The weekend soared with pure elation as we scattered the happy news among family and friends. I know the “rule” is to wait three months before revealing a pregnancy, but after everything we’ve been through, I would want all the support anyone was willing to offer if we happened to be unfortunate enough to miscarry. A secret miscarriage would be far too burdensome to bear. So we celebrated unabashedly all weekend.
But Monday morning has arrived to ruin the party, delivering a severe change in mood. Now I am coated with a thick layer of fear. What if this? What if that? What if something goes wrong? My mind is abuzz with fragmented questions that cannot be answered.
As soon as I get to work, I send out an SOS email to my women’s group explaining my much-to-be-expected fear and requesting prayer. I had actually expressed to them at our last meeting, before I knew I was pregnant, that I was afraid of being afraid during my next pregnancy. As we prayed together I envisioned the labor and delivery room full of people and felt at peace as I sensed that, “Delivery day will be a truly joyous occasion this time.” This stood out as a probable message from above since I would never have phrased it that way. The strong influence of fear seems to have blinded my memory of this for now, and I am nervously distracted all day. I work diligently, but all the while I am attempting to pray away this hideous feeling that seems to be seeping deeper and deeper beneath my skin. It is a very long day.
And why is this happening? I know better. I’ve already passed by this way in my mind, determining that living in fear is not living at all. I have decided that the women who have had miscarriages and think that they’ll be safe if they can make past a certain point in their next pregnancy are putting their trust in an illusion. Maybe part of me is just upset that I don’t have that. I have to make it through the entire pregnancy before I can breathe easy. And then I have to worry about SIDS the whole first year. And then any random accident can happen. There is no safe point at which I can let out this breath I’m holding. I have thrown up my hands in defeat at this realization before, and yet here I am, scared out of my mind.
But my friends are praying, and I am praying. What else can I do? Still uneasy, but hoping to feel better in the morning, I go to bed early. Luckily, I am one who shuts down under duress, so sleep is just a blink away.
Morning arrives, and I do not feel much better. As I start up my internal dialogue for the day, the divine idea comes to me to turn from fear and to focus on praise and thanksgiving instead. Desperate for relief, I grab onto this and repeat to myself, “Praise and thanksgiving. Praise and thanksgiving. Praise and thanksgiving.” Eventually I’m able to form sentences again and thank God for the pregnancy and countless other things. I remember that next time “delivery day will be a truly joyous occasion” and I decide that I was gifted this small reminder to hold onto throughout the pregnancy, and to combat the fear that is sure to strike again. The thick covering of fear dissolves and evaporates with the heat of joy.
I breathe deeper, with a satisfied smile, free of fear’s toxicity. I have learned something so simple, yet incredibly powerful. Fear was designed to keep us safe, to make us aware of danger. But sometimes, it is misappropriated. And when that happens, I will acknowledge it, run to God about it, ask for His help, and then reject it. We are told to face our fears, but I think after we face them, hand in hand with God, we should turn our backs them. They are not worthy of our precious time. I’ve heard that we become what we focus on. And my experience proves this true. By trying to pray away the fear, I was focusing on it, and I remained fearful. But when praise and thanksgiving became my prayer, I became joy.