What To Expect...

I was sitting in bed recently feeding Mercy and just looking around the room... I saw a stack of books on my dresser that I had been reading while I was pregnant. On top of the stack was the book that I would say probably about 99% of pregnant women read and trust to be good information for these 9 VERY interesting months of our lives: What To Expect When You're Expecting.

I had to laugh... It's a decent book, I found it very informative for the 6 months I read through it. Although, if I'm honest, nothing about my pregnancy was what I expected, and if I were to imagine a perfect book to have read through in those 6 1/2 months it would have been this:

What to Expect *when nothing is what you expected* When You're Expecting

Here's what I expected, the brief version:

  • I expected to be SICK for the first three months, assuming I would inherit that from my mother, and assuming that I would experience what most women experience: first trimester morning sickness.
  • I expected to be healthy and happy as my belly grew during my second trimester, feeling the baby move and hiccup, and just loving every minute of it, afterall, that's what the books told me would happen.
  • I expected to be pretty uncomfortable during my third trimester, counting down the days until baby Ellzey would arrive, healthy and hopefully before my 30th birthday!
  • I expected to have a giant baby, because I was a giant baby.

Here's what I didn't expect, the even briefer version:

  • I didn't expect to feel incredibly awesome my first trimester, not a minute of morning sickness!
  • I didn't expect my belly to start growing HUGELY so quickly, causing many of us to wonder, could there be two babies in there??
  • I didn't expect to be so so so incredibly miserably uncomfortable and sick for a good bit of my second trimester, sometimes not feeling baby girl Ellzey move for days at a time. Scary.
  • I sure didn't expect to get a liver disease that one in a thousand women experience, causing me to fear my child would be stillborn if we didn't take action fast.
  • I didn't expect to develop preeclampsia, or to lose every last bit of amniotic fluid in my body.
  • I most definitely did NOT expect to be uncomfortable during my third trimester due to it being cut short and me being cut open to get baby Mercy out in a hurry ten weeks early.
  • I didn't expect to spend the middle seven weeks of my last trimester in the NICU, praying for my baby to live and grow and come home.
  • ...and I DEFINITELY didn't expect to have a two pound baby, because I was a GIANT baby!

What I learned from my very bizarre pregnancy is that no pregnancy is like any other pregnancy. No book can tell you what to really expect when you're expecting. There certainly are some typical parts of pregnancy that most women experience, and a lot pregnancies are definitely more "typical" than others... but many aren't, mine wasn't, and from it, I ended up relearned an old lesson my dad taught me when I was 15.

I was learning to drive, and my biggest struggle was left curves. Not turns... curves... couldn't get them down, I took them hard and late, and we ended up having to spend a whole lotta of time just focussing on those pesky left curves, ha! So I learned that lesson, but the biggest lesson my dad taught me during that period of my life was to "Never assume anything." Things like: "Just because that car's blinker isn't on, don't go assuming he's not going to change lanes. You have to watch, and be safe."

I've carried that lesson with me in many areas of my life. Sadly, I didn't even consider it in pregnancy, and all of that craziness really caught me off guard... but no worries, God is good, and all of that happened in a way that worked to grow me and transform me and I couldn't be more grateful.

...and really, isn't that very thing in itself unexpected?

I find that SO. MUCH. about my walk with Christ is not what I expect it to be... and I think that if there were a book about what to expect when you surrender your life to Christ, it would be filled with a great many truths that are so not what you would expect.

No Christian walk is the same, and nobody's faith looks the same as another person's, but one thing is the same: God. He has never changed and He will never change, that you can count on, that you can expect. His love for His children is solid and unchanging. The way that each of us experiences His love differs greatly and is often unexpected. Many people expect to get rich when they start going to church and putting a few dollars in the offering plate. Many people expect to have smooth sailing from here on out when they make the commitment to follow God. The truth is, God doesn't promise financial blessings and He doesn't promise that we won't suffer when we put our lives in His hands. In fact, He promises quite the opposite. In John 16:33 He says very plainly, "In this world you will have trouble." 

Many children of God expect to crumble when going through trials, myself included. In the NICU, I found myself in pieces almost daily, it was expected and it was true. What was unexpected was how faithfully God was there to pick up the pieces each and every day, how awesomely His name was glorified, and how I came out of that trial a stronger woman of God, knowing peace and trust like I have never experienced before

...and that's what He does, that's what He promises. In that same passage where He states that we will have trouble, He completes His thought, "But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Let's be honest, we're going to encounter suffering whether we are found in Christ or not... the difference is in the longevity of the suffering. I believe it is much more appealing to experience temporary suffering with a reward of an eternity of peace in Christ. And that's a promise!

So will we experience what we expect when we enter into a relationship with Him? Probably not. Will it be worth it? Oh yes!! 

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Remember the rare liver disease I was diagnosed with? Here's a bit of *Romans 8:28* unexpectedness: If God hadn't given me liver disease, I never would have known that I had preeclampsia and no amniotic fluid, as I would not have been at the hospital for routine monitoring on January 18th.  We would not have Mercy alive and well with us today. God works through the unexpected. How has He worked in unexpected ways in your life?

The birthday girl!

One more thing... if everything had gone as expected, I would not have been able to tell my sweet six pound baby girl, "HAPPY THREE MONTH BIRTHDAY" today!!! Can't believe I have a three month old! She is growing up and getting bigger and stronger each day! So enjoying this chapter of our lives! Thank you all for praying with us each step of the way!