Long, long ago in a land far, far away, there lived a young couple who desperately longed to have a child...
Married just over three years, Steve and I decided it was finally time to expand our family. What an exciting, fearful, joyous, earth-shaking decision, to take that leap from "not yet" to "Now!"
What we didn't know - like many young couples - was that getting pregnant wasn't as simple as we'd thought. It would take more than just desire and a romantic evening. Month after month, the red flag of disappointment. Sigh! Would we ever have children?
Graciously, God gave us wise friends, friends who had faced and who were facing similar disappointment. "What do we do?" I asked Pam. "Well, I can tell you this - your doctor won't even talk to you about infertility problems until you've been unable to conceive for at least a year. You just have to keep trying." Then, she shared some practical tips from her doctor.
I went shopping for boxer shorts for Steve, instead of briefs. We drank copious amounts of orange juice. We learned about basal thermometers and calendars and "scheduling." Month after month, no baby.
We were living at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi at the time. I still remember base housing, the stark white walls and glass-bright linoleum floors. And I distinctly remember the time I contracted a flu bug that made me incredibly sleepy. Three days straight, I got out of bed in the morning to see Steve off, then immediately crashed on the living room couch where I slept until he returned from work. Then, after struggling through dinner, I moved like a slug through the evening before shuffling off early to bed. I simply could not wake up.
"I think you need to see a doctor," Steve commented on the evening of day three. "Something seems to be really wrong."
The morning of day four, I felt a little better. We decided to get out for some fresh air while I felt capable of walking. Steve waited for me at the front door. "You sure you feel okay?"
"I feel fine," I assured him. Then, without any warning, I threw up all over the entry hall.
I threw up almost every single day after that for nine long months.
Back in those days, an ultrasound showed little more than a red blinking light on a dark screen - the baby's heartbeat. Month after month, that blinking light produced in me an indescribable euphoria. At last, a baby!
Aside from my being green and nauseous for nine months and having to forcefully gag down food that wanted all-too-much to come right back up (ever had to eat tuna or peanut butter, on doctor's orders?), my pregnancy went well. And the delivery? Well, after walking through a couple hours of contractions in the wee hours of the morning, Steve and I headed to Hardee's for breakfast - me, I had a plain biscuit and Sprite. Wanted something "safe," in case this was the real thing.
My OB's office opened at 9:00. We drove over to have him confirm that this truly was labor. He smiled, sent us to Onslow Memorial Hospital, and shortly after noon, baby Emily made her debut in the world.
You know that passage in Psalms that talks about being knit together in a mother's womb? When they handed me that baby - the baby we thought we would never have - it was as if my hand, for a moment, for a split-second, brushed the hand of God. God Himself was handing me that red, squalling infant.
I had never seen anything so beautiful.
Twenty-three years later, with six additional kids (isn't God funny sometimes?!), I still get a lump in my throat when I consider what a beautiful, amazing, priceless gift God gave me in Emily.
We've been through some really hard times lately, Emily and me. Hard battles, difficult conversations. Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the fact that the enemy we are fighting is Satan and sin, and not each other. But when Emily is sitting at the counter quietly working a crossword puzzle, I look at her and am struck anew with the beauty of this young woman.
She moves like a fairy. She draws cartoons that crack me up and writes poetry that breaks my heart. She loves her sisters and brothers and her husband in a thousand sparkling ways. She makes gargoyle faces when you compliment her, sings silly songs and dances with the baby, draws Sharpie tattoos down her arms and her legs, falls asleep in Sunday school.
What about the one that is missing, Dennis?
That one is a bright star that is sometimes almost too radiant, too glorious, too weighty to hold. The first of God's most precious gifts. A reminder every day that God heard the prayer, long ago and far away, of a young woman's heart, and answered that prayer in a way more beautiful than she could have ever imagined.
That one is precious because she is Emily.
1 month ago