I’m hoping he comes earlier…we’re ready to meet him.

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So it’s a boy?


The instructor started talking. We listened to the couple next to us obnoxiously laugh & poke at each other—I was worried they might playfully start a pillow fight in the middle of the birthing class…something high school girls do at sleepovers.

Aaannnndddddd…..deep breath, the instructor said.

April closed her eyes & filled her lungs with fresh air. She was totally calm, relaxed. My mind wandered to her baby’s birth and I wondered if the serenity would last.

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Hold it, I said shyly, annnddddd….10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…good job!

She opened her eyes & smiled. I could tell she was excited; excited to be in the class, surrounded by other women with growing bellies just like hers. Excited to be part of this miracle. She laughed at the obnoxious teen couple next to us, her belly moving as she giggled. I was amazed at her joy.

The instructor asked a question. She answered with a brief story…and a chuckle.

So, is this your first? I whispered.

Yeah, yeah…this is our first. We are really excited.

No other kids at home?
I said.

Nope. This one will be the first one!

But…didn’t you just say in your story that you were pregnant before? I boldly inquired.

Her eyes darted away from me.

Well, I’m kind of old—I’m 39. She looked down & playing with a cotton string from the blanket. We’ve, umm…..we’ve lost quite a few.

Oh, I coyly replied, instantly regretting my boldness.

Yeah. We’d planned on having kids right after we got married…but things were kind of…unexpected. She looked up again & took a breath. But…we’re pregnant now!! The baby is healthy…and….

The instructor started again, ….take a breath….hold it….10…9…8…7…

My face was red—and I was instantly thankful she’d picked the corner of the room with the least light. I was embarrassed at my audacity, my total emotional detachment. During the day when I’m seeing patients, I’m taught to ask questions. Personal questions about fears, relationships, STD’s, sexual activity, bowel movements, the smell of urine…

I left the class and said goodbye to April, wishing her luck & health with her pregnancy & parenting endeavors. I just couldn’t think of anything else to say—my comforting words immediately & unexpectedly deplete. I'd walked into the class to fulfill my service learning requirement, I was walking out preoccupied with our future.

Jon didn’t call that night—he didn’t have cell phone reception. My eyes did not close easily, and even 45 minutes after my head met the pillow my gaze was still fixated on the same speck above my bed.

We want children. Our desire is to raise a family. Most couples who commit to spend their lives together aspire to parenthood. And the truth is that we have a plan…a plan that, in our minds, is darn-near perfect.

But I think April & her husband did, too. And almost ten years later, they are finally pregnant with their first. After repeated joys of the blue line on the pee-stick…and repeated heartbreak when the beta-HCG stopped increasing, they were finally part of the miracle of creation.

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Their friends’ kids are in middle school—and April is just setting up her nursery. Together they’d watched other family’s grow, received Christmas cards of plump toddlers in snowsuits, & tasted chocolate poop at baby showers. Did they fake the smiles? Did they cry together at night, alone, in the darkness & solitude of their bedroom? Did they doubt that it would happen for them too?

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We have our plan. But April was a poignant reminder that God has His plan, too. I can plan. I can fill calendars & write pages of dreams in my journals. We can talk, we can scheme, we can set goals of kids & houses & pets & vacations. We can even make investments accordingly.

But the truth is that life doesn’t always unfold as we have planned. Babies are lost. Spouses are killed. Parents lose children…children lose parents. Accidents happen. Tragedy strikes. We find joy in the unexpected & happiness in hidden treasures.

April was a moving reminder of our human need for daily surrender to God’s plan…her story a tender memo to take heed of God’s work in our lives--& his voice in our hearts. I need to be more diligent about meditating with Him on the small things…

Lord, should we watch this movie tonight?
God, do I really need to make this phone call?
Lord, what is your desire for my time on the internet?
God, what food do you have planned for my body today?
Father, is this what you planned for me? This meal? This new shirt? This donation? This investment?

I need to work on meditating with Him on the small things…so that when bigger waves break, my prayers are effortless. In the face of adversity with a backbone of commitment, feet having walked paths of the unexpected, I want my faith to glow.

We are all worms.
But I do believe that I am a glowworm.
-Winston Churchill


joyfuliving said... that was so moving, i'm on the verge. i pray that april sees the miracle of the Lord in her little boy because he is just that.

Mary & Jake said...

J- wow that was deep, but so true. I also tend to think MY plan will always happen and I seldom take time to listen for HIS plan. Thanks for the reminder.

Camera Clicker said...

Just what I needed to hear in this day. Thank you.

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