Surprised by Joy: Living Into an Unexpected Pregnancy

This is a different pregnancy.

Many know about the twins’ story – though I haven’t written anything explicit here – in general, we had discovered some fertility issues during a couple of difficult years of trying to get pregnant. When we found out through a laparoscopy that my Fallopian tubes were blocked we talked to a specialist almost immediately. She told us our best bet would be IVF so we jumped on the first viable cycle which happened to be the following week. And, after weeks of shots (me in my stomach and by Andy in my ass), pills, and an allergic reaction that caused me to have hives, well, as they say, the rest was history. It was truly something else to see on a big flat screen tv the two little embryos in a clear petri dish get sucked up into a needle before they planted them in me. Those two little seeds became Desmond and Anna, and I can’t imagine a bigger or more amazing miracle. Though at times it has felt like a whirlwind, and almost like we were being swept up in the middle of some storm, it has helped us to see so differently.

“In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.”
― Garth SteinThe Art of Racing in the Rain

We decided  this past May/June to be done. No more kids. It was too much…er, um goodness in our lives with Desmond and Anna, and we weren’t sure…we could “handle” more. They are certainly giving us a run for our money in more ways than one. It’s been phenomenal to be their parents and watch them grow into these little human beings toddling all over the place – and very aggressively asserting their own individual will. We knew that they would have their own opinions but it has been a shock to see them expressed even without words this early on. It’s exhausting. But, I’m starting to wonder if that’s how it is…some of the best things in my life are also the most tiring. Either way, though we were and are immensely thankful for them, in the end, we felt 110% about it best to not have any more children for practical, emotional, physical reasons.

June came around, and I registered to run a half-marathon this fall, and delved into collegiate ministry with the two Presbyterian churches in town. I was also excited about food and drink, and enjoying the fellowship of a small moms group that had been part of my survival this past year. There were some possible travel and trips, maybe even alone with Andy, on the horizon. I also considered auditing courses at IU. I was feeling 100% myself again. And then…I started to feel dizzy. Vertigo. Tired – napping hard when the babies took their nap. A little queasy. I wondered if it was allergies or the flu. After a week or two of feeling this way, on a whim, and on the way home from dropping off some baby clothes I thought to myself, “Just to rule it out I’ll pick up some home pregnancy tests.” When I got home Andy was asleep so I quietly went in the bathroom to take it.

I thought I was reading it wrong. So I took another one. Same thing. I woke up Andy, a little frantic. He was completely disoriented, and had no idea what I was talking about in the first place much less very helpful with offering a second opinion on the test results. I decided to take another one – an electronic one that would clearly say yes or no.


I feared an ectopic pregnancy. Long story a little bit shorter, we had a stressful week, a roller coaster ride of emotions being told that I was pregnant, to expecting an abnormal pregnancy,to thinking about a D&C to yes, for sure, finally confirming that we indeed had a viable pregnancy.

At 6 or 7 weeks they were able to snap a photo for us. Our little miracle bean.

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” ― Carl Sandburg

It’s bizarre to be on both sides of fertility – to have struggled so long on the one hand with feelings of despair. It felt like all I ever wanted was to have kids, and facing rejection and disappointment month after month made it difficult to stay during worship services when there were baptisms. I always left early. Now here we are face to face with an unexpected and unplanned pregnancy. It was hard to live into the beginning of this season because I had finally made those plans, you know? I was finally feeling normal and in control, my brain cells seemed to be reappearing again, and the sleep…oh Lord, the sleep…felt life-changing.

I woke up one day after having a dream about the little one. And with fall being firmly here I actually felt excited about him/her. 100% excited and eager to meet the bean. But, it wasn’t without a shade or two of uncertainty and fear. Would this little one make it? I kept thinking about the last OB visit at 14 weeks – the assurance that now there’s only a 1% chance of miscarriage. I’m trying to hold onto that tiny number. But of course I’m suddenly randomly coming across all sorts of stories about miscarriages and loss. And I can’t help but feel a little more anxious. Even without my knowing it, and in such a short time, this little one has made an indentation in my heart already.

In a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else… The quality common to the three experiences… is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power…”― C.S. LewisSurprised by Joy

Isn’t that how something like this happens sometimes? Most times? Life, in general, dealing with surprises? The dizzying pull back and forth, the roller coaster ride of emotions, the hard process of figuring out how to feel about something and live into it, and rediscovering again what it means to live with hands open…open so that we receive anything and everything, so that what we least expect nourishes us and gives us joy. I keep thinking I’ve let go of trying to categorize or quantify my life, and these are the moments I see I still have a ways to go but I love the way God continues to surprise and knock me off my feet. I’m full of anticipation and curiosity about #3…what will God teach and show me about love and steadfastness through this little one?

{Originally posted here.}

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