I had a baby a couple of months ago…
I guess I couldn’t have possibly known what to expect that day… but that doesn’t mean I didn’t go in with some pretty solid expectations.
I expected to have an hour to bond with my brand new baby immediately after her birth. That’s something I didn’t get to experience with either of my first two babies, and something I felt was especially important for me to experience with this baby.
Because the eight months prior to her birth were ruled by depression, anxiety, fear, dread, and terror.
You see… Six years ago, my daughter was fresh out of seven weeks in the NICU and I had decided and fully expected never to be pregnant again.
Our family grew through foster care and adoption a couple of years later, and that’s how I expected our family to continue to grow, but due to certain circumstances, I knew that would be in the distant future. One year ago I reluctantly made a phone call to our social worker and, through tears, explained why we weren’t in a place to add another child to our family, even temporarily, and that we needed to close our home until the Lord called us back. I needed and expected more time to work through some issues within our family of four.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found out we were pregnant just a few months later.
Now swap my “surprise” with depression, anxiety, fear, dread, and terror, and you can see why I felt I especially needed that bonding time with this surprise baby, and why the image I expected after her birth was one of myself weeping with joy, the depression and anxiety peeling away as the doctor lay her on my chest, where she would stay forever.
Instead, I got to lay my eyes on her for a quick second before she was whisked off to the NICU, where my husband and my mother got to learn her hair and eye color, long fingers and toes, birth marks, little whimpers… all while I was stuck in a hospital bed unable to move or feel my legs, learn her precious details, or bond with her.
It broke me. Her four days in the NICU broke me in ways that my first daughter’s seven week stay in the NICU couldn’t touch.
But as the days since have passed, I’ve realized it wasn’t the surprise pregnancy, the fear, anxiety, depression, terror, dread, or even her quick NICU stay that broke me… it was my expectations. And they did more than break me. They shattered me.
They shattered me into one thousand shards of unrecognizable mess.
My expectations set me up for disappointment, failure, and ultimately eight months of some of the deepest depression that I’ve had to endure.
Expectations are the mind’s ugly way of trying to control the outcome of our circumstances, and trusting that nothing will be ok if those expectations are not met.
The result of expecting so much is darkness, doubt, and questioning the very God who set us on our journey with a specific outcome in mind.
And for me, when my expectations were shattered, I was shattered too.
But what I’m learning on this journey is that God shatters our expectations, and He does it in order to bring Himself glory and mold us into His image, rebuilding something better than anything we could have expected or even imagined, and reminding us along the way that He works all of these things together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
...and that means going into life with total trust for all the things He does in our lives. To walking into the unknown with zero expectations, blindly trusting that He knows what He’s doing, and not being so forgetful of how He’s known all along.
And of course He knows. He created us, He wrote our stories, He loves us more than we know how to love, and He desires His best for us.
Remember - He teaches us to pray, “Thy will be done,” and not, “may my expectations be met.”
You know, if our expectations were always met, we would miss out on some pretty amazing surprises. I wish I could share all of the ways He shattered my expectations and surprised me with so much better in the first days of our daughter’s life... but for now I’ll just share this sweetest surprise of all... and I wouldn’t trade her for the world!
Friends, will you join me in praying that our faith and our trust in the Writer of our stories would be strengthened even when our expectations are shattered - that our eyes will be open and in awe of His rebuilding work - and that we won’t be so forgetful the next time things don’t turn out quite the way we expected? He is so good, He will not disappoint!
**thank you to Alli Cheatwood Photography and the amazing Isabel Yarborough and Carolyn Simpson for the beautiful photos of our Edie**