“The heartbeat is fast — 166 beats per minute,” the technician told me a week ago in the blue hush of the ultrasound room.
“Is that good?” I said.
“Oh yes, that’s very good — very strong.”
Then he told me to hold my breath and I did, and then released as he played back the sound he’d just recorded — the beautiful “ba-boom, ba-boom” of life, its fluid line sketched across the screen and the baby’s arms and legs kicking like tiny sticks on a peanut.
Our child was two centimeters — just over an inch, at nine weeks, two days old. Due March 14, 2015.
“It’s implanted perfectly — it’s got a beautiful place in your uterus. It’s very comfortable,” he said, smiling at me, knowing this was my fifth pregnancy but only the third to make it this far.
And finally I let myself smile back.
My baby was comfortable.
My body was making a home for this little one, and the insides of my soul relaxed. And for a moment it felt like the past year and a half of trying for, and then conceiving and miscarrying and then grieving and trying again – trying to conceive for nearly 12 months — it was all worth it.
Because after losing a couple of babies, you learn — even as you take folic acid and prenatal pills and progesterone to protect the conception — you learn also to protect your heart.
Trent was sitting with me on the bed in the dimly lit room — our baby dancing on the screen. He looked over and his fingers played with mine. And it didn’t just feel like another baby — who was alive and comfortable and growing well. It felt like God saying, “See how I keep my promises — even when they look different than you expected.”
The past year has been a test to our faith.
We got pregnant last April, and I didn’t know I was pregnant until one night I felt strongly, “Don’t drink anymore,” because I’d had a glass of wine that evening. “You’re pregnant,” I knew in my heart, and the next day I took the test, and I was.
Trent and I were deliriously happy for two months, because a year earlier we’d both had a vision of another child joining our family. Up until that point we’d been happy with our two boys (and two foster boys at the time made it a full house).
And then, the blood. And the cramping and the clots and the sitting very still trying not to move just in case you can somehow stop the dying. And all the time, me hearing God say that our baby would live — in that same small voice, and us, believing, until I was in the hospital room and the sac slipped into the toilet.
When the nurse came out holding the sac of our child, God vanished. A flash of light, and he was gone.
My faith has never felt more like an abandoned store, all boarded up, a “for rent” sign in the window.
That day in the ultrasound room, our peanut swishing across the screen to the thump, thump, thump of life — like horses galloping — I felt the promise of life wrapping around me.
It may not make sense right now.
Your faith might feel like that abandoned building.
But God does not play tricks with us. He is right there with us, going through all of it at our side, because he cares.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, and the author of six books including the new memoir Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose (Baker Books, 2015). Proceeds from Emily’s books benefit her non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and three children. For more info, please visit emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.