I’ve always wanted to have children. When Jennifer and I got married, I was slightly reticent if only because I wanted to prolong marital bliss and because I assumed that the second we started trying, we’d get pregnant. We fawned over baby clothes, imagining how cute our beige child would look. We even bought some tiny, adorable sweaters and kept them – like presents awaiting Christmas – in our cupboard.
After a year or so of marriage, we started trying. It was exciting to enter a new season and run together, full tilt, in the same direction. We prayed a lot, amongst other things. After the first month or two, nothing happened. We were disappointed though undeterred. Things take time and time only clarified and fanned our hope.
Around a year later we began all manner of fertility tests, you know, just to be safe. Though there were some decidedly unexpected pieces of news, nothing was conclusively discouraging. We were never told we were infertile. Personally, the most traumatic part was bottling private samples and shuttling them (in my shirt pocket no less) like a maniac to the diagnostic lab at the end of civilization within half an hour.
The months grew longer. We wondered if we’d ever conceive, let alone have a baby. We told our close friends and family about the situation. People laid hands on us and prayed. Tears often inched down our cheeks. It was difficult to see parents with their children, anywhere. Every night before bed and peppered throughout the day, we asked God for a child. Each month brought a renewed surge of hope, followed by an inevitably terrible heartbreak when we realized it hadn’t happened. Again. One day we were cleaning our cupboard and found the sweaters. We both walked into the hallway, slunk to the floor, and sobbed. Empty clothes were an awful, tactile reminder of our gaping unfulfillment.
At some point, though I desperately wanted to have a baby, I realized that I wanted Jennifer to have a baby more. She’s always wanted to be a mother and was born to be one. I couldn’t bear the thought of her not receiving the desire of her heart. I pleaded with God on behalf of my wife, myself, us. This was largely the refrain of 2016.
In January of 2017, after a year and a half of trying, we arrived at the threshold of more invasive medical procedures. The dream of a simple, joyful, natural conception was trickling down the drain.
That month, Jennifer was several days late. We existed in a blissful mezzanine between joyful and crushing certainty. Eventually, we decided to get a pregnancy test. On the way home, I bought four (you know, just to be safe) – all digital, with smiley faces so that there was no ambiguity. Jennifer was making butter chicken and asked me to pick up naan as well. I must’ve been in a dither because I ordered around three dozen and spent close to $40. No one has ever purchased more naan for a two-person meal, ever.
There’s an eternity between initiating a pregnancy test and getting the result. We didn’t know where to look or what to do and paced around our apartment like lunatics. Eventually, we held hands, walked into the bathroom, and there – looking up at us – was a smiley face. There was shrieking and hugging. We made it through supper. Thankfully there was enough naan.
Weeks and months passed and things were still smiley (didn’t want to waste all those pregnancy tests), though it was difficult to believe a little life was blooming inside. The first trimester was nerve-wracking and there were a few nights when Jennifer stirred while asleep and I woke up with my heart rattling my whole body.
After the first trimester, we had an ultrasound and as the technician moved the probe across Jennifer’s stomach, we peered into the monitor and saw our baby for the first time. It was a grainy, black and white image, but we could distinguish her whole, beautiful, wriggling body. She looked so human. St. Paul’s words to the church in Corinth poured over me: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; then face to face.” Something of the mystery of childbirth and the gospel flickered through the ultrasound grayscale.
We are now weeks away from meeting our little girl. We have been preparing for her arrival – cleaning, arranging, dusting, sorting. We talk to her. We pray for her every night. I often daydream of holding her. And already I love her.
The other day in staff prayer at church, people prayed for us. I was overcome with gratitude at how God places desires within us, often tarries, and then fulfils them in a sudden twist of grace. Tears came. I am going to be a father. And I can’t wait to put sweaters on my girl.