A year ago, right after my husband and I learned the sex of our baby was a girl, both of us were in shock because we (mostly me) thought we were having a boy. We had so much excitement and joy. The very next week I received a scary and unexpected call.
“One of your tests came back abnormal.”
My doctor proceeded to tell me there were unusual levels of protein in my placenta, which could be indicating a spinal cord issue for our baby.
I remember my first thoughts were disbelief. This isn’t something that happens to me, this is just something that happens to other people.
My next thoughts were dangerous and from the devil. I remember thinking this is what I deserved for having a good life, for it being so easy for me to get pregnant, for not having morning sickness, for never having any “real problems.” Surely this was my cross to bear and God’s grace doesn’t cover this.
And then came the jumbled thoughts in between there about me being a dietitian and that folic acid deficiency can be linked to spinal cord issues…and how this is my fault…and how embarrassing...and this must be my fault…
My doctor assured me that this wasn’t a diagnosis but just a reason to pursue further testing. She gave me a number to make an appointment with a genetic counselor who would talk us though the next steps.
After a week of asking close friends for prayer my husband and I both felt the assurance that everything would be ok. I remember the song P E A C E by Hillsong Young & Free had just come out and I listened to that song on repeat for a full week while I sorted out my feelings and fears.
Our appointment with the genetic counselor and high-risk pregnancy doctor was encouraging as well. They didn’t see anything wrong with her spinal cord, but with any pregnancy, you can never be certain that your baby is going to be born completely healthy. Even in the unknown, I had peace that remained with me through the rest of my pregnancy and to this day I am certain only the Lord could give us that sort of peace.
Through God’s mercy, our daughter was born into this world without ANY complications on 8/1/2018.
Flash back to our pre-marital counseling three years ago. When my husband and I sat down with our pastor before we got married, he asked us why we wanted to get married and what we were most looking forward to about being married. We had a typical response: We looked forward to going home together, buying a house together, getting pregnant and telling our families, going on vacations together, celebrating holidays, etc.
He said, “These are all great things, but they can also ruin your marriage if you base your marriage success off of getting them.” He then looked at my husband and said “What if finances are so bad you can’t ever take vacations, Nicole can’t get pregnant, you can’t afford to buy a home? Would you still choose Nicole?” Of course, my husband said “yes” and then our pastor turned to me and asked a similar set of questions, that of course I said “yes” to.
He called this “The List” – you know that list of life expectations we all have in our messed up little heads?
In the short time I’ve been married we’ve seen “the list” rear its ugly head. Many of the fights or disappointments we’ve had in our marriage have been a direct result of our expectations not meeting “the list.” Never did I realize that this would be tested and true in so many different areas of our lives.
So, when I received the news that our baby may have a spinal cord issue, that she may never be able to walk, play sports, go away to college etc., I was comparing her life to “the list” that I had in mind for her – what I wanted for her, how I wanted it all to look. I never considered what God wanted for her life, the miracles He could do with the potential limitations, or even how he could use it for my life.
Our expectations about marriage and children are put on a list. And as soon as there is any concern that things will look differently, we totally panic. But we do this with other areas of our life too. We have a list for just about everything.
We receive a health diagnosis, we can’t do that activity we love to do anymore because of an injury, and it changes our bodies dramatically. We get pregnant and have a baby and kiss the pre-pregnancy body good-bye.
We picture ourselves, our families, our bodies, looking a certain way for the rest of our lives; but for multiple factors, it’s not achievable or sustainable. That, my friends, is “the list” creeping up again and robbing us of our joy.
I’ve heard people say, “Having expectations is the root of all heartbreak.” At first that statement seems dark, but it’s intended to provide us with a lot of freedom. I don’t know what is on your list, but I know what is on mine. I want God to give me an easy, worry free life where I have minor struggles and heartbreak.
What I realized through marriage, now having children and a postpartum body, is that God has a different list. It may not look the way I want it to; it may scare me at first, but it’s going to reveal His plan, which is better than any list I can come up with.
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Nicole resides in the East Bay Area where she works in private practice as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She is a new Mom and serves alongside her beloved husband in their local church. She completed both her bachelors degree and her dietetic internship at California State University, Chico, where she was also a NCAA cross country and track athlete. Through those experiences, God prompted her to help people of all shapes and sizes discover body peace and acceptance through the unconditional love of Jesus. Nicole most enjoys spending time around a table and cooking for the people she loves.