I am 20 weeks pregnant today. Caroline celebrated the "halfway" mark by doing gymnastics in my belly all day. Haha. I'm still amazed that I can feel her move around without falling into despair. God is good, and his mercy continues.
Today has been a challenging day for me, though. Knowing I'm "halfway" through my pregnancy is definitely bittersweet. Before we found out Caroline had anencephaly, I was really looking forward to being halfway done. Now...I'm kinda sad it's already halfway. With the uncertainty of the future, this just brings us one step closer to the inevitable. The closer we get to my due date, the closer we're getting to the moment of truth. I put halfway in quotes because I don't know if I'm halfway through my pregnancy or more than halfway, since we don't really know when Caroline will decide to leave us, barring a miracle. If we get our miracle, then, well, I'll rejoice that I'm getting closer to meeting my baby girl. But if we don't get the miracle of healing for our little one, I'm pretty much dreading the end of my pregnancy.
Today has been one many tests of my faith and hope. It's very tempting to give into the melancholy that some of my thoughts today have brought. And I have, to a certain extent. I've shed some tears today, and my heart has been squeezed more than on most days. I've wondered if it's worth it to hope for a miracle or if I should just resign myself to the medical inevitable. Living between the two possibilities is beyond exhausting, and sometimes I wish I could just know one way or the other so I can "move on" and get things settled.
When I really search my heart and look into the depths of my soul, I know this self-doubt and self-pity is just temporary. "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -2 Cor 12:9. If you don't know the awesomeness of God's power when you are at the end of yourself, I suppose what I'm saying doesn't make much sense. But it is perfectly clear to me. Even in my weakness, even when I'm living in doubt and not faith, even when I want to give up all hope, God is powerful. He's got things under control when I'm falling apart. Do you KNOW how comforting that is? I can sit in my lowest hour and KNOW that God is handling things for me.
As Caroline has made me very aware of her presence today, I've really had to pray a lot. Every kick gave me both joy and pain. Every kick reminded me of how much I love her, and how fragile her existence on this earth is. This is the hardest part about living with anencephaly. You are constantly faced with the evidence of life while simultaneously having to face the reality of impending death. To say my heart is being stretched to the breaking point is an understatement. So with every kick and every roll, I've begged God to heal Caroline, or to heal me. I've begged him to help me through these next months and years, regardless of the outcome. I've begged him to sustain me when things seem so dark and uncertain that I just don't want to go on anymore. I've begged him to not let me lose hope, and to not let my faith be shaken. This is so hard.
Every milestone I hit is going to be a challenge. Every week that passes is going to bring its own joys and sorrows. One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8:26-"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." I don't know what to pray for at this point. I am begging for miracles at the same time I am begging for comfort. I am petitioning God to help me overcome every challenge that comes my way. I'm asking that he use me to glorify himself. And yet there are some things I can't put into words. I am such a weak, fallible creature, and I really just don't know what to say sometimes...or a lot of the time. It is such a comfort to me to know that where I fail, when I lack substance, the Holy Spirit comes in and saves the day. He knows what I need, and he asks God for me. It's a good thing he does, because I am easily at a loss for words and wisdom in this situation. And sometimes, I just can't speak. I can't form coherent sentences. When my heart is breaking and my eyes fill with tears, words don't always come. But my heart and spirit cry out to my Father, and his spirit understands what I need and asks for me. I am so grateful.
The good thing is...I've made it through the day today. I am still hoping for healing for Caroline while struggling to submit myself to God's will. I still have grace and peace overflowing from my Heavenly Father, getting me through the rough spots. I have not truly been overcome by the difficulties of the day, even though it may have felt like it at times. My God has rescued me once again, and I can once again focus on him and how amazing, loving, faithful, and merciful he is, especially in my weakness. That doesn't mean things are any easier or that I don't still have unshed tears in my eyes, but I am not destroyed. I will not be destroyed, for my Jesus has already won the victory.
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[h]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. " - 1 Cor 15:55-58
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
Praise the Lord for his victory. It is because of this victory over death that I can face this trial, that I can face what may be required of me. And praise Jesus I don't have to do it alone.